‘I think we can do something’: Cubs offseason moves have the roster fired up
Ian Happ hates using cliches.
Still…he couldn’t help himself.
When asked about the Cubs offseason additions and whether the team could make some noise and compete for the playoffs in 2023, Happ couldn’t find any other way to put it other than utilizing cliches.
“We can surprise people.”
By “people,” Happ was quick to point out that he doesn’t believe the Cubs are going to surprise themselves. He does think this team can surprise people outside the organization.
“This team’s gonna be competitive,” Happ said Friday at Cubs Convention. “Everybody says that at this time of the year, but you can see a path or a way that we can win a lot of baseball games. There is a definite way. This team can pitch it. There’s a lot of defense there and I think there’s underrated bats. There’s more production than people are seeing and I think you have a lot of guys who understand the game and have had a ton of success at different points in their career and it doesn’t take much to spark that.
“A group of confident hitters, a group of hitters with a plan that believe in each other — it’s a special thing when it clicks. You have a group here that really cares about the game and plays hard and that builds upon itself.”
Kyle Hendricks is the longest tenured Cubs player and has seen plenty in his 9 years in Chicago. He made his debut in 2014 and carved out an important role in the rotation as the Cubs made three straight National League Championship Series from 2015-17.
The last couple of years have been particularly difficult for Hendricks as all of his teammates from that era have left via one way or another. But this offseason has been different for Hendricks.
“It’s definitely a different energy,” he said. “You see exactly the path the organization is seeing in front of us. Everything works in a cycle. Decisions are made at the right time and I’m just really happy that we’re at this point right now in this process. It’s a different year for us.”
With each player the Cubs added this winter, Hendricks found out first from his wife, Emma.
“She’s going crazy and then I’m right with her like, ‘hell yeah, are you kidding me?’ Especially these guys that we’ve been getting,” Hendricks said. “They’re such established big leaguers that know who they are and know what their game is.”
And the Cubs believe internally they can climb back into contention — even if others outside the organization may be counting them out.
But they won’t use that mantra as the only motivation.
“The good teams know they’re good and they play that way,” Happ said. “They play going into games and situations not with a chip on their shoulder but knowing they’re gonna go out and do some damage. I think that’s a better mantra.
“Good teams believe in themselves and have an air about them or a swagger. I think that will be established in Spring Training.”
Like Hendricks, Happ is also eager for the Cubs to return to their winning ways.
But even with all the offseason additions — Dansby Swanson, Jameson Taillon, Cody Bellinger, etc. — Happ also understands winning isn’t guaranteed for the Cubs.
“You gotta do it,” Happ said. “You gotta go out and win. Does success breed confidence or does confidence breed success? I don’t know. But I think if you win some game early and get the ball rolling, it makes a huge difference.
“…This group has some guys that have done great things in the game and it makes it a lot easier to go out there. I think we can do something.”