You might be surprised at what this poll shows about Cubs fans' optimism

Despite heading into 2024 with a roster that largely mirrors the one that suffered a brutal late season collapse a year ago, the fanbase is feeling particularly optimistic.

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs
Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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It's all good vibes in Wrigleyville with Opening Day just a week away. At least, that's the message in The Athletic's (subscription required) annual fan optimism survey that released this week, with Cubs fans checking in as the ninth-most optimistic bunch in the bigs heading into the 2024 season.

90.3 percent of respondents said they were optimistic about the Cubs, a dramatic jump from last spring's 52.3 percent - and more than four times higher the 2022 mark of 17.6 percent. President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer deserves a lot of the credit for that, having successfully re-loaded the farm system and setting up the team for long-term success in the process.

The team's headlining moves this winter, which sort of bookended the offseason in the Craig Counsell and Cody Bellinger signings, certainly help matters. Counsell not only represents a major upgrade in the manager's office, but there's an 'addition by subtraction' play here poaching him from the division rival Brewers.

Cody Bellinger, top-shelf farm system have Cubs fans feeling good

As for Bellinger, the fit was there all winter long and, thankfully, the two sides worked something out - even if just for another year. It's still a wait-and-see on the club's biggest offseason pickup, Shota Imanaga, but if he pans out the way the organization believes he will, the left-handed could further buoy fans' hopes.

Given how the offseason began, full of unrealistic expectations of a serious Shohei Ohtani pursuit or Juan Soto trade, it at least appears that, with time, the fanbase re-set expectations and have come to accept how the Cubs are approaching roster-building. They've never been a team that plays in the very top of the free agent market (although one can certainly make the case there's no reason why they cannot or should not) - but continue to focus on finding 'value' in any way possible.

A major way Hoyer has done that during his tenure is through the trade market and the draft, with top pitching prospect Cade Horton emerging as the team's most hyped arm since Mark Prior and trade acquisitions Alexander Canario, Ben Brown, Owen Caissie and Pete Crow-Armstrong headlining a farm system that's ranked among the best in the game.

What we all likely remember most from the 2023 campaign is that horrendous collapse down the stretch. But with mere weeks left to play, Fangraphs pegged the Cubs' chances of making the playoffs at north of 90 percent. Now, it's on Counsell and his team to finish the job this time around and bring playoff baseball back to Wrigley Field for the first time in a full season since 2018.

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