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Thursday, March 30, 2017

2017 Chicago Cubs Prediction Thread

It’s time to put it on the record: What do you forecast for the 2017 Cubs? At least provide a win total for the 2017 season, but also feel free to add other predictions: Rank in division, success in postseason, highest WAR, the day Ian Happ will be called up from AAA. Anything you like! Some of you already started this in the previous thread, so feel free to transfer it here.

I’ll start:

96 wins, and first in NL Central. I say they make it to the WS, but won’t go so far as predicting another title.
Great hitting, great defense, good pitching, but the run differential gets cut in half from 2016. And leads MLB just the same.
Kris Bryant repeats as NL MVP.

 

Andere Richtingen Posted: March 30, 2017 at 11:20 AM | 64 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 30, 2017 at 11:44 AM (#5425911)
Oh, and get your predictions in before Sunday night's game start time (8:35 PM EDT) in order for it to count. I'll make it interesting: the closest calls for the Cubs win total for the 2017 regular season get a "W" t-shirt with the box score of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series on the back. Prizes will be given to a maximum of three individuals, going to the three earliest posted, best predictions. If no one gets the win total exactly, the closest call(s) will be awarded t-shirts (same maximum of three winners). You can adjust your win total prediction at any point between now and the deadline, but only your last prediction before the deadline will be the one that counts.
   2. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 30, 2017 at 11:50 AM (#5425915)
I will go with 93 wins thanks to an easy division. OF looks like a black hole, the starting pitching is creaky and totally un-buttressed by depth, and the bullpen is below average unless Wade Davis finds his command again.

Don't get too attached to the prospects. The Cubs will have weaknesses in need of shoring up for a playoff run.

EDIT: I realize I sound pretty negative considering I expect them to win the division easily. I'm just kinda frustrated with the team's personnel decisions subsequent to the Montgomery trade (which I think was a really good trade for the Cubs).
   3. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 30, 2017 at 11:56 AM (#5425924)
I will go with 93 wins thanks to an easy division. OF looks like a black hole, the starting pitching is creaky and totally un-buttressed by depth, and the bullpen is below average unless Wade Davis finds his command again.

I wouldn't go that far. I think the OF will be okay, and the SP looks pretty good to me. Not world-beating like in 2016 but pretty good. And I think there are enough good bullpen pieces for it to be pretty good too.

I definitely see the Cubs' success being based primarily on offense and defense, but I am not quite that sour on the pitching.
   4. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 30, 2017 at 12:08 PM (#5425937)
My criticism of the OF is a little too hyperbolic and it will probably approximate average. But if Heyward doesn't find his stroke and Schwarber is, in fact, a -15 fielder then it starts getting scary.

With pitching its the amount of high risk/high reward guys and absence of depth behind them. Lackey, Arrieta, and Anderson are all concerning to me. The next man in is Montgomery who will be transitioning to starting. And I like the bullpen moves in isolation but here is what we have on opening day there:

Montgomery (replaced by Duensing once Anderson gets hurt)
Grimm
Edwards
Strop
Rondon
Uehara
Davis

That is a whole lot of risk and it's not like Iowa is brimming with replacements right now.
   5. Covfefe Posted: March 30, 2017 at 12:08 PM (#5425938)
I'll stick with my predictions from the end of the last thread...

100 wins. Rizzo and Hendricks take home big hardware. Schwarbs and Russell take big steps forward.

Beyond that, I agree - midseason help is coming, and I think it will come in the rotation. I'll add that I think Heyward 'recovers' to a ~100 OPS+, but no further. Almora wrests control of the full-time CF job by midseason.
   6. Sweet Posted: March 30, 2017 at 12:12 PM (#5425942)
I'll play. 98 wins, division title, best team in baseball during the regular season . . . but a loss in the NLCS to the Dodgers or Nats.

Random happy prediction: Contreras is an All-Star and wins a Gold Glove
Random unhappy prediction: Zobrist has a poor year (<1.5 WAR)
   7. Meatwad Posted: March 30, 2017 at 12:17 PM (#5425951)
104 wins, and repeating as champs. the pen will be better than we expect and I think the offense will be better than last year.
   8. TomH Posted: March 30, 2017 at 12:18 PM (#5425954)
92 Wins. Injuries primary cause of regression. While position player flexibility is in place, replacing stars is hard. When Contreras goes on a 15-DL stint, Schwarbs gets a few extra games behind the plate. As mentioned above, mid- to late-season ace is THE primary tool to benefit another post-season run. In the playoffs, Cubs offense runs dry against one of the clubs with a few dominant SPs (Nats, Dodgers, Mets, whoever in AL). A second trophy has to wait until at least one more year. Yes, I know this is too vague to qualify empirically for the T-shirt.
   9. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 30, 2017 at 12:25 PM (#5425963)
Yes, I know this is too vague to qualify empirically for the T-shirt.

No, you are in for 92 wins. People can qualify/nuance their prediction as much as they want, but if you make a bullseye prediction like that you are in.
   10. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 30, 2017 at 12:32 PM (#5425970)
With pitching its the amount of high risk/high reward guys and absence of depth behind them.

I guess I don't see the depth being that bad. I am concerned about Arrieta being permanently the pitcher he was in the second half of 2016. Lackey is getting old. And the current fifth starter options are not particularly good. But a team that has Lester and Hendricks leading the rotation, followed by Arrieta, Lackey and Anderson/Montgomery -- that's pretty good. There are all sorts of ways it could turn out badly, but that's almost always true.

