Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hope Springs Eternal In Wrigleyville

As Spring Training opens up, we note that this year will mark 107 years since the Chicago Cubs won a  World Series. Below is an old photo we dug up that shows the victory parade through downtown Chicago.

(Hat tip Rick Barret)

But as they say in Chicago, "Hope springs eternal" (old South-Side expression, actually).

Actually, the first hope for 2015 is that the new bleachers and outfield walls will be ready for Opening Day.

Image result for wrigley field renovation
Uh oh.

New ground rules: Any ball that rolls onto Waveland or Sheffield Avenues is a ground rule double.

But in all seriousness, there is excitement on the North Side. The Cubs have a plethora of big-time prospects coming up through the minor leagues. Last year saw the arrivals of Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara with mixed results. If Baez can cut down that monster hitch in his swing, the sky is the limit for the young Puerto Rican who can play second, short or third. In addition, it is fully expected that Kris Bryant will join the Cubs either at the start of the year or a month later (which would give the team an extra year on his rookie contract). Bryant is expected to take over third base, or if there is a glut in the infield, perhaps move to left field. Bryant, who hit 41 homers in his first year in the minors moving from single A to triple A, is considered the top prospect in baseball.

The number 4-rated prospect is Addison Russell a shortstop, who could move to second to third depending on how that infield glut plays out.  He played double A last year and is expected to start at triple A this year. Look for him to arrive in Chicago in 2016.

Add to those Alberto Almora, a center fielder who will probably play triple A this year and 2nd-year (minors) catcher-outfielder Kyle Schwarber, who tore up pitching in his first year, and what we have is a future in Wrigleyville. The Cubs have the top-rated farm system in baseball thanks to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.

Oh yeah. Joe Madden is our new manager, and we have added Jon Lester to the pitching staff.

Most of the experts are predicting a drastic improvement this year, maybe even .500 ball this year. By 2016 or 2017, the team should be contending seriously. So does that mean our long era of misery will end, or will they simply break our hearts again by blowing a few more pennants?

Who knows? Maybe I could offer my services as Joe Madden's bench coach.

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