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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

2019 Season Predictions

I suck at these, but they’re always fun to revisit after the season to get an idea of my state of mind from Spring Training.

1. Bryant will finish top 3 in the MVP voting.  I’ve been saying for years he was going to put together a truly monster season, and he looked on his way last year before his shoulder injury.  I’m talking something .300+/.420/.600.
2. Rizzo’s 5 year OPS+ stops, and he rebounds to a 140ish OPS+ this year (IOW, staying healthy)
3. Baez will keep most of his gains from last year, will actually increase his BB% (40BB, not including IBB), but won’t be as lucky as last year so some might think he’s regressed.
4. Schwarber will hit .250 vs LHP.
5. Almora will start more games than Heyward.
6. Russell will not finish the year with the Cubs.
7. Contreras will be an All-Star again (and deservedly so).
8. Caratini will finish with a higher OPS than Heyward.
9. Zobrist will retire after the season.
10. Quintana will have his best season in a Cubs uniform this year.
11. Hendricks and Darvish will very clearly be the Cubs 2 best SPs. 
12. Montgomery+other SP not currently in rotation will start more games than Lester.
13. The closer at the end of the season is not currently on the Cubs 25 man roster (but might be in their system already)
14. Morrow will appear in more games than Cishek.
15. Last year the Cubs used 28 different pitchers; this year, they’ll use more.  EDIT: 28 includes 5 position players, so 23 pitchers.  I’ll change this to more than 23 pitchers pitching.
16. Happ will have more PAs than Zobrist.
17. The Cubs will add a starting position player before the trading deadline. 
18. As part of the deal for that new position player starter, the Cubs will deal someone that is currently on the 25 man roster.
19. Cubs will finish top 2 in the NL in runs.
20. Cubs will somehow finish in the top 5 in the NL in ERA.
21. Chatwood will not finish the year with the Cubs.
22. The Cubs will be in 3rd place at some point as late as June.
23. The Cubs win their division by 5+ games.
24. The Cubs make another deep playoff run.
25. Joe Maddon will not be the manager in 2020.

Let’s say 94 wins.  Add your win total predictions, plus any other bold ones to this thread.

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 27, 2019 at 04:56 PM | 123 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 27, 2019 at 05:18 PM (#5825886)
Spring training was a blast again. Lester once again sucked with me there in person. Brach also sucked the one time I saw him, and Cishek sucked twice. Javy homered, Bote had a clutch GW homer, and Hamels homered. Strop looked fantastic in his tune-up. Lester Strode was nice enough to throw my son a used ball from the pen.
   2. Zonk Was told to do 'Crazy Sh**' Posted: March 27, 2019 at 05:28 PM (#5825892)
10. Quintana will have his best season in a Cubs uniform this year.


FWIW, since you all love my OOTP predictions... Q started my 2019 play through in god mode - he threw 5 consecutive CG shutouts to begin the season, including a No Decision where he pitched 11 scoreless innings (so, I suppose, 4 CGs... friggin Carl gave up a lead-off HR to lose it when I decided 130 pitches was enough).

I'm going to take another day to do my list...
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 27, 2019 at 05:46 PM (#5825900)
more than 23 pitchers pitching
This is gonna be a long song.
   4. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 27, 2019 at 05:47 PM (#5825902)
he threw 5 consecutive CG shutouts to begin the season, including a No Decision where he pitched 11 scoreless innings
I'll take the under on this one.
   5. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 28, 2019 at 10:35 AM (#5826029)
I’m going to go with 87 wins, for reasons that I mentioned before. I would not be surprised to see mid- or even high-90s, nor would I be surprised to see a losing record.

I’m okay with what the Cubs did (not) do in the off-season — I think success comes first from internal development of players, and second through the trade and free agency routes. The Cubs know how to do the former, and have built a successful roster doing so. But they were forced to overspend in the latter categories for the sake of short-term success. Now they are in a lag phase with regard to player development, and deciding not to over-extend in terms of free agency, with trade opportunities limited. We can reasonably argue that the Cubs are being too cheap, but I believe this underlying model applies in a general sense.

Another factor in my view is that the Cubs are still a pretty good team. I look at a 94-win prediction and think, they could do that, or even better. But I also recall the team entering the doldrums for periods in the last two seasons, and my overall gut feeling is that they are less equipped to come out of that this year. .
   6. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 28, 2019 at 10:48 AM (#5826044)
I will guess 90 wins and a wild card spot. The bullpen will not repeat its excellence from 2018 and the front line starting pitching has real collapse potential (though the Cubs have a bit of second line depth there). On the plus side I expect the offense to see improvement.

Per annual tradition: Kyle Schwarber is a breakout candidate and Lester is a collapse candidate. Personally I am rooting for Bote to figure it out so Baez can move to SS.

Bold prediction: Heyward produces 2.0+ bWAR. Pleeeeeease?
   7. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 28, 2019 at 10:56 AM (#5826056)
Bold prediction: Heyward produces 2.0+ bWAR. Pleeeeeease?
I seriously doubt he's going to become an Ozzie Smith-level shortstop this year.
   8. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 28, 2019 at 12:42 PM (#5826147)
Almora
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Contreras
Bote 2b
Zobrist DH
Heyward
Zagunis LF

Makes sense against a LHP, though I still would rather see Schwarber in there against LHP then Heyward - at least early on.
   9. Meatwad Posted: March 28, 2019 at 01:00 PM (#5826156)
96 wins and world series champs. We get one more year before lester is a dumpster fire. Bryant puts up an mvp season and javy keeps most of his gains from last year.
   10. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 28, 2019 at 01:07 PM (#5826163)
Nico Hoerner will skip A and start the year in AA; guess that means there's now an outside chance he makes the majors this year.