I think the bullpen has all sorts of depth, it just lacks one or two cream-of-the-crop types. If the starting rotation holds together, I think the bullpen is fine.

I see Fangraphs predicts about a half run per game increase from 2016 to 2017 -- that feels about right to me. Keep in mind that the quality of the Cubs defense is a huge factor. I won't predict it explicitly but I can see the offense exceeding five runs per game.
   11. Brian C Posted: March 30, 2017 at 12:36 PM (#5425975)
106 wins, slightly overperforming their Pythag this year. Bullpen turns out to be a strength.

Offense is unstoppable, though starting pitching is a relative weakness. Anderson is healthier/more effective than anticipated but Lackey craters. Arrieta does a repeat of his 2016, but misses a couple months in the middle of the year due to injury. Hendricks and Lester hold down the fort. Deadline deal trades away prospects and makes zonk sad but brings in a needed high-quality starter.

Bryant will deserve MVP but voters will give it to Rizzo because they like the storyline better.

Jay and Almora spend the year tag-teaming CF and we're all thrilled with how it goes. Schwarber has some really ugly plays in the OF, but is acceptably mediocre overall, and his occasional gaffes send the media to their fainting couches but are endearing to fans.

The Cardinals continue their slow fade into a century-long stretch of mediocrity.
   12. Non-Youkilidian Geometry Posted: March 30, 2017 at 12:39 PM (#5425978)
95 wins. On the plus side, Schwarber and Contreras join the established hitting stars, Baez and Russell both take big steps forward offensively, and Heyward recovers at least somewhat. On the negative side, the starting pitching regresses. Cubs lose to the Dodgers in the NLCS in a squeaker and the Dodgers go on to win the World Series.
   13. Covfefe Posted: March 30, 2017 at 12:43 PM (#5425983)
Deadline deal trades away prospects and makes zonk sad but brings in a needed high-quality starter.


Depends on the prospects :-)

A guy like Candelario - just not seeing a future for him in Chicago, so he needs to be dealt for something, one way or another. Unfortunately, I doubt he alone does (or can anchor) what we want.

If we're wishcasting - and talking someone in the realm of a Teheran/Archer/whatever... it would make me sad to include Eloy, but I still think I'd do it. Unfortunately, I also don't think even a Candelario/Eloy package would be enough to get that done. I highly suspect most teams are going to want a Baez... or maybe a Candy/Eloy/Happ package for something of that caliber. That's the point where my sadness might eclipse my willingness... but I'd have to sleep on it.
   14. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 30, 2017 at 03:04 PM (#5426153)
I feel like the pessimism about the rotation is completely overblown, and really doesn't compare how good the Cubs have it relative to other teams. It's one thing to worry about the SP regressing or getting hurt because SPs just get hurt or they're due (I know that's not really what anyone here is saying, but I see it out there) and another to have someone like Matz (for example) who certainly appears injury prone and has recurring problems, etc...

I believe in the pitching, because as good as they were in 2016, they were also really good in 2015 and mostly I believe in the defense, the structure, the coaching, the scouting/preparation moreso than I believe in any particular guy (and on the irrational side, I kinda believe in the contract year phenomenon). And also I believe the Cubs will add another arm this year, as I don't see them going into the offseason having to count on replacing both Arrieta (who will not be back, and I'm ok with that) and Lackey. Feel free to count all that as a prediction, if you want.

I also really, really believe in the offense and that it will be better this year. I don't have huge expectations for Baez offensively - beyond he's streaky and will look like a great hitter for stretches - but I believe big-time in Schwarber and Russell taking a step forward and Bryant/Rizzo maintaining. I also am starting to come around on Almora, especially if he's just left alone in that 9 spot. I think between Almora/Heyward, the Cubs OF defense can still be as good as last year, at least, even with Schwarber (who I still don't think is that bad, random embarrassing gaffes and all). I don't know what to think or feel about Heyward, but I think the Cubs have options if he completely bombs again.

Formal predictions:
100 wins (zonk gets credit in the contest, since I have the shirt). Win division by 10+ again, with Pirates better than Cards.
No MVP/CY/Rookie/MOY awards. Rizzo/Baez/Heyward gold gloves, some silver sluggers in here too.
Happ debuts in May - probably cause of an injury, maybe Heyward goes down, and the Cubs are going to be hard pressed to send him back down.
Trades this season - that mythical young, cost controller starter, and a random, cheap bullpen arm that surprises. Won't even guess/predict who goes in that one.
Edwards is closer by end of season.
Eddie Butler gets the first crack at the rotation from the AAA group (maybe even before Monty) and he's a pleasant surprise.

#### it, Cubs win WS again. Less stressfully this time.
   15. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: March 30, 2017 at 03:18 PM (#5426179)
I will go with 93 wins thanks to an easy division. OF looks like a black hole, the starting pitching is creaky and totally un-buttressed by depth, and the bullpen is below average unless Wade Davis finds his command again.

