Ten Reasons I’m Watching The 2014 Cubs

In Commentary And Analysis, Facepalm by andcounting

EMILIO! (photo h/t zimbio.com)

The last time I posted here, the dinosaurs roamed the earth the Cubs were still in the hunt for the NL pennant I swore I didn’t care about the 2014 Cubs. I said there would be no reason to watch the 2014 Cubs. I pretty much made it clear I wouldn’t so much as accidentally watch 10 seconds of the 2014 Chicago Cubs baseball season. But I’m an idiot, so here I am following along whenever I possibly can. Here are ten reasons why:

10. I’m an idiot. I mean, seriously. This team isn’t good. Before you go misinterpreting this as a “Hey, the Cubs might actually make the playoffs” post, don’t. I know. I’m an idiot. Who maybe thinks this team could make the playoffs, but I’M NOT SAYING THAT. I’m not watching because I think they’ll win.

9. Starlin Castro. Again, don’t misconstrue this as a prediction of awesomeness based on his recent success. I don’t think Starlin is going to have an All-Star-caliber year . . . unless he just gets the obligatory Cubs slot on the National League roster. He very well may suck rocks the rest of the year. But I’m very much entertained by even his rock-sucking abilities. Keep in mind, my favorite Cub of all time is Shawon Dunston. I don’t think he’s the best Cubs player of all time, I just loved watching him play. So . . . yeah. Starlin is fun to watch, even when he sucks. I like watching his highlights. I like watching him swing. I like hearing Pat and Ron (God bless that phrase and the ability to say it again) describe the accounts of his efforts. I even like watching him on gameday, it really doesn’t matter. That’s just me. Also, he’s going to win the NL MVP, BUT I’M NOT SAYING THAT.

8. EMILIO! Okay, this one is a little bit more of a “Hey, this guy might be good” point, but not entirely. Obviously Emilio Bonifacio isn’t going to hit .500 all year. But I love that he has at least shown that, despite his injury plagued past, he’s still speedy. His brand of speedy is still fun. And he obviously doesn’t completely suck, either. He sucks more than he’s shown, but not nearly as bad as I feared when the Cubs signed him 45 minutes ago.

7. Mike Olt. I didn’t have high hopes for Mike Olt when the Cubs acquired him, and I still don’t, but I have high maybes for Mike Olt. That’s the beauty of the trade: it brought only the slightest of what-if expectations, which means it is actually kind of fun to watch and see if he exceeds those expectations. Well, he’s in the majors and not completely making me want to stab my eyes out, so . . . expectations exceeded! Also, he’s going to be the rookie of the year, probably, but I’M NOT SAYING THAT. I’m such an idiot.

6. The starting pitching. The bullpen is almost certainly going to make the late innings unwatchable, but the first two thirds of most games might be worth tuning in to. The offense is bad enough to put the Cubs on the losing end of a lot of close games, but at least the starters will put the Cubs in position to lose those close games. That’s something to hang your hat on, right? No? Ok, but it’s still a reason to check gameday in the early goings.

5. Anthony Rizzo. Say what you want about the prospects being the only reason to follow the Cubs franchise, but Anthony Rizzo is still a prospect worth watching. They are very different players, but in terms of career trajectory, Rizzo bears a pretty strong resemblance to former hope-dasher Corey Patterson, who at the same point in his stint with the Cubs was still making us believe the future was bright . . . in between stretches of severe frustration. While I’m not hitching my wagon to Rizzo’s star, I also don’t think the fate of the Cubs in the years that follow rises and falls with Anthony Rizzo. He isn’t their only hope. He, unlike Patterson before him, is one rough diamond in a farm system encrusted with other rough diamonds. So watching Rizzo to see if he turns out to be pretty okay is very much worth it to me.

4. Because the question isn’t “What if they win it all?” it’s “What if they’re reasonably close in July?” So far, all we’ve seen from Theo and Jed is their ability to draft, develop players, unload salary, pick up potentially good cast-offs from the MLB scrap heap in the offseason, and deal veterans for prospects. We haven’t yet seen how the Superfriends handle a scenario in which the team isn’t completely out of contention at the trade deadline. No, I don’t think the Cubs are good enough to contend, but I do think they’re good enough to come close, through some fluke of dumb luck and statistical anomaly, to flirt with the outskirts of contention in July. So, I’m watching to see what happens if maybe, just maybe, the front office gets a chance to be major-league buyers instead of minor-league buyers. (There are no sellers. Everyone is buying, they’re just  not shopping for the same seasons.)

3. Rick Renteria. I don’t know, he seems like he’s not a complete idiot. I’d like to get to know him as a manager, just in case he sticks around until the team is really good.

2. The prospects who aren’t here yet. You know who they are. Watching this team and envisioning how the new guys might fit in? It’s not the worst thing in the world.

1. Hell, it’s baseball. It might not be great or even good, but it’s still baseball. So here I am, watching like an idiot, face in palm.

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