By Jacob Kornhauser on July 14, 2014
The Cubs are still a work in progress, but they're beginning to show signs of improvement. They won't be competitive until their sea of talent in the minor leagues makes their way to Chicago, but the Cubs still have to play games at the major league level for now. Based on each unit's performance, here are the team's first-half grades of 2014.
This grade would be far lower if it weren't for Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. These two have bounced back from lackluster 2013 seasons and both made the All-Star team. Since they along with catcher Welington Castillo are the only starters who figure to be around long term, the future appears bright in Chicago.
The Cubs have gone from one of the worst defensive teams in 2013 to one of the best in 2014. A mixture of putting guys in spots that best suit them and shifting correctly has made the Cubs capable of cutting down on the number of runs they allow.
Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel were some of the best pitchers in the NL during the first half, which is why the Cubs got so much from the Athletics when they traded the duo to Oakland. Additionally, Jake Arrieta is looking like he could be an ace in the future. Without Samardzija and Hammel, the rotation is up in the air in the second half, but they were very good in the first half.
Even though guys like Neil Ramirez and Justin Grimm have emerged as potential long-term solutions in the bullpen, the unit as a whole has underachieved once again. This is the one area the front office seemed to spend the most time on in the offseason, but the results really haven't shown yet this season.
The upbeat attitude Rick Renteria has instilled in the Cubs has made a world of difference. This team seems like they're having fun even while being a below average squad. This could go a long way toward cutting down on the amount of time it takes for them to become competitive.
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