Chicago Cubs: Dusting off our overly-optimistic 2019 crystal ball

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) /

Fast forward seven months. It’s early March, 2019. The Chicago Cubs are coming off a disappointing loss in their fourth-straight NL Championship Series appearance. What does the Cubs’ crystal ball show is in store for the team?

While this season still holds considerable promise for the Cubs, it’s never too early to look ahead. Okay, it is sometimes too early to look ahead. But, considering the angst with which so many view the 2018 season to date, perhaps taking out the crystal ball and looking beyond 2018 is a worthwhile catharsis.

A shot of perspective

Before digging in to the “what may be” scenario, a moment to reflect on what “is”. The Cubs have the best record in the National League. Without their best player, Kris Bryant, for a significant chunk of games. Without their most consistent hitter, Anthony Rizzo, producing at his standard rate of return. With starting pitching that rarely pitches into the sixth inning. With a bullpen many so-called experts say is a weakness. With no production of note from their key offseason acquisitions, Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood. Best. Record. In. The. National. League.

Many worry the sky is falling in Wrigleyville. It is not. This team is as good as we thought they’d be. More importantly, they’re that good for reasons we did not expect. Worst case, they are a playoff-bound contender that will need to be dealt with and with room to improve.

Best case scenario? Bryant, Rizzo, Darvish and Chatwood round into form and they are poised to raise a trophy for the second time in three seasons. Let’s collectively step back from the ledge, hope for the best, and enjoy the ride.

With that out of the way, it’s time to consider 2019.