One of the reasons I love January is that hope springs eternal for Cubs fans. You look at the list of non-roster invitees and wonder if there will be a diamond in the rough, Lord knows we’ve had plenty of ’em in Chicago. Today Carlos Zambrano was quoted on ESPN radio as saying that he wants to be a Cub forever – I liked this for a couple of reasons. First it indicates a positive attitude and that sure means something coming out of last year. Secondly, Z admitted that a lot of his subpar performance was due to conditioning issues (if only we could get Geo Soto to do a mea culpa on this issue as well!)

If the Cubs are to do well in 2010 it’s imperative that we get at least 15 wins out of him – an 18 to 20 win season could make the difference between a playoff team and an also-ran. The Central is going to be a tough division this year and, if the Cubs and Cards are both to go to the playoffs somebody is going to have to win the division and somebody else is going to have to be the best of the rest. I’m hoping for rebound years out of Zambrano and Dempster and am pessimistic about what we’ll get out of Lilly – only time will tell what he’ll be coming off the injury.

In other news the Cubs are reportedly interested in Contreras; despite the fact that he had limited time with the Rockies in 2009 (where he put up decent numbers) this move makes more intuitive sense to me than Sheets. When sharp Contreras can be a very effective pitcher and his downside isn’t as serious as is Sheets’ – perhaps a deal can be struck where we give Contreras a shot at doing what he wants to do most (i.e. start) during the first month when Lilly is unavailable. His price tag shouldn’t be that high and that in and of itself is reason for more consideration.

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