Pressing Questions: The Chicago Cubs
The bleacher knowledge in a nutshell: Tough guys with Mai Tais (Getty)
This week, we start a common array of MLB anticipation previews, wherein we cruise 5-6 pivotal questions surrounding any team. Baseball is coming, gamers. Pitchers and catchers news next month. Fantasy owners news immediately…
The year forward will be a 105th uninterrupted deteriorate in that a Chicago Cubs destroy to win a World Series, so fluctuating a many conspicuous strain of non-achievement in a story of American sports anything. If we came to this preview looking for feign hope, Cubs fan … well, sorry. This team, on paper, looks flattering bad. Chicago was one of usually 3 squads to post a sub-.400 winning commission final year. Even if this organisation improves by 10 wins, they’ll still be a 91-loss team. There’s fundamentally a 0 percent possibility that a Cubs will acquire a place in a postseason in 2013 — and no, a second furious label mark doesn’t unequivocally assistance them. Five additional furious label spots competence not help.
True, there are a few engaging names on a North Side pitching staff, some of them new to a franchise. But this team’s lineup was miserable final deteriorate — 28th in run scoring, 29th in on-base percentage, 27th in slugging — and it hasn’t unequivocally softened in any poignant way. Chicago is still unequivocally many in a reconstruct phase, during all organizational levels. Former GM Jim Hendry left behind an overpaid, under-skilled mess.
Nevertheless, there are a integrate of ownable pieces here for anticipation owners to consider. Let’s get to work…
Q: Anthony Rizzo is one of those pieces, yes? What’s a foresee for him?
A: Yeah, Rizzo was one of a good awaiting success stories in ball final year. You competence remember that he was an ill-prepared mutilate when a Pads promoted him to a bigs behind in 2011, during age 21. But he rebuilt his pitch final offseason, afterwards dominated during Triple-A (.342/.405/.696). When a Cubs called him adult in late-June, he was prepared to succeed. Rizzo went 2-for-4 in his Wrigley debut, he homered in his fourth diversion as a Cub, and he afterwards strike another 14 bombs over a final 3 months of a season. The child finished strong, delivering a .292/.375/.491 line in September. He’s legit.
No pressure, child (Getty)Hopefully a anticipation village won’t set absurd expectations for him in 2013, since he’s still only 23. No one should be unfortunate with a converging year. Rizzo is projected by ZiPS to be an comprehensive monster this season, we should note: 85 R, 31 HR, 109 RBIs, .279/.349/.503. He could tumble brief of foresee nonetheless still be a useful anticipation asset. Over a full season, Rizzo is clearly a good gamble to strech a seats 26-30 times. He can support your feign organisation in a energy categories though being a batting normal disaster. At his stream ridicule breeze cost (ADP 117.5 during MDC), he offers apparent distinction potential.
Q: Starlin Castro didn’t accurately make a vital burst in 2012. What’s on daub this season?
A: Castro’s anticipation value dipped somewhat final year, interjection to a 24-point dump in batting normal (and a 29-point dump in BABIP), though he still finished during No. 85 in a altogether ranks. Nobody mislaid their joining since they spent an early collect on a 14-homer, 25-steal shortstop. Remember, Castro is indeed 7 months younger than Rizzo. There’s expansion intensity here. And even if Castro never creates a burst to a tip tier during short, he’s already a important writer opposite all 5 categories, relations to position averages.
I’d be astounded if Castro’s batting normal doesn’t stand behind to a .300-.310 area this season, with his energy and speed numbers holding steady. His batted-ball rates didn’t unequivocally change roughly from 2011 to 2012, so there’s no apparent reason to tatter about final year’s .283 AVG. The male can hit. He’s never been an on-base appurtenance (.336 career OBP), nor is he a defensive whiz, so it’s satisfactory to cruise of him as a actor who’s maybe some-more profitable in anticipation than real-life. In a game, he stays an early-round commodity. The nonesuch zealots will substantially poke him into Round 3 in churned leagues of customary size.
Q: Carlos Marmol is still a closer, yes?
A: Yup. For now. The Cubs were tighten to flipping him to a Angels during a offseason, so let’s not assume Marmol will finish a year in Chicago. However, he’s due $9.8 million this year and has a singular no-trade — his understanding was a classical Hendry buy-high — so maybe he won’t be a easiest male to move. If Marmol is going to re-emerge a trade chip, he’ll need to open a deteriorate with a same efficacy he displayed during a finish of 2012. Carlos was superb after a mangle (1.52 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 11.8 K/9), though heartless in a early months.
