Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

With the World Series at its close (thank GOD those poor, long-suffering Giants fans got their championship, no?), the offseason is officially upon us. Nearly 200 players filed for free agency last night, and assuredly general managers everywhere are poised to make calls, pour over stats and tape, and try to make their 2011 club the next Giants.

As for the Cubs GM – well, he’ll do all of that, too, but making this group into a winner is going to be a challenge, to say the least. The starting point is the opening of the organizational meetings later today in Arizona.

The meetings run through Friday, with the first order or business finishing manager Mike Quade’s coaching staff. Nationals third-base coach Pat Listach, who won a Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year award at Triple-A Iowa in 2008, will be named as bench coach after the World Series.

But the real purpose of the meetings is for general manager Jim Hendry to get input from everyone — his manager, advisors, scouts, coaches, minor league coordinators and statistical gurus — on how best to put together next year’s team. Quade has spent the last couple of weeks fishing and digesting numbers from Baseball Information Manager Chuck Wasserstrom.

“Chuck gave me a book, it looks like an encyclopedia with potential free agents,” Quade joked. “I looked at it and I was so excited about it. Then I saw the thickness of the book, and then I thought, ‘Maybe I’m not that excited about this.’ ”

Most of Quade’s 2011 roster is already under contract, so there won’t be the kind of turnover that inalterably spoiled the chemistry of the 97-win team of 2008. That led to last year’s fifth-place finish, which gave Quade his big chance. Chicago Tribune.

Yes, because the last thing we’d all want to see is the chemistry of the 2010 Cubs spoiled…

The big questions going into this offseason involve first base (Adam Dunn?), the rotation (Carlos Zambrano?), and the bad contracts (Kosuke Fukudome? Alfonso Soriano?). None are likely to produce a big move, and it may ultimately be a Winter full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

But it’s always fun to follow, and it starts today.

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