2016 is shaping up to be another exciting season on the north side. Jason Heyward and John Lackey have turned away from the dark side and have donned blue pinstripes, a svelte Addison Russell's hamstring has healed, and Ben Zobrist is ready to add some versatility to the roster.
Of course, most of the 2015 Cubs that made an unexpected run to the NLCS are back: NL Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant, NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, NL Manager of the Year Joe Maddon, 2015 NL All-Star Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Jon Lester, Hector Rondon, and many others.
The big differences will be a Cubs infield without Starlin Castro -- for the first time since he took Ryan Theriot's job back in May, 2010 -- and an outfield without Dexter Fowler's leadoff bat. Although Castro's bat heated up nicely at the end of the season (and he looked to be settling in at 2B), and Fowler gave the Cubs his above average OBP, the addition of Zobrist and Heyward more than offset the losses. Well, as long as one of them adopts Starlin's walk-up song, that is.
Pitchers & catchers report to Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona on February 19. Opening day is April 4 in Anaheim.