Duensing cleared waivers (shockingly!) and will go to AAA; guess that now means there's an unfortunate chance he makes the majors this year.
   11. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 28, 2019 at 01:16 PM (#5826176)
I know David Bote hit that grand slam against the Nationals. And I get that they're doing the platoon thing against the lefty starter. And no offense to either of these guys, who are fine players who have their place on a major-league roster. But David Bote and Mark Zagunis in the Opening Day lineup for the Cubs is kind of uninspiring. A little too 2012-14-ish for my taste. And as Moses says, Heyward is the lefty bat that you sit against the left-handed pitcher (although he did hit his walk-off grand slam on my 50th birthday against a lefty).

Now hopefully Bote and Zagunis hit two home runs apiece and lead the Cubs to a 14-2 Opening Day victory and make me look like an idiot.
   12. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 28, 2019 at 01:18 PM (#5826180)
Oh, season prediction: 93 wins, playoff berth, let's say win at least one playoff series.
   13. Brian C Posted: March 28, 2019 at 01:33 PM (#5826203)
I guess I'm reasonably bullish on Lester. He'll have times he looks fine and times where it's just not working for him, but I guess I expect something like the redux version of Greg Maddux (adjusted for era in terms of IP). Lester just seems likely to me to age into an average-ish innings guy and that's cool.

16. Happ will have more PAs than Zobrist.
17. The Cubs will add a starting position player before the trading deadline.
18. As part of the deal for that new position player starter, the Cubs will deal someone that is currently on the 25 man roster.

I think #16 is in conflict with #17-18, because I agree with the latter two in a big picture sense, but I think Happ will be the guy that's dealt. He seems like a guy the Cubs are just not really feeling any more patience for, and it's easy to see him knocking the crap out of the ball in AAA and being part of a deal.

91 wins.

   14. Red Voodooin Posted: March 28, 2019 at 02:04 PM (#5826221)
97 wins, NL champs, lose to Astros in a classic World Series. Joe Maddon returns for 2020.
   15. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 28, 2019 at 02:14 PM (#5826225)
I think #16 is in conflict with #17-18, because I agree with the latter two in a big picture sense, but I think Happ will be the guy that's dealt.


Including Happ in the deal doesn't satisfy #18. Happ's not on the Opening Day 25-man roster.
   16. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 28, 2019 at 03:26 PM (#5826320)
I think my comment in 16 is more about Zobrist than Happ. I'd expect an injury-filled year for Zo and/or him having to really be spotted in his PT. 2b is the most likely spot to fill, but I kept it generic because any OF spot could also involve an upgrade.
   17. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 29, 2019 at 02:09 PM (#5826718)
Haven't finished the whole thing yet, but Deadspin has a long piece on the Ricketts' purchase of the Cubs from the leaked Joe emails.
   18. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 01, 2019 at 10:39 AM (#5827356)
So, the bullpen sucks; unfortunately that's not a surprise. There's also not a magic fix for that, even signing Kimbrel doesn't exactly prevent what happened each game. Everyone can't be as bad as they were all they time, plus there are still options in AAA. So while an expected problem, and one that is worrying and will not go away, I'll take a deep breath on this one.

Darvish had a horrible game, which looked very similar to last year. I don't know what the answer there is, but that's maybe the thing that worries me the most. It's one thing if he's hurt, like last year. But now that he's healthy? Awful.

Hamels doesn't worry me as much. Partially, because he was just ###### over that inning; he had gotten when should have been an inning ending K at least twice. Now, that brings back last year's issue and the whole "framing" problems both Contreras and Caratini have. I noticed it all weekend - and it's not just the balls "stolen" as strike calls; it's the sheer number of clear strikes that are called balls against the Cubs. It's maddening. Considering both guys spent most of their development time in the Cubs org, is there just something ###### with how the Cubs teach catching defense?

Well, the offense sure looked good though. Lots of quality ABs, good situational hitting. So there's a positive I guess.
   19. Master of the Horse Posted: April 01, 2019 at 11:00 AM (#5827365)
18 already posted what was all over my Twitter yesterday. Holy #### was that terrible. Did Hamels or the catcher react in real time??
   20. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 01, 2019 at 02:34 PM (#5827527)
Caratini is much more reserved than Contreras (understatement), and Hamels moreso than Lester (also understatement), so there wasn't much of a reaction. Hamels still blamed himself after the game.

---

Almora
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Contreras
Bote
Heyward
Hendricks
Zagunis

I don't really mind Bote over Zo at 2b vs LHP, but this Heyward over Schwarber nonsense needs to stop.

EDIT: Oh, this makes it even worse
Evan Altman @DEvanAltman 12m12 minutes ago

Newcomb walks lefties at a higher rate and they slug higher against him, but sure, sit Schwarber.


   21. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 02, 2019 at 10:40 AM (#5827810)
There's nothing good to say about last night's game. I can't remember a worse defensive games from the Cubs, including the dark years. Also don't like seeing the offense shut out like that, though I'm not gonna worry yet until that becomes a trend. I guess, if anything, I worry about the defense and what it might say about the team's focus or whatever other mumbo-jumbo sports radio cliche you want to assign to it; I only mean in the big picture if the Cubs are already having game like that, I wonder if that would make Theo consider making a manager change sooner rather than later.
   22. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 03, 2019 at 04:58 PM (#5828325)
Jesse Rogers tweeted that the Cubs have signed David Bote to an extension "through 2024 w 2 club options". I haven't seen a dollar figure, so it's hard to judge. But why? Unless my math is horribly wrong, the Cubs already had control of Bote through 2024 (his first 6 full seasons would/will be 2019 - 2024). He's not exactly "fungible" but among position players under 30 on the Cubs, he's what, their 7th-best player, at best?
   23. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 03, 2019 at 05:04 PM (#5828329)
To add to #22, Rogers added a couple more tweets on the Bote extension: "Bote initiated the talks, per Theo" and "$15 mil over next five years beginning in 2020". The money looks fine, probably actually very good from the Cubs' perspective, and if Bote initiated the talks, okay, fine. But this still just seems so oddly superfluous. Oh, well, I like Bote well enough, so if this is what he wanted, good for him.
   24. Brian C Posted: April 03, 2019 at 05:53 PM (#5828345)
Oh snap, I totally had David Bote in my "first Cubs player to sign an extension" office pool.
   25. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 03, 2019 at 06:39 PM (#5828357)
Too bad you didn't win it, since Hendricks got his extension first.

