For the World Champion Chicago Cubs, the paint is still wet on the magical landscape that is the 2016 season. However, it’s not too early to think about next year. Comments from the peanut gallery aside, the seven-game series against the Indians exposed a few weaknesses the Cubs must correct in order for the Windy City winners to build a dynasty. If not for Kyle Schwarber’s rather miraculous comeback, this story may look quite different.
To fix holes in the team’s lineup and pitching staff, we’ll see some changes by the time the champs head to Arizona for Spring Training 2017. As Fox’s broadcast analyst pointed out, the batting order “lengthened” once Chicago injected Schwarber into the order. In other words, if the last two games took place in the National League park without a DH, the folks in Cleveland would be the ones celebrating right now. In fact, in order to repeat next season, the Cubs’ lineup needs to look more traditional. Let’s start with a few assumptions before building the perfect one-though-nine batting order.
1. Dexter Fowler will not return
At $8 million for the 2016 season, the Georgia native was a bargain. Considering the field of available free-agent outfielders, Dexter Fowler’s value on the open market is far more than the Cubs should pay. Let some other teams use fool’s gold to bring Fowler to their outfield. While the Cubs’ center fielder has good OBP numbers, he lacks in runs scored and stolen bases — two essential stats for the optimal leadoff hitter. Also, his 124 strikeouts are far too many for a top-of-the-order table setter.