By Nick Schaeflein @ptchr2424 on March 31, 2014
The 2014 season is set to get under way for the Chicago Cubs. First year manager Rick Renteria has a hopeful outlook for his bunch this season. During camp, there were promising signs shown by several players, but how will things fare now that the games start to count? In the eyes of the front office, the likely most important grade will be on how the young talent develops and matures during the season. Here are more grades for the 2014 Cubs.
The remodeled bullpen will contain Jose Veras, Pedro Strop, James Russell, Wesley Wright, Justin Grimm, Hector Rondon and Brian Schlitter. This area has been a weak spot the last few seasons, but with new additions, the group is improved and does have some upside. Now it must translate out on the field for Chicago.
The rotation at the start will feature Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Travis Wood, Jason Hammel, and Carlos Villanueva. Jake Arrieta will miss the first few turns through the rotation, but the Cubs do have a formidable 1-2 punch in Samardzija and Wood. Command and quality will be keys to the rotation, and in turn keys to team success.
Outfielders include Nate Schierholtz, Junior Lake, Justin Ruggiano, Ryan Sweeney and Ryan Kalish. There may not be a 30-plus HR hitter in the bunch, but all five players are capable of putting together quality at-bats and producing. There is also a good amount of speed within the group, and they will be grinders out on the field.
The infielders and catchers include Welington Castillo, John Baker, Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro, Mike Olt, Emilio Bonifacio and Luis Valbuena. Rizzo and Olt will provide pop at the corners, and a lot will be asked of Castillo and Castro this season at the plate. Bonifacio is a super utility man who can provide a spark when called upon.
When the 2014 season is all said and done, the Cubs will ultimately not be judged by wins and losses. Chicago is building a foundation for the future. This season will be judged on how well the Cubs' young talent is infused and develops at the big league level. There is a new coaching staff in play that will also play a huge factor. Ultimately, the 2014 Cubs will be judged on how much they can grow together.
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