The sun has come out in Chicago, and baseball season is underway. While the two Chicago teams have almost the same record after two weeks, the expectations for them couldn’t be more different.
The Cubs came into the season as the champions, looking to defend their first World Series title in 108 years. Despite what their record looks like early on, the Cubs team is loaded with talent. Superstars like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Jon Lester may lead the pack, but where the team really makes its killing is in its depth.
Behind Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks form a three-headed monster of a rotation that will strike fear into the heart of any playoff opponent. Meanwhile, every hitter in the lineup is a threat to do damage, with the only question being whether former all-star Jason Heyward can find his old swing again. Even if he can’t, the likes of Ben Zobrist, Willson Contreras, and Kyle Schwarber are more than capable of picking up the slack.
The bullpen saw the departure of closer Aroldis Chapman in the offseason, but also had its ranks bolstered when the team traded for Wade Davis. The flamethrower will be joined by the likes of Pedro Strop and Mike Montgomery to round out the Cubs’ group of late-inning relievers. With every part of the team looking strong (we haven’t even mentioned their historically great defense), the biggest question they face during the regular season isn’t if they’ll win the division but by how many games. Otherwise, the true test lies in October.
The White Sox, meanwhile, waved the white flag during the offseason, shipping out big-name talent like Chris Sale and Adam Eaton in an effort to rebuild a barren farm system. The team had been treading water for a few years, using the same stars-and-scrubs roster over and over again to no effect. General Manager Rick Hahn finally decided to make a change, and a big one at that.
The biggest questions that remain for the White Sox in 2017 are when will they trade Jose Quintana, and who else will they manage to ship out? It isn’t the most compelling storyline, but that sentiment is going to be true of this team for a couple of years. However, the future is brighter than it has been in a long time.
The minor leagues are now loaded with talent, including a $64 million Cuban named Yoan Moncada, a kid called Michael Kopech who has thrown a ball at 105 mph, and Lucas Giolito, who is considered one of the best pitching prospects in the game. You might not know their names yet, but in a few years, you will.
So for the time being, the North Side flourishes while the South Side starts back at the bottom. It is a bit telling. However, Cubs fans should have reason to worry, with the Dodgers and Nationals hot on their tail, and Sox fans do have new hope for the first time in a while. However, the season has just started, and for now, some baseball still needs to be played.