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   1. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: March 30, 2007 at 05:23 AM (#2320716)

Soriano regresses back toward his 2004-2005 level while becoming the new Random Event Generator.
Hill starts slow but ends up as our #2 starter.
Zambrano wins the Cy Young award.
Marquis has an ERA under 5.
Miller doesn't last 15 starts.
Prior doesn't get 10 starts.
De La Rosa and Izturis both suck on offense.
Aramis has his best year yet.
Murton breaks out and is among the top 5 LF in the NL.
Barrett doesn't do as well as 2006 but is still one of the best offensive catchers in all of MLB.
We all hate Piniella by the end of the year.
   2. noiseboy Posted: March 30, 2007 at 05:32 AM (#2320718)

wood and prior do not figure in the season.
   3. Sweet Posted: March 30, 2007 at 05:48 AM (#2320723)

Zambrano outperforms PECOTA, underperforms Cy Young winner, ERA b/n 3.00 and 3.50
Lilly is surprisingly good, ERA b/n 3.50 and 4.00
Hill is inconsistent and homer-prone, ERA b/n 4.00 and 4.50, gets injured at some point
Marquis has ERA b/n 5.00 and 5.50
5th starter (10 Miller, 5 Prior, 15 Guzman, 5 other) has ERA b/n 5.00 and 5.50
Bullpen solid, led by Wuertz, Howry, Ohman

Soriano is 2nd-best all-around CF in NL behind Beltran, .280/.340/.550 with decent D
Murton/Floyd/Jones combine for .280/.340/.480 in 90% of corner OF time
Lee is Comeback Player of the Year in the NL, .310/.380/.570
Ramirez starts strong, gets injured, plays 60% of games at .290/.350/.550
Izturis injured early, Cedeno gets 75% of PT at .280/.320/.400 clip
De La Rosa and Theriot split time, combine for .260/.300/.400
Barrett falls off to .260/.300/.420; Blanco sucks
Bench solid
We all love Piniella by the end of the year for taking us to the playoffs
   4. Spahn Insane Posted: March 30, 2007 at 06:00 AM (#2320726)
I'll be the voice of optimism here (which I reserve the right to revoke at any time)--as much because of the mediocrity of the division as the Cubs' improvements.

91-71, and a Central division title.
   5. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: March 30, 2007 at 06:46 AM (#2320731)
W-L 92-70.

Milwaukee still winds up a year away and the Cubs win the division by 5 games.

Team OPS+ 103.

Lee: 145
Ramirez: 135
Soriano: 125
Murton: 115
Barrett: 105
Jones: 105
Floyd: 105
Pie: 95
DeRosa: 90
Izturis: 70
Cedeno: 70

DeRosa's not great, but Izturis is the only real black hole. Cliff Floyd is injured, making room for a mid-May callup of Pie. Pie starts hot, but fades a bit down the stretch. Once Floyd is back, Jacque Jones is dealt and Murton gains job security. Aramis misses about 20 games.

Team ERA+ 108.

Zambrano: 130
Lilly: 115
Hill: 105
Guzman: 102
Wade Miller: 95
Marquis: 85

Prior pitches decently at AAA, but not well enough to crack the ML rotation. Guzman fills in for the occasional missed start, but there are no real rotation catastrophes. Lilly misses about 6 starts and Hill misses four. Miller proves a reliable 6 inning starter not unlike Julian Tavarez in 2001.
   6. Cabbage Posted: March 30, 2007 at 02:25 PM (#2320802)
Kerry Wood: 8IP, 14K, 2BB, 0HR, 3 saves... His elbow explodes warming up in the bullpen this July. Actually explodes. While warming up, every tendon and ligament in his elbow severs. This makes his forearm seperate from the rest of his body, hitting Henry Blanco in the head and giving him a concussion.
   7. Rafael Bellylard: The Grinch of Orlando. Posted: March 30, 2007 at 02:27 PM (#2320805)
I've got 85-77, 2nd place tie with the Reds, 2 games behinds StL.
   8. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 30, 2007 at 02:36 PM (#2320811)
Wow, I didn't think I was that pessimistic in comparison to others. I hope you guys are right!
   9. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 30, 2007 at 02:46 PM (#2320812)
I'll go with 87-75 and a wild card berth.
   10. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: March 30, 2007 at 02:49 PM (#2320815)
Put me down for 84-78, just out of the playoffs.
   11. Famous Original Joe C Posted: March 30, 2007 at 02:50 PM (#2320818)
WAG: 83-79. Late push in September, but they fall 2 games short of the Cards and tied with the Brewers for 2nd.

