As the Cubs schedule for Spring Training comes to a close, we know more about some of the team’s future stars. The season has not even begun yet, and people are already saying ‘there’s always next year’. However, 2014 will be the most important year in Theo Epstein’s administration so far.
Entering year 3 of the Theo regime many fans are starting to get restless watching the Cubs lose 90+ games year in and year out. Although the Cubs will not be competing for the world series this year, they NEED to see improvement on the field this season. If they don’t then they will have serious issues moving into 2015.
Theo Epstein has preached patience since he took over in Chicago, and that the front office would build a sustainable farm system. At the major league level, they have only scratched the surface of using the talent in the minor leagues. Last year the Cubs called up outfield prospect Junior Lake who performed quite well and is poised for another successful season. Right now, all eyes are on top prospect Javier Baez who is dominating pitchers this spring training.
During the Cubs spring training game last night against the Colorado Rockies in Scottsdale, AZ, in front of 12,511 Cubbie faithful Baez belted a 450 foot home run to dead center. As he rounded the bases the stadium was in uproar. With each step around the bags Cub fans at the game, including myself, hoped that we had just witnessed what is to come at Wrigley Field. Baez now leads the Cactus league in home runs with 5…in only 13 games.
When Theo took over the Cubs many predicted that 2015 would be the first year that the Cubs would compete for playoff contention. With 2015 right around the corner, the Cubs need to show some progress to give people just a glimmer of hope that they could actually compete in 2015. Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, both believed to be core players, struggled mightily from the bat last season and they hope to turn it around this year. Castro has been hurt most of spring training, while Rizzo is hitting .355 this spring. In order for the Cubs to have any chance next year, these two need to turn into the all-star players the Cubs hope they are.
With the regular season only days away Cubs fan can only sit and wait to see who makes the final roster. New manager Rick Renteria will have his hands full this season trying to find a formula of success. Seeing improvement this year is crucial for the Cubs moving forward. Baez has hit the cover off the ball this spring training and is slugging .769. Whether he makes the major league team as spring training ends or not, it is almost a forgone conclusion that he will be wearing a Cubs uniform at Wrigley Field sometime this season. As the season wears on be on the look out for many of the Cubs prospects to make their way to the North side, giving us just a glimpse of what is to come.