Spring (Training) Is Here: Pitchers And Catchers Report Today
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Feb 19, 2015 7:10PM
Temperatures in Chicago struggle just to reach positive territory today, but spring can't be that far off. Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training today for both the Cubs and White Sox. As both clubs squads start arriving in Arizona, fans on both sides of town have reason to feel optimistic, despite each club winning just 73 games apiece in 2014.
Over the course of the winter, White Sox GM Rick Hahn worked through the team's needs checklist in methodical order. Addressing the need for bullpen help, and especially a front line closer, he signed Zack Duke and landed the top closer on the market, David Robertson. To shore up the starting rotation, Hahn traded for Jeff Samardzija. Slugger Adam LaRoche provides some protection in the batting order for Jose Abreu. The team upgraded in left field by replacing Dayan Viciedo with Melky Cabrera. They filled the hole at second left by the mid-season trade of Gordon Beckham and inclusion of Marcus Simien in the Samardzija trade by bringing Beckham back as a free agent. Considered the best off-season revamp in the AL, the Sox still have unaddressed positions, but they appear closer to contending or a Wild Card spot than dwelling in the AL Central basement.
On the North Side, the Cubs had a pretty good winter as well. After landing Joe Maddon as their new manager, Theo Epstein and team got busy upgrading the roster to compliment their developing prospects. The highlight was signing starting pitcher Jon Lester to a six-year, $155 million deal. They brought back Jason Hammel to help fortify the rotation. Behind the plate, they picked up All-Star catcher Miguel Montero from the Diamondbacks. Cubs fans are starting to believe that Back to the Future 2 may have actually predicted the future.
Now, we finally get to see the new acquisitions take the field and how they mesh with the returning rosters. Opening Day is less than six weeks away and fans have reason to be excited. The arctic chill will give way to milder temps and better baseball. It looks possible that even when the season draws to a close next fall, their team may be in the hunt for a playoff spot. For two teams who each finished 16 games under .500 last year, that would be quite a turn around.