Welcome to the trust tree, Cubs fans. Now that we are here, let's just get something off our chests. This offseason STUNK.
It was one of the worst offseasons in recent memory for a plethora of reasons. From limited spending, to Marquee Network contract disputes, to hearing the word 'grievance' entirely too much, I could go on and on as to why Cubs fans would rather forget this offseason.
But we are not here to sulk, folks. Instead, we are here to talk about why Cubs fans should be optimistic after such a pessimistic winter. I am here to provide you with reasons to think this team can compete for a World Series despite inactivity from those in charge of our favorite franchise.
Here are five reasons you should be optimistic about the 2020 season for the Chicago Cubs.
There is a new sheriff in town, one with a very familiar face. David Ross is here to change the culture and bring back the attitude that provided Cubs' fans a World Series back in 2016.
Joe Maddon managed the best stretch of baseball in Chicago Cubs' history. There is no denying that. He was the perfect manager for a team full of young talent. He allowed players to completely be themselves and took away the added pressure of being a Major League Baseball player.
With this Chicago Cubs team, it was time for a change. Players started to become lackadaisical on the basepaths and in the field. The Cubs finished third in errors in baseball last season after previously never finishing in the bottom five in the league under Maddon.
The players even admitted they took their foot off the gas. Javy Baez said it best:
Ross has made it very clear in press conferences this is something he wants to get back to.
This team is full of stars. Sometimes a culture change with a new face is exactly what is needed to rejuvenate these players.
Last season, Yu Darvish turned into the ace all of Chicago was hoping for when he signed a six-year, $126 million contract prior to the 2018 season. Darvish struggled to fit in during that 2018 season and his performance on the field was hampered by injuries. 2019 was the year that Yu got his groove back.
The first half of 2019 was very average for Darvish, but after the All-Star break, Darvish posted some top-of-the-rotation numbers.
In 13 starts, he posted a 2.76 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 2.2% walk rate, and 37.8% strikeout rate. This included a 142-batter walkless streak spanning seven starts (35 innings). He ended the season with three starts featuring double-digit strikeouts.
Expectations for Darvish are quite high and they should be. If he can be anything close to second-half Darvish, then the Cubs will have a deadly duo in Hendricks and Darvish at the top of their aging rotation.
Ian Happ was much better than perceived last season. I am not going to get too much into Ian Happ breaking out because fellow On Tap Sports Net contributor Brian Mischler did it much better here. Instead, here's a quick visual for those who think Ian Happ hasn't progressed much with the Cubs.
Happ's steep dip in K% and drastic increase in all the other statistics listed above should be enough for Cubs fans to be optimistic about Happ going into 2020. If he continues to progress, Happ could fill a glaring hole in centerfield that the front office turned a blind eye to.
Bet you didn't expect to see this name as a reason to be optimistic about the 2020 Cubs, huh?
The reason Addison Russell should offer Cubs fans a source of optimism this season is because he no longer plays for the Chicago Cubs. Teammates will no longer be forced to answer questions regarding his horrendous off-field behavior. Theo and company will no longer need to force him into the lineup to increase his trade value. Fans will no longer need to question the morals of the entire organization. Finally, we can all move on.
Addison Russell was an integral part of the 2016 Chicago Cubs Championship and those are the only nice words I will say about that man.
The Core Of This Team
This is the biggest reason you should be optimistic about the 2020 Chicago Cubs. I am going to list off a few names of players, and you let me know if you would be afraid to face this team.
The core of this team is still here. Savor it.
Before you know it, your favorite Cubs players could be wearing different uniforms. This team can still score runs. They have some of the best offensive players in the league. They have a premier duo at the top of the rotation with Darvish and Hendricks. Jon Lester is still here; is there anyone else you would rather have on the mound with the season on the line?
The talent is here. There is a new manager at the helm. The vibes have changed at 1060 West Addison. Forget about this offseason, meaningful games will take place in just a few weeks. Trust Theo and company will put this team in the best position to win when the trade deadline comes around. We are Cubs fans, optimism is at the heart of all of us. Believe.