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Monday, March 19, 2018

2018 Fearless Prediction thread

Time for this year’s fearless predictions.  The season is starting earlier this year, so I won’t have time to do this after I get back from my spring training trip.  As usual, these probably will err on the side of blind optimism, but what fun is it to have a talented team where all you expect is under-performances?  On to the list of 25…

1. Willson Contreras will make his first of many All-Star appearances.  He probably would have a better shot of being voted in if the mound visit rule were enforced this year.
2. Speaking of, Contreras will receive the first formal punishment from MLB for violating the rule, probably an ejection or fine.  Most likely in early April.
3. Not only is Gimenez the backup catcher all season, the Cubs will trade Caratini before the trade deadline as part of a deal for a late inning RP. 
4. Bryant will have a monster year, taking home the MVP.  He will consolidate his gains from the last few seasons into a super fun line a la Harper in 2015, something like .320/.440/.630 with 40+ HRs.  I’m all in on KB this year.
5. Schwarber will hit at least .260.  I won’t predict the rest of his line, but he won’t lead the team in HRs (because Bryant will).
6. Rizzo will put up an eerily similar line to the last few years (with 32 HRs again), but it’ll be good enough for him to earn another Gold Glove.
7. Lester will very clearly be the Cubs 4th starter by the end of the year.  I expect him to bounceback some, but I also just expect the other guys to just be flat out better.
8. Quintana will be the clear ace and will be lined up to start game 1 of the playoffs.  He’ll also make the All Star team.
9. Morrow will be just fine as the closer, but will hit the DL twice. 
10. Wilson will be just good enough as the fill in closer, but it won’t be pretty (think Joe Borowski).
11. Edwards will spend some time in Iowa around mid-season to work on some things. 
12. Either Russell or Baez will take a step forward and win a Gold Glove; the other will be on the bench come playoff time. 
13. Either Happ or Almora will also need a quick trip to Iowa to straighten things out and get some more regular playing time; right now I’d favor Almora for the brief demotion.
14. Jason Heyward will suck and we will all hate him (hey, gotta take a gimme when it’s there).  He will not opt out. 
15. Montgomery will start at least 10 games this year.
16. Zobrist will have a nice bounce back year, partly due to more rest, but this will be his last decent season.
17. Hendricks will lead the team in ERA again, and finish top 5 in the NL ERA race.
18. Cishek will become the unofficial 8th inning guy and lead the relievers in IP (excluding Monty’s starts). 
19. Duensing will not make the playoff roster.  Maples will. 
20. Darvish will lead the team in wins and strikeouts.  He will be an All-Star “snub”. 
21. Maddon will sign a 3 year contract extension this year (his deal is up after next season), he’ll be the highest paid manager in baseball. 
22. In addition to Contreras and Quintana, the other Cubs All-Stars will be Bryant and Rizzo. 
23. The Cubs will not sign Harper or Machado this offseason, but will sign another decent sized contract (perhaps Blackmon or Pollock). 
24. Cubs will win 96 games and the division by 11 games over Milwaukee.  St. Louis will finish 3rd again. 
25. Cubs will win the NL Pennant. 

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 19, 2018 at 03:55 PM | 119 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 19, 2018 at 04:24 PM (#5639932)
Predict away. Be sure to at least predict a win total.
   2. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 19, 2018 at 05:26 PM (#5639974)
I predict that I will not be able to login on this page at least half the damn time. Again.
   3. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 19, 2018 at 05:33 PM (#5639976)
I'll limit myself to a win total prediction only: 102 regular season, 11 postseason
   4. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 19, 2018 at 05:42 PM (#5639983)
I've emailed the Jim so many times about the login problem I've lost count. And given up.
   5. Man o' Schwar Posted: March 19, 2018 at 05:50 PM (#5639989)
I agree on Contreras - he's ready to break out. I think by the end of this year he will be in the conversation with Buster Posey for best catcher in the NL (and possibly best in the game). I also agree that he'll get dinged by the new rule - I predict two ejections early in the season as he argues with the ump, before Maddon et al. tell him to cut it out.

I think Happ is going to hit .270 with 30 HRs while batting leadoff in >50% of the Cubs' games. He will join Contreras, Rizzo, Bryant, and Schwarber as Cubs with 30+ HRs.

I think the Cubs will finally tire of waiting for Heyward, and in the second half of the season we're going to see Schwarber/Happ/Almora/Zobrist split the lion's share of the OF starts, with Heyward as a defensive replacement for Schwarber most days. I also think they'll package him with a prospect or two this winter and find someone to take him off their hands if he doesn't opt out (which he won't), and then will sign Harper for 8 years and $320 million.

Chatwood will be a very pleasant surprise in the #5 slot, shoring up the back end of a good rotation that sees all 5 starters win 10+ games.

The Cubs will pull away early this year and will have the division largely locked up by the All-Star break. They'll end the year with 100 wins on the nose, beat the Phillies and Dodgers in the NL playoffs, and beat the Astros 4-2 in the Series.

   6. John DiFool2 Posted: March 19, 2018 at 06:16 PM (#5639992)
Me, I apparently can edit anyone else's post.
   7. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 19, 2018 at 08:23 PM (#5640012)
100 wins on the nose, plus another 11 in the postseason.