Pops, this is the Eeyoriest post that ever Eeyored. I'd have thought 12 years of the sunnily-dispositioned Gonfalon Cub folk would've had better results! :)

I'll do my predictions before the opener; I know you're all on the edges of your seats.
   16. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 30, 2017 at 03:35 PM (#5426188)
Spahn, you coming up for the opener or ring ceremony game? I bought tickets to the opener, and am also going that first Fri afternoon game.
   17. Man o' Schwar Posted: March 30, 2017 at 03:54 PM (#5426205)
99 wins. Cubs lead the league in scoring by a comfortable margin, but the pitching regresses. Lackey shows his age, Hendricks can't be Maddux again, the bullpen coughs up some wins. But Baez, Russell, Schwarber, Almora all step forward offensively, and Happ becomes a valuable utility bench piece in the 2nd half.

Cubs overpay in prospects for a starter at the deadline, but it's worth it when they roll through the Series and win it all for a second straight year. Nationals in the NLDS 3-0, Dodgers in the NLCS 4-1, Astros in the WS 4-0. Russell hits .295 with 30 HRs and 30 2Bs, wins a Gold Glove, becomes the cleanup hitter at midseason, and ultimately gets the NL MVP. Rizzo and Bryant finish in the Top 6.
   18. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: March 30, 2017 at 03:57 PM (#5426207)
Spahn, you coming up for the opener or ring ceremony game? I bought tickets to the opener, and am also going that first Fri afternoon game.

Man, I wish. Alas, since the opener's a Monday night, I'd have to take two days off, which I'm not able to do at the moment. I really wanted to see 'em line up as world champs on opening night though. Have a blast!

I'm not sure when I'll be up there next. I'm going to the Cubs/Reds game in Cincy on April 21, but nothing else definite. Maybe that Cards series in late July.
   19. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: March 30, 2017 at 04:07 PM (#5426215)
Let's see ...

Here are the 10 best teams by PythagPat records in the last 45 seasons (Py-Pat wins per 162 games, as one of the clubs came in a strike shortened season) - and also their Pythagenpat win total per 162 games the next year:
1. 2001 SEA 109.9 - and 92.6 the next year
2. 1998 NYY 109.9 - and 97.1 the next year
3. 1975 CIN 109.5 - and 103.5 the next year
4. 1974 LAD 109.0 - and 94.7 the next year
5. 2016 CHC 107.8 - ??
6. 1998 ATL 106.5 - and 99.0 the next year
7. 1998 HOU 106.4 - and 96.3 the next year
8. 1995 CLE 105.7 - and 97.8 the next year
9. 2001 OAK 104.6 - and 96.1 the next year
10. 1973 BAL 104.4 - and 86.4 the next year

Those nine non-Cubs teams average 107.3 wins in their big season - almost exactly where the Cubs were in 2016. And they averaged 95.9 the next year.

Now, that's all pythag records, not actual records. But I think variance between the two is largely (though not entirely) noise.

So I'll say the Cubs undershoot that by a tad: 94-68.

If anyone cares, of the teams listed above, the worse follow up season was the Dodgers: 88-74 in 1975. The 1974 Orioles won "only" 91 games and the '02 Mariners won 93. The others all won at least 97 games.

If you go a big further back, the 1971 O's had 105 p-pat wins per 162 games, but then went only 80-74 in the (slightly strike-shortend) 1972 season.
   20. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 30, 2017 at 04:14 PM (#5426218)
My criticism of the OF is a little too hyperbolic and it will probably approximate average. But if Heyward doesn't find his stroke and Schwarber is, in fact, a -15 fielder then it starts getting scary.


I don't see this. The biggest risk is that Heyward doesn't find his stroke but Maddon keeps running him out there for five months again. But I don't think that's likely. If Heyward is worthless, that sets up an OF of Schwarber - Almora - Zobrist w/ Baez as your everyday 2B and Jay and/or Heyward as late-inning defensive replacements. I see Schwarber - Almora as a modern-day Luzinski - Maddox. We have the all-world 3B to match Mike Schmidt. Put Jon Lester in the Steve Carlton role. And then the big advantage the Cubs have over those Phillies teams is at literally every other position.

I'll go w/ 97 wins (in part because, as I'm typing this, it's a number I didn't see anybody else pick). Offense should be a bit better: Schwarber > Fowler, either 2017 Heyward > 2016 Heyward or 2017 Heyward is going to have a permanent seat on the bench, probably a bit better at C (although Ross had a very nice year last year), everybody else is young enough that they should be able to at least match last year (Almora/Jay vs. last year's LF, which was kind of a hole most of the season). Pitching should be a bit worse, just because you can't plausibly project Lester and Hendricks to match their 2016 seasons: but I expect both to still be really good.
   21. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: March 30, 2017 at 04:15 PM (#5426222)
OK--I'll predict an even 100 regular season wins, leading the majors once again (They'll allow a few more runs than they allowed in 2016, but also score a few more, with Pythagorus's kinder treatment of the team being offset by just a bit of overall regression.), and a WS rematch with the Tribe. Cubs win it in 6 this time. (Hey, might as well go all cubsfanboy with my preseason predictions now that we need never go to, as I think Voodoo described it, that dark, dark place ever again. Feels kinda good.) They'll also rematch with the Dodgers in the LCS, and knock off the Mets in the LDS.

Baez wins a GG, as do Russell and Rizzo. Heyward loses too much PT to his anemic bat to repeat.

