Cubs March Madness: 4 lingering, massive questions Chicago must answer

Despite a ton of optimism from the fanbase, this Cubs team is far from a perfect product.

2024 Chicago Cubs Spring Training
2024 Chicago Cubs Spring Training / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages
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3 - Will Craig Counsell be the impactful difference maker we expect?

If the answer to this question is anything but 'yes,' we've got big problems. Craig Counsell has long been considered one of the game's best managers and he should represent a dramatic upgrade over David Ross, who was fired last fall after receiving public votes of confidence from ownership and the front office.

The question is just how many wins Counsell proves to be worth, something that's hard to quantify. But based on lineup construction and bullpen management alone, he should, at the very least, be able to help the Cubs avoid the types of brutal stretches that ended their season early last September.

He's already taking a new approach to building the pitching staff, showing faith in the team's young arms and relegating the team's ninth-highest-paid player and fourth-highest-paid pitcher, Drew Smyly, to the bullpen to start the season.

The expectation is a return to October. Anything short of that will be considered a total failure. Counsell knows that and has checked every box leading up to Opening Day, saying all the right things. Now, it's time to do the job and prove why he's now the game's highest-paid manager.