The Cubs set a team record for homeruns. Seven Cubs make the ASG - but Chatwood is the only pitcher. Contreras, Rizzo, Bryant, Happ, Baez, Russell from the field.

   8. The Duke Posted: March 19, 2018 at 10:25 PM (#5640030)
Hmmm. It’s over for the cubs. They had their one year of glory and they are now sliding back to second division oblivion. Injuries and age will wreck this season
   9. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 19, 2018 at 10:59 PM (#5640037)
The Cubs are leaning on exactly two guys over 30 in Lester and Morrow and hoping for some spare part work from two others in Duensing and Zobrist, and that's on the heels of back-to-back-to-back LCS trips with a title in the middle. Other than Russell, none of the kids have had any history of injury.

All good things come to end, but I don't think this ride is over yet.
   10. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: March 19, 2018 at 11:52 PM (#5640052)
97 wins.
   11. Spahn Insane Posted: March 20, 2018 at 07:34 AM (#5640089)
Zonk:

He’s a wishcasting Cardinal fan. Let him have his little fantasy.
   12. McCoy Posted: March 20, 2018 at 07:56 AM (#5640092)
94 wins
   13. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: March 20, 2018 at 08:47 AM (#5640103)
I second the opinion that Bryant is going to have a crazy good MVP season. The Cubs will win the division, most likely going away. I won't say 100 wins because that's a lot, but there is no reason they can't win 95 which would be more than enough to top Milwaukee and St. Louis. Not that anyone in this room is going to complain about it, but what's with the Brewers and Cardinals basically punting pitching this offseason? I am shocked--shocked I tell you--that the Cardinals didn't bring Lynn back, especially after seeing what he got from the Twins. Cobb and the Brewers still seem like the perfect fit, but it just doesn't seem to be happening. Anyway, good luck to the Cubs!
   14. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 20, 2018 at 10:29 AM (#5640162)
He’s a wishcasting Cardinal fan. Let him have his little fantasy.

He's also the guy who thinks the Astros are as guilty as the Cardinals in their hacking scandal. So...
   15. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 20, 2018 at 12:25 PM (#5640269)
Much as spring training stats mean very little - Bryant actually hasn't been especially distinguishing himself with any sort of monster spring... Fine to save the homers till the regular season, I guess.

Looking at his spring line - I do notice his BBs and Ks are both at 8 apiece... He's cut his Ks by huge chunks in each of his three seasons, even as his BBs have risen - so I do think this is just part of him becoming a better pure hitter as he gains experience.

Still, a monster Bryant year requires 40-45+ HRs more than it does 100 BBs vs 100 Ks, I think.
   16. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 20, 2018 at 12:34 PM (#5640279)
Briefly going back to our last discussion on the 25th man on the roster...

Bruce Levine thinks the Cubs are considering Borjous or a 3rd catcher for the last spot (he implies Cartini would be the 3rd guy) or the last reliever being one of Butler, Bass, Justin Hancock or Kyle Ryan. So, no real news, but speculation that lines up with ours at least.

Mooney's thoughts ($):
Maddon didn’t completely rule out the idea of carrying three catchers, but it’s obvious that the Cubs would prefer a veteran like Chris Gimenez to back up Willson Contreras, so Victor Caratini can play every day at Iowa, where last year he put up a .951 OPS in the Pacific Coast League. In a quieter camp — or at a different point in franchise history — Caratini would be a big spring-training story as a 24-year-old switch-hitting catcher. It’s also worth noting that the Cubs give their catchers a lot of responsibilities within their game-planning system.

“He’s only been catching full-time for four years,” farm director Jaron Madison said. “He’s moved up quickly through the system. People forget that he was a third baseman when he was drafted. It’s just continuing to develop behind the plate, learning how to call games and then just getting at-bats. It’s just making sure he’s completely ready.”

The Cubs have softened on the idea of carrying eight relievers, which sounded like an automatic in mid-February and could open a spot for someone like Bourjos or Caratini (who can also back up Anthony Rizzo at first base).

“It’s not out of the question,” Maddon said. “It’s not impossible. We want to look at everything. When it gets down to the very end, man, there might be some guys you don’t want to lose. If you [go] seven- or eight-man [bullpen], what does that mean position player-wise? Who don’t you want to lose over there also? How do you want to work that? Who’s going to help you win more?

As the Cubs discuss their bullpen options, it sounds like Maddon will be lobbying for Justin Hancock, a 6-foot-4 right-hander acquired from the San Diego Padres in last year’s Matt Szczur deal: “He’s got A-lister stuff.”

Hancock has struck out six of the 16 Cactus League batters he’s faced — including White Sox slugger Jose Abreu — and allowed one run in 4 1/3 innings.

“He’s got a lightning bolt for an arm,” Maddon said. “This guy is really intriguing to me. I didn’t know him from anybody when he came into camp. And first pitch he threw, I said, ‘Whoa, who is that?’ And then I looked more deeply and I’ve been studying it more deeply. He’s very, very interesting.”
   17. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 20, 2018 at 12:52 PM (#5640295)
Hancock interests me a little bit -

He kind of reminds me a K-Mart version of Andrew Cashner; i.e., both big, tall guys with hard fastballs but fastballs that don't move a whole lot leading to mediocre K rates.