I interpret this as nothing is close on any of the other extension guys. If I had to guess, I'd say right now Javy and the Cubs are furthest apart based on percentage of the deal, Bryant and the Cubs are furthest amount on total dollars but probably close enough that if KB really wanted to sign he would have by now; I bet we see a Rizzo one before either of those guys. I think Schwarber would be smart to sign something, and he's probably the most likely the best next. Contreras's agent probably shouldn't let him sign anything this season. Almora probably could sign for something similar to maybe a little higher than Bote right now if he wanted, but he shouldn't. Any chance of something with Happ is on the backburner for quite some time. Maybe there's another one for Strop that gets him for 2 more years at a small raise, but he'll be the next pitcher to sign.

So final tally for add'l* extensions this year o/u set at 1.5, and I'll take the over (deadline of AS break).
   26. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: April 03, 2019 at 10:54 PM (#5828419)
Cubs stumbling a bit out the blocks.
   27. Red Voodooin Posted: April 03, 2019 at 11:09 PM (#5828422)
Wow. The season has been about as gross as the off-season so far. This season could get super ugly really quick. Who's excited about the heartwarming return of Addison Russell on a Cubs team that is ... I dunno 11-20 and staring up from the cellar? Ugh.

The Bote extension is one of the more inexplicable contracts I can remember. Unless the Cubs know (or think) something we don't, I don't see how Bote could possibly have enough playing time this year or next to really demand any more than he got here, so the timing is just odd. I guess I'll take Moses' thought one step further and speculate that from the Cubs brass' perspective this is more sending a message to Bryant and Baez than it has anything to do with David Bote.
   28. Walt Davis Posted: April 03, 2019 at 11:21 PM (#5828425)
I'm giving up on them. Not in the "the season's over" sense but in the "I'll get back when they start playing solid baseball again." They could easily be 4-1 but, y'know, holding leads is SOOOO old-fashioned.

I don't get the Bote extension at all. $15 M total to buy out his arb years. Unless he becomes a starter, I don't see how he was possibly gonna earn $15 M in arbitration. (And if he becomes a starter, the Cubs are probably in serious trouble.) I don't think he was even going to be super-2 eligible. For comparison, with 3.086 in service time, Schwarber got just $3.4 M and he's a 500-PA a year guy with some success under his belt. Jordy Mercer was the Pirates starting SS for 3 years and a top bench guy for three more and he only got to $12 M in arb. He'll have to reach at least average full-time 2B/3B to make the deal any sort of bargain (comp Moustakas at $17 M for 3 arb year; LeMahieu just over $16). And it would take a sea change in either the market for meh bench players or Bote's performance levels to make those options attractive, even after inflation.
   29. Zonk Was told to do 'Crazy Sh**' Posted: April 04, 2019 at 09:09 AM (#5828486)
They could easily be 4-1 but


....for all the shitty baseball playing.

FTFY.
   30. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: April 04, 2019 at 09:58 AM (#5828501)
Bryant and the Cubs are furthest amount on total dollars but probably close enough that if KB really wanted to sign he would have by now;

Bryant's [presumed] grievance is still unresolved. He and his representation are going to force the Cubs to buy him out of that claim so I suspect there is a low chance he extends with Chicago (unless the service time issue is addressed in a CBA or something).

   31. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: April 04, 2019 at 10:02 AM (#5828502)
The Bote extension is one of the more inexplicable contracts I can remember. Unless the Cubs know (or think) something we don't, I don't see how Bote could possibly have enough playing time this year or next to really demand any more than he got here, so the timing is just odd.

He is their Addison Russell insurance. The chances he becomes an everyday player are not insignificant.
   32. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: April 04, 2019 at 11:12 AM (#5828529)
I'm giving up on them. Not in the "the season's over" sense but in the "I'll get back when they start playing solid baseball again." They could easily be 4-1 but, y'know, holding leads is SOOOO old-fashioned.


I felt the same way last night. The final month of last season left a sour taste in my mouth, so I didn't have much enthusiasm going into 2019. But what enthusiasm I had has been zapped by the Braves series. As it is, I've got too many things going on that actually affect me directly more than Cubs baseball, so I'm cool pulling back a bit for now.

We say it a lot, but thank god for 2016. Without it, some of us may have dropped dead from the stress caused by the last two seasons and 1 week.
   33. Man o' Schwar Posted: April 05, 2019 at 11:38 AM (#5828881)
So how many more bad losses before the front office panics and fires Maddon?
   34. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: April 05, 2019 at 12:29 PM (#5828908)
So how many more bad losses before the front office panics and fires Maddon?


Well, they're already 4.5 games out of first place, which is really hard to do in the first week of the season. Brewers are probably going to lose again and I suspect the Cubs will win again at some point, but the pitching has been putrid enough that I could easily see them being 10 games out by May. So that's my prediction. Maddon gets bounced once they're out by double-digit games.