The Cubs sealed Kyuji Fujikawa to a two-year, $9.5 million understanding in December, and he sum to be a subsequent male adult in a bullpen. The 32-year-old had a stellar shutting career in Japan (stats here), with consistently high K-rates. He’ll be a reliever of seductiveness for those chasing saves this spring.
Q: Is this a year that Ian Stewart final–?
A: Shut up.
Q: No, for real. Don’t we cruise that maybe Stew–?
A: No, we don’t. SHUT. UP.
We’re not carrying a Ian Stewart discussion. You can’t make me do it. Even in enormous N.L.-only leagues, I’ll be looking to fill third bottom with roughly anyone else. He’s entrance off a wrist injury, a roof here isn’t all that tempting, and … well, I’m finished carrying these Stewart discussion. New subject, please.
Q: OK then. Changing gears …
How bullish should we be on a new pitching additions?
A: Better question. Chicago inked Scott Baker and Scott Feldman to reasonable one-year deals, during a sum cost of $11.5 million. Both starters shun a DH league, that should clearly help, and Feldman leaves a rising pad in Arlington. Baker will be reduction than a year private from Tommy John medicine on opening day, so it’s probable that we won’t see him until May or June. Assuming he recovers his stuff, Baker could emerge as a commercial commodity nearby a trade deadline (or, of course, a organisation could confirm it wants him to hang around into a future. When he’s right, he’s good). Baker is a flyball pitcher who keeps a walks to a smallest and strikes out batters during a important rate. Feldman has groundball tendencies and a many reduce career K-rate than Baker (5.36 K/9 vs. 7.23), though he’s another workable arm who competence hint trade interest. Will we breeze possibly actor in churned leagues? No, substantially not. The run support conditions here isn’t ideal, and these guys are something reduction than anticipation aces.
Edwin Jackson is a some-more engaging starter for anticipation purposes, in an end-of-draft arrange of way. He’s a hard-thrower who coaxes copiousness of grounders, and he strikes out tighten to 7 batters per 9 innings (career 6.87 K/9). Jackson has no-hit things when he’s going good and eight-walk things when he isn’t. (And, on singular occasions, he breaks out both kinds of stuff). Perhaps a best thing about Jackson, and a categorical reason a Cubs gave him a four-year deal, is that he’s started during slightest 31 games in 6 true seasons. He’ll give a organisation a decent series of peculiarity innings, and he’s good adequate to be a mid-rotation writer when Chicago is finally prepared to make a playoff run.
Q: What a ruin happened to Brett Jackson? Why isn’t his name in a projected lineup over there — on a right?
A: Jackson was invalid after being called adult final August, attack .175 over 120 at-bats and pier adult Ks (59). He homered 4 times in 44 games and went 0-for-3 on stolen bottom attempts, impressing no one. He’ll expected open a 2013 deteriorate in Triple-A, where he’ll unveil a new swing:
Brett Jackson spent time with [manager Dale] Sveum and a Cubs attack coaches in Mesa. Jackson apparently done “huge, outrageous strides” and has totally overhauled his swing. Sveum pronounced a immature outfielder could be in a brew in 2013.
“I cruise he’s got a good bottom to work with going into a rest of a winter and going into Spring Training to know a art of hitting, so to speak,” Sveum said.
So there’s that. The 24-year-old Jackson didn’t strike for normal in a PCL final deteriorate (.256), and he struck out during a absurd rate (158 Ks), though he delivered medium energy and speed totals (49 extra-base hits, 27 SB). He’s not a mislaid means … yet.
Q: Any other prospects we need to know?
A: OK, this is where a Cubs get semi-interesting. The organisation is accumulating critical attack talent during reduce teenager joining levels. It’s easy to see how and when a vital joining lineup should improve, only as Rizzo and Castro enter their primes. But anticipation managers need to commend that a many engaging players in Chicago’s complement — in order, shortstop Javier Baez, outfielders Jorge Soler and Albert Almora, slugging initial baseman Dan Vogelbach — are merely kids, nothing of them comparison than 20. The best names in this classification have star potential, though not in 2013 — and substantially not in 2014. If you’re a Cubs fan who wants a glance of a future, maybe cruise streamer out to Kane County for a diversion or 3 this summer or next.