Spring Training just around the corner


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Schwarber will be a key in 2018 (Dennis Wierzicki - USA Today Sports)
Schwarber will be a key in 2018 (Dennis Wierzicki - USA Today Sports)

Galvanized by a 2016 World series win, a very young Cubs team lead by Joe Maddon heads into spring training. The Cubs’ front office confidence in the team reassures fans that an investment in a new pitcher will follow. The Cubs need to add one more starting pitcher and one more bullpen pitcher on their roster. Starting pitchers don’t come cheap; though they lead the pitching talent. The Cubs could identify their bullpen pitcher through spring training--a more attractive alternative to the trade or player pickup. A successful spring training consists of carefully evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the forty players on your team as well as discerning the strengths and weaknesses of every other teams’ forty players. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and Scouting and Development Director Jason McLeod have proven that they possess the eyes that recognize rare talents such as Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and others. Despite the need for pitchers, the Cubs look to add outfield talent to their youthful roster. Hitting Coach Chilli Davis provides the needed strength in the coaching team to solve Jason Heyward’s inconsistency at the plate. Overall, despite Bleacher reports C rating, the Chicago Cubs approach spring training games with a slow free agency.

Team additions and losses prior to spring training keep the Cubs in status quo. After receiving the C rating with Bleacher report, Jacob Shafer said, “Without another marquee addition to the starting rotation and/or bullpen, though, it's difficult to argue the Cubs will be better than they were last season, when they were bested by the Dodgers in the NLCS four games to one.” Additions to pitching depth include RHP Brandon Morrow, RHP Tyler Chatwood, RHP Steve Cishek, and LHP Drew Smyly. Diminishing the bullpen occurred with losses of RHP Wade Davis and RHP Hector Rondon. The Cubs have made a few low-risk high reward pickups such as Peter Bourjos OF. Could the Cubs be looking to sign Yu Darvish up to a one hundred million dollar deal? Or keep the money for something even greater next season such as a Brace Harper (fingers crossed). What we do know is that spring training is about to start.

Arriving first, pitchers and catchers set spring training into motion February 13 in their three-year-old spring training home, Sloan Park, Mesa, Arizona. Position players arrive February 18 to round out the groundwork in preparation for the first spring training game February 24 against the Texas Rangers. Joe Maddon and his coaching staff will scope the bullpen for pitching depth and evaluate the field for defensive strengths and weaknesses in the Cubs following games against the Mariners on February 26 and against the Chicago White Sox on February 27. When fans arrive for their first glimpse of the team, they will have the opportunity to admire a unique feature of Sloan park. Similar to the sign beside Wrigley field, a sign placed adjacent to the Sloan Park entrance proudly reads “Spring Training Home Of Chicago Cubs”. And out of respect for this ballpark, fans should leave their glass containers, cans, and alcoholic beverages at home beside their hard sided coolers. Water in unopened plastic bottles and soft-sided coolers are welcome. Now before you can grab the hot dogs, nachos, and beer, this is how spring training works.

Spring training is where all baseball teams get to play around with the rosters and see just who they want to include on the final roster. Twenty-five players vie for positions on this major league team as pitchers, fielders, batters, shortstops, and other starting positions as well as reserve players for each of those positions. Each player arrives at spring training hoping to make the cut before the roster reaches its maximum of forty players. From this forty player roster, only twenty-five athletes will make the travelling team. The purpose of spring training emerges when fans watch the worried faces of coaches as they wield their clipboards watching talent perform. Their job of weeding out the talent to field the starting team demonstrates the heart of spring training.

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