Soriano, Ramirez, Wood key to playoff run for Cubs
Editor's note: Each day throughout the Cubs' playoff drive, we'll chat with Dan Plesac and share his answers to key questions.
Q. You said the three most important Cubs players in the postseason will be Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and Kerry Wood. Why?
A. So much of the Cubs' offense goes through Soriano. When he does well, this offense seems to explode with him. He ignites the team, and all the other hitters feed off him.
With Ramirez, he needs to have a big series because he's the guy who drives in all the runs. The Cubs need him, and he'd like to forget what happened last year. He's capable of driving in a lot of runs and I expect him to deliver. And with Wood, you need someone to anchor the bullpen in the playoffs. He can do that.
Q. The Dodgers have a lot more than Manny Ramirez, don't they?
A. Their pitching staff is good. Certainly getting Manny was the single biggest move they made. He's one of the best hitters in the last 15 to 20 years in this game, so he brings a lot. But their bullpen is really deep, and they have a good starting staff. Derek Lowe (14-11, 3.24 ERA) is difficult to beat when his sinker is working. Still, that pitching staff is going to have a tough time managing this Cubs lineup. The Cubs starters know how to manage the game.
Q. Do Dodgers manager Joe Torre and Cubs manager Lou Piniella have a lot more in common than Yankee pinstripes?
A. Joe Torre is the ultimate man of patience. There aren't too many guys who could have done what he did in New York for as long as he did it.
That said, Lou has been very patient with this team as well. He's not afraid to throw a young player into the game, and he does a great job of knowing when to grab someone by the shirt and when to pat them on the back. He's done a great job handling this club.
Q. You have a lot of confidence in this team, don't you?
A. This is the best team in the National League, and I expect nothing less than a World Series win from them. There are no excuses. They got a taste of Lou and what he expects from them last year. This is a very good team, and I don't know how other teams are going to be able to stop them.
Q. And you like this pitching staff most of all, right?
A. This Cubs' pitching staff has the most depth of any team in baseball, and their starters from top to bottom are outstanding. You have Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden, and then you follow that up with Ted Lilly, who is pitching as well today in a Cubs uniform as he ever has in his career.
Former Cubs pitcher Dan Plesac is Comcast SportsNet's Cubs studio analyst on "Cubs Pre-Game Live" and "Cubs Post Game Live." A former No. 1 draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 1983, Plesac's MLB career lasted 18 seasons.