The Padres doggedly insisted on keeping him in minor league rotations with pretty meh result until moving him to the pen last year (where the Cubs kept him). His K rate popped a bit with the move - though, so did his BB rate, which was never anything to write home about anyway.

He's a guy that probably should have been moved to the bullpen years ago - just let him throw hard, focus on one secondary pitch rather trying to develop a more complete repertoire for SP work and see if he can't be a decent 6th/7th inning option.

He still doesn't miss enough bats - this spring aside - but I could see him becoming a decent flotsam option for a season or two out of the pen. Much as I'd prefer not to go with 8 relievers, I wouldn't be upset if he earns a spot.
   18. TomH Posted: March 20, 2018 at 01:53 PM (#5640358)
My random/brilliant/lucky guess of 92 worked last year. I'll go with 92 again. Barely holding on to a division flag, followed by loss to the Nats in the playoffs. Washington/Montreal franchise finally gets a World Series appearance in 2018.
   19. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 20, 2018 at 02:13 PM (#5640389)
I'm going with 96 wins and I think the rest of the division fails to get within 10 games of that.

I think Kyle Schwarber will be the breakout star of 2018. Maybe a -10 in the field and a .900 OPS; I'm not saying he will make people forget about Bryant or Rizzo.
   20. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 20, 2018 at 02:42 PM (#5640411)
I'd love to see Schwarbs have a big year, but I must confess... being a little roly poly myself, I feel myself souring on my schwarbcrush now that he's decided to be Mr Thin. I mean, hey - good for him and 40 bombs and a 400 OBP goes a long way in the love department, but it just won't feel the same.
   21. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: March 20, 2018 at 02:47 PM (#5640416)
Kyle Schwarber


The thing with Schwarber that I didn't realize until last week when I happened to look is how absolutely horrific he has been against LHP. SSS and all that but in 159 PA he is at .159/.270/.312. If he can hit lefties even a little bit I think he is a monster.
   22. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 20, 2018 at 02:53 PM (#5640423)
The thing with Schwarber that I didn't realize until last week when I happened to look is how absolutely horrific he has been against LHP. SSS and all that but in 159 PA he is at .159/.270/.312. If he can hit lefties even a little bit I think he is a monster.


Sigh.

Excepting the playoffs, one of my favorite 2017 memories was him taking high-priced Cardinal lefty Brett Cecil deep in the opening series rubber match to start last season... Unfortunately, the season was somewhat downhill from there for Schwarbs.
   23. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: March 20, 2018 at 03:02 PM (#5640436)
Would love to see him figure it out. I don't think he's an all or nothing type either tbh. I think he could bat .300 at some point too if not regularly.
   24. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 20, 2018 at 03:02 PM (#5640437)
The Cubs have protected him a bit there, and when he was really struggling early last year he was so utterly helpless against anyone left handed. I vaguely remember him being slightly better after he was recalled - though still protected. Anywhere I can find just his 2nd half vs L/R splits for last year to see if I was imagining that?

Other anecdotes - his ABs vs Miller in the WS. He had the best ABs against him early in the series before Miller wore down.
   25. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: March 20, 2018 at 03:33 PM (#5640464)
Anywhere I can find just his 2nd half vs L/R splits for last year to see if I was imagining that?


I tried but couldn't figure it out. I guess I should subscribe to the play index. Honestly I guess we'll see but luckily the Cubs have RHH options in the OF like Almora or the two switch hitters Happ and Zobrist.
   26. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 20, 2018 at 04:04 PM (#5640496)
Totally, and Heyward against LHP is also garbage (well, slightly worse garbage than overall). That's partially why Zobrist's injury where he couldn't hit righty really hurt last year (and also the part where he also couldn't hit overall).
   27. Panik on the streets of London (Trout! Trout!) Posted: March 20, 2018 at 04:33 PM (#5640522)
Totally, and Heyward against LHP is also garbage (well, slightly worse garbage than overall). That's partially why Zobrist's injury where he couldn't hit righty really hurt last year (and also the part where he also couldn't hit overall).


Yeah if I'm a Cubs fan I'm a little concerned about Zo. The team is just so damn deep though that I can't see it mattering unless there are significant injuries. I have a hard time constructing a scenario where this team isn't in the playoffs as a division winner.
   28. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 20, 2018 at 06:12 PM (#5640602)
Didn't you hear? We're concerned we're a team in 2nd division oblivion beset by old age and injury problems! Unlike other teams in our division that are clearly superior. We're freaking out over here!
   29. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 20, 2018 at 06:13 PM (#5640604)
Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal 34m34 minutes ago

Sources: #Orioles close to agreement with free-agent RHP Alex Cobb. Expected to be at least three years. Sides had been talking about deal in range of three years, $50M. Possibility of deal first mentioned by @JeffPassan.

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal 1m1 minute ago

Another source confirms Cobb to #Orioles is close, but telling me portrayal of terms below is “not accurate.” I’m presuming numbers are high. We will know soon enough.


IIRC, rumored Cubs offer was 3/$42mil.

