The Biggest Challenge that Chicago Cubs rookie manager Rick Renteria will face this season is a simple one. His challenge won’t be speaking to the media or filling out the lineup card. No, Renteria’s biggest challenge in 2014 will be communicating with and coaching up his players, namely Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. Communication between this young Cubs roster and their skipper is so vitally important for two reasons. 1) The perceived inability to get through to Castro and Rizzo by Dale Sveum is what led to a disappointing season in 2013 (to put it nicely) and it ultimately cost him his job. And, 2) because this season needs to be a huge growth year for Castro and Rizzo, on and off the field. The way the roster is set up right now, these two guys are going to be the corner stones and leaders of this ballclub for the next decade. Renteria needs to be able to coach Castro and Rizzo out of the slumps that plagued them last year, but more importantly he needs to breed them to be the guys who can legitimately lead a clubhouse. As far as anyone can tell, Rizzo appears to be right on track but Starlin Castro has miles to go. Castro needs to shake the label of “talented but unfocused”. You cannot be a shortstop and leader of a contending team and have characteristics like “lazy”, “inconsistent”, or “immature” associated with your name. Imagine if Derek Jeter took plays off on defense and threw to the wrong bases of relays. What if DJ started making bad decisions off the field? It’s a weird mental image isn’t it? Now, Castro doesn’t need to be Jeter, but trying to emulate the captain wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
If Rick Renteria can bring these boys along, all the big bats waiting the farm system will fall in line right behind them. So as the Cubs look to be well on their way to another sub-.500 record, judge the season, not on wins and losses, but on how well Rick Renteria does the job he was brought to Chicago to do. Talent wins games, but leadership and chemistry win championships.
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