The Cubs are used to finishing last or second to last in the National League, but there are a couple of reasons for why 2014 promises to be a better year. On one hand, Chicago will have to step up its game to avoid finishing last, now that Houston has been moved to the American League, on the other they’ve made certain progress in the season that concluded in October.
http://sports.yahoo.com/news/why-chicago-cubs-not-finish-last-place-2014-165600936–mlb.html makes some powerful observations for why Chicago is very likely to finish closer to the top, without being a playoff contender. It should all begin with a wrap-up of 2013 season, another year that saw them finishing below .500, a miserable performance, that is still a bit better than what happened one year ago.
Nobody expected the Cubs to achieve something remarkable in 2013 and Chicago met expectations to the letter, playing in a highly competitive division. St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati gave them a run for their money and with all of them making the playoffs, it is easy to understand why Chicago fans were not too happy this October.
The future doesn’t look bright but at least there are a couple of reasons to be optimistic, with Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo being the ones to boost their confidence. These young players have a lot to prove and both of them are promising, but the best thing is that they can reach their full potential without playing under a lot of pressure. Nobody expects Chicago to make the playoffs but if they do, Castro and Rizzo will be celebrated and probably head on to a better team at the end of 2014.
The Cubs have a new manager, now that Rick Renteria has fully recovered following a hip surgery and he has just enough experience to help the reeling Cubs. He didn’t lead them to many victories in the last two years, but his numbers are constantly improving and with plenty of new players under his guidance, he might achieve something in 2014. Chicago has a couple of top prospects in its sight and the drafting system should help them improve the strength of their rotation.
Perhaps the closest contenders for the title of the worst team in 2014, at least when it comes to the National League are the Milwaukee Brewers. They’ve got a lot of problems to deal with including the numerous scandals surrounding Ryan Braun who was accused of using performance enhancing drugs. Even though he will play for Milwaukee in 2014, he can’t single-handedly carry the Brewers, so they are very likely to finish behind Chicago.