Chicago Cubs: What should we expect from Cactus League play?
Like any other team during the offseason, the Chicago Cubs suffered some key losses with a few gains. From losing their closer, leadoff man, and reliable reliever, life goes on for this organization.
As it should. For the first time in 108-years, the Chicago Cubs begin the year as World Series champion. We are 13 days out from pitchers and catchers reporting to Mesa, Arizona, which means baseball is almost here.
Seriously, it feels like time begins to crawl as soon as the World Series ends. However, this offseason, despite the losses, has been great for this club. And most importantly, us, the fans.
Being able to sit back without having to worry about suffering through another year of “drought talk” has been great. Yet, while last year was fantastic, it’s time for us to move forward.
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- 1/31 – Chicago Cubs: Will Tommy La Stella be on the Opening Day roster?
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Now, a few questions remain unanswered. Such as, who is going to be the new leadoff hitter now that Dexter Fowler is a Cardinal? In all honesty, it will more than likely be someone who can hit from the left side. Which leads me to my guess of either Kyle Schwarber or Ben Zobrist.
Zobrist, like Fowler, can hit from both sides of the plate. Remember, Zobrist had the go-ahead RBI double in the 10th inning last November. As for Schwarber, we’re hoping he can return to 2015 form following the season-ending knee injury. Yes, he performed well during the World Series. However, he was only penciled in at the designated hitter spot and was not cleared to play the field.
And what about center field? Well, surely, John Andreoli will be given an opportunity, alongside Matt Szczur, and Albert Almora Jr. to receive playing time. Szczur may very well end up being a lock in bench player in the end.
With Chris Coghlan no longer with the team, Szczur, Jon Jay, and Zobrist would be the only three men on the bench with outfield experience. I’m not saying Zobrist is going to be coming off the bench unless he receives a day off.
Continuing on with Zobrist, what about second base? Javier Baez was amazing for the Cubs at the position throughout the postseason. From coming through with clutch hits to flashing leather on quick tags – Baez was doing it all.
No way he ends up with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs to begin the year and is expected to split player time with Zobrist. So when it comes to split-squad games, it’ll be exciting to see what Maddon decides to do.
No. 5 spot
Last but not least, you have the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Right now, it’s officially up for grabs to the individual who proves himself worthy. Former right-hander, Jason Hammel, practically pitched his way out of Chicago in 2016. As a result, he was left off the postseason roster but will still receive a World Series ring.
It may end up coming down to Mike Montgomery and a few other men as Cactus League play comes to a close. This spring is going to have more competition than last year, so be sure to buckle up and enjoy the ride.
But for now, what are your thoughts? Let us know in the comment section below on what you’ll be keeping an eye on this spring.
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