Today on the Pop-Tarts Series we feature one of baseball’s most historic franchises, the Chicago Cubs.
Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a story behind this post. At one point, WordPress decided to crash and my article was deleted. The whole thing was completely gone. Nothing remained at all. After some pent-up emotions were let out (and the computer nearly smashed in half) I was able to rewrite the entire article fairly close to the original. I hope all of this trouble culminated into a blog post that was enjoyable for you guys nonetheless. So here’s take two of the Chicago Cubs’ Pop-Tarts Series entry.
How’s It Going?
The Cubbies are in the playoff picture at 41-35. While they trail the superlative St. Louis Cardinals by 9.5 games, the North Siders have maintained a Wild Card spot throughout most of the 2015 season.
The Cubs truly have one of the league’s most talented offenses. Their offense revolves around slugger Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs’ All-Star first baseman. Rizzo is one of the game’s preeminent all-around hitters. The man has accumulated a .298 average to go with 15 home runs and a sterling OPS of .962. Rizzo is a true candidate for NL MVP. The batter directly before Rizzo in the order, Kris Bryant, is having a similarly stellar season. Bryant, a mega-prospect, began the season in the minor leagues in order to postpone his free agency period by a year. After his recall, Bryant showed the world his talents once more. Bryant has hit .274 with a great on-base percentage (.378) all at age 23. And of course, his trademark power has resulted in 10 home runs. The batters around these two is still respectable at all spots. Starlin Castro and Addison Russell are two fantastic young middle infielders. In fact, Russell, a natural shortstop, had to be moved to second base because of the logjam at shortstop, where Castro had the spot nailed down. Factor in Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara at AAA, and the Cubs have the league’s best collection of shortstop talent. At least two of these players will have to be moved at some point, but the Cubs get the luxury of figuring out for themselves which players will serve their needs the best. Miguel Montero is a solid catcher, and Jorge Soler has demonstrated his “Soler Power” in the middle of the Cubs’ order multiple times this season. The bench is steady as well. Chris Coghlan and Chris Denorfia are an effective platoon in left field, Alcantara and Jonathan Herrera can play anywhere, and David Ross is a rock behind the plate. As a whole, the Cubs’ offense is a true example of excellent young talent. This lineup has already made an impact, and will only get better over the coming years.
The pitching for the Cubs is actually almost as good as their hitting. The Cubs possess a plus starting rotation with one of five true winners taking the bump each day. Jon Lester is the ace that the Cubs needed for many years. Lester actually hasn’t been himself this year, pitching to a 4-6 record, 3.74 ERA, and a .265 batting average against, but is still the go-to guy for the big win. Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammell offer quality depth. Arrieta is really another ace on this staff. A failed starter in Baltimore, Arrieta got a fresh start in Chicago a couple of years ago and hasn’t looked back. The 1-2 punch of Lester and Arrieta is one to be reckoned with. Don’t forget about self-proclaimed “badass” Tsuyoshi Wada (his words, not mine) and 5th starter Kyle Hendricks. These two round out the rotation with a bang. Due to the Cubs finally having a complete rotation, they are now entrenched in the postseason hunt. The bullpen is actually almost just as good as the rotation after years of turmoil. Pedro Stop, Jason Motte, and Hector Rondon are an effective 7-8-9 combo to close out games, and middle relief options Jason Grimm and James Russell could be setup men on a less stacked team. Even some failed starters like Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson have contributed out of the bullpen in varying capacities. The Cubs even have more MLB-level relievers stashed away at AAA Iowa, including ex-Yankee Rafael Soriano, Neil Ramirez, and Zac Rosscup. The Cubs’ depth on their pitching staff makes them special. There aren’t many marquee names on this staff, but every one can put his head down and pitch well on any given day.
The Cubs will be a team to watch for the remainder of this season. With such a high-powered offense and a deep pitching corps, it is safe to say that Chicago will see the postseason for the first time since the 2008 Lou PIniella-led Cubs won 97 games. The inexperience of the squad as a whole could bite them in the postseason, but this team will be a World Series contender by 2018, the 110th anniversary of their last Championship.
Verdict: A- (with even more potential in the future)