Professional baseball players are not always the best evaluators of their team's ability -- the relation is roughly that of an actor to a film -- but sometimes, they get things right.
Such is the case with Derrek Lee. When asked by the Tribune's Paul Sullivan if he (Lee) thought the Cubs needed a complete overhaul for 2010, Lee said no:
"It could be totally different [in 2010]," the first baseman said. "There are so many variables in baseball. I don't think it's like other sports where you can kind of 'talk things up.' Guys have down years. You see it all the time. This year, it just happened we had a few guys be hurt or have bad years. But you fully expect those guys to be back and rebound."
For the most part, Lee's right. There are declining assets on this Cubs team, but by and large this is a team built to compete in the NL Central, if not in the National League at large. 2009 was a bad, bad year, but the year had less to do with a lack of talent and more to do with bad luck.
Think about it: Alfonso Soriano suffers a knee injury in the beginning of the year and plays through it without telling anyone for four months. His season is shot. Aramis Ramirez tears his shoulder on a diving play at third; even when he returns, he's not himself. Milton Bradley fails to find his swing for all of the first half. Carlos Zambrano is in and out of action for months. Rich Harden's fly ball rate mysteriously goes through the stratosphere. Geovany Soto goes from a great rookie campaign to a complete waste of a sophomore season. And so on.
There are question marks in the bunch, but by and large this group, with add-ins like Ryan Theriot and Kosuke Fukudome and maybe a nifty free winter free agent signing or two, is more than enough to compete. Frankly, it's more than enough to win. When the dust finally settles on this train wreck of a year, Jim Hendry would be wise to keep that in mind.
The other option is blowing it up. Cathartic as that may be, if Cubs fans think this is brutal baseball now, wait until a rebuilding year. That's when things really get fun.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.