Breaking Out

March 25, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

Last year, the Cubs had a literal orgy of guys breaking out and blowing their load everywhere. Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa (RIP) flexed their aging, tanned muscles. Geovany Soto won Rookie of the Year. Carlos Marmol emerged from the shadow of his father, Mr. Peepers. But the biggest breakout was courtesy of Ryan 'Cum Dump' Dempster, who mowed down batters all season like it was his job. In fact, it was his job technically speaking.

This year, a new crop of fresh faces looks to make a name for themselves with the alcohol-addled Wrigleyville faithful. Lets take a look at some of the candidates.

Mike Fontenot - This diminutive little sprite is more known for his zany dugout antics with Carlos Zambrano than his on the field heroics. That could change this year, as the deceptively powerful Fontenot has secured the starting second base gig over Aaron "Why'd we let DeRosa go for this guy?" Miles. A line of .280-15-80 isn't entirely out of the question.

Sean Marshall - After a few years of being shuffled from the bullpen to the occasional spot start, this tall glass of water finally gets his chance to shine as a full-fledged member of the rotation. What he lacks in personality he makes up for with above average stuff. He's a 3 or 4 starter on most other teams and has 12-15 win, 150 K upside.

Micah Hoffpauir - No one doubts his bat skillz, but where will he play? Given the opportunity, he could play his way into more playing time. At the very least he fills the Daryl Ward pinch hitting role and backup insurance for Derek Lee, who was woefully inconsistent last year. He also serves as an attractive trading chip come July.

Kosuke Fukudome - It's put up or shut up time for K-Fuk, whose career might be spiraling out of control like one of his swinging strikeouts. He'll be on a short leash this year, with Reed Johnson in the wings and a mid-season trade possible if he falters. It's up to you Kosuke. You can either be the Nintendo Wii or an Isuzu. Which will it be?

Kevin Gregg - No one really knows what to expect from the goggled lothario, except he certainly has his work cut out for him, since he's essentially replacing fan favorite and Cubs legend, Kerry Wood's Beard. Whether he ends up the closer or the setup man, the pressure will be intense enough to fog up those goofy goggles of his. He's got 30 save upside to go along with a downside that would result in Wrigleyville riots.

Jeff Samardzija - He likely starts out at Iowa or in the bullpen, but don't be surprised to see this mullet-sporting Notre Dame grad in the rotation at some point. His stuff is nasty when he's on, but other times he can be as erratic as Nick Nolte after a few cocktails. If Marshall falters or Harden pulls up lame (not if, but when), look for the man with the hard to spell last name to step in and thrive.

Carlos Zambrano likes to pound Mike Fontenot.