MLB Network carried the game last night, so I couldn't help but watch a little. Right now, Darvish is looking like the pitching equivalent of Jason Heyward. Not sure there's light at the end of that tunnel.

Carl Edwards is looking like he's officially in Carlos Marmol territory and I'm afraid you cannot really count on him much going forward.

Again, the offense has been pretty good, but the pitching is just offensively bad right now and I don't know how much you can expect it to improve.
   35. Quaker Posted: April 05, 2019 at 12:33 PM (#5828910)
Went to the game last night and left after 7. Very demoralizing.
   36. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 05, 2019 at 12:49 PM (#5828923)
So how many more bad losses before the front office panics and fires Maddon?

Yeah, they're getting pretty close to firing Maddon to send a message stage.

---

Even if the Cubs splurged this offseason on say Harper and Kimbrel, they might still be exactly where they are now. Now of these leads were blown in the 9th (they lost on the walk-off Strop WP), and they wouldn't be scoring 10+ a game with Bryce. The fact that every single pitcher - oddly enough, except for Lester - has gone worst case scenario is extremely troubling.
   37. Brian C Posted: April 05, 2019 at 01:52 PM (#5828961)
I don't think Hendricks or Quintana have been worst-case scenario. Hendricks wasn't all that sharp but he comes out of that game with a line similar to Lester's last night if the Cubs don't commit 14 errors behind him. And Quintana had a nothing-special-but-not-tragic relief outing.

The bullpen is a legit problem though, no sugarcoating that. Kintzler hasn't had a bad outing, so I guess it's not literally every guy that's been terrible.
   38. Spahn Insane Posted: April 05, 2019 at 08:11 PM (#5829089)
This team sucks.
   39. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: April 05, 2019 at 09:51 PM (#5829115)
You know what? I'm not even upset about how they're playing to start off the season. I'm just impressed at how bad they are.


Man - thank God for 2016.
   40. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 05, 2019 at 10:17 PM (#5829122)
Worst case doesn't mean all equally terrible. Neither were sharp and their velocity didn't seem right.

Of course, maybe I just knew what was coming for quintana tonight. Edit: and kintzler
   41. Meatwad Posted: April 05, 2019 at 11:32 PM (#5829141)
So game of thrones will be back in just over a week. Seems like much more fun then watching this current cubs team. Shame they are shitting the bed like this. Need them to right the ship so I have something worth watching while at the hotel after work for the next month.
   42. Spahn Insane Posted: April 06, 2019 at 10:22 AM (#5829160)
Dag's 39 pretty much sums up where I am. I'm not even pissed, just kind of amazed.

But yeah, I suppose one effect of 2016 is my no longer caring that much. Perhaps I'm not the fan I thought I was.
   43. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 06, 2019 at 01:44 PM (#5829186)
Cubs beat me to this idea, but they sent CJ to AAA and Montgomery to IL. Webster and Ryan up, both had good springs and decent stuff.
   44. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 06, 2019 at 01:48 PM (#5829188)
Errors:

SEA 16
CHC 11
BOS 9
CWS 8
NYY, SF 7…
…MIL 1 (best in MLB).

Here are the five worst in a more advanced measure - park-adjusted defensive efficiency (the rate at which balls in play are converted into outs).

WAS
CHC
KC
TEX
BOS

PIT leads MLB.

Source: @baseballpro
   45. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: April 06, 2019 at 07:46 PM (#5829258)
Maybe PECOTA was right about the defense...
   46. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 06, 2019 at 07:56 PM (#5829260)
Hard to catch it when it's over the fence. Of course, they haven't caught the other ones either.
   47. McCoy Posted: April 07, 2019 at 08:56 AM (#5829335)
Little Cub fan Ava McCoy came into the works yesterday and the Cubs promptly won. Clearly she caused that.

I got her the framed Cub birth certificate and Marquis photo.
   48. bunyon Posted: April 07, 2019 at 09:54 AM (#5829339)
Congratulations!
   49. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 07, 2019 at 07:34 PM (#5829451)
Through Kyle Hendricks' first two starts, the first two batters of each inning have hit a combined .588 (10-for-17) with a 1.059 SLG.

Hendricks said his sinker movement isn't right: "It's just a little off. I know what I need to work on. I need to just iron it out."


Worst case
   50. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 08, 2019 at 01:52 PM (#5829637)
Home opener

Zobrist RF
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Schwarber
Conteras
Descalso
Heyward CF
Lester

Curious why Joe already switched back from pitcher hitting 8th, though this appears to be a relatively standard vs RHP lineup (Almora/Bote getting the nods against LHP, but Heyward and Schwarber switching). I keep forgetting they had the DH last week.

---

Something I saw on twitter that I didn't think about with Bote's contract is what, if anything, does this mean about Russell? I guess I just assumed Zagunis would go down for Happ soonish, and Bote is the odd man out when Russell comes back. If Russell just replaces Zagunis, they're really an OF down (though that would make Zobrist pretty much FT out there, but it also means someone else would start getting more OF ABs - could just be Bryant, I guess).
   51. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 08, 2019 at 01:59 PM (#5829641)
I got her the framed Cub birth certificate and Marquis photo.
Jason Marquis seems like a pretty random Cub for your daughter's first photo, but ok.
   52. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 08, 2019 at 03:56 PM (#5829698)
Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma 14m14 minutes ago

Cubs relievers have an 8.37 ERA, 29th in baseball. Their starters have tossed 43 innings in 10 games. Today's 2 IP outing (due to injury) was, remarkably, the fourth time a starter hasn't gone beyond three innings this season for the Cubs.


OTOH, the offense has been pulling its weight.
   53. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 08, 2019 at 05:35 PM (#5829739)
Christopher Kamka @ckamka 7m7 minutes ago

#Cubs appearances this season of at least 2 innings with no runs allowed:

First 9 games: 0
Today: 4 (Lester, Brach, Kintzler & Rosario)

Of course, the relievers had to go longer than usual because of the Lester injury, but still...


