Powell: Cubs Begin First Title Defense in 108 Years

Busch Stadium in St. Louis a few hours before first pitch on Opening Day 2017 (Kevin Powell / WGN Radio)

ST.LOUIS – And so it begins. Opening Day. The Cubs title defense starts against the hated St. Louis Cardinals. “The goal from here on out is to win the World Series,” 2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant said at the start of spring training. “I consider every season after (winning the World Series) a failure if you don’t win.”

His teammates, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber, are clearly excited to get going.

Game 7 of the World Series seems like yesterday. The ups and downs. The Davis homer. The rain delay. The Heyward speech. Zobrist. Montgomery.

And speaking of rain, the man who gave the epic speech in Game 7, needs to bounce back at the plate in 2017. It all starts against his former team. In Jason Heyward’s lone year in St. Louis his slash line looked like this: .293/.359/.439. And last year: .230/.306/.325. That’s not good. So what if Heyward continues to struggle? Does Joe Maddon stick with him for a full season, like he did last year? Would he bench the four time Gold Glove winner?  Doubtful, but it’s something to watch.

Watch Heyward’s new swing here

Other story lines to follow: How does Schwarber’s knee hold up? Can Kyle Hendricks repeat last year’s performance? Is there enough starting pitching depth? How does Maddon find enough playing time for all the talent on the roster?

There may be a few question marks, but on paper this is the deepest, most talented team in baseball. That’s why talks of a dynasty are valid and fair.

Here’s the Cubs official 25-man roster:

During the game, visit wgnradio.com for a live blog from our entire WGN Radio sports team.

Kevin Powell covers Chicago baseball  for WGN Radio and anchors sports on The Roe Conn Show with Anna Davlantes, M-F/3-7p. Follow on twitter @kpowell720