5 Chicago Cubs Storylines To Follow During Spring Training
2014 Chicago Cubs Storylines
The Chicago Cubs are set to report to Spring Training on February 13. They will be reporting to their brand new facility, Cubs Park in Mesa, Arizona. For Cubs fans, what will be the top stories to follow during Spring Training? What is in store for the upcoming season on the North side of Chicago?
The Cubs franchise will be in year three of the rebuilding process under the new regime. However, fans in Chicago are starting to become restless with the process. Fans have had to endure back-to-back 90-loss seasons, with the play on the field seemingly improving at a snail's pace. The team has traded away veterans to clear cap space, turned and burned a few starting pitchers and are filling the roster with free agent flyers.
On the surface, that formula is not adding up to to victories. That has been the case for the last two seasons, and early projections suggest it's heading that way for a third. To be fair, I do not think that the Cubs will be the worse team in the league as some simulations have forecasted. The team does have some good things going for them, and there is eventually a light at the end of the tunnel ... right?
Underneath the surface, the Cubs are building up quite the farm system, which is a huge step in the right direction. Many of the team's top prospects are projected to see Wrigley Field for the 2015 season. So, only one more year to go, Cubs fans. Hopefully the "curse" can take that season off and the top prospects will be as good as advertised.
Brace yourself, because here are five things to keep an eye out for during the 2014 Cubs' spring.
Nick Schaeflein is a Chicago Cubs writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.
5. The State of the Long Overdue Stadium Deal
One thing that has really handicapped the Cubs is the Wrigley Field stadium renovation deal that is being continuously delayed by parties involved. That, along with a pending new TV contract, could be where all of the dollars are tied up at the moment. Those deals are being delayed is part of the reason for the temporary light spending on players. Every time the deal takes one step forward, it takes one step back. Unfortunately, Cub fans know how that feels.
4. 100-Year Anniversary of Wrigley Field
In the spring, the Cubs will be unveiling a brand new complex out in Mesa, which is already getting great feedback. The complex will be awesome as the team transitions into a new era. This season is also the 100-year anniversary of the ballpark at Clark and Addison. Unfortunately, the building which is filled with tradition and glory is going through a bit of a slump with the play on the field as of late. The park has lined up some great giveaway days, throwback days and several other celebrations for the season, which could be the lone reason to attend most nights.
3. How Will Rick Renteria Fare in Year No. 1?
This season will be the first for new manager Rick Renteria. Renteria's only other prior head coaching experience has been in the World Baseball Classic. His approach to the game will be different than what the Cubs have seen in the last two seasons. Will he be able to rally the troops and produce better baseball? If he is able to weather the storm, help is on the way.
2. How Will The Pitching Staff Shake Out?
Last year, the Cubs were near the top in quality starts. However, they were also near the top in blown saves. They have added pieces to both the bullpen and rotation, so things could improve in that regard. The Cubs have a decision to make with Jeff Samardzija, and they also have to get Edwin Jackson on the right path for the remainder of that deal as well.
1. The Offense Must Improve
Among NL teams last season, the Cubs ranked 13th in batting average, 14th in runs scored and 14th in hits -- ouch. Looking at the glass half full, they were second in home runs, but solo home runs can only get you so far in a game. The idea of taking better approaches at the plate, having quality at-bats and getting on base is currently stuck in neutral. The Cubs are going in a younger direction, and fundamentals are essential to turning this thing around.