Cubs have scored at least 10 in half of their 10 games so far.
   54. Brian C Posted: April 08, 2019 at 06:02 PM (#5829747)
And just like that, the bullpen is working on an 11-inning scoreless streak:

11 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 14 K

So that's nice, I guess.
   55. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: April 08, 2019 at 07:16 PM (#5829762)
Cubs now have a positive run differential (72-71), despite the 3-7 record. (And yes, they are both scoring and allowing over 7 runs per game.)
   56. Brian C Posted: April 08, 2019 at 08:53 PM (#5829791)
Cubs now have a positive run differential (72-71), despite the 3-7 record. (And yes, they are both scoring and allowing over 7 runs per game.)

I feel like this tracks. They've blown out their opponents a few times, gotten blown out a few in turn, and then lost literally every game that could have gone either way. So any kind of metric that shows them as basically a .500-caliber team thus far seems about right to me.

I remain curious as to which of the a) terrific offense, or b) terrible pitching holds out to be more reflective of their true talent level. Maybe both? Maybe neither? For what it's worth - probably very little, I'm sure - every time I looked at the scores in spring training it seemed like they were scoring a ton then, too.

Very curious start to the season, at any rate. I know everyone's frustrated with them but I gotta say I'm into it. Curious to see how this plays out.
   57. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 09, 2019 at 09:34 AM (#5829856)
I think we'll probably see a decent amount of regression on both sides. I think there should be more positive regression with the pitching (and especially defense), but I'm just a contractually obligated optimist. Even with plenty of regression on the offensive side, Rizzo and especially Bryant, haven't done much yet, so that'll help when they come around. On the pitching side, Lester and Brach are the only over-performers. IOW, the offense is more real than the pitching, but obviously not quite *this* real.
   58. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: April 09, 2019 at 10:14 AM (#5829885)
I would like to note Jon Lester is currently carrying an 1.800 OPS.
   59. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 09, 2019 at 01:13 PM (#5829992)
Jesse Rogers @ESPNChiCubs 9m9 minutes ago

Source says Jon Lester will be placed on the IL. Don’t know the extent of the injury beyond that.
   60. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 10, 2019 at 03:37 PM (#5830525)
Jordan Bastian @MLBastian 8m8 minutes ago

Expect the Cubs to promote LHP Tim Collins from AAA Iowa to take the roster spot of Jon Lester (headed to the injured list). Collins gives Cubs an added bullpen arm for a few games before Sunday's rotation decision.

@ESPNChiCubs was first on the Collins promotion.


I believe this will necessitate another 40 man move; Tseng was taken off for Webster. I'm kinda surprised it's Collins and not someone else already on the 40 (not counting CJ).

I have tickets Sunday, so it's a good thing Lester isn't starting because of the curse of him shitting the bed when I'm there. It's a bad thing for me and everyone else when it turns out Chatwood makes the start.
   61. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 10, 2019 at 03:39 PM (#5830527)
Jordan Bastian @MLBastian 25m25 minutes ago

Tonight's Cubs 9*

1. Descalso 2B
2. Bryant 3B
3. Rizzo 1B
4. Baez SS
5. Schwarber LF
6. Contreras C
7. Heyward RF
8. Almora CF
9. Darvish SP

*weather permitting


It's cold, and will be really cold for this one.
   62. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 10, 2019 at 03:42 PM (#5830531)
I have tickets Sunday, so it's a good thing Lester isn't starting because of the curse of him shitting the bed when I'm there. It's a bad thing for me and everyone else when it turns out Chatwood makes the start.
I've been thinking about getting a ticket for Sunday, having never seen Mike Trout live, but the weather forecast looks awful (rainy, high of 41). And now Trout is hurt, although they say he might be back on Friday.
   63. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 10, 2019 at 03:46 PM (#5830535)
Well, if you do go, let me know. I'll be there with my son - section 230.

Speaking of, anyone been yet and experienced the new section numbering?
   64. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: April 10, 2019 at 05:10 PM (#5830576)
Speaking of, anyone been yet and experienced the new section numbering?

Boy, the Cubs are really reaching for a 2019 ad campaign.
   65. Brian C Posted: April 11, 2019 at 12:22 AM (#5830717)
I was at the game tonight. The new section numbering isn't a huge deal, but the upper deck has been completely overhauled. It still looks the same more or less from the seating areas, but:

1) The Catalina Club, which is completely restricted to ticketholders for said club, has completely replaced the old concession area and rooftop deck that were underneath the press box before. The walkway just ends behind home plate, and the Club is closed in. It's a big change and I don't love it.

2) You can still get from one side to the other (we were speculating about this over the winter at one point), BUT the only way to do so is to go down a half-flight or so of stairs, to a narrow catwalk that connects the two sides behind where the rooftop deck is. In other words, right above the Clark and Addison intersection. It's so narrow - maybe 4-5 feet wide - that I can't imagine the bottleneck on a busy day (which tonight was certainly not). It's a cool view though.

3) An equivalent to that old rooftop deck has now been constructed along the full length of the upper deck, with all-new restrooms, concession areas, and a place to just hang out. It's actually very nice and open and spacious, aside from that narrow catwalk bottleneck behind home plate.

4) Elsewhere, you are now allowed underneath the bleachers without a bleacher ticket, so you can see the bullpen areas (not that there's anything to see, as both teams had the window shades down tonight) and the memorabilia that's back there, etc. You still can't walk all the way around - you need a bleacher ticket to get to the area by the center field gate - but it's a nice change.

