Mar 7, 2013; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Baez (70) singles during the eighth inning against the Chicago White Sox at HoHoKam Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Making A Case For The 2014 Chicago Cubs to Surprise In The Central

Chicago Cubs, Rick Renteria

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When there is a discussion about the 2014 Chicago Cubs the first place most people go to is directly to what’s happening in the organizations minor leagues as opposed to their big league club. Well there is a chance that could change this season provided certain factors come together. Of course the same can be said about almost every team in the league, but in this case let’s focus on the Chicago Cubs circa 2014 edition.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports.

The first and most obvious reason for a possible surprise is the bounce back seasons of first baseman Anthony Rizzo, and shortstop Starlin Castro. It would seem too many people are willing to right them off, (as well as the team) because one of the big reasons the Cubs are not expected to do a whole lot this coming season is due to a lack of offense. Cubs were near the very bottom in runs scored in all of major league baseball. Both Rizzo, and especially Castro were both abysmal by their standards. Both have the pedigree, and have had success at the major league level especially in Castro’s case who is already a two time all star at the tender age of 24. It would be hard to believe both regressing to the same level they had in 2013. Expect both to contend for the come back player of the year award, and a very possible return to the all star game for Castro.

Another reason for optimism is the depth in their pitching staff, and power arms added to the bullpen. Starting pitching has not been an issue the last two seasons with the Cubs.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

In fact it’s been among the league leaders in most of the major categories before they were dismantled at the trade deadline in both 2012, and 2013. With a more talented bullpen with the promotions of some of their system arms, and a couple veteran additions those blown save and hold situations could be less frequent, and possibly keep them in contention till the all star break.

Culture change is another reason to be optimistic. It appears first year manager Rick Renteria seems to be a better communicator with the young players, and has infused an enthusiasm that has spread throughout the team.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It appears that contrasting style from that of ex manager Dale Svuem has the teams attention, and hopefully with it better focus to improve performance.

The Cubs don’t have a star in the outfield, but they do have more athleticism, and the ability to mix and match to put together a lineup based on match ups. With Renteria in place the club is more savvy on the analytic side of things, so the new Cub manager would be able to properly use the numbers from the teams own metric data, and put the best players in the best spot to succeed based on that days opponents starting pitcher, and than be able to substitute based on situation once the bullpen enters the equation. It would also help position the defense based on their spray charts.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Another wild card in the Cubs hand is the Mike Olt factor. If he ascends to the level he was originally expected to before his well publicized vision issues that’s a potent bat to put in the middle of the order. Olt has the ability to be a 30 home run guy with a plus glove at the hot corner.

Lastly, the Cubs have reinforcements at their disposal if they are in striking distance of the post season to close the gap with a plethora of resources. They have their core players on the verge of being ready to make it to the show. Kids like Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, Kyle Hendricks, and a host of others that can be called up, or used in a trade package to stock up on seasoned playoff ready mercenaries.

There is actual reason for optimism. Of course it would be best to exercise cautious optimism as it’s probably more likely the Cubs are building towards mediocrity instead of post season contention. Either way there will be reason to tune in and pay attention to this version of the team until contention is expected and not hoped for.

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Tags: 2014 MLB Season Chicago Cubs Rick Renteria

  • Lloyd A Brodnax

    Go Cubs! Enjoyed this optimic article…as I wholeheartedly believe that ar Cubbies.are playoff bound this year!!!

    • Johnny Hatelak

      Lloyd I believe it’s possible, but a lot of actors would have to go right. Still believe just being respectable would be a huge accomplishment, but if they can start scoring runs they could shock the baseball world. So far however, it’s not looking good offensively, but it’s early, and they’re facing a pretty good pitching staff.

      • Lloyd A Brodnax

        Hey Johnny. UR right…a lot of things would have 2go right and alignment of the stars would be welcomed. The pitching staff looks fairly decent and if they can keep the team in the games, then I feel the offense will begin to score some runs at the appropriate time. They at least won the game 2day… The entire world would be ecstatic as Cubs fans are everywhere and O my what a week of celebrations. Lastly, what do you think of them not keeping Baez with the team, he looked good as I didn’t see any shortcomings. Castro said he would be fine moving to 2nd base and Baez at SS? Hope 2c your response at your convenience. Thx