Chicago Cubs Batting Lineup Summary: Chicago has a great batting lineup. The Cubs failed to replace Dexter Fowler at center fielder. I don't see Jon Jay as a long term replacement and if Kyle Schwarber gets injured again like in 2016 the Cubs are screwed because Fowler led the Cubs in stolen bases last season and now he's on the Division Rival St. Louis Cardinals plus the Cubs would be in a situation where Kris Bryant is the lead off bat. Someone has to step up for the Cubs or they will have to go out and get a base stealer at the 2017 MLB Trade Deadline if the Cubs want to repeat. You want your lead off bat to be a good base stealer so I sort of question the decision to put Schwarber in that role. I'd honestly make Jason Heyward the lead off bat.
Chicago Cubs Starting Rotation
Chicago Cubs Starting Rotation Summary: Lester, Arrieta, Hendricks and Lackey should provide the Chicago Cubs with 4 of the MLB's top 30 pitchers. The only teams that come close to that are the Cleveland Indians who have all 5 starters among the top 50 MLB pitchers, the Los Angeles Dodgers who have 4 of the top 35 starters, and the Boston Red Sox who have 4 of the top 50 starters. I have my doubts about Brett Anderson replacing Jason Hammel as the #5 starter because Anderson is an injury prone pitcher plus Arrieta and Lackey enter contract years at 31 and 38 plus Lester is 33-years-old. Chicago may get back to the World Series, and they could repeat, but the starting rotation will decline by some point in between 2018 and 2020 so the Cubs need to use their two first round picks in the 2017 MLB Draft to find some pitching prospects to develop for the future. Chicago has a window of opportunity to repeat, but the window of opportunity to become a dynasty will close if the Cubs fail to repeat in 2017.
Chicago Cubs Bullpen
Carl Edwards Jr.
Chicago Cubs Bullpen Summary: Chicago had Adam Warren and Clayton Richard as long relievers in 2016. Warren and Richard were effective long relievers on the Cubs World Series team, but they got signed by the Yankees and Padres.
Carl Edwards Jr. was able to win the set up job from Hector Rodon and and Pedro Strop down the stretch causing both of them to go from closer and set up in 2015 to middle relievers in 2016. The injury prone Wade Davis is a slight downgrade over Aroldis Champman, but Davis pitched for Maddon back in Tampa Bay. The Cubs have lost some key players in the bullpen like both of their long relievers plus middle reliever Travis Wood, but this is still an effective bullpen.
Prediction: Chicago won the 2016 World Series. There is a window of opportunity for the Cubs to repeat after they showed they were the complete team in baseball last season. I don't see a complete team this year and I have the Cubs returning to the 2017 NLCS before losing the National League pennant, but I do think the Cubs could have the best regular season record of all 30 teams in 2017.