Odds do not appear to be in favor of the Chicago Cubs heading into the 2020 campaign and a rocky start could make things worse for them down the road.
Before you know it, Chicago Cubs baseball will be on the air. Considering how this fan base has been acting over the past few seasons mixed with a frustrating offseason, blood pressure readings will be at an all-time high.
What doesn’t make things any better is knowing former outfielder Nicholas Castellanos will be squaring off against the Cubs several times a year. Castellanos signed a multi-year contract with Cincinnati, continuing their overhaul in pursuit of their first World Series title in 30 years.
Cincinnati’s offseason is a mimic of last year’s Cardinals shift when they acquired some bullpen relief on top of another nightmare of a first baseman in Paul Goldschmidt. As if dealing with Albert Pujols for so long wasn’t enough.
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For five glorious seasons, our Cubs were the powerhouse of the National League Central. Not to downgrade the talent they have at the moment. Unfortunately, it appears as if they could be the worst team in the division, aside from the Pittsburgh Pirates, if things don’t get off to a better start.
Chicago got things going early, steamrolling through the Texas Rangers by the final score of 12-4 in the season opener. However, one great performance was quickly overshadowed by a six-game losing streak which would be ended in Milwaukee.
Their struggling start to the year set the tone for the rest of the season, eventually losing their grip over the Central. At the All-Star break, the Cubs (47-43) were holding onto a half-game first-place lead ahead of the Brewers (47-44) while the rest remained in the hunt, trailing within only five.
Given the offseason impact made by the Reds, and Chicago’s bullpen still unsure of its identity, things could look different ahead of this year’s trade deadline; not in a good way, either. Sitting near the bottom of the division means Theo Epstein is taking calls on nearly every name that may not be Javier Baez.
Following this path may lead to the departure(s) of Jon Lester, who is in his last guaranteed year of control), Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber or Albert Almora Jr. in an attempt to start from scratch. If so, building around Baez would make sense while putting Nico Hoerner in that mix as well.
Previously, Epstein has shipped away top prospects to bring home a World Series title. Those men have gone on to make an impact of their own such as Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees and Eloy Jimenez with the White Sox.
So, if this organization just so happens to find themselves duking it out with the Pirates (traded Starling Marte to the Diamondbacks for prospects), then moving Hoerner is less likely to happen. Which is an upside to rebuilding even if they manage to land Scooter Gennett. Truth is, the future may be foggy but it isn’t completely lost or set in stone.
All we can do is sit back and wait to see how David Ross manages this team through July. Worst case, this team finds themselves back at the bottom of the food chain; something we have been familiar with before but only this time, we’ve got a championship in our back pockets.