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MLB Chicago Cubs

Opening Day 2014: Chicago Cubs Season Outlook

Opening Day 2014: Chicago Cubs Season Outlook

Opening Day 2014: Chicago Cubs Season Outlook
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Going into Opening Day 2014, the Chicago Cubs will be a very interesting team to keep track of. The Cubs are marketed towards a younger generation, and having a youthful crop of prospects is just the beginning. It will be fitting that as Wrigley Field celebrates its 100th anniversary, the Cubs also could be celebrating the dawn of a new era.

Nick Schaeflein is a Chicago Cubs writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424

Top 5 Hitters

Nate Schierholtz
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Top 5 Hitters

Nate Schierholtz
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

1. Anthony Rizzo
2. Starlin Castro
3. Mike Olt
4. Welington Castillo
5. Justin Ruggiano/Nate Schierholtz

There is speculation as to how much longer Nate Schierholtz will be a part of the Cubs. Until that time, he will provide protection for Anthony Rizzo on the left side. Mike Olt is regaining his power at the plate, which will provide more pop to the order.

Top 5 Pitchers

Jose Veras
Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Top 5 Pitchers

Jose Veras
Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

1. Jeff Samardzija
2. Travis Wood
3. Jose Veras
4. Pedro Strop
5. Edwin Jackson

Jose Veras and Pedro Strop have an opportunity to become much-needed anchors at the back of the bullpen. Their ability to close out games will instantly add wins. The Cubs will also go as Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood go. Samardzija is a workhorse and Wood is an All-Star.

Top 5 Newcomers

Jason Hammel
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Top 5 Newcomers

Jason Hammel
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

1. Jose Veras
2. Justin Ruggiano
3. Jason Hammel
4. Emilio Bonifacio
5. George Kottaras

Veras has the potential to become a solid closer at the back of the pen. Jason Hammel could evolve into a nice back-end starter. George Kottaras could provide a solid bat off of the bench and is also the backup catcher. Justin Ruggiano and Emilio Bonifacio are capable of bringing new life to the lineup and manufacturing some runs.

Top 5 Prospects

Javier Baez
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Top 5 Prospects

Javier Baez
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

1. Javier Baez
2. Kris Bryant
3. Albert Almora
4. Mike Olt
5. Jorge Soler

Kris Bryant and Albert Almora have all of the promise in the world. They will eventually become leaders on and off of the field. The sound that is made when Javier Baez connects is not often heard. The pop off his bat is similar to that of Mike Trout. It is next-level power that stands apart from the rest.

Final Record/Divisional Standing Prediction

Rick Renteria
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Final Record/Divisional Standing Prediction

Rick Renteria
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

After two straight 60-win seasons and four straight fifth-place finishes, the Cubs have the potential to improve those marks. The influx of young stars should arrive towards the end of the season. With an improved bullpen, it is hopeful that Chicago will cut down on blown saves throughout the year.

Look for the Cubs to finish 73-89 and in fourth place, a game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers.