By Jacob Kornhauser on April 30, 2014
April had the Cubs go without a series win the the month for the first time since 1997. That's not exactly the direction the team wanted to be headed in as it prepares to hopefully compete in the near future. Even so, the team had a couple of surprise players as well as disappointing players. Here are four that fall into each category.
Along with Hector Rondon, Grimm has been the Cubs' best reliever this season. He has definitely been the most dependable and manager Rick Renteria has shown trust in him in big situations. All of that could lead to Grimm eventually becoming the closer in the future.
Veras came in to be the team's closer and to shore up a bullpen that was supposed to be much improved this season. They still have time to recover as a unit, but Veras has zero saves in two chances and has already been removed from the role. The bullpen has been less than impressive and that starts with Veras.
Signed to a minor league contract in the offseason, Bonifacio was thought to be a pretty solid signing by the Cubs. It turns out that he was far more than that as he's been one of the team's most consistent hitters while providing one of the best stolen base threats in the NL. Through the first month of the season, the Cubs surely got their money's worth.
After being a pleasant surprise for the Cubs last season, Schierholtz has really struggled at the plate this season. He's not seeing the ball well at all and if he doesn't turn it around soon, it may be very difficult for the Cubs to move him at the trade deadline like they had hoped to do.
Looking to bounce back from a lackluster 2013 season, Rizzo has done just that so far this year. He's displaying power while still hitting for a very solid average, leading the team at the plate. His improved approach at the plate is extremely encouraging as well.
Sweeney earned a two-year contract last season, but he hasn't lived up to that this season. Like Schierholtz, he's really not seeing the ball well at all and isn't even playing everyday anymore. Should he hope to earn more playing time, he needs to start turning it on.
The Cubs' so-called ace has actually pitched like a true ace this season. He's doing the Cubs a favor by making him much more tradable and at the very least, he's earning himself a whole lot of money with a potential contract extension coming soon. As long as he keeps pitching the way he is, life is going to be good for him for the next decade or so.
Given the chance to start playing everyday this season, Olt has been very disappointing so far. While he's launched four home runs so far, he's hitting below the Mendoza line and hasn't shown talent beyond being able to hit for power. If he's not able to recover in the next month or so or by the end of the season at the least, Kris Bryant could be the Opening Day third baseman in 2015.
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