As we inch closer to when pitchers and catchers report everyone is getting excited to see what will happen for our Defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. Talk about an amazing time at the end of the 2016 baseball season. I was fortunate to be able to go to one of the National League Championship Series Games and one of the World Series Games that were played at the Friendly Confines.
The one experience I truly did not expect to experience was being in Cleveland for Game #7 of the World Series. There were a lot of ups and some downs during Game #7 as everyone knows and then we received the unthinkable experience in our life time. The Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series 4 Games to 3 Games and made history for all Chicago Cub Fans. Granted I know that we are three plus months past winning, yet for me it still seems surreal. In my 51 years of life I had always hoped that I would get to see the Cubs do it yet as time went by it just seemed that it likely would never happen!! We don’t have to say “Wait Till Next Year” any more. (Check out Robb’s Facebook Live video of his in-game experience here!)
With Pitchers and Catchers reporting next week I decided to take a look at the players that I am confident will be part of the 25 man roster at the end of Spring Training. I don’t have a full 25 man roster as I am not sure who will fill out positions 22-25 yet for me. Here is who I see that are going to be the players to defend to the best of their abilities the Cubs Title. In no particular order we’ll have: Jake Arrieta, Carl Edwards Jr, Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Willson Contreras, Miguel Montero, Javy Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, Jason Heyward, Jon Jay, Kyle Schwarber, Wade Davis, Mike Montgomery, Koji Uehara, Matt Szczur and Justin Grimm.
Who will Joe Maddon and his staff choose for the final four slots that I have for the 25 man roster? It is to soon for me to determine that at this point. We know four of the starting five pitchers with Arrieta, Lester, Hendricks and Lackey handling those spots. The closer is going to be Wade Davis as long as he is healthy, we also have Hector Rondon plus Pedro Strop who both are looking to bounce back a little this year. Mike Montgomery will also be in the pitcher mix and I believe Justin Grimm will still be with the Cubs. Carl Edwards Jr is not going any where and giving Koji Uehara a one year $6 million contract you would expect him in the pitching choices as well.
Our fielders of course are Rizzo, Bryant, Baez, Contreras, Jay, Schwarber, Russell, Heyward, Zobrist with Montero and I am guessing Szczur some how still in the mix. So that is 21 of the 25 and I am just not sure who else. Tommy LaStella is still with the team yet may not make it. Rob Zastryzny may get a longer look this spring and Albert Almora Jr looks to made his case as well to stay up with the Big League Club. There maybe a couple of others I don’t have listed here and they will have to have amazing Springs to make the Final 25.
The other question as well is what do Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod have in mind to help keep this team at the top of the World of Baseball? The Cubs still need a strong 5th person for the rotation and who will truly become the long reliever for this team. There also seems to be an overload of outfielders and we have two cornerstones with Bryant and Rizzo who are not going anywhere. The Cubs are still working on that special blend of youngsters with crafty veterans to help be as successful in 2017 as the Cubs possibly are able to. Going to miss the leadership of David Ross who is going into the front office while also spending some time in the broadcast booth. I personally was looking forward to Ross staying with the Cubs in some capacity as I thought he would be able to talk with younger players as needed though out the season.
All I do know for sure is that 2016 was “Our Season” and it is going to be a lot of fun to see how 2017 plays out. Spring Training games, the 162 regular season games and the hope for 11 of 19 potential post season victories as well. I am glad that the best team in baseball will have home field through the World Series versus the All-Star game determining the World Series Home Field Advantage. The National League Central looks to be strong again and I hope as we all do, that the Cubs are at the top of division and we’ll see how the playoffs go. I was even able to purchase a 14 game flex pack of tickets this season and I am so looking forward to my first game at Wrigley. Is today April 12th yet??!!!