What Moses said about the pitching concerns being way, way overblown. The Cubs were awesome at run prevention last year, and they'll be awesome at it again this year, even if slightly less so, and even if the way they get there looks slightly different. (I'm willing to concede that not *all* of their historically low 2016 opponents' BABIP is sustainable. I will also argue that, inasmuch as the Cubs have awesome defenders, much of it WILL be sustained.)

NL MVP will be a non-Cub. Bryant will come crashing to earth with a measly 7.6 WAR.

The pen will be fine. Indeed, I think it'll be better than fine.

Brett Anderson will shock the world by making at least 11 starts, perhaps as many as 14. He'll be on the DL come playoff time, however--Montgomery will make at least one postseason start (probably based on some weird matchup-playing, maybe against the Dodgers and their lefty bats).

Happ will be up before the ASB. Postseason roster will be a Maddon wet dream of positional versatility, between Happ, Baez, Zobrist, Bryant, Schwarber and Contreras.

Play ball. I've enjoyed the offseason of basking in the glow, but am ready to see them defend the crown successfully. Let's get it started. PttM.
   22. Covfefe Posted: March 30, 2017 at 04:29 PM (#5426229)
The pure "will the 2017 Cubs be better than the 2016 Cubs" is an interesting one, I think...

I suppose by picking 100 wins - I'm saying (at least - however, tiny) worse... unless we're also gonna place pythag bets.

I won't - but I kind of feel like I should change my guess because in fact, I do expect the 2017 Cubs to be better than the 2016 Cubs.

My thinking is simply:

1) I feel safe expecting the offense to better. I do think losing Fowler will hurt - a lot... but having Schwarbs around all year will help and I think everybody else has considerable upside over their 2016 versions (excepting maybe Rizzo - who probably is what he is, which is great... of course, everyone has to have a career year sometime). I have a really hard time seeing the offense being less good than 2016. Who knows, of course - but we're talking about a really young core that only Bryant feels like has hit his potential peak (and even with him... who knows? He could very well get even better).

2) Injury concerns aside, I do feel like the bullpen on paper looks better than it did at the start of 2016. You could say that maybe it has a greater implosion-due-to-injury risk, but I think the top-to-bottom corps is one that I like better than what we started with in 2016.

3) Natch on the defense -- unless Dex really and truly did become a plus CF last year, I see nothing but improvement (well, maybe Schwarber.. though - Soler was no great shakes). The OF is the wildcard, I guess... but Contreras seems a safe bet to a big upgrade over Montero. Bryant - more improvement. More Baez. Another year for RUssell... I expect the team to be at least as good defensively as 2016, and my money is on better.

4) The rotation is the place where I suspect the most regression.

When I add it all up - unless 4)/the rotation bottom REALLY falls out - I just have a hard time seeing this edition not at least being as good as 2016, and I think - better.
   23. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: March 30, 2017 at 04:36 PM (#5426237)
Russell hits .295 with 30 HRs and 30 2Bs, wins a Gold Glove, becomes the cleanup hitter at midseason, and ultimately gets the NL MVP.

I like this prediction. I've been saying for over a year that Russell will be an MVP candidate by 2018, so that's what I'll stick with as the year he really busts out, but it wouldn't shock me if it happens this year.
   24. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 30, 2017 at 04:44 PM (#5426247)
BTW, Andere, if you go to the "Date" tab in the posting for this post, you can change the comment expiration field (which I think has a 2 month default), so that this thread can still be open after the season to add comments/updates.
   25. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 30, 2017 at 04:45 PM (#5426249)
Russell hits .295 with 30 HRs and 30 2Bs, wins a Gold Glove, becomes the cleanup hitter at midseason, and ultimately gets the NL MVP.

I can't go to MVP for him, but I'm all aboard the Russell line (and GG here).

I'm not sure when I'll be up there next. I'm going to the Cubs/Reds game in Cincy on April 21, but nothing else definite. Maybe that Cards series in late July.

Let me know when you're around, I'll be sure to stop by.
   26. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: March 30, 2017 at 04:52 PM (#5426256)
Let me know when you're around, I'll be sure to stop by.

Yeah, mos def. Also, I just looked at the Bleed Cubbie Blue piece on The Park at Wrigley, which looks pretty cool. I didn't realize they were going to use that space for so many events (fortunately, the team's been so good the last two years I didn't really pay that much attention to the renovation progress or related plans beyond what I'd see in passing when I went to games). I wish I could be there for the banner-raising opening night. That'll be special.

   27. McCoy Posted: March 30, 2017 at 06:05 PM (#5426308)
98 wins
   28. K-BAR, J-BAR (trhn) Posted: March 30, 2017 at 06:07 PM (#5426309)
I'll go 97 wins.

On the whole, the offense will be similar maybe a bit better, maybe a bit worse. Depends mainly on health. Pitching is maybe a little worse. Fortunately, the Cubs have pretty far to fall. (1st in non-pitcher OPS+ and 1st in ERA+ in 2016)

Otherwise:
More starts from 6th and 7th starters than you'd maybe prefer.
I could also see aggressive use of the DL for smaller injuries in addition to the rumored aggressive rest days for the rotation.
Maddon blows a few games by making 'suboptimal' decisions in order to see if players succeed or fail in certain spots.
   29. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 30, 2017 at 06:46 PM (#5426330)
I'm gonna go wit' a minimum eight-peat.
   30. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 30, 2017 at 07:20 PM (#5426358)
I'm gonna go wit' a minimum eight-peat.