5) The walkway area between the 100 and 200 sections has been extended in right and left field, and there's new stairs at each end to get up to the bleachers. Seems like it's opened things up over there, and I believe some seats have been added as well. This seems well thought-out to me.

6) The lower concourse seems to have been redone again, and the concession areas seem much larger and you can actually see people cooking food in there now. Food options seemed more or less the same to me, though I don't really pay a ton of attention to Wrigley food so I can't say anything too definitive about it.

I think that's pretty much it. Once again, the changes seem basically positive to me overall, despite my reservations about the whole Catalina Club thing. The park now really looks quite lovely on the outside now that the exterior renovations have been completed all the way around.
   66. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 15, 2019 at 11:25 AM (#5831972)
I'm actually pretty glad yesterday's game was cancelled so early on; the idea of having to go down there and wait in the cold was just awful.

---

My current level of worry rankings:
1. Bryant. .231/.333/.365. Specifically that slugging. Is his shoulder just ######? Considering he was supposed to be healthy after an offseason of rest, that fact that he's not hitting the ball hard or driving it at all is extremely troubling.
The precipitous drop in power against breaking balls is concerning. But much of it, along with the drop against off-speed pitches last season, can likely be attributed to the shoulder injury. This season, though, the hope is it’s just merely a small sample. And of course, it is just a small sample. But still, the question remains as to why he’s struggling early on. Bryant is hitting the ball hard this year. At an average exit velocity of 88.2 mph, Bryant is well above last season’s 85.8 mark and topping 2017’s 87.1. The difference is his average launch angle is 11 degrees, an incredible dip from previous seasons.


Ok, I'm actually surprised by that, yet also surprised to see he really doesn't hit the ball that hard overall.
2. Darvish. What the ####, man? Seriously, what the #### is this ####? And why are we talking about him like the pitching version of Heyward - great, he didn't walk everyone, just gave up a bunch of homers. That's not progress.
3. Rizzo. .192/.344/.385. Last year's slow start was supposed to be because of his back; I haven't seen anything about his back bothering him this year.
4. Almora. Is he just a bench player?
5. Schwarber. He just finished a horribly ugly stretch. He'll never be what he was built up to be, but there's still lingering disappointment because of that.
6. Hendricks. Razor's edge.
7. Javy. Streaky.
8. Contreras. Mostly just because of Caratini's injury and how much he's about to be overplayed when he's on this awesome tear.
9. Me. Because Heyward's great start will once again mask his decline back to suckitude when it inevitably happens.
   67. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 16, 2019 at 09:14 AM (#5832338)
Darvish is just so ####### frustrating to watch. It's like he makes it a personal challenge to walk guys who don't take walks.
   68. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: April 16, 2019 at 10:25 AM (#5832362)
I am not yet worried about Bryant. I feel better seeing his exit velocity/angle numbers. It looks like he needs to make some adjustments.

I think Darvish is not healthy. He's trying to cover up a lack of command by overthrowing everything. Last year his velocity bumped up to a career high even as his overall performance imploded.

Almora's career .726 OPS is right in line with his minor league numbers. I feel like he is better on defense than BBREF is giving him credit for but I don't think he's a great fielder, exactly. He's plenty valuable as the 4th outfielder/short side of a platoon but it is best to not lean on him for 130 starts.
   69. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 16, 2019 at 04:33 PM (#5832560)
Schwarber is sitting again tonight, for the 2nd straight game against a RHP. He has been scuffling, but I haven't seen any comments about this yet.

---

If the Cubs are getting enough offense from every other spot in the order, I'm ok punting offense in CF for Almora's defense - I definitely agree with you on the rating for him there. Once Heyward crashes back down to earth, it's really hard to carry at least 2 offensive zeroes in the order every day (and that's with assuming every other player is carrying their weight); IOW, a Heyward/Almora CF is fine with me in theory. Heyward seems to be planting himself 5th in the order, so once again, I know it's going to take a long time for Joe to adjust to him back at his normal self when it happens (and it absolutely, 100% is happening).
   70. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 17, 2019 at 03:19 PM (#5832960)
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 2h2 hours ago

Cubs bullpen 1.00 ERA (3 ER/27 IP) and .506 OPS vs. in last 8 games after posting a 9.51 ERA (31 ER/29.1 IP) and 1.041 OPS vs. in its 1st 8 games.


It's kind of amazing how this team seems to do everything in bunches, both good and bad (hitting and giving up HRs, same with BBs, errors); last night was be stupid on the bases night. Maybe that's overselling what happened, but Descalso got throw out at 3rd trying to tag on a fly to RF (it was that guy's first game, and that throw was ridiculous), Javy was out trying to Javy his way into a double, and Bote got picked off 1st. Thankfully, it didn't matter yesterday, as Quintana was absolutely dominant again.

Schwarber back in the lineup tonight at hitting 8th. Still haven't really seen anyone mention anything about it.
   71. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: April 17, 2019 at 03:34 PM (#5832971)
I would like to point out that Heyward has 10 walks to 6 Ks.

I really want this turnaround to be real.
   72. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 17, 2019 at 04:11 PM (#5833009)
Javy was out trying to Javy his way into a double
That call should not have been overturned. If Javy's hand came off the bag, it was because Castro pushed it off.
   73. Brian C Posted: April 17, 2019 at 09:44 PM (#5833199)
Well, 7-3 now in their last 10 and only 3 games back after tonight. Ship's been righted, at least for now.

Also feeling OK at present about that option they picked up on Hamels.

It's really amazing how this team seems to rise and fall over the past couple years with how well Baez is playing.
   74. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: April 17, 2019 at 11:17 PM (#5833217)
(checks the standings at ESPN.com)

Huh. Cubs have the best run differential in the division - 2nd best in the NL.

