Chicago Cubs News

Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals ready to resume heated rivalry

Sep 24, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams (32) dives to put out Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) during the third inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams (32) dives to put out Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) during the third inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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Expectations from the Chicago Cubs are higher than ever following a World Series championship. Despite losing a valuable piece of the 2016 team, all is well on the North Side.

But let’s be honest, we already miss seeing Dexter Fowler in a Chicago Cubs uniform. It’s weird seeing him in enemy colors. Either way, Fowler remains beloved in the Windy City and I doubt there’s anything that will change that.

Unless, that is, he ends up winning a World Series with the Redbirds. For now, a heated rivalry just got even hotter with Fowler on the opposite end of the fence. Surely, you’ve read articles somewhat similar to this one.

Looking back at what Fowler did with the Cubs prior to leaving and given how the Cardinals could be a very real threat, this offseason looks different than last year’s.

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The Cubs had a bit of a scare midway through the campaign but eventually pulled away with a comfortable lead to win the division. And Fowler was reminded of that not too long ago – the memes were real.

All in good fun, though. Come Sunday, April 2, two of the best teams in professional baseball will go head-to-head to begin the year.

This is a match-up that is going to draw thousands of fans to each ballpark and millions of viewers watching from home, throughout the season.

Offseason Recap

Both clubs made solid moves over the offseason, leading up to this. St. Louis managed to land reliever Brett Cecil on November 21 when he signed a four-year deal worth $30.5 million.

A move that was expected considering the health of both Tyler Lyons and Zach Duke. Two men who will either miss most of the year or the entire campaign itself.

Then you have Theo Epstein and company. Epstein and his front office have made a handful of spectacular moves, including a trade that brought Addison Russell from Oakland. Following up a World Series victory, the Cubs flipped Jorge Soler for closer Wade Davis to replace Aroldis Chapman.

This was Chicago’s biggest move of the offseason, in my opinion. With the addition of a few bullpen arms, the Cubs remain strong. Yes, they’re going to miss that leadoff bat of Fowler. However, the rest of their lineup hasn’t changed – minus one big addition.

Fountain of Youth

Young outfielder Kyle Schwarber is healthy and ready to get back to work after missing over 90 percent of the regular season in 2016. There isn’t much to say about the rest of the group because well, we know what they’re capable of.

One spot to look at would be leadoff and in center field. Jon Jay and rookie Albert Almora Jr. took over Fowler’s spot. Obviously, Almora is Chicago’s main centerpiece when it comes to the position as they eye the future.

Yet, bringing in the former Cardinals veteran provides Joe Maddon with someone who has experience. If the rookie is having trouble with his mechanics, Jay can fill in just fine until Almora finds his groove.

Next: Cubs' prep for October comes in July

But when it comes to Opening Night in St. Louis, I’m fully expecting Jay to be the man who takes the field. Jon was drafted by the Cardinals in 2006 and made his debut with the club four years after.

The 32-year-old spent five years in St. Louis before he was traded to San Diego in exchange for Jedd Gyorko in December of 2015. So, surely, he’s looking forward April 2 just as much as Fowler.

These next few weeks are going to crawl.

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