EDIT: Heyman says 4 yrs, between $50 and $60mil.
   30. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 20, 2018 at 07:31 PM (#5640642)
Jon Heyman @JonHeyman 3m3 minutes ago

alex cobb came out great. he turned down $48M for 4 from the cubs earlier this winter, which wasnt a bad offer at all in this market. now gets close to 60 over the same term. #orioles


First I've seen a 4 year offer from the Cubs mentioned.
   31. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 20, 2018 at 07:53 PM (#5640655)
Did the #fellatingBoras tag get left out of Heyman's tweet inadvertently?
   32. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 21, 2018 at 11:17 AM (#5640854)
I'm not quite ready to make a win total prediction yet.

Schwarber hit .200/.294/.467 in the second half last year against LHP (in just 34 PAs), and .263/.343/.577 against RHP (175 PAs). (Fangraphs Splits Tool, btw)

It's not those numbers that concern me, which are based on very small samples, split and combined really. The issue in 2017 was directly observable sloppiness at the plate -- it's not surprising that he looked particularly helpless against lefties. A .761/.920 OPS L/R split is not outrageous. In the first half he hit .154/.312/.250 against LHP (64 PAs) and .185/.296/.429 against RHP (213 PAs, .562/725 OPS split).

I think it's impossible to dissect Schwarber's terribleness against LHP from his overall disappointing performance last year; his L/R split did not change, really. He did see proportionally fewer LHP in the second half but not by a huge margin. Obviously the overall results from the second half guy were pretty good, from the first half guy, pretty awful.
   33. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 21, 2018 at 04:38 PM (#5641160)
Bruce Levine @MLBBruceLevine 3m3 minutes ago

Seattle claimed LHP Dario Alvarez from the Cubs off the waiver wire .


He was on the 40 man roster. By my count, it was at 39 before this*, so they now have 2 open spots (one likely for Gimenez, the other for whoever the 25th man ends up being if not Butler).

*Smyly is already on the 60 day DL it looks like.
   34. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 21, 2018 at 04:38 PM (#5641161)
I'm not quite ready to make a win total prediction yet.

8 days until Opening Day...
   35. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 21, 2018 at 04:42 PM (#5641163)
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 57m57 minutes ago

In response to a question about Happ handling the leadoff duties, Maddon said it was similar to not naming a closer. Translation: Happ will handle the bulk of the leadoff duties with Almora mixed in.
   36. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 21, 2018 at 04:48 PM (#5641164)
I think the high socks make Schwarber look even a little skinnier. Oh, nice job getting to that one, and of course great throw by Baez.
   37. Batman Posted: March 21, 2018 at 04:48 PM (#5641165)
0-161 and the Cubs are contracted
   38. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 21, 2018 at 04:59 PM (#5641171)
Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma 2m2 minutes ago

Schwarber hits one oppo off lefty Matt Moore. Hit one to the track in his first PA off Moore. Maddon talked about it before the game, but the offense is really humming along right now. They surely want to carry that into next week in Miami (and beyond).


Relevant. I promise I'm not game chattering a ST game that I'm not at and not watching (though Bryant did have his first HR of the spring today, too).

Christopher Kamka @ckamka 9m9 minutes ago

.400/.490/.825 in 49 plate appearances for Kyle Schwarber this spring through his first 2 PA today. #Cubs
   39. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 21, 2018 at 05:17 PM (#5641179)
   40. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 22, 2018 at 09:56 AM (#5641425)
Is this even legal?

As long as he follows through with his delivery to the plate, sure.
   41. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 22, 2018 at 10:17 AM (#5641447)
The Carter Capps rule is that you can't move and then reset your pivot foot. Darvish kind of wobbles on his for a moment before getting it still again. I think it's arguably illegal.

EDIT: But I'm sure they're going to get clarity on it from MLB before trying that in real games.
   42. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 22, 2018 at 10:47 AM (#5641475)
I personally think Capps move should be illegal, so I think that should too. But if it's not, he definitely needs to use it now and then.
   43. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 22, 2018 at 11:06 AM (#5641491)
I don't see how there's a problem with what he does with his foot.
   44. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 22, 2018 at 11:08 AM (#5641494)
Isn't the Carter Capps rule that you can't move your foot, except if you're Carter Capps, in which case you somehow get to hop, skip and jump halfway to the plate?
   45. Spahn Insane Posted: March 22, 2018 at 11:11 AM (#5641498)
96 regular season wins, 11 postseason wins. Astros find themselves in another brutal 7-game WS, but this one doesn't go their way.

Contreras, Russell, Bryant, Rizzo, Quintana and Hendricks make the all-star team.
   46. Spahn Insane Posted: March 22, 2018 at 11:12 AM (#5641499)
Isn't the Carter Capps rule that you can't move your foot, except if you're Carter Capps, in which case you somehow get to hop, skip and jump halfway to the plate?

As best I can discern, that's about right.
   47. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 22, 2018 at 11:27 AM (#5641522)
Assuming health - and limiting Heyward's PAs - I really do expect the Cubs to lead the NL offensively. It just seems like there are so many guys who like they're really on the cusp of breaking out, adding them to the guys (Bryant, Rizzo, 2nd half Contreras) who are already there.

If Heyward manages to find a way to be not-worthless offensively and Zobrist has even a moderate bounceback? Just stay healthy fellas, I think the runs will come.
   48. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 22, 2018 at 12:02 PM (#5641568)
I don't see how there's a problem with what he does with his foot.

