That's the question posed to me by "anonymous" (aren't anonymous posts the greatest!)...
Rather than re-state the question, here it is:
How exactly are the Cubs better than the Cardinals? I'm awfully tired of seeing people write that and hearing people say it. It's BS!! Let's do a comparison. I don't have time to do every play, but..."
Anonymous went on to do his position-by-position analysis, which is was hysterical. I highly recommend reading it here:
Anyway, since the question was asked I'll go position-by-position and explain exactly why the Cubs are better than the Cards and why everyone in the baseball universe thinks so...
C. Yadier Molina vs. Geovany Soto
Molina is the better glove man, though not by a heck of lot. Soto is pretty good with the leather. Offensively, they're not even close. Molina had a decent average but his .741 OPS was pedestrian. Soto posted an .868 OPS in part because of his 26 HR.
1B. Albert Pujols vs. Derrek Lee
Lee's a nice player but not in Albert's league. Easy one...
2B. Skip Schumaker/??? vs. Mike Fontentot/Aaron Miles
We don't even know who is gonna be playing 2B for the Cards. The Schumaker Experiment is losing some steam and nobody will be all that excited by Brendan Ryan, Joe Thurston or Tyler Greene there.
Even if Skip wins the full-time job he'll be easily the worst defender of the group and his bat is no better than Fontenot's and Miles give the Cubs the reliability the Cards had last year.
3B. Troy Glaus/Joe Mather vs. Aramis Ramirez
How could this not be an edge for the Cubs? Glaus is gonna miss April after shoulder surgery and who knows when he'll be "right" physically? Plus, even if Glaus is healthy, Ramirez is the better player. He's more consistent at the plate, hasn't been as injury prone and isn't a horrible fielder.
Glaus is better with the glove but his throwing arm is the one that needed surgery. I'll take 6 months over Ramirez over 1 month of Mather and 5 months of Glaus.
If Glaus is 100% this is close but Ramirez would still get a slight edge.
SS. Khalil Greene vs. Ryan Theriot
I'm not a huge Theriot fan but he's a .290 career hitter and is much more consistent at the plate than Greene is. Brings an element of speed that Greene doesn't have as well. Greene has more power and is a better defender so I think that levels things out a bit.
Since I think Greene is better than is '08 numbers show I'll call it a draw.
LF. Chris Duncan/Colby Rasmus vs. Alfonso Soriano
Come on, now. This is easy. In two years maybe it won't be because I'm a "Believer" when it comes to Rasmus, I think he's the real deal. But for now Soriano is the proven star here.
Duncan figures to play a ton if he's healthy and since he's even worse than Soriano defensively I'd say the Cubs win this matchup. Soriano has 7-straight seasons with at least 28 HR (he had 29 HR last year despite missing a ton of games) and he topped 30 in 5 of those seasons.
Duncan can hit, but not like that. Rasmus has even more raw talent than Soriano but hasn't done it at the big league level.
CF. Rick Ankiel vs. Kosuke Fukudome
I'll take Ankiel, no problem. Better power, best OF arm in the game and he's capable of more than we've seen from him.
RF. Ryan Ludwick vs. Milton Bradley
This has to be a draw. Ludwick has only done it one year and Bradley, with all is problems and injuries, is an incredibly gifted player. I trust Ludwick more but Bradley is the better all-around talent.
SP. Chris Carpenter vs. Carlos Zambrano
Okay, Big Z has had some arm problems but not like Carp, who has made 1 start in two years. When they're both 100% they're equals but Zambrano is the safer bet between them entering '09 because he's pitched more.
SP. Adam Wainwright vs. Ted Lilly
This is a very tough matchup. Lilly is a very underrated, consistent starter. That said, I like Wainwright better. Lilly is what he is but I think Wainwright is still getting better. I'll go with the big righty.
SP. Kyle Lohse vs. Ryan Dempster
Another tough one. Both were excellent last season - and Dempster was the better of the two - but neither has proven themselves as a consistent Major League starter. It's a draw.
SP. Todd Wellemeyer vs. Rich Harden
Now, I love Wellemeyer. He's a heck of a pitcher and could get better this year but Harden is easily the more gifted of the two. Harden is an injury risk, no doubt, but even with that I can't give the Cards the edge here because when he's right Harden is a dominator. Wellemeyer is really good, just not as good as Harden.
SP. Joel Pineiro vs. Sean Marshall/Aaron Heilman
Pineiro can't be trusted, simple as that. He's been erratic virtually his entire career. Marshall is still a bit of an unknown as a big league starter and Heilman has been a reliever of late but I'd trade Pineiro for either one of them.
CL. Ryan Franklin/Josh Kinney/Jason Motte/Chris Perez vs. Carlos Marmol
Marmol was easily the most dominant pitcher of any in that group the last two years. He's a stud, plain an simple. Motte and Perez both have stuff to rival Marmol but they don't have two years of proving it at the Major League level. Neither Franklin nor Kinney can match Marmol's stuff. Kevin Gregg is a decent insurance policy for Marmol too.
BP. Cards bullpen vs. Cubs bullpen
Aside from the 9th inning I think these two teams are even. They both have depth and a combination of hard throwers and plain ol' good pitchers. Not much to differentiate these two in the pen.
Cards Manager/Coaches vs. Cubs Manager/Coaches
I'll go with a slight edge to Tony LaRussa and his staff but it's not a huge difference. Lou Piniella is a good manager with a solid staff.
So, by my "tale of the tape" the Cubs have the edge in 9 spots, the Cards have the edge in 4 spots and the two teams are even in 4 spots.
With good health the Cardinals can definitely give the Cubs a run for their money in '09 but they have more question marks than the Cubbies do.
Oh yeah, and the Cubs were 11.5 games better than the Cards last year.
Even if the Cubbies drop off by a couple of games do the Cards gain 8-10 wins over '08?
Could be but that's a lot of ground to make up.
There, that's why I have the Cubs ahead of the Cards in my Power Rankings.
You asked, Anonymous, and I answered...