TAKE 2: Hope springs eternal as MLB's Opening Day approaches
The Cubs and White Sox open their seasons, along with much of Major League Baseball, on Monday. Northwest Herald sports editor Jon Styf and reporter Jeff Arnold discuss:
Styf: Last year was so depressing for Chicago baseball fans. It seems like that’s been happening a lot of late. But there seems to be more hope now that things will turn around. I just don’t see this being the year, yet. Last year, the White Sox people in the office gave up by June. The Cubs people never had hope. This year, at least Javy Baez has some long spring training home runs. He and Kris Bryant should be up by July to instill some hope, the Cubs just don’t have any pitching again. So I can’t see the Cubs being competitive starting with their opening series at Pittsburgh.
Arnold: Theo’s beloved Cubs Way appears to continue to promote the talent they have in the system, but the Cubs braintrust has deemed not ready for prime time. But hey, at least they have that whole 100-year anniversary of Wrigley Field to keep North Siders happy for a while. Of course, that won’t really help the Cubs in Pittsburgh. At some point, the Cubs need to decide that now is the time for them to make their run at anything higher than a fifth-place finish. And yet, despite all of that, they still may be the city’s best team.
Styf: I’m not banking on that. But the White Sox have the same issue as the Cubs. I would guess the White Sox end up with a better lineup, but their rotation doesn’t seem any good beyond Chris Sale. Jose Quintana, John Danks, Erik Johnson and Felipe Paulino aren’t guys I’d pay to see. And they aren’t guys I’d count on to have much better than a .500 record this season.
Arnold: The Cubs ace – and I use that word in its loosest form – Jeff Samardzija, isn’t even guaranteed to finish the year in Chicago. I’m guessing that Edwin Jackson won’t be improved from last year. I’m not sure he could be worse and so, clearly, pitching won’t be a strength with the Cubs either. After finishing last year with 66 wins, I don’t see many more than that unless Junior Lake finds a way to make the Cubs interesting early in the season or there is some Top Secret storyline that hasn’t emerged yet. Either way, I’m not holding my breath.
Styf: So write off the season already Jeff? What should we watch instead, Red Stars? Or should we become Red Sox fans like Joe Stevenson?
Arnold: I’ll give it six weeks before I completely sour on the Cubs. But I’m guessing that, by the time I start going to the six games I’ve got tickets to at Wrigley this summer, I won’t be expecting to hear “Go, Cubs, Go” being played. Who knows, maybe I’d be better off just going to sit on a rooftop, wishing that my view was obstructed. At least, the beer has to be cheaper, right?