I can't find a recent enough copy of the rules to include the 2017 amendment so I'm just going by the amendment as characterized in a couple of articles:

An addition to Rule 5.07 stipulates that a pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch. If there is at least one runner on base, such an action will be called a balk under Rule 6.02(a). If the bases are unoccupied, then it will be considered an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b).


Based on the fact that MLB is letting Capps do his thing so long as his pivot foot stays in contact with the ground I think Darvish is safe. I say it's arguably illegal because Darvish slightly/briefly loses his balance and shifts around his pivot foot before regaining his balance and returning it to rest. I don't think it's a crazy interpretation to label this as a reset.

I personally think Capps move should be illegal, so I think that should too. But if it's not, he definitely needs to use it now and then.

I agree WRT to the issue of resetting his back foot. But Darvish's delivery is also a bit gray in a different way:

The pitcher shall stand facing the batter, his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate and the other foot free. From this position any natural movement associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without interruption or alteration.


EDIT: But this is no different in that respect from what Hideo Nomo used to do with his old delayed pitch.


   49. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 22, 2018 at 12:21 PM (#5641595)
Setting aside legality -

Watching Darvish regularly is going to take some getting used to... I always get this brief feeling of alarm that something went awry - he pulled something, he lost his balance and is gonna balk in a hilarious way, etc - watching him pitch. It's somewhat unsettling.
   50. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 23, 2018 at 09:40 AM (#5642127)
I think it's a question of a "reset of his pivot foot" during his delivery, which I am not seeing happening, especially in comparison to Capps. The pitcher's pivot foot is going to move, and it's a judgment call as to when it's natural movement versus a reset. I haven't seen enough of Darvish to know whether or how often he might cross that line, but what I've seen pointed out falls short of it to me. I suspect it's the fact that that movement occurs in conjunction with the hesitation that makes people question it.
   51. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 24, 2018 at 07:32 PM (#5642714)
In Phoenix, heading to the last home spring training game.

Bourjos was cut yesterday, and they just said Caratini won backup C spot. I'm pleasantly surprised. No word on last roster spot, but will be a pitcher.
   52. Voodoo Posted: March 24, 2018 at 07:42 PM (#5642717)
Put me down for 101 wins.
   53. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 25, 2018 at 01:36 AM (#5642754)
Maddon on Caratini

“But we also know that he may not get enough opportunity to play in the beginning,” Maddon added. “However, even possibly sitting there going through the prep every day and getting in some action on occasion, maybe pinch hitting once in a while, picking up some later innings, is that equally valuable for him to go back to Triple-A where he’s done a really good job in the past and you know he can do that? That was part of the argument.

“The other part of that is Gimmy’s the perfect backup. We just felt this was the right thing to do right now. And if it doesn’t play good for Victor early, getting enough ABs, it’s always something we can flip-flop at some point.”
   54. Meatwad Posted: March 25, 2018 at 02:58 PM (#5642819)
I fully expect this offense to outscore last years team and run away with the division. 105 wins and Darvish gets a win this time when the cubs win the world series.
   55. Walt Davis Posted: March 25, 2018 at 11:35 PM (#5642916)
Hmmm...how many games do we get against the tankers?

I'll go with 97 wins this year. Bullpen certainly still scares the crap out of me -- I hope our data nerds know something I don't ... well, something useful about finding good relievers, I'm sure they know lots of stuff I don't.

Now having correctly predicted a rain-out in 2016 and not remembering what weird thing I predicted last year (must not have come true) I will fearlessly predict that this year Schwarber has more steals than Bryant.
   56. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 26, 2018 at 11:17 AM (#5643051)
Hmmm...how many games do we get against the tankers?


19 against the Pirates at least...
   57. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 26, 2018 at 02:33 PM (#5643220)
I'm going to go bullish with 96 wins, same as I predicted last year. Very strong offense (perhaps as high as 5.5 runs/game) and defense, with pitching that's overall quite good but prone to occasional rough stretches, especially in the bullpen. Fangraphs has them at 93-6: certainly that's reasonable, but I think they're a bit better than that.

An important factor is health. While it's unpredictable, there isn't much blood in the water as ST comes to a close. The rotation looks sound and clearly the offense is tuned up. If the starters can bounce back from 2017 velocity-wise -- the Spring numbers certainly look good in terms of Ks: watch out.

On the other hand, I think the Division opposition is a little stronger. The Cardinals should be better, and while I am not a believer in the Brewers this season, they should be respectable, and I think the Pirates and Reds may both be non-terrible. The AL Central interleague opponents probably work slightly to the Cubs' advantage.

I'm not going out on a limb saying the Cubs are favorites to win the Division, although I will not be surprised if the Cardinals make it interesting.

