The World's Worst Preseason Predictions
Spring training is about to wind down...thankfully...unbearable as it ends up being by the end, it was doubly so with the World Baseball Classic extension. The only real goal of spring training is to leave camp healthy and the Cubs failed at that much like they do at winning baseball games. As you can see, I expect little from the Cubs this season, which is rare from me, as I'm always overly optimistic this time of year. Maybe that's a good sign for the year, the biggest surprises come when you expect the least.
Nationals versus Braves feels like a coin flip to me, with which team staying healthier and getting a few breakout performances likely rising to the top. The way the Nationals handled Strasburg last year made me an anti-Nationals fan for life though, so I'm going with the Braves. A year of Utley and Howard and all that pitching talent means the Philies have a good chance at rebounding....although Michael and Delmon Young acquisitions were facepalm worthy.
While I'm certainly no fan of the Dodgers spending spree, their core players remain Kemp and Kershaw, which means the excessive spending is being built around them...kind of a good plan actually. And the Giants still have all their pitchers. I'm a little higher on the Padres than most, a lot of good young talent in my opinion that could bust out at any point, while I think the Kevin Towers can't get out of his own way.
The Reds probably won't have as much good luck with their starting staff this year, but lots of talent there in Cincy. And the same can be said for the Cardinals...albeit a little on the older side. Cards do have the best farm system, but beyond Shelby Miller, I don't know who is going to step in this year. At some point, all this team building is going to pay off for the Pirates and it certainly wouldn't surprise me if this is the year. My memories of the Brewers rebuild felt a lot like the Pirates, a few years where they seemed to get close to respectability before finally breaking through. As for the Brewers, if they end up suspending Braun, the Cubs may manage to stay out of the cellar.
- Blue Jays
- Red Sox
Flip a coin on the whole division in my opinion. As surprising as the Orioles were last year and you'd expect a pullback, they've got a ton of young talent ready to produce. I certainly expect the Red Sox to be better this year, but someone has to go last. As for why pick the Rays? They won 90 last year without their best player for most of the season or limping in the games he played. Although Longoria may end up on the DL again, a full season could do wonders for that lineup along with a full year of Desmond Jennings. That all being said, any team in any spot wouldn't surprise me here...and since they'll all be likely beating up on each other while the AL West gets to play the Astros a ton of times (and the AL Central gets the Twins), it also wouldn't surprise me if only one team makes the playoffs.
The Angels have gotten too far away from building within, that I'll go with the Rangers this year. But it's honestly another coin flip with the A's right on the outskirts. I think the Mariners shold be considerably better as well and all four teams will get to fatten up on the Astros.
- White Sox
This feels like a one team race, but you never really know. I certainly could see the Royals take a step forward this year with their young hitters and not-completely-terrible pitching staff. The White Sox always seem to do better than I expect (Northside bias I believe it's called). The Indians made some nice additions along with a decent young core (Kipnis, Santana, Cabrera). The Twins are starting Vance Worley on Opening Day.
Tier 1 (World Series favorites): Tigers, Braves, Dodgers, Giants, Reds, Nationals, Rangers, Angels
Tier 2 (Playoff hopefuls): Cardinals, Pirates, Phillies, A's, the AL East
Tier 3 (Could surprise): Indians, White Sox, Royals, Mariners, Diamondbacks, Padres, Mets, Brewers
Tier 4 (#1 draft pick contention): Cubs, Astros, Marlins, Rockies, Twins
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.