Chicago Cubs: The best bench for Cubs in 2017 is not what you think
In building a championship team, creating a bench of the right players is paramount. The Chicago Cubs proved that last year. This year, the bench will look different.
You are only as strong as your weakest link. Thus says the paraphrased proverb originating from the late 1700’s. In baseball, that could mean anything. The team is only as strong as their pitching rotation, or eighth batter. Or the backup catcher. Anything.
And, when the chain breaks or is weakened further–through injury or transaction–fixing it is challenging. Having the right pieces to fill the gap and continue the strength of the chain becomes critical. For the Chicago Cubs, that means having a bench of quality players. These men allow for rest after long or late games and can be the epoxy to cover the vacancy when injury occurs.
The bench for the Cubs in 2016 proved their value. Javier Baez played amazing defense at second base in the playoff, but also produce all season. The only positions he did not play in 2016 were catcher and center and right fields. Outfielder Matt Szczur earned a 0.4 WAR last year with timely hits and an OPS of .712. Not bad for a part-time player. Willson Contreras played his way onto the bench after being called up mid-season. And then, Tommy La Stella was awarded the nickname “3 am” by Manager Joe Maddon, as he could be called on at any time to hit.
Add to this list the departed Jorge Soler, David Ross, and Chris Coghlan, and you have a solid bench on the roster. However, the bench for the Chicago Cubs in 2017 will look very different. And will be much improved.