   58. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 26, 2018 at 02:55 PM (#5643246)
Fangraphs has them at 93-6: certainly that's reasonable
Ehh, at the risk of being accused of pants-wetting and negativity by Moses, I think I'd have to take the over on the losses.
   59. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 26, 2018 at 03:16 PM (#5643274)
Yeah but after they go 93-6 they'll go on a 1-16 stretch like the Dodgers did last year.
   60. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 27, 2018 at 01:44 PM (#5643788)
So I'm sure everybody is wondering what OOTP19 thinks of the 2018 Cubs --

I'm happy to report that I've played through the middle of June and all systems are go (well, sort of)... Sprinted out to an early 17-3 spread to start the season and haven't really looked back - sitting at 47-20 in the middle of June. The rotation has been lights out - only Kyle Hendricks (6-4; 4.02) has been mildly disappointing, but he's had a nice June thus far. Lester (8-2, 2.95) and Quintana (7-5, 2.84) will be both be all-stars, with Darvish (6-1, 3.24, 2nd in the NL in Ks) and Chatwood (7-3; 3.39) deserving some consideration too.

The bullpen has had its issues; as expected. Morrow has been a bit of a disaster - hurt twice, only made it into 9 games and has frankly... sucked. However, Justin Wilson has been lights out (14 sv, 2.08). I shed the Strop and Cishek salaries to free up some dollars for going draft overslot, but both were... not good, either, before jettisoning them. Fortunately, Edwards has been dominant (15.3K per 9, 1.07 ERA) as has Dillon Maples (too many walks, but 14.1 K per 9). Duensing has been fine as the LOOGY and I've been leaning on a couple minor deals to firm up the rest of the pen.

On the lineup side - Bryant and Rizzo have been Bryzzo; Bryant leads the NL in WAR. Zobrist has bounced back in a big way (322/376/441), as has Russell (268/348/454). Baez had a bad April, but has been better since the middle of May. Schwarbs busted out of the gate - was leading the NL in HRs through May, but has slumped a bit since June started. Happ has been outstanding as the super utility guy - I've been basically playing him all over and he's on track for ~500 PAs (287/338/507). Contreras also got off to a slow start, but has started to come around, just like last year. Almora was another fast starter, but he's fading, too.

The Heyward report: Gone! He gone! Thanks to a decent April - 5 HRs! - this edition, I managed to foist him off onto the Red Sox... had to take Hanley Rameriz in exchange, but Hanley's deal is up after this year... Mr. Rameriz is not exactly pleased being a PH though.

The rest of the NL looks to be playing out as you might expect, depending on what you think of the Mets. The Dodgers are running away with the NLW - nobody else is over .500. The Brewers continue to be plucky - they're leading the WC race, with the Mets close behind them. The Cardinals have had a lot of injury problems and are fading into irrelevance. The Pirates, Braves, Reds, and Marlins are as dreadful as you'd expect. The Nats are getting pushed by the Mets a bit.

All in all, if IRL 2018 Cubs look like this inaugural ootp19 run by the middle of June, expect to be pleased with how things stand.
   61. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 28, 2018 at 10:38 AM (#5644132)
All in all, if IRL 2018 Cubs look like this inaugural ootp19 run by the middle of June, expect to be pleased with how things stand.

Yeah, that sounds like a good summary of "best-case scenario within reasonable limits of probability." Except maybe for the Heyward part, in its entirety.

Also: the 2016 Cubs were 47-20 on June 19th, after sweeping the Pirates at Wrigley. After that, they went on a 5-15 stretch, coughing up six games in the standings, before resuming regular programming.
   62. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 28, 2018 at 11:14 AM (#5644169)
One thing playing out the schedule leads me to believe is that the Cubs really should break out of the gate fast -- they get several Brewers series early, but the April/May schedule is loaded with games against the Marlins, Reds, Pirates, Braves. Not that it applied to the OTP sim, but they also get the Giants early while MadBum (and Shark, perhaps, depending) should be out.

The Cubs are good enough that they really shouldn't have to lean on cleaning house against weaker teams -- but still, the Cubs ought to start fast and beat up on some bad teams early.

FWIW - I just advanced to the ASG - and the Cubs placed 11 (!) players on the NL squad (I don't influence the vote, I just let the engine handle the selections): Darvish, Lester, Quintana, Edwards (!), Wilson(!!!), Contreras, Rizzo, Zobrist (!!), Bryant, Russell, and Schwarber... 65-30 at the break.

Edwards has probably been the best reliever in all of baseball - to the extent that I think the initial roster sets are perhaps a bit too kind to him... 48 IP, just 17 hits, 4 ERs, 0 HRs, 23 BBs and 79Ks.
   63. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 28, 2018 at 11:23 AM (#5644176)
I don't have a prize this year in mind, but here's what I see so far (apologies in advance for missing someone):

Moses 96
Kiko 102
Man o'Schwar 100
Zonk 100
Dag Nabbit 97
McCoy 94
Trout! 95
TomH 92
Pops 96
Spahn 96
Voodoo 101
Meatwad 105
Walt 97
Andere 96

That's an average of 97.6 wins -- seems like we're a bunch of Fanboys -- will TomH's prediction of 92 win it again?

Less biased sources:

Fangraphs: 94
Bleacher Report: 93
PECOTA: 91
Fivethirtyeight: 95
ZiPS: ??? (paywall)
   64. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 28, 2018 at 11:29 AM (#5644189)
Strictly thinking about the schedules, the one thing that gives me pause/maybe thinking the under on my own prediction - I do think that the Brewers and Cardinals will nab the two NL WCs. I know the Mets are also a fashionable pick -- and nobody in the NLW is phoning it in -- but I still do tend to think the Cards and Brewers are the 4th/5th best teams in the NL. I suppose that's somewhat balanced out by the fact that Pirates and Reds are probably battling the Marlins for the worst in the NL.