Might I suggest Talisker?
   31. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 30, 2017 at 07:23 PM (#5426359)
BTW, Andere, if you go to the "Date" tab in the posting for this post, you can change the comment expiration field (which I think has a 2 month default), so that this thread can still be open after the season to add comments/updates.

Done.
   32. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 31, 2017 at 10:22 AM (#5426588)
So Schwarber caught 3 innings last night. He had caught a little bit in a minor league ST game, so this was his first big league game catching in a while. He did not look good. The Astors kept running on him*, and he missed catching the ball on the first steal attempt, which allowed the guy on 3rd to score and the attempted stealer got from first to third. Then he threw someone else out at 2nd on an attempted steal.

His stance is just awkward. He doesn't really appear to know how to receive the ball, and he almost always set up outside the strike zone. I guess the versatility is worth something to Maddon, but I really don't want to see him back there at all, much less at any point when the outcome of a game is in doubt.

Rondon still looked like absolute #### - everything was straight, flat, and slow. Russell had played in a while because of a back injury, he looked perfectly healthy last night (couple nice plays, homer).

Anderson started, and there's something about his throwing motion that I find unpleasant, but I can't put my finger on it...
   33. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 31, 2017 at 10:36 AM (#5426615)
So Schwarber caught 3 innings last night. He had caught a little bit in a minor league ST game, so this was his first big league game catching in a while. He did not look good. The Astors kept running on him*, and he missed catching the ball on the first steal attempt, which allowed the guy on 3rd to score and the attempted stealer got from first to third. Then he threw someone else out at 2nd on an attempted steal.


I didn't watch the game (well, actually, I caught the last two innings because it was on WGN and ran into when we normally watch the 9:00 News). So all I heard was the excited commentary about how Schwarber caught a guy stealing (!!).

I guess the versatility is worth something to Maddon, but I really don't want to see him back there at all, much less at any point when the outcome of a game is in doubt.


My thinking is that Kyle Schwarber's presence on the roster will prevent the need for the Cubs to carry Tim Federowicz for a month as a third catcher who never actually catches games. Which is good enough. But absolutely, Kyle Schwarber's real value to the 2017 Cubs is going to come in the batters' box and in left field.

And Hector Rondon really worries and saddens me. I kind of figured Pedro Strop was the guy who would just wake up one day having lost it (he's always reminded me of Carlos Marmol). I think the Cubs have enough in the bullpen to make up for the loss of Rondon between Edwards, Strop, and Grimm, but for now, I'd be inclined to be using Rondon as the mop-up guy when the Cubs are trailing or leading by 5+ runs.
   34. Brian C Posted: March 31, 2017 at 10:46 AM (#5426627)
I looked at the spring stats for the first time yesterday, and I was pleasantly surprised that Arrieta's thrown a 17:4 K/BB ratio. I knew he'd been giving up runs, but I'm way more concerned about his control than I am about him getting hit hard. So that's good to see.
   35. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: March 31, 2017 at 10:56 AM (#5426636)
I'll go with 95 wins, leading the division but trailing the Dodgers. They score a bit more but give up a lot more. Contreras is RoY, and that's the only major award they win.
   36. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:15 AM (#5426656)
I forgot to add my note* to the last post. Len/JD joked that maybe Maddon asked the Hinch to have the Astros run on Schwarber as much as possible to test him out. I could see that, not that Hinch would have to comply.
   37. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:17 AM (#5426659)
Contreras is RoY, and that's the only major award they win.

I'm pretty sure he blew by the AB (and probably game appearance) qualifier last year.
   38. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:20 AM (#5426661)
I'm pretty sure he blew by the AB (and probably game appearance) qualifier last year.


You're right. For some reason I thought he debuted later than he did.
   39. Covfefe Posted: March 31, 2017 at 11:24 AM (#5426663)
I'm pretty sure he blew by the AB (and probably game appearance) qualifier last year.


He did.

And on Schwarber... I'll say for the umpteenth time that I think his catching days are and should be over.

It would be nice to have him up-to-speed enough to serve as a legit 3rd catcher -- but then, the problem is -- in a game where you might want/need to go with a 3rd guy catching, you're probably talking about a close and/or extra-inning game where you might not want him behind the plate.

Just let him focus on the bat and becoming a cromulent LF. Given the versatility that Bryant, Zobrist, and Baez provide -- it doesn't/wouldn't bother too much if Joe's 3rd catcher fetish leads us to carrying a 'real' 3rd catcher. Heck - Victor Caratini is going to start at AAA. He had a nice year at Tennessee last year, and he's a switch-hitter. I could see actually WANTING him on the roster even if he's somewhat redundant with Contreras/Montero.
   40. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 31, 2017 at 12:05 PM (#5426725)
I agree with all that, zonk. Considering Montero is gone after the season - or likely gone since his bat and defense aren't really worth that much, even if he took a much, much cheaper deal - I do want to see Caratini on the roster some this year to see if it's worth him being the backup C next year. If Contreras can completely establish himself as a good receiver/game-caller/etc that perhaps the Cubs won't feel any extra pressure to carry a veteran backup type.

