Chicago Cubs season-ending report: Champs loaded for future

By Jack McCarthy, The Sports Xchange  |  Nov. 5, 2016 at 3:36 AM
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CHICAGO -- The 2016 World Series champions are favorites to do it again in 2017.

The Chicago Cubs, who captured their first title since 1908 in a roller coaster seven-game World Series victory over the Cleveland Indians, are also in a good spot to remain contenders for the foreseeable future.

Cubs fans who endured numerous losing seasons, several near-misses and a perceived curse on their team were finally rewarded.

However, manager Joe Maddon was never one to also shoulder that century-plus burden. From the start, he embraced the present.

"I love tradition, I think tradition is worth time mentally, and tradition is worth being upheld," he said during the World Series, "but curses and superstitions are not. So it's really great for our entire Cub-dom to get beyond that moment and continue to move forward, because now based on the young players we have in this organization, we have an opportunity to be good for a long time, and without any constraints, without any of the negative dialogue."

This talented Cubs team has two Cy Young Award candidates, Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester, and an MVP contender, Kris Bryant. Maddon should be favored for another Manager of the Year award.

Gold Gloves and other postseason awards are also likely.

Late-season and World Series lineups seem representative of who the Cubs will likely field next year: first baseman Anthony Rizzo, second baseman Javier Baez, shortstop Addison Russell, third baseman Bryant, right fielder Jason Heyward, center fielder Dexter Fowler and left fielder Ben Zobrist, the World Series MVP.

Or will it be Kyle Schwarber in left and Zobrist at second? And then where does Baez go?

Where to put Schwarber, who also catches, will be among the questions Maddon and the Cubs brain trust will ponder this winter.

Schwarber, who underwent knee surgery in April, returned to play in the World Series, going 7-for-17 with three walks, mostly as a designated hitter.

Figuring out his place is a happy problem to have for a Cubs organization that went from 96 losses in 2013 to top of the baseball world in just three seasons.

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