The Reds are 5-12 despite a run differential of -1.
   75. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 18, 2019 at 10:04 AM (#5833235)
The Brewers are -2 in run differential; they are 5-0 in 1 run games. Yelich only has 1 HR against a team that isn't the Cardinals.

---

I don't think it's a coincidence things look better playing the Troutless Angels and Marlins. But that first week+ does look to be a bit of an outlier.

---

Bruce Levine @MLBBruceLevine 7m7 minutes ago

Jed Hoyer @mullyhaugh . On Addison Russell’s return . “He has been compliant with everything we have asked him to do and then some “ Hoyer said there in no plan to announce other than getting him his 7 day minor league stint a week from now.


Hmmm.

---

Christopher Kamka @ckamka 12h12 hours ago

#Cubs offense this season

Bryant & Rizzo: .189/.318/.331 4 HR
Everyone else (minus pitchers): .303/.381/.509 22 HR
   76. Meatwad Posted: April 18, 2019 at 01:56 PM (#5833301)
Monety looked pretty good last night 2 innings 25ish pitches 1 hit no walks and at least one strike out (cant remember if there were more)
   77. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 18, 2019 at 03:00 PM (#5833327)
I haven't seen a timetable for his return, but it might be soon. CJ went on the AAA injured list.
   78. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 19, 2019 at 11:37 AM (#5833504)
Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma 4m4 minutes ago

Tyler Chatwood starts on Sunday, Quintana will start the Dodgers series. Hendricks today, Darvish tomorrow. DBacks numbers vs righties (and Dodgers vs lefties) helped dictate this move.



Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma 3m3 minutes ago

Montgomery is throwing a side today, will do another minor league game soon. Cedeño will go in Tennessee again tomorrow. Lester is progressing very, very well and should do a sim game soon.
   79. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 19, 2019 at 12:03 PM (#5833511)
Attn Pops: FG on Heyward.

Fool me once, well, I've yet to be fooled by him being good on the Cubs. I also am surprised how far he stands from the plate almost every time I see him at the plate.
   80. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 19, 2019 at 12:11 PM (#5833513)
Very interesting. At least thus far, the data seem to back up my observation that this Heyward streak does look more real than the others. Here's hoping.

And I love those launch-angle graphics.
   81. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 19, 2019 at 12:32 PM (#5833519)
Oh, those graphics are definitely awesome. And in Heyward's case, very damning the last few years.
   82. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 19, 2019 at 12:39 PM (#5833522)
Ha - yeah, it's like, "How are that many -25 degree grounders possible? He is but one man!!"
   83. Sunday silence Posted: April 19, 2019 at 03:28 PM (#5833568)
the article is interesting and all but really how much conclusion can you draw from: peripheral stats, using small sample size, with player X having data pts that are outliers for that player? Of course he's having a good April, one would expect that to show up on peripheral stats...but how much of that is repeatable?
   84. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 19, 2019 at 05:18 PM (#5833606)
Christopher Kamka @ckamka 40s41 seconds ago

#Cubs starting pitching last 7 games:
0.96 ERA, 46.2 IP, 30 Hits, 8 BB, 53 K, 2 HR, .180 Opp BA, 0.814 WHIP

Last 3 starts
Hendricks today 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 K
Hamels Wednesday 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K
Quintana Tuesday 7.0 IP. 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K


Quality stat-padding against some dreadful offenses.
   85. Brian C Posted: April 19, 2019 at 05:40 PM (#5833608)
Even bad offenses can't make you throw strikes, though. Just happy to see the staff not walking 7 batters per 9 anymore.
   86. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: April 19, 2019 at 07:43 PM (#5833628)
Even bad offenses can't make you throw strikes, though.

I mean, technically, if the hitters swing at balls, they are magically turned into strikes.

But yeah, it is very nice to see the rotation be other than terrible; even against bad teams you can't expect three consecutive starts of 7 IP, no runs unless the pitchers do their jobs well.
   87. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: April 19, 2019 at 07:56 PM (#5833632)
If I'm remembering correctly, prior to Arizona's run in the 9th today, didn't the Cubs staff pitch 31 consecutive scoreless innings?
   88. Brian C Posted: April 19, 2019 at 08:41 PM (#5833645)
Let's not miss the real story here:

Jose Quintana: 0.2 bWAR
Eloy Jimenez: -0.3 bWAR
   89. Spahn Insane Posted: April 19, 2019 at 09:17 PM (#5833650)
Dag:

Yes. Longest such streak for the Cubs since 1976, Len said.
   90. Meatwad Posted: April 20, 2019 at 12:26 AM (#5833680)
I will 3rd the graphics in that article. Great way to present that data. Maybe he has a huge year and opts out (as the article jokingly mentioned) have we started his all election day super pac yet?
   91. Brian C Posted: April 21, 2019 at 08:28 PM (#5834015)
Went to the game today, and was treated to a super-efficient Tyler Chatwood start on a glorious spring day. What could be better than that? Even the HR that Strop allowed didn't get me down.

I will go to my grave wondering why the DBacks didn't walk Bote in the 10th to face Zobrist. It's one of those things that's so negligent it's practically losing on purpose. Zobrist is more selective for sure, and that's something to consider since the bases would have been loaded if they'd walked Bote, but Bote hits the ball hard on a consistent basis. He's the last guy you want to face with a drawn-in infield, and sure enough, he scorched a 110mph grounder that Marte simply had no shot at playing in.

Honestly, there's no one on the Cubs' roster I'd have rather had at the plate than Bote in that situation. He's a decent contact guy, he hits the ball hard, and he's already shown that he can keep his head on straight in pressure situations. But the DBacks just didn't seem to care. Zobrist is a double-play waiting to happen these days, he was just as likely to hit the ball on the ground but would have allowed the DBacks to play back a little further and have a chance at the force at home. And then probably they'd have had to dealt with a struggling and very high-strikeout hitter in Schwarber if it came to that, which is also way preferable to facing Bote.

