Predicting the Chicago Cubs Starting Lineup in 2014
The 2013 off-season has begun for the Chicago Cubs, who look to improve on their disappointing 66-96 season.
The front office led by Theo Epstein and company will likely have a busy winter beginning with the winter owner's meetings in Orlando November 11-13.
Here we predict the Cubs starting lineup for the 2014 season.
All stats courtesy of MLB.com.
1. Junior Lake, LF
Young outfielder Junior Lake will be exciting to watch in 2014. Lake had a successful beginning to his career, hitting .284 in 64 games.
With Lake's speed and quick bat, he is a great asset at the front of the order. In 37 lead-off at-bats in 2013, Lake hit .405 with only four strikeouts.
2. Starlin Castro, SS
Castro is in dire need of a big season.
The 23-year old shortstop had a career worst in strikeouts and batting average, hitting only .245 with 129 strikeouts.
Even more importantly, Castro has to step up his mental level. Any more mental gaffes like his brain fart against the Cardinals could cost him his future with the organization.
It would be wise of the Cubs new manager (whoever it may be) to start Castro off in the front of the order to boost his confidence and make sure he knows that he is expected to produce.
3. Nate Schierholtz, RF
Nate Schierholtz was a pleasant surprise for the Cubs in 2013. Schierholtz showed off some surprising power, knocking 21 home runs in 137 games.
Schierholtz never hit more than 9 home runs in a season, but was only two behind Anthony Rizzo for the team lead in dingers.
Schierholtz could be a good set-up man for slugger Anthony Rizzo.
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo is also in need of another big year, despite being signed through 2020.
Although Rizzo led the team in home runs last year, Rizzo hit only .233 in 160 games. He saw a taste of action in the clean-up spot, going 7-for-16.
The Cubs should experiment with Rizzo in the four spot, especially given his success in his brief time in that role.
5. Donnie Murphy, 3B
Donnie Murphy saw some action in the fifth spot last year, hitting three of his 11 home runs.
6. Ryan Sweeney, CF
Ryan Sweeney was recently signed to a 2-year, $3.5 million deal with the Cubs. He will likely serve as the starting center fielder while prospect Albert Almora is developed.
Sweeney hit .266 with six home runs in 70 games in 2013. He hit .281 in 18 games hitting sixth.
He also would be a good left-handed bat to serve in the bottom half of the order.
7. Welington Castillo, C
Catcher Welington Castillo has been improving on both offense and defense. His average improved to .274 in 2013 and his home run total rose from five to eight.
Despite making three more errors in 2013 than in the previous year, his fielding percentage improved to .988.
At age 26, Castillo still has plenty left in the tank for a few more years. He will likely be the starting catcher on Opening Day 2014.
8. Darwin Barney, 2B
Darwin Barney is also in need of improvement, predominantly on offense. Barney hit an abysmal career-low .208 in 141.
With only four errors in 2013, Barney will likely win the NL Gold Glove for the second year in a row.
Barney's offense will likely keep him at the bottom of the order.