Chicago Cubs: Eight weeks until Spring Training and still crickets

Theo Epstein, David Ross, Chicago Cubs (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Theo Epstein, David Ross, Chicago Cubs (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Lengthening the lineup is essential

The Cubs simply didn’t have a long enough lineup to maintain a high level of play for the entirety of a season. This starts at the top of the order.  Ever since Dexter Fowler moved on from the Windy City and joined the Cardinals, this has been a major issue.

The Schwarber/Heyward leadoff experiments were total fails, Ben Zobrist filled the role well, but in 2019 he left on May 6 and the Cubs’ winning streak ended a couple of weeks later. The road losses mounted. The season fell into disarray.

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Chicago must sign a one spot hitter. Nothing is more clear, more irrefutable than that.  A lineup with a Zobrist-like high OBP guy lengthens the lineup by adding a contact hitter to the top of the order.  The Cubs should absolutely give Shogo Akiyama a serious offer per my Cubbies Crib colleague Jim Guzior. This sets the table for Bryant, Rizzo and Baez to do some real damage.

With Contreras, Schwarber and Heyward as the five, six, and seven-spot hitters, that becomes a very dangerous lineup.

Chicago Cubs: Bullpen and bench

The bullpen starts and ends with Craig Kimbrel as the closer, with guys like Chatwood, Mills, Rowan Wick and Brad Wieck all in the mix, as well.  Adbert Alzolay, Duane Underwood Jr. and Dillon Maples, among others, could get a shot in the spring. That’s not counting for any of the team’s recent signings – largely comprised of bounceback candidates.

Almora, Russell, Happ and Bote round out the bench. It would be too much to ask for the Cubs to flip Descalso in a bad contract for bad contract trade. Tony Kemp, Robel Garcia and a host of Spring Training invitees are in the mix as well.

Next. Chicago Cubs need one last hurrah from Jon Lester in 2020. dark

Two paths. Rebuild or reload. Either could work out very well; either could bomb badly.  But there is no middle path.  That direction is a dead-end of 82-to-85 win seasons.  A waste of time and resources.  Regardless of what the front office and Tom Ricketts decide to do it will be an interesting conclusion to the offseason.