Baseball Prospectus

The pre-season ritual of BP releasing their preliminary PECOTA numbers is upon us and as expected the Cubs are in the bottom 5 of the league. They've got them tabbed at 71 wins at the moment, 3rd worse in the league with only the Astros and Marlins being worse. Apparently that doesn't include the recent Jason Hammel signing, which should be good for maybe a win on the positive side (maybe not).  Of course, it's all just theory now, but until there's something practical to follow, forecasting and guessing are about as much fun as we're going to have around here.

I don't subscribe to BP anymore, but the link to the Cubs page can be found here and apparently it's particularly unkind to Jeff Samardzija (0.1 WARP forecast). Fangraphs posted the ZIPS projections last week as well, and they were much kinder to Samardzija (3.2 zWAR forecast). Both systems seem to think Castro and Rizzo should have solid bounceback seasons. The #1 Comp column on the ZIPS tables is always a fun read: Baez=Ripken, Soler=Candy Maldonado, Rizzo=Carlos Pena, Schierholtz=Randy Bush, Edwin Jackson=Jaime Navarro and so on down the line.

I'm taking the under by the way, I think TheJedi are gonna be a little reluctant/stubborn on bringing up Baez, Bryant and some others and then the mid-season trading will take it's toll like it did last season.

Will Carroll, BP's staff writer focusing on team health had this very interesting recent quote, from his "Cubs Team Health Report":

Age is a poor predictor of injuries. Younger players get hurt more, but they heal more quickly. Older players get hurt less, a variant of the survivor effect, but heal more slowly.

The media that follows baseball does it's best to understand and decipher sports injuries. It's a tough job for them and much gets lost in translation of medical terminology. Injured athletes often don't understand what they are being told about an injury or they are just afraid to fess up that their ache might be a significant problem until it goes on for weeks or longer. Trainers and medical staff are often reluctant to discuss information on the grounds of patient-physician confidentiality and some teams are just less open to giving what information they have to the media. The information is important to us fans, since key players dealing with even minor injuries and not performing to their best ability can drastically affect how a team plays. In 2009, Alphonso Soriano apparently had a knee injury that he tried to work through until it was so obvious that he couldn't run, leading to his arthroscopic knee surgery in September. An injury that flies under the radar screen of the medical staff, as in Soriano's case was costly and not in a way you can put the usual "days lost" analysis to.

What the latest Baseball Prospectus annual has to say about the Cubs, minus all those pesky numbers and the obscure historical and literary allusions:

Ronny Cedeno
"...Cedeno's is a tried and true skill set–the same one that's earning Orlando Cabrera millions of dollars every season..."

Ryan Dempster
"...has experienced a steady decline in his groundball rates over the past three seasons...coupled with command that was never very good to begin with..."

Mark DeRosa
"If the Cubs bring in a Brian Roberts-type...the gains will be less than they might appear at first glance."

Kosuke Fukudome
"An inspired acquisition...a J.D. Drew/Bobby Abreu type of player..."

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