Saying the Cubs have raised expectations for next year this winter is an understatement. But since there haven’t been any expectations for the past four to five years, the only way to go is up. It all started on the last day of the season in Milwaukee when Anthony Rizzo was asked about his expectations for the 2015 team.
Anthony Rizzo said, “To be the NL Central Champs. Obviously, that’s the playoffs and we want to go deep, but it takes a lot of work and we have a tough division. Teams aren’t going anywhere. It’s only going to get better, but that’s our expectation. That’s the message we’re going to send.”
Theo Epstein backed his first baseman during his end of the season press conference and stated the Cubs goal in 2015 is to win the National League Central Division.
A lot has changed over the last three months, and not only with the old ballyard.
The front office brought in Joe Maddon to manage the team and made changes to the coaching staff (John Mallee, hitting coach; Eric Hinske, assistant hitting coach; Dave Martinez, bench coach; Brandon Hyde, first base coach).
The Cubs signed Jon Lester, Jason Hammel and David Ross and traded for Miguel Montero. Questions remain in the outfield, and the front office is trying to address what they feel is an area that needs to be upgraded.
Early predictions have the team that finished last season with a 73-89 record, 28-27 over the last two months, could improve by five to 10 wins, which would put the Cubs at least near the .500 mark
Buster Olney thinks the Cubs are the second biggest storyline in baseball to keep an eye on as the New Year approaches. Olney posted a list of the 10 biggest storylines in baseball as he sees it in the last week of December. And the Cubs were second to only Rob Manfred taking office as the new commissioner in January.
Olney pointed out the Cubs “improved last season behind Anthony Rizzo and the first contributions from the wave of star prospects, but in 2015 the franchise appears poised to take a big step forward with new manager Joe Maddon.” Olney thinks the Cubs will receive a boost from Kris Bryant once he is promoted and Addison Russell could make his big league debut in 2015 as well.
According to Olney, “It’s not out of the question that the Cubs could play meaningful games in September, or vie for a playoff spot.”
Olney’s other eight storylines in baseball as the calendar flips to 2015: 3) The AL Central; 4) Giancarlo Stanton; 5) Troy Tulowitzki; 6) The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees; 7) Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw; 8) Cuba; 9) The Front Office Work of the Dodgers and Padres; 10) Milestones
- Full Report from Buster Olney (subscription only)
News, Notes and Rumors
Ken Davidoff posted his annual over-rated and over-hated column … as for Cubs-related, Jon Lester was underappreciated by the Red Sox.
The mainstream media has not heard what Theo Epstein said about signing only one nine-figure free agent starting pitcher this winter, unless there is a 2-for-1 sale. A report from the Belleville News Democrat indicated a New York Post column said the Cardinals, Tigers and Cubs “are the most likely destinations” for Max Scherzer. But the report’s focus in on how Scherzer could sign with the Redbirds this winter, that is if the ‘Wee Bears’ stay out of the mix for Scherzer as Epstein has said.
‘Tarp-Gate’ led to one of the most commented on stories on Hardball Talk in 2014.
From reading his tweet, John Mallee is very happy to be on the Cubs coaching staff.
This Day In Cubstory
2011 – Cubs signed free agent Andy Sonnanstine
1985 – Chris Carpenter, born
1979 – J.C. Boscan, born
1961 – Storm Davis, born
1917 – Cubs acquired Dode Paskert from the Phillies for Cy Williams
1907 – Harry Taylor, born