The Runner Sports

When The Chicago Cubs Will Be Competitive

The Chicago Cubs are who we thought they were, and that is below average.  The Cubs currently sit with a record of 28-38. They are in 4th place in the NL Central above the disappointing Milwaukee Brewers. The best news for the Cubs this season? Four teams have worse records, the Brewers, the Miami Marlins, the Houston Astros, and the Mets. But let’s be honest, the Cubs’ best batting average belongs to David DeJesus (.260) Anthony Rizzo has cracked 10 homeruns, but he’s been on a drought for a while, he also has 39 RBIs, which is good for 12th in the NL. Rizzo has sort of been a bright spot, outside of his .243 average, but the Cubs’ offense has been below average. In terms of pitching, Scott Feldman has a record of 6-5, while being tied for the 11th most wins in the NL. Travis Wood has a 2.65 ERA, which is good for 10th in the NL. Jeff Samardzija, the Cubs’ number one pitcher, is 3-7. Edwin Jackson, making 13 million dollars this year, is 3-8. The relief pitching has been subpar, except for Kevin Gregg excelling as a closer as of late.

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One thing is for sure, the Cubs aren’t going to the playoffs this season. So when will they be competitive? This is a question us Cubs fans have been asking for a very long time, and a lot of fan impatience is starting to show. Well let’s break down what will be happening over the next couple years.

2014:

2014 will not see a lot of changes. They will be in the market for big name free agents, but not many will see Chicago as a dream destination. The Cubs will not be chasing Robinson Cano, the top free agent, so Chicago fans can forget about that. There aren’t any worthy third basemen either, so we can expect to see Luis Valbuena back in that spot, or prospect Junior Lake. The one positional player that will potentially be available that the Cubs should chase after is Jacoby Ellsbury. The speedy center fielder put up big time numbers in 2011, but has sort of trailed off in the years since due to injuries. Despite a drop in homeruns and batting average, the Cubs will take a chance on him for the speed and the hope he returns to his previous self.

In terms of pitching, Matt Garza and Scott Feldman could both be resigned, but not if a player like Kansas City’s Ervin Santana could be in play for a big time contract, or the Mets’ Shaun Marcum could be a one year stop gap. For a team still looking for a closer with Carlos Marmol finally leaving, the White Sox’s Jesse Crain, currently a relief pitcher, could be enticed to switch sides in Chicago for the premium role of closing games.

One thing to look for is the potential call up of shortstop Javier Baez, the Cubs’ top prospect, and Junior Lake, another shortstop. Lake will most likely move to third, with Baez moving to second. Baez has flashed superstar potential, albeit at the High-A level. He is hitting .280 and has 13 homers in 60 games. Lake is an overall solid fielder and batter with the potential to be above average in all categories.

So basically, if the Cubs follow my advice, Ellsbury, Feldman, Santana or Marcum, and Crain come over in free agency, and Baez gets called up before the midway point of the season. With my predictions the Cubs’ Pitching rotation will look as follows:

1. Jeff Samardzija

2. Ervin Santana

3. Edwin Jackson

4. Travis Wood

5. Scott Feldman

Closer: Jesse Crain

And the batting lineup will go:

1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury

2. SS Starlin Castro

3. 1B Anthony Rizzo

4. LF Alfonso Soriano

5. 2B Javier Baez

6. RF David DeJesus

7. 3B Junior Lake

8. C Wellington Castillo

9. (Pitcher)

The Cubs will be competitive this year, but it won’t be enough to get them into the playoffs. Predicted Record: 79-83.

2015:

Here’s where things get interesting. I think things really click here. Coming up should be Jorge Soler, Albert Almora and Kris Bryant. Pitchers Arodys Vizcaino and Pierce Johnson should be available to come up too. Vizcaino’s durability will probably force him into a relief role, but he will be a damn good relief pitcher. Johnson is a three pitch guy with a 94 MPH fastball, a curveball he uses to strike batters out, and a changeup he needs to develop, but he could be a good middle of the rotation guy. Don’t expect too much activity in free agency, because it’s time for the farm system to actually come through.

Alfonso Soriano will be gone, and the Cubs can really put together a great lineup, and solid rotation. Jeff Samardzija will be a star as a number one pitcher, and will finally have the run support to back him up. With Rizzo, Castro, Soler, Bryant and Baez, the Cubs will have a lot of power in their lineup previously unseen. As for Junior Lake, who will be stuck behind top players in the infield, look for him to be traded away, or thrown back to AAA.

Here is my predicted rotation:

1. Jeff Samardzija

2. Ervin Santana

3. Edwin Jackson

4. Scott Feldman

5. Pierce Johnson

Predicted lineup:

1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury

2. SS Starlin Castro

3. 1B Anthony Rizzo

4. 3B Kris Bryant

5. LF Jorge Soler

6. 2B Javier Baez

7. RF Albert Almora

8. C Wellington Castillo

9. (Pitcher)

This is a great rotation and lineup. There will be excitement, power, and the games will actually be fun for the fans who are so used to sitting through loss after loss. 2015 is when the Cubs will be competitive, and they will be serious playoff contenders.

Predicted record: 95-67

 

(Photo one source) http://d4493f2df0d1b95cfc62-773cd17a86049dd672fafb96394debed.r5.cf2.rackcdn.com/2012/260/249/anthony-rizzo_420.jpg

(Photo two source) http://binaryapi.ap.org/9db2d7154c0f4efd88b702832dd6a708/512x.jpg

(Photo three source) http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/1550109/KrisBryantAction.jpg

Author: Rob Wegley

Co-Owner of The Runner Sports, Editor for The Runner Sports, Writer for The Runner Sports. I also really like chocolate milk.