Has any division ever had two 100 loss teams? I could see the Pirates and Reds both getting there.
   65. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 28, 2018 at 11:33 AM (#5644194)
I don't think either the Pirates or Reds are 100 losses bad, unless they have a fire sale, and they might.
   66. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 28, 2018 at 12:28 PM (#5644253)
ZiPS: ??? (paywall)

If I'm reading this right, ZIPS projects 94 wins.

---

I honestly think the Pirates have a better chance at the WC than losing 100.
   67. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 28, 2018 at 12:42 PM (#5644274)
Not sure I get the (lack of) disrespect for the Pirates... I think they're already in firesale mode - exits of Cole and Cutch - and I fully expect more to follow. I suppose some of those young pitchers - Taillon had a decent year, but Glasnow was terrible - might step up, but from where I sit, I just don't think they'll be very good.

As for the Reds, I suppose that maybe it's impossible for the pitching to be as awful as it was last year... but on the flipside, color me not a believer in an awful lot of the Reds lineup suddenly going nuts with the HRs without improving some of those dreadful BB/K rates.
   68. Quaker Posted: March 28, 2018 at 12:46 PM (#5644282)
I'll go w/98 wins.
   69. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 28, 2018 at 01:23 PM (#5644328)
I don't think the Pirates or Reds going to be good, I just think they have enough talent to win 70-some games. The Pirates have starting pitchers who are likely to show up and be respectable, and the Reds have a lot of raw talent that won't make them contenders this year, but again, 100 losses is a lot.
   70. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 28, 2018 at 01:50 PM (#5644356)
Yeah, I'm not saying the Pirates will be good, but WC contention is really within a few games of .500 and I just think that's more likely that full on bottoming out. I'm also probably underrating how good Cole and Cutch were last year because they're not what they were (or what people thought they'd be), and there's always teams that seem to be better than they look like they should be and I'm going with the Pirates in the NL by process of elimination.

I also think one of AZ or COL will clearly be better than both MIL and STL - I'm still not at all high on what the Cards are doing, and MIL's rotation has a non-zero chance to be bad.
   71. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 28, 2018 at 02:32 PM (#5644406)
Upon further reflection - more of a function of just how rare 100 losses is and how bad a team has to be to lose 100 games - I'll admit defeat and say I'm wrong about the Pirates and Reds potentially getting there. Not impossible, but highly unlikely. I still think both of them will be 90-95 loss bad and I'm gonna stick with the Cards and Brewers as my two WC picks, though.
   72. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 28, 2018 at 05:09 PM (#5644523)
If I had to pick two WC teams it would be Cardinals/D-Backs. I'm not a believer in the Brewers' pitching. If it's as good as it was last year they may contend, but I don't think that's the most likely thing.
   73. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 28, 2018 at 05:45 PM (#5644547)
Got back from ST yesterday, but don't have nearly as many interesting or witty comments/observations as last year. Only made it to 1 Cubs game (Sat vs. Col; Cubs won 3-0). Was a pretty boring game - Montgomery started and was fine, but not good or bad. Rizzo homered, and that's about it. I saw the White Sox/Brewers on Sunday, which the Sox won 16-1*. I'm going to try and not let that cloud my opinion of Milwaukee this year, but most of the rocking wasn't even done by the Sox's good players or prospects).

*Chris Volstad started for the White Sox and was good - only a few regulars played for Milwaukee's lineup though.
   74. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 29, 2018 at 09:54 AM (#5644753)
Opening day lineup, which was actually fairly predictable:

Happ CF
Bryant 3b
Rizzo 1b
Contreras C
Schwarber LF
Russell SS
Heyward RF
Baez 2b
Lester P
   75. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 29, 2018 at 10:04 AM (#5644758)
I know lineup order irrelevance has been beaten to death on BBTF, if anything - one should just put your hitters in order of bestness to max PAs, and the Cubs lineup is so (beyond Heyward) stacked you almost can't go wrong with it... but i still cannot get used to Kris Bryant in the 2nd spot.

FWIW, while I varied it quite a lot depending on who's hot and who's not - the OOTP default I used was

Happ/Amora
Zobrist
Rizzo
Bryant
Schwarber
Contreras
Russell
Pitcher (I still like this for some reason)
Heyward

I just cannot break that mental block of preferring Rizzo/Bryant/Schwarbs in the 3-4-5 spots.
   76. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 29, 2018 at 10:11 AM (#5644763)
Damn that is a good lineup.

I still haven't entirely given up on Heyward. His swing has been a gigantic mess but I don't believe his talent has evaporated already.
   77. McCoy Posted: March 29, 2018 at 10:12 AM (#5644765)
Within the first 10 games the Cubs will lose a big name for a significant amount of time.
   78. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 29, 2018 at 10:37 AM (#5644782)
77 - I'm not sure Butler is a big name, but I don't think he'll make it past 10 games...

I know lineup order irrelevance has been beaten to death on BBTF, if anything - one should just put your hitters in order of bestness to max PAs, and the Cubs lineup is so (beyond Heyward) stacked you almost can't go wrong with it... but i still cannot get used to Kris Bryant in the 2nd spot.

