Article Written By: Manny Alcala
2013 Record: 66-96 (5th place in NL Central)
Key additions: Jose Veras, Justin Ruggiano, Ryan Roberts, Wesley Wright, Jason Hammel.
Key losses: Dioner Navarro, Brian Bogusevic, Kevin Gregg (unsigned).
Most important players for 2014: Anthony Rizzo, Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Starlin Castro.
The Chicago Cubs had yet another losing season in 2013 as they continue their rebuilding process. Surprisingly it has been a very quiet off-season for the Cubs as their roster remains practically unchanged. The players they have acquired won’t really make a huge impact towards the improvement of the team. Jose Veras might be the new closer since last year’s closer Kevin Gregg is still currently a free agent. Ruggiano and Roberts will most likely be starters for the Cubs, but the best of their games has been shown in flashes and they will probably just be used as stopgaps for Chicago’s upcoming prospects.
Jeff Samardzija still remains as the ace, but his ties to trade rumors have me thinking what his motivation might be. It is certainly tough to focus when there is trade rumors surrounding you as a player. For as long as Samardzija stays with the Cubs, he will remain the ace of this team. The Cubs have shown some interest in giving him a long term deal. The sooner the better for the Cubs, as I could see a trade involving Jeff happen sometime this season before the trade deadline if he doesn’t get an extension.
The face of the Cubbies, Anthony Rizzo, will be looking to keep improving in his young career. Last season he displayed more power, but less batting average. He is still a very young first baseman (24) and should be able to bring back his batting average to at least .280. Starlin Castro is becoming a tough player to solve. His sudden lack of effort has made him nothing more than just a regular shortstop, but hopefully it was just a bad year for Castro last season, and Cubs fans can get more of what he was in the 2011 season when he earned 207 hits with a .307 batting average.
This season will mark the 100th anniversary of sacrosanct Wrigley Field. The stadium which opened in 1914 will have special celebrations and giveaways throughout the season celebrating their amazing milestone. Things like historic bobbleheads, retro jerseys, and historic guests will all be part of the 100 year celebration.
Another addition that Chicago made this season and wasn’t listed under the “Key additions” was their new mascot Clark the Cub. Even Clark hasn’t escaped the criticism as fans have said he looks like something a five year old drew. What is most ironic about Clark the Cub is his noticeable depressing sight he transmits. It will be fun to keep up with the new Cubs mascot during this season as many jokes are expected to continue.
Even though the Cubs are in a tough position right now, the future might be brighter for them. They have plenty of young top prospects that might break in to the show as soon as this season. Expect to hear the names of Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, C.J. Edwards, and more of the young talented players the Cubs are depending on for future success.
In a very competitive NL central division the Cubs will have another rough season where they once again have the potential to finish last. Just like the amount of years of Wrigley Field, 100 years = 100 losses this season for the Cubs. It is sad that there is not much that can happen to prevent this except miracle seasons by many of the Cubs players. Look for Chicago to use more and more rookies to get their feet wet and have a more competitive team hopefully as soon as 2015.