(CBS) The expectations for the 2015 Cubs have been set.
Full of confidence following a strong offseason that included the additions of respected manager Joe Maddon and ace left-hander Jon Lester, first baseman Anthony Rizzo came out firing Thursday ahead of the Cubs Convention this weekend, saying that the Cubs will win the NL Central title in 2015.
“It’s going to happen this year,” Rizzo said. “It’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to play, we’re going to win the NL Central. Quote me on that. We should be the team, with all due respect to every other team, they’re just as good talent wise, but we’re going to do some things this year. That’s what we’re expecting. That’s what we’re putting our sights on. We’re not going to accept anything else.”
The task won’t be easy for the Cubs, as the Cardinals and Pirates have both been strong in recent years. In 2014, St. Louis went 90-72, while Pittsburgh was 88-74. At 73-89, Chicago finished last in the division for the second straight year.
Nevertheless, success is the expectation next year, with the Cubs focused on a playoff berth. Maddon mentioned at his introductory press conference that he believed the Cubs could make the 2015 playoffs, at which point anything can happen.
“Joe expects to win,” said Rizzo, who’s become a team leader. “He’s coming from an organization (Tampa Bay) where they were in the AL East, in the battle of the AL East competing with very high-market teams, high-payroll teams. And they win there. He’s done it. And he’s not going to accept anything else.
“I’m going to say it now — our goal is to make the playoffs. And once you make the playoffs, the ultimate goal is the World Series. That’s our goal every single year.”
Rizzo also found the lighter side in the Sporting News picking the Cubs to win the 2015 World Series.
“They’re smart,” Rizzo said. “Back to the Future said we’re going to win in 2015, so we’re going to be a fun team.
“For the rest of my career, I should be on a contending team now. And that’s exciting.”