By Joshua M. Hicks
After finishing as runner up in the NLCS last season, the Chicago Cubs look to add to last season’s success by starting off with a good 2016 season. According to ESPN standings, they are currently sitting second-to-last with a record of 9-17 in the cactus league standings, exhibition games as a part of spring training.
With the Cubs bringing back the “Fab Five” led by Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Dexter Fowler combined with the recent signing of Jayson Heyward, the Cubs have been listed as one of the best teams in the league, with many critics picking them to not only win the NL Central, but also the pennant. But with the recent spring training struggles, Cubs fans are on edge about this team’s success moving forward.
Junior Joe Molina encourages fans not to worry about the Cubs pre-season struggles, for it does not determine their path for the rest of the season.
“The Cubs have gotten off to a slow start but won-loss records during spring training don’t mean anything,” Molina said. “The Cubs sole purpose in spring training is not to win ballgames, but to get the team in shape and ready for the start of the season.”
The Cubs have fulfilled their roster with a lot of talent over the past two off seasons. The rise of Rizzo and NL Rookie of the Year Bryant brought lots of attention to the MLB world.
However, according to junior Joshua Albury, there is one player that Cubs fans should look out for: Addison Russell.
“Fans should look for Russell to solidify his starting role as a long term middle infielder for the Cubs,” Albury said. “He was good last season, but overall inconsistent. Look for steady progression out of him.”
One of the key successes to the Cubs last season was the teachings of manager Joe Maddon. With him earning the respect of a young, talented team, he has put the team in a great position to go far into the playoffs again this year, according to Molina.
“We have to remember our team is young, but talented,” Molina said. “The 2016 Cubs are led by a manager who is only good strategically, but is also great at managing the psyche of his players. Maddon is just as important in bringing the Cubs to a highly anticipated postseason as the players themselves.”
With the combination of Maddon and a talented Cubs roster, will we see the Cubs winning the pennant this season? Albury has faith in their chances.
“Cubs have just as good of a chance as any team to make the World Series,” Albury said. “Less than the NLCS would be seen as a real underachievement.”