Can the Cubs repeat? Looking at both sides

March 10th, 2017

As a quasi-lifetime Cubs fan -- I spent the 1970s as a disciple of the Big Red Machine after we moved to Cincinnati -- I want to believe. I really do, and what I want to believe is that the North Siders with all of that talent and momentum will do The Unfathomable, Part II.

You already know about last season's The Unfathomable, Part I: Not only did the Cubs win their first National League pennant since 1945, but they proceeded to overcome a 3-1 deficit against the Indians along the way to their first World Series championship in 108 years.

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Which brings us to The Unfathomable, Part II, and I barely can type these words without pinching myself: The Cubs could repeat. Maybe three-peat, and who's to say they don't have everything they need to become dynastic for the first time since the turn of the century (the 20th, not the 21st)?

Here's six reasons why the Cubs will win the World Series again this year, and then six reasons why they won't.

6 reasons why the Unfathomable, Part II, is just another World Series away

1. I mean, have you seen the starting lineup?

There were 30 possible first-place votes for the NL Most Valuable Player Award last season, and received 29 of them. At 24, he has a slew of years remaining either to duplicate or to surpass his 2016 season that produced a batting average of .292, 39 home runs, 35 doubles, 102 RBIs and an NL-high 121 runs scored. He also is a splendid baserunner, and he plays a solid third base when he isn't doing the same in the outfield or at first base.

Speaking of first base, that's where you'll find , master of the glove and the bat. He was a starter for the NL All-Star team last season, and so were the other mainstays in the Cubs' infield -- at second, at shortstop and Bryant. While Zobrist is the old-timer of the group at 35, Rizzo is 27 and Russell is 23.

Remember ? He's also 24, and he's back as a full-time force for the Cubs, but he was gone for the rest of the 2016 regular season after he damaged his left leg in early April. The left fielder returned during the World Series, and he quickly became the first player to get his first hit of a Major League season during the Fall Classic. He finished with seven hits overall in 17 at bats (.412) with a slugging percentage of .500.

2. The Big Three

The top trio of the Cubs' starting pitching rotation -- , and -- is peerless in the NL, especially when you consider they ranked among the top nine vote-getters in the league's Cy Young Award results last season.

Also, the back end of the rotation has the more-than-capable likes of and Mike Montgomery.

3. The bullpen is deep and experienced

Yes, the Cubs lost flame-throwing closer as a free agent back to the Yankees, and he helped pitch the Cubbies toward that World Series title after he joined them from the Bronx in the middle of last year.

Here's the reason for hope, though: . The Cubs traded for the right-handed closer during the offseason, and his clutch ways during the 2015 postseason was among the primary reasons the Royals won it all back then. That makes Davis perfect for right now regarding this group.

4. I haven't even mentioned Joe Maddon

With several of his guys capable of playing different positions, the Cubs manager juggled his lineup so effectively last season that his team grabbed a Major League-high 103 victories.

Maddon often wore a shirt that said, "Embrace the target."

5. Speaking of "Embrace the target" …

Maddon will remind his players how they'll have opponents playing like crazy against them this year, because that always happens to the defending World Series champions.

But the Cubs seem immune to pressure, and we saw as much after they overcame a 2-1 deficit to the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series before they conquered that even mightier one against the Indians.

6. The spell is broken

More specifically, this group of Cubs has made "The Curse of the Billy Goat" yesterday's news and "1908" just the next-to-the-last time they won a World Series.

6 reasons why the Cubs aren't quite the Yankees of Ruth, Mantle or Jeter

1. went where?

It's bad enough the Cubs lost one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball. He produced a highlight reel full of contributions during the regular season and the postseason. But he signed with the Cardinals, the team most disliked by anything associated with the Cubbies.

2. Can the starting pitching for the Cubs remain as healthy as it did last season?

Hendricks, Lester, Arrieta and Lackey made at least 29 starts apiece, and each of them finished with 188 innings pitched or more. That doesn't include the grind of the postseason.

Plus, neither Lackey at 38 nor Lester at 33 is getting younger.

3. Davis isn't Chapman

Then again, nobody is. In addition to ranking as the antithesis of the most dominant closer in the game regarding arm strength, Davis missed the rest of last season with the Royals after he went on the disabled list in July, when the right-hander strained his throwing arm.

Sticking with the bullpen, setup men and were rolling during the first half of last season, but not so much the rest of the way through the postseason. Which Strop and Rondon will we get this season?

4. What's up with ?

As gifted as Heyward is with the glove in right field is as troubled as he has been with his bat. He joined the Cubs as a free agent before last season for $184 million over eight years. Sooner rather than later, Heyward will have to improve on his .230 batting average of last season that generated seven homers and 49 RBIs.

5. ' retirement is huge

For one, Ross was Lester's personal catcher. For another, he was the undisputed leader of the team. At 39, Ross was known as "grandpa" around the Cubs' clubhouse, and even though he'll still be around the organization as a special assistant, it won't be the same for the guy who is now training for "Dancing with the Stars" instead of Opening Day for the Cubs.

6. No Major League franchise has repeated as World Series champions since the Yankees of 1999 and 2000

The last time it happened in the NL was in 1975 and '76, with my Big Red Machine.

Thus the final two questions, and I'll even provide the answers.

Could these Cubs become those Reds?


Will they?

Um, I'll get back to you.