Not that I'm all that concerned about the 2018 backup catcher that much now.
   41. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: March 31, 2017 at 12:34 PM (#5426743)
I'm sure this will change within the next week, but the happenings of last October (and early November) were so draining and satisfying, that I have barely kept tabs on the Cubs or MLB as a whole since then. The Cubs could have traded Anthony Rizzo for a warehouse of those old Fred McGriff instructional hitting videos this off-season and there's a chance I wouldn't have noticed because the Cubs finally winning it all left me so satiated.

Now, that being said, let's say 95 wins and another NLCS appearance at the least.
   42. Stevens Posted: March 31, 2017 at 12:46 PM (#5426746)
No one has 101 wins yet? I'll take that.

Let's say the Dodgers get 104 though for best record, but our Cubbies go all Naked Rizzo in the playoffs and walk away with another belt for KB to wear in the parade.

All six starting infield All Stars are Cubs, including the Adjunct Professor on the mound and Willson behind the plate joining last years' 4. LA fans flip their ####.
   43. Brian C Posted: March 31, 2017 at 12:53 PM (#5426748)
I'm sure this will change within the next week, but the happenings of last October (and early November) were so draining and satisfying, that I have barely kept tabs on the Cubs or MLB as a whole since then. The Cubs could have traded Anthony Rizzo for a warehouse of those old Fred McGriff instructional hitting videos this off-season and there's a chance I wouldn't have noticed because the Cubs finally winning it all left me so satiated.

I kinda know what you mean, it is strange how different this spring has felt. The anticipation's still there for me - I'm really looking forward to Sunday night - but it's different. I think it's a good kind of different, because it's without that part of me that just wants to read ahead to see how it turns out. There's just no angst.

I will want the Cubs to win every single day, of course, and I'll be bummed out on the days they lose. But this year, I feel it's all about just plain watching baseball. However it turns out, it turns out. I'm feeling pretty zen about it all - they won a WS, they're starting the year with as good a chance as anyone to win another, and smart, capable people are in place all the way up and down the organization. What more could anyone want from their sports team, especially a guy nearing 40 whose been a Cubs fan all his life?
   44. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 31, 2017 at 01:32 PM (#5426765)
I think the Cubs have enough in the bullpen to make up for the loss of Rondon between Edwards, Strop, and Grimm, but for now, I'd be inclined to be using Rondon as the mop-up guy when the Cubs are trailing or leading by 5+ runs.

I feel like Edwards could emerge as a star this year. He really seemed to establish command of his curveball in 2016, and if he can maintain that, I think he will be a key guy.
   45. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: March 31, 2017 at 01:45 PM (#5426772)
I'll cosign 43--that's exactly how I've felt all off-season. I keep saying to myself, "So this is what it feels like to not be completely neurotic about one's primary rooting interest, such that I can just enjoy whatever comes. Huh. Cool."
   46. Covfefe Posted: March 31, 2017 at 02:02 PM (#5426784)
Yeesh.

I mean, my hangover still lingers, too - but you guys have to be In the Best Shape of Your Lives! As defending champs, it's on us to act like entitled, over-confidant douches.

We'll never get to the point of legions of pink hats, rampant threadjacking, and taking it as a given that every valuable FA or potential trade dangle ought to be a Cub if you guys don't shake off the fog and get to work.

Good god, men - do you want to be lovable all your lives? Or do you want to be feared and hated?
   47. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 31, 2017 at 02:25 PM (#5426796)
I kinda know what you mean, it is strange how different this spring has felt. The anticipation's still there for me - I'm really looking forward to Sunday night - but it's different. I think it's a good kind of different, because it's without that part of me that just wants to read ahead to see how it turns out. There's just no angst.

I think this is a process that started during and after the 2015 season, at least for me and a lot of others. There was much less of an imposter syndrome feeling for me throughout last season, and certainly most importantly, that was true of the players.

I spoke to Al Yellon, the guy who does Bleed Cubbie Blue, in the bleachers briefly before Game 1 of last year's NLDS, and he talked about how surprisingly calm he felt about it. This is a guy who goes to every game, and has a huge personal investment in the Cubs' success, far greater than I have. He has been known to totally lose his #### about it when things go wrong. He said it just felt natural that this was happening, and he felt serene about it. Personally, I felt like just about anything could have happened in last year's postseason, and I would have felt good about the season overall. I mean, Game 7 of the WS could have gone either way, and if the Cubs had lost, it would have really sucked. Especially since there would have been an overwhelming media blitz involving black cats, goats and other nonsense for months if not years. But it wouldn't have felt like an opportunity that was missed and unlikely ever to come again. This is an organization that knows what it's doing, and well equipped for sustainable success. As long as that is true, I can be patient with whatever disappointments are provided by the vagaries of the game.
   48. Covfefe Posted: March 31, 2017 at 02:36 PM (#5426801)
This is an organization that knows what it's doing, and well equipped for sustainable success. As long as that is true, I can be patient with whatever disappointments are provided by the vagaries of the game.


I think it was under the Lynch regime (which I suppose was the MacPhail regime) where the statement was made to the effect of "...let's just get into the playoffs and anything can happen". I.e., the idea being - if we can just cobble together enough to snag a (or then, the) WC - anything can happen.

That's nominally true, of course, but that's the difference between this org and that org, I think. That mindset was to become just good enough that maybe the breaks will go our way. This mindset is becoming good enough where you can overcome the bad breaks, even knowing sometimes the bounces just go against you enough that they can't be overcome in a given series.

