Chicago’s Baseball Wrap up: The North Side
2014 record: 73-89, 5th in NL Central Division
The power hitting lefty had a breakout 2014 season. Who knows what Rizzo’s stats would have looked like if he did not miss time due to injury, but the player the Cubs traded for emerged this season. Rizzo finished the year hitting .286 with 32 home runs and 78 runs batted in. He provided the much needed pop in the middle of the Cubs lineup en route to being named to his first ever All-Star Game.
Jake Arrieta did something no other pitcher did in the 2014 season. He carried no hit bids into the seventh inning on three separate occasions. Unfortunately, they were broken up each time, but the right hander was easily the Cubs best pitcher this season and constantly dazzled in his starts. Arrieta finished the year with a 10-5 record and an earned run average of 2.53. The acquisition of Arrieta last season now looks like an absolute steal for the Cubs. If Arrieta can remain healthy next year, he should be a top of the line starter.
The much maligned Starlin Castro put together his best season as a Cub in 2014. The shortstop finished the year hitting .292 with 14 home runs and 65 runs batted in. Castro credited his most consistent season yet to the presence of new manager, Rick Renteria. With other shortstops waiting their turn in the minors, Starlin will look to up his play even more next season.
What we learned about the 2014 Cubs:
There is no arguing that the 2014 Chicago Cubs improved from last year’s team. The Cubs posted their best record since the 2009 season. Although that might not seem like much, it shows the improvement that head of baseball operations, Theo Epstein, has been preaching. Since June 1st, the club played .500 baseball and the product on the field vastly improved. This was due to the standout performers mentioned above, but also to the performances of their recent call-ups: Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, and Kyle Hendricks.
Looking towards next year:
Cubs fans will be quick to contain their expectations for the 2015 season but it is impossible to ignore the optimism surrounding the team. Realistic expectations might have the Cubs another year or two removed from being a possible playoff contender, but the 2015 Cubs should make even more strides forward. The arrival of number one prospect, Kris Bryant will undoubtedly be huge. Bryant, along with the likes of everyone mentioned will all be key pieces if the Cubs want to get back to the promised land that is the MLB playoffs.
Gold Coast Tickets will be behind the Cubs every step of the way!
Stay tuned for the Chicago White Sox wrap up later in the week…
Photo Source: Borchertfield.com