Thu 26/03/2015 - 19:22 EDT

Chicago Cubs 2015 Season Preview

Chicago Cubs 2015 Season Preview
It has been 106 years since the Chicago Cubs were last crowned World Series Champions, but the fans are buzzing with optimism after a great offseason. Can the new manager Joe Maddon finally bring an end to the Cubs notorious World Series drought?

Futures

Odds To Win Division: +250

Odds To Win NL Pennant: 6/1

Odds To Win World Series: 10/1

Regular Season Win Total: 82.5

Most Significant Offseason Changes

Biggest Additions: 

Jon Lester, SP

Dexter Fowler, CF

Jason Hammel, SP

Miquel Montero, C

Jason Motte, RP

Tommy La Stella, 2B

Biggest Losses:

Carlos Villanueva, P

Kyuji Fujikawa, RP

Luis Valbuena, 3B

Wesley Wright, RP

Justin Ruggiano, RF

They’ll Be Successful If…

The wild offseason for the Cubs brought with it many new assets, including an established and respected new manager. The Wrigley Field faithful should enjoy a summer filled with home runs. Something must of have finally clicked in the heads of executive Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein, as the Cubbies were as productive this offseason as any club in baseball.The Cubs were able to land many excellent free agents, including the much sought-after Jon Lester. Lester, best known for his success tenure in Boston, gives the Cubs the ace they desperately desired. Jason Hammel returns to the Cubs after being dealt to the Oakland Athletics in the middle of last season. His performance with Chicago last season was quite impressive, posting an ERA of 2.98 and averaging just under 9 strikeouts per 9 inning (his brief time in Oakland was uninspiring and negatively inflated his 2014 statistics). The biggest addition may not have been a player, but actually a new manager. Joe Maddon joins the Cubs in 2015, after a lengthy and successful career with the Tampa Bay Rays. Before Maddon was signed by the Rays, the franchise had seen no success, failing to produce one winning season in their 8 year history. After two years of rebuilding, Maddon brought the Rays to never before seen heights, including taking the franchise to their sole World Series appearance and posting a winning record from 2008 until 2013. The Cubs hope Maddon can inspire a  franchise, with only one playoff series victory in the past 106 years. The Cubs lineup should be fun to watch this season. The Cubs finished second in the NL in team home runs in 2014. Anthony Rizzo cracked 32 dingers last season and finished third in the NL in OPS last season with a feisty .913. The young star, Jorge Soler, should blossom into an elite power hitter this season and challenge Rizzo for the team lead in home runs.  

They’ll Be Unsuccessful If…

The Cubs loves to strikeout. In 2014 the Cubs led the Majors in team strikeouts with a near record setting 1477. Combined with a meager batting average of .239 (28th in the Majors in 2014), the lineup has had trouble getting balls into play in the past. Even if the team can hit homers, left, right and center, it does not amount to much if no one is ever on base. With one of the youngest lineups in the Majors, the Cubs may press too hard to get on-base, and not see the necessary rise in batting average needed to make the Cubs a legitimate contender.

Fantasy Bargain: Jorge Soler, RF

He may not have played much in 2014, but he certainly was impressive in his brief time in Chicago. Having only 89 at-bats, Soler managed to post an extraordinary .903 OPS and 54% of his total hits went for extra bases. Projected to be slotted in the much coveted 4 spot, Soler should have himself one helluva season in 2015. If he can manage to play at-least 150 games, he could very well be on his way to a season with over 40 doubles, 25 home runs and a crisp 100 RBIs. With this kind of upside, Soler could finish 2015 as a top ten fantasy outfielder.       

Outlook

The Cubs have built themselves into contenders overnight and with Joe Maddon manning the dugout, the team will improve quickly. Though the movie “Back to the Future Part II” predicted the Cubs to be the World Series victors in 2015, it will probably take this roster a few years to get it all together and finally see an end to their infamous World Series drought.

Prediction: 3rd In NL Central

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