So why is Bryant 4th in yours?
   79. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 29, 2018 at 10:55 AM (#5644800)
So why is Bryant 4th in yours?


Pure traditionalist impulse -- that the cleanup spot should be occupied by your biggest bopper. I also harbored long-standing dreams of that neat little Rizzo (L), Bryant (R), Schwarber (L) going 3-4-5.

I fully admit it's probably not the most optimal lineup.... though I'll reiterate again - it's just the default. I manage more than half the games and I tinker a ton - one other neat thing that OOTP19 introduced is individual batter vs pitcher tracking, so I also do a lot of silly SSS matchup ordering. IRL - I'd probably get beaten to death on BBTF for having Bob Boone disease: the need to continually make changes for the sake of making changes.
   80. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 29, 2018 at 10:57 AM (#5644801)
I still haven't entirely given up on Heyward.
My God, man, there's a point at which optimism becomes delusion.
   81. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 29, 2018 at 11:00 AM (#5644806)
I admire Pops optimism on Heyward... If magic happens, and Heyward becomes non-useless - he's in for a big payoff. Of course, he'll need to spend it quickly because in such a case, I assume the world ends the day after everyone acknowledges "It appears that Heyward HAS remembered how to hit! Wow!"
   82. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 29, 2018 at 11:07 AM (#5644818)
I bet Mark Prior's shoulder is feeling pretty good by now.
   83. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 29, 2018 at 11:08 AM (#5644819)
At this point, it's kind of like someone still thinking there's a chance Trump will pivot to acting presidential. Remember that?
   84. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 29, 2018 at 11:24 AM (#5644834)
I would be surprised if Heyward hit .290/.360/.500 this year. I will not be surprised if he hits .280/.350/.450, which combined with great defense would be good. I expect more along the lines of .260/.320/.400.

So put me in the Pops camp of "still haven't given up on entirely."
   85. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 29, 2018 at 11:27 AM (#5644840)
To think, Mark Prior would be 37 and possibly still pitching if he hadn't died in that tragic gardening incident.
   86. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 29, 2018 at 11:35 AM (#5644849)
I would be surprised if Heyward hit .290/.360/.500 this year. I will not be surprised if he hits .280/.350/.450, which combined with great defense would be good. I expect more along the lines of .260/.320/.400.


Boy, IDK... Slugging .400 would be a monumental achievement for Heyward now, seems to me. I guess he did go from a pathetic .325 SLG in 2016 to .389 last year.
   87. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 29, 2018 at 11:35 AM (#5644850)
I will not be surprised if he hits .280/.350/.450
If this happens, I will be amazed, happily so. In fact, I'll pick up the bar tab if people can get together again in Chicago this year.
   88. Zonk, Genius of the Stables Posted: March 29, 2018 at 11:36 AM (#5644854)
To think, Mark Prior would be 37 and possibly still pitching if he hadn't died in that tragic gardening incident.


Heh... along those same lines, Juan Cruz would be 36 if he weren't actually 39 and Big Z would also be 36 if he hadn't died setting off that thermonuclear device in that gardening accident fit of rage.
   89. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 29, 2018 at 11:40 AM (#5644858)
Big Z is at the Cubs game today. Only 36? Wow.

Asking for someone I know, is it possible to die of from too many weak groundouts to 2b?
   90. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 29, 2018 at 11:42 AM (#5644859)
Kyle Farnsworth would be about to turn 42 if he hadn't choked on vomit at Tai's Til 4. They can't prove whose vomit it was...you can't really dust for vomit.
   91. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 29, 2018 at 11:48 AM (#5644863)
Patrick Mooney @PJ_Mooney 5m5 minutes ago

Chris Coghlan has signed a minor-league deal with the #Cubs and started working out at their Arizona complex, as @bleedcubbieblue spotted. Coghlan, a veteran outfielder from the 2016 World Series team, will be in extended spring training.
   92. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 29, 2018 at 11:49 AM (#5644866)
Oy. What does it take to get rid of Coghlan? He must have imprinted on Joe or Theo.
   93. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 29, 2018 at 11:53 AM (#5644873)
I assume it's just a favor. There's absolutely no room for him, save a major injury.
   94. McCoy Posted: March 29, 2018 at 12:04 PM (#5644889)
If this happens, I will be amazed, happily so. In fact, I'll pick up the bar tab if people can get together again in Chicago this year.

How about by the all star break? I'll have to be in Chicago this year but I'm not waiting until October or November to do so.
   95. McCoy Posted: March 29, 2018 at 12:05 PM (#5644890)
I assume it's just a favor. There's absolutely no room for him, save a major injury.

Coming right up!
   96. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 29, 2018 at 12:08 PM (#5644894)
I think McCoy is banking on Heyward having a good couple games and then spending a few months on the DL.
   97. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 29, 2018 at 12:38 PM (#5644937)
How about by the all star break?
I'll pick up half the tab.
   98. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 29, 2018 at 12:44 PM (#5644950)
One pitch into the season and the Cubs have a 1-0 lead!! Looking good so far!!
   99. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 29, 2018 at 01:03 PM (#5644998)
Funny how that ZIPS projections page has the much-touted Yankees winning all of one more game than they did in 2017.
   100. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 29, 2018 at 05:08 PM (#5645252)
Flip.
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