By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) The Cubs can feel pretty good about themselves as an organization despite another last-place finish.READ MORE: Chicago Police Officers Refusing To Report Vaccine Status Expected To Protest Outside Police Headquarters Tuesday
For the first time since 2009, the Cubs didn’t drop in home attendance. The Cubs have had 2.6 million-plus come through the gates after drawing 2,642,682 fans in 2013. They’re expected to surpass that latter mark after tonight’s home finale against the Cardinals, and the business department leaders are thrilled with a flat year of ticket sales.
The Cubs have also moved in conjunction with the City of Chicago to begin a four-year remodeling of historic Wrigley Field and the surrounding area. The $575-million project will include a new hotel and upgrades along the streets that border the ballpark.
On the diamond baseball, bosses have seen part of the future come up to the big leagues in the form of a powerful young hitters. In a league that is pretty much void of power, the Cubs could have the next dominant lineup in the National League for years to come.
Just imagine an everyday lineup that manager Rick Renteria could run out by next May. Assuming that Kris Bryant is in the major leagues a month into the season, the batting order could have four potential 20-plus long ball hitters in it. You could see Javier Baez, Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler and Starlin Castro batting second through sixth in the order. All have tremendous potential at the plate and are 25 or younger. With 31 homers, Rizzo is only one of two batters to hit 30 or more home runs in the NL in 2014 (Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton leads the way with 37 homers).READ MORE: Mobile City Hall Bringing City Services To Little Village Tuesday
Of course, it isn’t all peaches and cream at Clark and Addison. The Cubs were on pace to break their all-time record for strikeouts this year. Other starting pitchers need to be signed or acquired in order to project the Cubs rotation as ready to compete for a championship. Realistically, two or three starting pitchers must be added to the mix to make a serious run in the Central Division against the Cardinals and Pirates.
Renteria and his staff have created a calm, business-like atmosphere around the team. His mandate from his new bosses was to help Rizzo and Castro become productive leaders for the future. If that alone was the job description for the him, Renteria passes with honors in 2014. Handling a young pitching staff and bullpen are other areas Renteria mishandled at times and then improved on with a deck of many unknown elements.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have promised a run at more pitching and veteran leaders in their offseason pursuits. Will ace pitcher Jon Lester be the big free agent signing that turns the tide on the North Side?
We’ll have to see, but a good vibe seems to be something Cub fans can take into the fall and winter months as 2014 goes into the books.MORE NEWS: Police Release Video Of Suspects Wanted In Death Of 18-Year-Old Azul De La Garza
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.