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Cubs vs. Sox: 7 for ‘14

Travis Wood

Travis Wood

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Updated: September 30, 2013 1:21PM

SOX 7 for ’14

• Chris Sale. The 24-year-old centerpiece of the staff rates as one of baseball’s best pitchers. Ventura said the only certainty for 2014 is that he starts Opening Day.

• Avisail Garcia. The 22-year-old right fielder was a great get for GM Rick Hahn in the Jake Peavy trade. Five-tool budding star has good makeup, too.

• Marcus Semien (sooner) and Micah Johnson (later). Infielders appear to be legitimate prospects.

• Erik Johnson. Scouts like what they see in the best pitcher from farm system, who was 3-2 with 3.25 ERA over five starts.

• Offseason upgrades. Hahn tackles a big project getting the Sox back on track. Watch him work under the radar on trades and free agents in name of long-term, not quick-fix growth.

• Moving forward without Paul Konerko or with Konerko in a reduced role. This team will be younger, more athletic and versatile.

• The June draft. The Sox will have the third pick overall.

—Daryl Van Schouwen

CUBS’ 7 for ‘14

*Travis Wood looks legit after All-Star season in first full year in big leagues. Opening Day starter?

*Edwin Jackson (8-18, 4.98) can’t be as bad next year; might even provide good trade value by July.

*Watch for the imminent debut of Javy Baez, the Cubs’ most hyped prospect since … (uh, never mind the comparisons).

*Alfonso Soriano, a clubhouse favorite for 6 ½ seasons with the Cubs, returns to Wrigley in May for the first time since his trade to the Yankees – and perhaps for the last time.

*Outfielder Junior Lake gets chance to claim a place in Cubs’ long-term plans after exciting debut summer.

*Arodys who? Right-hander Vizcaino, the injured power pitcher the Cubs acquired in 2012 from Braves, is expected back in ’14 as a reliever.

* Shark tweak: After a 213 2/3-inning, 214-strikeout season, Jeff Samardzija tries to take next step as difference maker.

—Gordon Wittenmyer

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