CHICAGO CUBS (97-64, 1st)
MANAGER: Lou Piniella (3rd season)
PAYROLL: $145 million
X-FACTOR: Isn't combustible Milton Bradley, now on his sixth team, the only choice for this category everywhere he goes?
BEST CASE: A deep pitching staff and a balanced lineup puts them back in the postseason for the third straight year for the first time since 1906-08. … They go ahead and complete the deal for Jake Peavy at the trade deadline. … The 101-year championship drought finally ends and poor Steve Bartman can go on with his life.
WORST CASE: Ryan Dempster can't match his 17-win breakthrough after signing a huge contract. … They miss the versatile Mark DeRosa far more than they thought. … Kevin Gregg's knee tendinitis returns and puts him on the shelf.
LF Alfonso Soriano
CF Kosuke Fukudome
3B Aramis Ramirez
RF Milton Bradley
1B Derrek Lee
2B Mike Fontenot
C Geovany Soto
SS Ryan Theriot
RHP Carlos Zambrano
RHP Ryan Dempster