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Point/counterpoint: Which MLB team will have the worst season?

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 10, 2012 6:30 AM

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Chicago Cubs

The 2011 Chicago Cubs were awful; they only won 71 games. That team had the likes of All-Star Aramis Ramírez and supposed slugger Carlos Peña.

Now, the Friendly Confines house a young and inexperienced baseball team. Ramírez left for Milwaukee, and Peña returned to his former squad, the Tampa Bay Rays. What's left is basically a $88 million payroll for a AAA squad.

When the Cubs lost Ramírez, they lost a solid third baseman and protection in the lineup for Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano. Now, the team barely has any good hitters — and what's to stop opposing pitchers from throwing around them in key situations?

Their pitching is equally as bad, if not worse. The Cubs never seem to find any strong arms for their bullpen. Most guys throw in the low 90s with mediocre stuff. Carlos Mármol is the best pitcher in the bullpen when he throws strikes — but when was the last time he did that? He has more walks than innings pitched and his ERA is over 20. And he's the Cubs' closer.

The bullpen blew leads in the eighth and ninth innings in Chicago's opening series against Washington. You can't win ball games when you have an unreliable bullpen.

But at least the Cubs have Theo Epstein. They're sure to be good now, right?

Wrong.

When was the last time you saw a president of baseball operations come onto the field to close a game or hit a home run? Never. Theo has done a great job so far in bulking up a very thin farm system — but when that's the focus of the off-season, one should expect around three to four years before significant major-league production.

That's why the Cubs will win 65 games this season and avoid the dreadful 100-loss season by three games. Hang in there, Wrigley faithful. This is going to be a long year.

— by Patrick Mason

Minnesota Twins

It's sad, but the Minnesota Twins have almost nothing going for them. Two excellent players can't carry a team — and even if they could, Joe Mauer might very well still be battling injury, and Justin Morneau tallied his worst batting average ever last season.

The Twins were knocked out of the postseason race by July last season, when they put together one of the organization's worst seasons to date. Minnesota failed to open anyone's eyes — not with general success, nor any kind of star player to grab some attention.

Minnesota's pitching has struggled immensely, to the point where the team is having trouble picking an ace from a pool of mediocre hurlers. Only three Minnesota pitchers had an ERA under 3.00 last season, and from there, the stat quickly climbed. Brian Duensing started 28 games despite carrying a 5.23 ERA.

As if a general lack of offense and defense isn't enough to give the Twins a hard time this season, they're doomed even further sharing the American League Central Division with the Detroit. The Tigers inflated their lineup by signing slugger Prince Fielder while still keeping their paws on Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander.

Minnesota's 2011 team batting average — a lowly .247 — fell below every other AL Central team and landed the Twins in 21st place overall. They were 25th in runs scored. The Tigers came in fourth with 787, and the Royals finished right behind them with 730. The Twins could only knock in 619 runs last season, while the rest of the division averaged 719.

Despite finishing as the second-to-last team in the entire major leagues last season, Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan couldn't cinch any big deals in the off-season. While the Angels were off nabbing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, the Twins failed to acquire anyone who can breathe some life back into their team.

— by Molly Irene Olmstead

Kansas City Royals

This Kansas City baseball team has a lot to hope for.

The Royals inked one of their best prospects in recent memory for four more years just before the season began. Tag the Alex Gordon signing with the rising Eric Hosmer, and the "Boys 'N Blue" look like they may have an exciting team to take the diamond all summer long.

But wait, could it be? A broken record?

Absolutely.

I'm a native of Kansas City. I grew up 20 minutes from where the Royals and Chiefs play. I watch my hometown get painted bright blue every April.

Kansas City thinks it has a a winner. Every. Single. Year.

It's as though I've grown up watching the same rerun from "Cheers" over and over again. Please, KC.

For the love of Norm's acting career, put it to rest.

The Royals always — and I mean always — find a way to botch the season. Once the tailgating high has disappeared from Kauffman Stadium, the 816 faces a harsh reality, and the Royals turn the town into a different shade of blue.

Every year. Never fails.

They'll trade a player away. Someone will get injured. The bullpen will fall apart. Before you know it, a first-place April turns into 90 losses by September.

The Royals have started, on average, around .500 for the first month in each of the last three seasons. Where did they finish? 91, 95, and 97 losses.

If Kansas City could hold on to its better players, maybe it would field a contender.

I mean, can't you picture an outfield with Jermaine Dye, Johnny Damon, and Carlos Beltran? Hard to believe, I know.

— by Cody Goodwin

Boston Red Sox

Sunday around 4:50 p.m.: That's the moment I knew the 2012 Red Sox season is a lost cause.

See, that's the moment Detroit catcher Alex Avila launched a 2-run walk-off homer to send my beloved Sox to a 0-3 start.

That's the moment I started using swear words I didn't know I knew. That's the moment I stormed off to hide in a dark, empty office by myself for an hour.

You need pitching to win baseball games. The Red Sox don't have any, especially out of the bullpen.
Mark Melancon? He pitched for the worst team in baseball last season for a reason.

Alfredo Aceves? Coming into Monday's game — when he admittedly pitched pretty well — he hadn't gotten an out in two appearances and his ERA was hovering right around infinity. Opponents were batting a cool 1.000 against him.

Andrew Miller? He's a guy that will go on the disabled list by breathing, and that's exactly what happened (although how he hurt his thumb like that beats the hell out of me).

And outside of Jon Lester and — wait for it — Felix Doubront, the starters haven't been wonderful, either. Josh Beckett gave up 5 homers throwing underhand. Clay Buchholz kept the ball in the yard (yay!) but also gave up 7 runs (not yay!).

Then again, maybe I'm overreacting. It's early, and the Sox were horrible at the beginning of last season, too — and they became the best team in baseball.

Except in September. Let's not talk about September.

And God knows the Boston offense has the pieces to score plenty of runs. David Ortiz can still rake. Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Kevin Youkilis will heat up. Adrian Gonzalez was worth every penny (cough, Carl Crawford, cough).

But I can't shake the feeling that something awful is going to happen. I can't shake the feeling that the pitching will sink the season by August. It's early April, and I'm already depressed.

This must be what it feels like to be a Cub fan.

— by Seth Roberts


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