Chicago Cubs’ productive camp comes to a close in Florida

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

At last, we’re nearing the end of yet another Chicago Cubs training camp. Along the way, several questions received answers while new and young faces settled in. Now, it’s time to get down to business.

Ladies and gentleman, we made it. For a while, it almost felt like time began to crawl soon after the Dodgers eliminated the Chicago Cubs from the postseason. A familiar taste left in the mouths of Cubs’ players and fans.

However, as expected, the front office went back to work and made a few important roster adjustments. Due to the departures of John Lackey, Jake Arrieta, Jon Jay, Wade Davis and several others, free agent opportunities presented themselves.

Specifically, opportunities that would open the door for the starting rotation. Those names being Tyler Chatwood and Japanese-born pitcher, Yu Darvish. Darvish, 31, played a part in cutting Chicago’s hopes of repeating by three games.

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Yu has been a reliable arm regardless of his issue when it comes to “tipping” pitches. He has since proved it, carrying a 3-0 record with an ERA of 2.79 in five Cactus League starts for the North Siders.

Over the course of those five starts, Yu yielded a total of six earned runs on 14 hits, one home run and a K/BB ratio of 20/5.

Order in the North

On February 28th, the order in which the starting rotation would fall was posted on the teams official Twitter handle. As pictured, Darvish sits behind Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks, serving as a solid middle man ahead of Jose Quintana.

At the end of the rotation, former Colorado Rockie, Chatwood, will work as the anchor. Similar to Darvish, Chatwood, 28, ended his Cactus League run with an unbeaten record that tallied four wins.

To conclude rotation talk, the Cubs could easily have the best starting five in the league after what these two men put on display.

Rumble, young man, rumble

(Stats provided are those recorded before today’s game against Boston)

In a mix of All-Star caliber talent, Ian Happ, and Willson Contreras felt as if they had more to prove. A surge of power between the two combined for a team-leading seven (Happ) and four (Contreras) made for a promising headline.

Happ, similar to Willson, stormed out of the gate, leading the Cubs in multiple offensive categories. Through 18 games and 52 at-bats, the 23-year-old power lefty raked in 12 RBI on 17 hits, three doubles, and one triple while slashing .327/.407/.824/.1.234.

For Happ, his performance earned him the lead-off role for skipper Joe Maddon. One specific job held by none other than Dexter Fowler.

Learn from those who teach

Meanwhile, Contreras has never been in any danger of losing his role with the team. Unlike Geovany Soto and Wellington Castillo, Willson appears to be the guy. Only, Willson didn’t win Rookie of the Year like Soto did back in 2008. Either way, it is pretty safe to say that he’s set in stone.

As for his production this Spring, the 25-year-old drove in eight runs on 12 hits (36 at-bats) behind a batting line of .333/.385/.750/1.135. Contreras, once groomed by David Ross, has a bright future and what it takes to become a great catcher.

Not only a great catcher but a leader as well. Could he end up being in the same conversation as Yadier Molina, Jorge Posada, Buster Posey, Yogi Berra, Mike Piazza or Ivan Rodriguez just to name a few?

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Hey, in this game, anything is possible. What we do know is that like Happ, Darvish, Chatwood, and the rest, he too is ready for the season to begin.

Everybody In.