The Chicago Cubs are going to be a phenomenal team, perhaps one of the best in the MLB, just not in 2014. With superb talents such as Javier Baez and Kris Bryant poised to remain in the minors for the majority of this year, the Cubs would have had to make some $erious moves to compete for a playoff spot. Still, expect to see an improved team on Wrigley Field this year.
Last year was probably a worst case scenario for the Cubs. Many fans believed that they would see HUGE years from Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo; however, they were let down. Rizzo only hit .233, though he did get on base at a respectable .323 clip. An interesting stat to note is Rizzo’s Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP), which was just .258 in 2013. For those unfamiliar with this stat, .258 is an extremely low BAPIP (and it is largely out of the player’s control). This unluckiness combined with the fact that Rizzo will naturally progress due to another year in the bigs, leads me to believe he will have a much improved statline this season. Starlin Castro is another key in this Chicago offense that lacks any real stars right now. Much like Rizzo, Castro is guaranteed to improve this year because his 2013 was just so bad. I know that is a blunt way to put it; yet, with a guy like Castro who batted about .300 in his first three years, his .245 BA in 2013 seems like an aberration rather than a sign of things to come. Though I don’t project Castro returning to his 2011 form, there is a very real possibility that he plays very efficiently this season both on offense and defense. Don’t be surprised if this good play gets him traded in 2014 in order to make room for Javier Baez.
Though there are a few things to be excited about for Cubs fans, the vast majority of the 2014 team looks to be in disarray. Aside from Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood, the starting rotation is a complete question mark. Edwin Jackson, who signed a 4 year, $52 million dollar contract in 2013, pitched horribly last year and only mustered a 4.98 ERA. If he continues that trend this year, Jackson might go down as one of the worst signings in Cubs history. To bolster their rotation, the Cubs added Jason Hammel on January 31st. These are the kind of deft signigns that make the Cubs look good. Hammel had a down year in 2013, but he pitched like an ace for most of 2012. If he can return to any degree of his former self, the Cubs will be able to deal him at the deadline and add another piece to their evergrowing army of fantastic prospects. Of course, that scenario is a big if. The 2014 Chicago Cubs are a team devoid of much talent, but that doesn’t mean the organization is lacking it. The Cubs farm system is the second best in the league in my opinion and by 2016, look for the Cubs to be competing for a playoff spot. Before I close, I just need to air something out. I have a feeling that this year’s Cubs will be the annual team who has an ordinary guy throw a no-hitter. I’m calling it right now: Jake Arrieta will notch his name into history during June of 2014 (if this happens, I’ll predict a World Series next for you guys).