CHICAGO (AP) — Wrigley Field is decked out for the party of a century.
As for the Chicago Cubs?
It looks like there won't be much to celebrate this season other than their ballpark's 100th anniversary. As Wrigley hits a milestone, the Cubs remain in a rebuilding mode, hoping to avoid their fifth straight losing season.
They have a new manager in Rick Renteria. Their outlook looks about the same, though.
It's all about the future, the prized prospects in the system, no matter how painful that might be to the players in uniform at the major league level. More lumps appear to be in store for the Cubs as they enter their third year with Theo Epstein as president of baseball operations.
"The objective is to win as many games as possible, be the last man standing and bring a championship to the city of Chicago," pitcher Edwin Jackson said. "The motivation is still the same. The message is still the same. We want to go out and win. We don't want to go out and be a pushover."
Here are five things to look for from the Cubs this season:
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Cubs fans might be paying more attention to the minor league boxscores this season. That's because all eyes are on top prospects such as infielder Javier Baez, outfielder Albert Almora, third baseman Kris Bryant and outfielder Jorge Soler.
Their progress will be the biggest story for a franchise seeking its first winning season since 2009 — not to mention its first championship since 1908. And if they make big strides this year, well, that actually would be something for the Cubs to celebrate.
SAMARDZIJA'S FAREWELL?: Another big story surrounding the Cubs is Jeff Samardzija. He's scheduled to start the opener, but he's also a good candidate to be dealt given his one-year contract and the inability to lock him in to a long-term deal. Samardzija was 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA last season, but he was one of only 10 pitchers with at least 200 innings and 200 strikeouts. He's also not eligible for free agency until 2015, an added bonus for suitors.