2015 Preview – Chicago Cubs
***This article was written by Matt Stevens***
The 2014 MLB season was a pretty bad one for the Chicago Cubs. Even though they were able to get a glimpse of the future with some of the youngsters putting up decent numbers at times, they still finished with just 73 wins. All that being said, optimism is certainly alive and well heading into spring training. The question is, do the Cubs really have a chance at winning the National League Central?
Every single team in the National League Central will go into 2015 feeling like they can win it. The most consistent teams in the last few years have been the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds. All 3 of those teams have made the playoffs at least once in the last 2 years, and they look to be strong on paper heading into the upcoming season. All a person has to do is look around baseball to see that a bad break or two could open things up for challengers.
Chicago will be one of the youngest teams in the game in 2015, and it is their youth that gives plenty of people optimism. Not only does Chicago have the top position prospect in the game in Kris Bryant ready to break out, but guys like Addison Russell and Javier Baez could be major contributors in FanDuel fantasy baseball leagues. Even when you look at their veteran leaders Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, they are only just beginning the prime of their careers.
Pitching is going to be a little bit of a wild card for the Chicago Cubs, but they do feel confident that new free-agent signing Jon Lester will be a very strong ace in the rotation. He has been one of the most consistent left-handed pitchers in the game, and he is also known as a pretty nice guy to have in the clubhouse. He should be able to help bring along some of the younger players on the team as they try to put a contender together.
As of right now, Chicago is loaded with young, promising talent. Some fans might want to see them keep it all together, but chances are at some point Chicago will dangle one or a couple of them as trade bait. If this team is contending by the middle of the year, they could decide to give up one of their younger assets to get a veteran to help down the stretch. Thanks to the way they have built their minor-league system, they can afford to do something like that.
Winning in the National League Central was never going to be easy, and 2015 is no different. Chicago has a new manager in Joe Maddon who has been able to have success with a much smaller payroll in Tampa Bay. He might not be ready to make the Chicago Cubs pennant winners just yet, but it would not be surprised at all to see them right around or even north of .500.