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posted: 4/3/2012 7:35 PM

9 questions the Cubs hope to answer this season

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  • Are all of Starlin Castro's troubles behind him? That's one of the questions facing the Cubs this season as they wait to see if Castro, center, can become a perennial all-star on the field and a good representative off the field.

      Are all of Starlin Castro's troubles behind him? That's one of the questions facing the Cubs this season as they wait to see if Castro, center, can become a perennial all-star on the field and a good representative off the field.
    Associated Press

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Six weeks of spring training may be too long, but it's not quite long enough to answer all of the questions facing the 2012 Chicago Cubs.

The lineup is set, the starting rotation is set, and the Cubs have decided to go all the way until the end of their final practice to name their bullpen.

There will be more questions as the season unfolds, but here are nine without answers to start the season:

1. Left fielder Alfonso Soriano was not traded during the off-season. Can he hit the 25-30 home runs the Cubs believe he can hit?

2. Will center fielder Marlon Byrd be traded at or before the July 31 nonwaiver deadline?

3. Will first-base prospect Anthony Rizzo and center-field prospect Brett Jackson come up during the season, and will they contribute? The first part of this question may depend on Question No. 2.

4. Has closer Carlos Marmol regained the form and control that made him one of the most effective and unhittable relievers in the game, or will the command issues continue to plague him?

5. Can Jeff Samardzija make the transition from bullpen to starting rotation, and can he be efficient enough with his pitches to go at least 6 innings consistently?

6. Is Starlin Castro a perennial all-star, building off last season, and are the off-field problems he faced this winter only a blip?

7. Will the Cubs get the production they need from their infield corners, first baseman Bryan LaHair and third baseman Ian Stewart, enabling the Cubs to develop the prospects cited in Question No. 3?

8. Will starting pitcher Matt Garza be around long enough to assume the role of ace of the staff, or will he be traded before he can sign a long-term contract extension?

9. Do the Cubs have a legitimate leadoff man in David DeJesus, and can he get his on-base percentage up to be more in-line with his lifetime mark of .356, not last year's .323?

As we said at the start, there will be more questions as the season unfolds, and we'll be watching closely to see how it all plays out.

•Follow Bruce's Cubs reports on Twitter @BruceMiles2112 and his Chicago's Inside Pitch blog at dailyherald.com.

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