Nobody knows what the future holds, but that's the great thing about this FO -- even the Chapman trade I didn't really like (and still don't), it was pretty obvious that Torres was gonna be traded for something. It's not just that they do a really good job of stocking up on good Plan Bs... they've got Plan Cs, and do a nice job of setting themselves up for future plan Bs and Cs.


   49. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 31, 2017 at 03:40 PM (#5426828)
This whole rebuild has been so interesting and fun to follow, I don't think I ever really felt that dread or whathaveyou. 2015 was an absolute blast, so even the NLCS didn't bring me down. Knowing they'd be even better in 2016 made that fun. Knowing they'd be good again in 2017 no matter what helped keep 2016 fun. While there were plenty of moments of doubt during the playoffs, I never wasn't enjoying. Except for right after the Davis HR. That was the first, and really only time, I felt the ol' "here we go again" nightmares. The 9th inning is really a blur, and I was completely miserable and kept thinking about how terrible losing like that was going to feel.

So yeah, 2017 is gravy. I want more. I don't want to say I can't imagine a scenario where whatever happens in 2017 can't scar me, because that's just asking for it, my that kind of where my mind is right now.

---

Also, good job keeping the Bryzzo stuff going. Funny.
   50. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 31, 2017 at 04:35 PM (#5426860)
Missed this the other day, but it's an attempt to show how the Cubs are positioned over the next 5 years. So while the big pictures surely looks good, there's obviously still work to be done and plenty of opportunity. It's just fun to see the results of the work put in during the rebuild pay off like this.

Now if only everything would go exactly as projected...
   51. Brian C Posted: March 31, 2017 at 06:00 PM (#5426940)
2015 was an absolute blast, so even the NLCS didn't bring me down.

Me neither. I mean, it was disappointing, especially the way the NLCS wasn't really much of a series. It had the kind of feeling where everything was great, and then all of the sudden ... boom, not great.

But it didn't linger, because the future seemed so bright. It was really easy to turn the page, much more so than the playoff fail in 2008 or the collapse in 2003.

That's nominally true, of course, but that's the difference between this org and that org, I think. That mindset was to become just good enough that maybe the breaks will go our way. This mindset is becoming good enough where you can overcome the bad breaks, even knowing sometimes the bounces just go against you enough that they can't be overcome in a given series.

That's a really good way to put it. Losing Schwarber so early last season was a terrible break. He was expected to be a big part of the offense, and they got nothing from him in the regular season. But they had the ability to overcome it. I don't think many of those MacPhail/Hendry teams could have done that (aside from the fact that they never drafted a hitter as good as Schwarber in the first place).
   52. Andere Richtingen Posted: April 01, 2017 at 06:42 PM (#5427228)
Roughly 26 hours before the season starts, here is the tally:

Andere Richtingen: 96
Pops Freshenmeyer: 93
zonk: 100
Sweet: 98
Meatwad: 104
TomH: 92
BrianC: 106
Non-Youkilidian Geometry: 95
Moses Taylor: 100
Man o' Schwar: 99
Dag Nabbit: 94
Kiko Sakata: 97
Spahn Insane: 100
Dan the Mediocre: 95
Stevens: 101

If I missed anyone, let me know. You can still change your prediction as long as you post it in this thread by 8:35 PM EDT on Sunday (tomorrow), April 2nd!

The current predictions average out to 98 wins on the nose.

   53. Nero Wolfe, Indeed Posted: April 02, 2017 at 01:35 PM (#5427480)
93 wins, Rizzo MVP, lose to Giants in NLDS.
   54. Neil M Posted: April 02, 2017 at 02:09 PM (#5427512)
I haven't posted here in forever. Work hours make transatlantic viewing pretty much impossible

Put me down for 96 wins.

Cubs do win it all again, beating the Red Sox in the ultimate retro-series. Bryant repeats. Hendricks wins CYA.

Or injuries do for the rotation and everything goes south.

   55. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: April 02, 2017 at 04:45 PM (#5427600)
Feeling so excluded.
   56. Andere Richtingen Posted: April 02, 2017 at 05:18 PM (#5427619)
Feeling so excluded.

Sorry. My omission has nothing to do with the fact that I hate your guts. :-)

I have you down for 95 and will post one more summary later tonight.
   57. McCoy Posted: April 02, 2017 at 08:41 PM (#5427746)
I predict Schwarber will get a lead off single to start off the season for the Cubs.
   58. Andere Richtingen Posted: April 02, 2017 at 10:34 PM (#5427849)
92: Tom H
93: Pops Freshenmeyer, Nero Wolfe
94: Dag Nabbit
95: Non-Youiklidian Geometry, Dan the Mediocre, Walks Clog Up the Bases
96: Andere Richtingen, Neil M
97: Kiko Sakata
98: Sweet
99: Man O'Schwar
100: zonk, Moses Taylor, Spahn Insane
101: Stevens
104: Meatwad
106: BrianC

   59. Ardo Posted: April 03, 2017 at 12:23 AM (#5427925)
Put me down at 92 wins. The Cubs are going to allow many more runs this year than in 2016, and tonight's game (19 Cardinal base runners, shaky bullpen work) was a poor start.
   60. McCoy Posted: April 03, 2017 at 08:11 AM (#5427947)
Someone has me on ignore. I have them at 98 wins as well.
   61. Covfefe Posted: April 06, 2017 at 10:34 AM (#5429984)
***SPOILERS AHEAD****

Because I know the only thing people care about more than the fantasy teams of others is the OOTP dynasty of others --

I completed the 2017 seasons GM'ing (sorry Theo!) and managing (sorry Joe!) the Cubs -- and the news, gents, is good.

