In 2014, the American League Central will look to bring the World...
Chicago Cubs Season Preview: Change In The Wind
It’s back! Our annual 30 Teams in 30 Days season preview series has returned for its third installment. This year we’re going to do it just a little bit differently. We’ve got a bunch of guest writers lined up to bring you the most local perspectives as possible; season previews written by real fans. Also, we’re not going to go in any particular order this year, so you’ll need to keep checking back for your favorite teams. Today, we start our series with the Chicago Cubs.
Last season, the Cubbies finished the season 61-101, the second worst finish of anyone in the majors. It was a building year for the North Siders, their first under the dynamic duo of president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer. The 2012 season was a strange one, featuring flashes in the pan such as Bryan LaHair, but also glimmers of hope like Anthony Rizzo. Cubs fans are looking for those glimmers to grow brighter this year, and for some new additions to have an impact.
- Luis Valbuena 3b
- Starlin Castro ss
- Anthony Rizzo 1b
- Alfonso Soriano Lf
- Nate Schierholtz Rf
- Darwin Barney 2b
- David Dejesus Cf
- Wellington Castillo C
- Jeff Samardzija
- Edwin Jackson
- Matt Garza
- Scott Baker
- Scott Feldman
Young Position Players: Stalin Castro has the potential to be one of the best shortstops in baseball over the next 10 years. Anthony Rizzo has the potential to be one of the top first basemen in baseball over the next 10 years. Between the two of them, the Cubs have a solid core to build around. Castro is only 22 years old and already has two All-Star appearances under his belt. Last season, he hit a career low .287 but had a career high 12 triples and 14 homers. He also started all 162 games. He is a solid young player on the verge of stardom. Anthony Rizzo is 23 and just finished his rookie season. He hit 15 homers in only 83 games and his bat speed and raw hitting ability are off the charts. Rizzo will become a household name.
Top of the Rotation: Samardzjia has emerged as one of baseball’s up and coming youngsters. In his first season as a starter in 2012, he posted an 3.81 ERA in about 175 innings. He can develop into a true ace. The Cubs gave Edwin Jackson a fairly massive contract this winter to be their number two man for the next four seasons. Jackson, a journeyman, has been solid wherever he’s gone and will be a helpful innings eater this year. Matt Garza just got hurt and is likely to miss the first month of the season but he’s still a top notch big league pitcher. If the Cubs struggle, however, he might be in a different uniform come August 1.
Everything else: The Cubs still have a long way to go. They won’t compete with Cincy, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, or Milwaukee this season. Their bullpen is poor and Carlos Marmol has been a disaster as a closer lately. Alfonso Soriano is sucking up too much of their payroll and, though he hits for power, his immobility in left field is catastrophic Dejesus is no longer a starter-quality center fielder and Schierholtz and Barney are really platoon-level backups rather than starters. The Cubs will be better, but not good.
How will Rizzo’s development progress?
Will the Cubs trade Garza? Will they be able to move Soriano?
How will the addition of Scott Hairston effect the team?
Will we begin to see signs of the promised improvement under Epstein?
74-88, Last place, NL Central. The Cubbies will be better but will struggle. They’ll finish last without the Astros to pad the floor in the Central.
- Starlin Castro will hit .301
- Anthony Rizzo will hit 31 homers and drive in 93
- Only one Cubs starter will have a winning record
- Someone other than Carlos Marmol will be closing games for the Cubs by June 1
- Alfonso Soriano will be a Yankee or Ranger by August