Don't get me wrong, this was all fine by me. I just couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was like playing chess against someone who just forgets to protect their king.
   92. Meatwad Posted: April 22, 2019 at 11:04 AM (#5834089)
I'm hoping Q keeps it up tuesday night since im going to the game.
   93. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 22, 2019 at 11:20 AM (#5834100)
That Chatwood start might have been the most surprising thing for the Cubs yet this year. That's easily, easily the best he's ever looked in a Cubs uniform.

---

Morrow had some sort of setback or pain, or something. So his return has not been moved back even further indefinitely. In the grand scheme of things, Strop's HR allowed yesterday isn't a big deal, but I wonder if between that and Morrow the Cubs eventually try to figure out a way to sign Kimbrel.
   94. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: April 22, 2019 at 11:55 AM (#5834116)
I wonder if between that and Morrow the Cubs eventually try to figure out a way to sign Kimbrel

They are going to trade Russell for a middle reliever.
   95. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 22, 2019 at 12:52 PM (#5834134)
The quality of guy they can get for Russell isn't a guy that going to be clearly better than what they already have.
   96. Meatwad Posted: April 22, 2019 at 11:07 PM (#5834319)
So work has me in bollingbrook for the time being and thats where Ill be coming from. Suggestions on the easiest way to the game and back? Does metra run this far out?
   97. Zonk Was told to do 'Crazy Sh**' Posted: April 23, 2019 at 08:56 AM (#5834355)
I think the closest Metra stops to Bolingbrook are on the other side of the Des Plaines river/east of 55 -- I know there's a Romeoville stop but I forget the name of the line.
   98. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 23, 2019 at 09:18 AM (#5834364)
Google maps keeps suggesting taking a bus from Bolingbrook (Pace 834) to the Downers Grove BNSF Metra line. I told it to get you there by 6:30, and got this. No idea if it helps or not. You might get something more precise when you use your actual starting address.

Leaving the city, the BNSF leaves Union Station every hour at 40 minutes past (so 10:40, 11:40, 12:40).
   99. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: April 23, 2019 at 09:29 AM (#5834369)
Jesse Rogers with one trade idea to "fix" the Cubs pen - Montgomery to the White Sox for Alex Colome. Perhaps, that's a fine enough trade, but his logic is extremely faulty:

First off, the left-hander is further than ever from his stated goal of being in a rotation, considering that Tyler Chatwood is ahead of him both in the long relief role and as a spot starter. Chatwood, last year's MLB leader in issuing walks, helped his cause immensely and shocked Cubs fans in throwing six shutout innings Sunday.


I question just about every part of this; Montgomery sucked early on, but perhaps that was just the injury. I fail to see how one shockingly good start (and it was shocking because no one expected it and no one in their right mind expects it again any time soon), and 4 relief appearances (he only gave up runs in half of those) - none in almost 2 weeks - would have moved Chatwood ahead of Montgomery in either role. Now, it's really worrying if Jesse has someone on the Cubs telling him that.

Sure, in the abstract, if the Cubs actually think some of the depth at AAA + Chatwood can handle spot starts/cover for another injury (and those both definitely will happen), I'm not opposed to trading Montgomery for a late inning reliever type.

---

Nico Hoerner hit an inside the park HR to LF last night:

Cubs Prospects - Bryan Smith @cubprospects 13h13 hours ago

I had Nico Hoerner at 14.58 seconds around the bases for the inside-the-park home run he just hit. Liner down the left field line, must have hit concrete or something in the corner and ricocheted to left-center. Nico never stopped.


Cubs Prospects - Bryan Smith @cubprospects 13h13 hours ago

Timed it again at 14.69 seconds. Note that Javy’s inside-the-park home run was over 16 seconds, and Byron Buxton has the Statcast record at 14.05. Nico showing elite speed for his FIRST DOUBLE-A HOME RUN.


---

Cubs Prospects - Bryan Smith @cubprospects 10h10 hours ago

Dillon Maples retired 4 more in a row tonight, making it 10 in a row over 3 outings.

Maples again confidently threw fastballs for strikes tonight to help set up his slider.

Maples in his last 4: 5.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K.

Let this be it, let this be it, let this be it, le...


I'm still holding out hope for him figuring something out and becoming a weapon for the Cubs.

---

Cubs Prospects - Bryan Smith @cubprospects 21h21 hours ago

Don’t look now, but Miguel Amaya has a .400 wOBA, best of any 20 year old in the Carolina League, and has thrown out 8-of-16 baserunners.

He’s awesome.


That feels like a ton of attempts against.
   100. Brian C Posted: April 23, 2019 at 09:59 AM (#5834389)
I fail to see how one shockingly good start (and it was shocking because no one expected it and no one in their right mind expects it again any time soon), and 4 relief appearances (he only gave up runs in half of those) - none in almost 2 weeks - would have moved Chatwood ahead of Montgomery in either role. Now, it's really worrying if Jesse has someone on the Cubs telling him that.

I guess, but Monty has been awfully mediocre with the Cubs, too. I don't feel like either one is a good option, honestly.

Interestingly, the Cubs are 12-9 now in Chatwood starts since signing him. They're 19-19 in Montgomery starts since he came to the Cubs, on teams that've obviously been way better than .500 overall. Not saying that Chatwood has winning magic or anything like that, just that Monty doesn't actually give them a lot of value in a starting role other than "someone has to do it." A pre-2018 Chatwood, if he can perform at that level, probably gives them roughly the same thing Monty does.
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