In an eerie replay of 2016 - under my wonderful guidance - the Cubs led MLB in wins again (but fell short of 100 wins thanks to a season-ending 5 game losing streak, finishing 99-63). We avenged the 2015 Mets loss by knocking them out in round 1, then avenged 2003 by sweeping the Marlins (who back-door WC'ed their way in over the Cardinals -- and then surprisingly beat the Dodgers). In the WS - it was another thrilling 7 game series against Cleveland, but this time - we almost blew a 3-1 lead, getting blown out in Wrigley in game 6 and then rallying from down 2 in the 7th of game 7 to repeat.

The season recap: Slow first half - ran neck-and-neck with the Cardinals, rarely getting above ~7 games over .500. Russell (hitting ~.180 on June 1) and Baez were terrible in the first half, but Russell came on like gangbusters in the 2nd half, finishing 263/347/498 with 27 HRs. Beaz never got it going. Rizzo and Bryant were Rizzo and Bryant (Bryant put up another 7 WAR season, but finished 2nd in MVP voting to Clayton Kershaw). Willson Contreras was the ASG starter and hit 300, to go with 22 HRs. Albert Almora was great - winning a GG, and hitting 295/328/448 (11 HRs), and finishing 2nd in ROY voting (to the Pirates Josh Bell, who deserved it). Schwarbs struggled - and missed a month and half with injury.... and Jason Heyward posted a 123 OPS+ (310/391/447)! On the pitching side - Lester was Lester (16-7, 2.95), Arrieta (16-8, 4.13) had a big 2nd half (and a great postseason), but Kyle Hendricks was... well... not so good (12-9, 4.45). Mike Montgomery moved into the rotation when Anderson was terrible and got hurt -- and made the ASG (13-7, 3.12, tired a bit in teh 2nd half). The bullpen was fine - Davis stayed healthy and stayed Davis (47 saves, 1.89), though Rondon got hurt in September and missed the playoffs... except Carl Edwards, who was terrible through May and got banished to the minors for a few weeks. Lackey was solid (12-10, 4.11).

When Schwarbs got hurt - I traded some flotsam to the Mets to pick up Granderson (Ricketts wanted me to acquire a "hometown player", and the Mets were desperate to move him and his contract), getting Jerry Blevins to provide LOOGYness in the same deal (he was less good). I also grabbed Ichiro! on waivers -- and he had a game-tying PH single in the 7th of game 7. I also heisted the Braves - Lackey went on the shelf right after Anderson, so in exchange for taking on RA Dickey, I also got them to toss in Koby Allard (Dickey was also awful, and ended up getting jettisoned in a salary dump). Beyond that on the trade front, I did the usual "live arm" 5 for 1 trades, so Iowa's bullpen was just as good as Chicago's.

I ended up working out a 5 year/80 mil extension for Arrieta -- and best of all, Bryant signed a 10 year/116 mil extension. Couldn't get Hendricks or Russell to nibble at long-term deals, though. Tried to extend Davis - but he wanted a mint, so I just took the pick on him...

In the minors, Ian Happ had a monster year - winning the PCL MVP - mashing 30 HRs (299/375/521) and I also gave him the full Zobrist, so he'll be Baez in 2018. Eloy Jiminez was fine at high A, but nothing special. The pitching was less good - Dylan Cease and Trever Clifton both struggled... but - in addition to Allard, I also swung deals for Brady Aiken and Matt Matuella. Still have Candelario around for winter dealing - was looking to move him at the deadline, but wasn't getting what I wanted (he mashed 30 HRs and also had a very nice year).

...so there ya have it. Adjust your guesses as you see fit. A repeat... a couple awesome bargain extensions... more kids on the way... and the dynasty comes to pass.
   62. Andere Richtingen Posted: April 07, 2017 at 06:10 PM (#5431348)
Someone has me on ignore. I have them at 98 wins as well.

Actually McCoy, I simply missed it. And sorry to Ardo, whose post came after the deadline for t-shirt eligibility.

92: Tom H
93: Pops Freshenmeyer, Nero Wolfe
94: Dag Nabbit
95: Non-Youiklidian Geometry, Dan the Mediocre, Walks Clog Up the Bases
96: Andere Richtingen, Neil M
97: Kiko Sakata
98: Sweet, McCoy
99: Man O'Schwar
100: zonk, Moses Taylor, Spahn Insane
101: Stevens
104: Meatwad
106: BrianC

The mean prediction is right around 97.5 wins, with a median of 96.5.
   63. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 07, 2017 at 07:44 PM (#5431383)
I ended up working out a 5 year/80 mil extension for Arrieta -- and best of all, Bryant signed a 10 year/116 mil extension.

I take it Scott Boras does not exist in OOTP world.
   64. K-BAR, J-BAR (trhn) Posted: April 07, 2017 at 07:47 PM (#5431386)
Sorry, hadn't been following. I had 97 wins in #28.

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