CHICAGO CUBS (NL Central)
2013 record: 66-96 (last, 31 back):
Projected 2014: 68.5 wins
World Series odds: 100/1
Key additions: P Jose Veras
X factor: Help from minors
Projected starting lineup: Infield: C – W. Castillo; 1B – A. Rizzo; 2B – D. Barney; 3B –L. Valbuena; SS S. Castro. Outfield: LF –J. Lake; CF – J. Ruggiano; RF – N. Schierholtz.
Starting rotation: J. Samardzija, T. Wood, E. Jackson, J. Arrieta, J. Hammel.
Closer: J. Veras
The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series in 105 years, haven’t been to one since 1945 and finished 31 games out in the NL Central.
Do I hear 106?
Prospects aren’t much better this year than last for those lovable Cubbies. And why should they be? They are basically the same team as a year ago when they lost 96 games.
LVH projects them at 68.5 wins. In the first 14 days of the season, we should know how bad this team is. The schedule reads: 2 at Pittsburgh, 3 with Philadelphia, 3 with Pittsburgh, 3 at St. Louis, 2 at NY Yankees.
There is no superstar player, although shortstop Starlin Castro makes All Star teams. Hey someone has to represent the Cubs! First baseman Anthony Rizzo at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds certainly has the physique to be that guy, but not with a .233 batting average.
Castro’s 163 hits led the team as did Rizzo’s 23 homers. But nobody came close to hitting .300, driving in 100 runs or winning 15 games. If you are a baseball player looking for work, this is the No. 1 team to submit a resume.
Edwin Jackson at $13.5 million is far and away the highest paid player on the Cubs. Nobody in the starting rotation won 10 games.
The early buzz in camp is Javy Baez, enjoying the same hype that Castro did four years ago. Baez is being tried at second and third base to see if his live bat that is being compared with Gary Sheffield can make the lineup.
Mike Olt, who homered yesterday, is being groomed for third base though he can the outfield. The Cubs are 100/1 to win the World Series. Some would say they are 100/1 to finish at .500.
Bottom line: In a division with the Cardinals, Reds and improving Pirates, the Cubs face another long season. The good news: they can only go up.
On deck: Chicago White Sox
Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].