Strong players could help Chicago Cubs come back

By Chris Loggins

Changes to the Chicago Cubs may help the team finally end its streak of disappointing seasons.

The Cubs have continuously struggled to make the playoffs and keep up with fans’ expectations since a 2008 season in which it went 97-64. Seven seasons later, with an array of changes around the organization, there looks to be hope again on the North side of Chicago.

The Cubs currently stand at third place in the NL Central with a record of 35-28, and are six and a half games back of the leading St. Louis Cardinals.

There are many promising stories that surround the Cubs, starting with the emergence of infielder Kris Bryant, the top prospect in all of baseball. Before the season, fans were starving for the arrival of Bryant, who was finally called up by the Cubs on April 17. In 55 games this season, Bryant is batting .295 with eight home runs and 39 runs batted in. He has an on base percentage of .398, a slugging percentage of .488, 33 walks, 12 doubles, and two triples — quite the start to a major league career.

Joe Maddon took control of manager duties this season, giving the Cubs a proven manager with great experience. In all of his years, Maddon has won AL Manager of the Year for the Tampa Bay Rays twice and won a World Series in 2002 as an assistant with the Los Angeles Angels.

Chicago has been building around a ton of young talent as they look to keep climbing the National League ranks. Young infielder Addison Russell has also made a nice leap onto the scene, showcasing nice defense and hitting and making him a promising player for the future.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo continues to be MVP material, currently hitting .302 with 12 home runs and 39 runs batted in. At age 25, Rizzo is already closing in on 100 career home runs.

Shortstop Starlin Castro has been a workhorse as usual, continuing his consistent play and completing the nucleus of the Cubs roster. There are high hopes for second baseman Javier Baez, who has been back and forth from the minors and majors, mainly due to inconsistency and horrible patience at the plate. He looks to be one of the final prospects the Cubs are waiting for to advance the roster, borrowing the scenario that he doesn’t make the leaps they hoped for.

Pitcher Jon Lester was the big signing of the offseason, but it’s taken him a while to find his groove as the official ace of the pitching staff.

The Cubs have remained consistent despite his occasional struggles, which should give him plenty of time to adjust and make necessary changes. He is followed in the rotation by Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Kyle Hendricks, and Tsuyoshi Wada. Though the pitching staff hasn’t been perfect, they have all had stretches of playing well and look to be nearing a good run.

Overall, there’s no telling where the Cubs season will end, as there are still nearly 100 games left in the year. Seasons often take many twists and turns, and there’s no way to predict what the team is going to do this year.

Still, it looks as though the phrase “the Cubs are back!” is closer to being true than not. It’s going to be fun to see what they can accomplish and how great of a team they can build in the next few years.

All eyes are watching.