2015 Outlook: Alcantara got ahead of some of his more highly touted prospect mates in the Cubs organization in 2014, getting the call to fill the void first at second base and later in center field. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to carry over his production from the minors in his first exposure to major league pitching. Strikeouts were the big culprit for Alcantara, as he whiffed a whopping 31 percent of the time. The bigger problem is that more help is on the way for the Cubs -- between Albert Almora, Javier Baez and Addison Russell, at least one or two guys are bound to be displaced, and Alcantara is likely to be one of them. Even if the Cubs send down Baez to cut down on his prodigious whiff rate, they still have Tommy La Stella available as a superior OBP option. It's silly to dismiss a player after a 70-game sample, but Alcantara will have to dramatically improve on last season's .205 batting average to reestablish a foothold in the Cubs' lineup.
2015 Outlook: Everyone expected a dip in production from Fowler upon his leaving Coors Field, and he delivered. Well, "delivered" feels like the wrong word in a sentence such as that. At any rate, he did backslide without the luxury of playing half his games in the mile-high air, but it wasn't quite to the level most expected. He had a .788 OPS in his six seasons with Colorado, and that number dropped to a still-palatable .774 in his debut with the Astros. The loss of Coors is one thing, but the real issue with Fowler is one that has been present throughout his career: an inability to stay healthy. He has a career high of just 143 games played back in 2012 and has averaged 128 games per season over his career. Fowler has thus far failed to deliver seasons commensurate with his raw talent, but his strong on-base skills figure to put him atop the Cubs' lineup following a January trade, a spot which could prove fruitful for runs and stolen bases.
2015 Outlook: On the strength of a 2013 campaign in which he posted a .284/.332/.428 batting line, with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 64 games, Lake claimed a spot in the Cubs' 2014 Opening Day lineup. However, as the first couple months of the season unfolded, it became painfully obvious that Lake simply wasn't long for a regular role. He struck out too much, barely walked and struggled mightily against right-handed pitching (.575 OPS for the season). By midseason, he was relegated to bench duty, and his poor performance even earned him a ticket back to Triple-A for a brief stretch late in the year. Overall, Lake had a .211/.246/.351slash line, with nine home runs and 25 RBIs in 108 games, with a horrendous 33.4 percent strikeout rate and 0.13 BB/K. He will head into spring training without a guaranteed roster spot.
2015 Outlook: Following a surprisingly strong showing in 2013, Sweeney had arguably the worst offensive season of his career in his second year with the Cubs. He posted a .251/.304/.338 slash line in 226 plate appearances, with three home runs, nine doubles and no stolen bases. Sweeney logged about 200 at-bats in each of the past three seasons, with just nine home runs and one stolen-base attempt in that span. He gets the vast majority of his playing time against right-handed pitching, and while he's fared better against lefties in a limited sample size the past two seasons, there's no reason to expect that trend to continue in 2015. Sweeney's career-long stats are far better against right-handers, and he'll likely just serve as a reserve outfielder, making spot starts and pinch-hit appearances against righties.