Rotation is suprisingly good - Hill and Lilly are decent, Marquis is better than expected.
Offense still lacks OBP; Soriano regresses to .280/.330/.520. Lee is closer to 04 and prior than 05.
   12. McCoy Posted: March 30, 2007 at 04:16 PM (#2320871)
90 wins
835 runs
735 runs allowed

87 to 93 wins
   13. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: March 30, 2007 at 04:34 PM (#2320891)
85-77, good enough to win the Central as the Cards fade and the Brewers remain a year away.

Zambrano wins the CY, and a messy post-season breakup looms.

Prior comes up in May and forms the NL's best 4 man set with Z, Hill and Lilly, but the bullpen has its problems. Wood ponders retirement. Wuertz becomes the Cubs' top reliever as the bad Bobby Howry shows up and Dempster turns into LaTroy redux. Top prospects are moved in July for bullpen help.

The offense underperforms - and despite seemingly 'fine' seasons from the big 3, the Cubs finish lower mid-pack in runs scored. Jones sees too many ABs vs. lefties, Isturiz stays healthy, and DeRosa falls back to earth. Murton posts solid numbers, but in only 400 at-bats. Ryan Theriot becomes the most pleasant suprise on the offensive side, putting together a nice supersub season.
   14. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 30, 2007 at 05:40 PM (#2320933)
Wow, I thought I'd be on the optimistic side with my guess, but I'm thinking not. I'll go 87-75 which should keep them in the race until at least the last couple of weeks, maybe a 40% chance of making the playoffs.

I suppose it's the normal giddiness of spring, but I think Lou Piniella's going to have a big positive impact. I like the way he's sounded and I like what he's put together in terms of a 25-man roster / lineup. According to the Trib, he's planning on batting Murton 2nd, at least on Opening Day, and he's had good, sensible things to say about Wuertz and Guzman lately. I wouldn't be surprised to see Wuertz as our closer and Guzman in the rotation by the end of the year. Plus, Dag Nabbit's work shows that Piniella's actually got a history of getting big turnarounds from his new teams (Devil Rays notwithstanding). I'm actually more optimistic heading into the season than I expected to be even just a few weeks ago.

Crazy-ass prediction (the kind that's forgotten if it fails but you can quote it and look like a genius if it comes to pass): Cubs' rotation at the end of the season - Zambrano, Hill, Prior, Guzman, Lilly.
   15. Meatwad Posted: March 30, 2007 at 09:42 PM (#2321078)
im being widly over optimisitc as we all seem to be but i just cant imagine this team with a losing record, but i doubt they will hit the 90's in wins, so ill say 88-74
   16. Walt Davis Posted: March 30, 2007 at 11:03 PM (#2321124)
For a veteran team, the Cubs seem highly variable to me.

I'm fairly bullish on the rotation, though I want to see how Prior does at Iowa before getting too excited. But I'll project Z, Lilly, Hill, and Miller are all better than 100 ERA+. Not sure how healthy they'll be (more later). I suspect Marquis will not be a bad 5th starter. Prior & Guzman as 6th and 7th starters and Marshall et al as emergencies -- pretty good if Prior's at all effective.

Bullpen? Who knows? Projecting bullpens is like playing roulette and letting it ride anytime you are lucky enough to win. But it doesn't look like a great group to me and I fear a lot of blown games in the first half before they (hopefully) figure out some effective combinations.

Defense? I'm not impressed and I consider this the biggest threat to my rotation prediction. Lee and maybe Izturis look like the only defenders likely to be above-average. (Note, I think Soriano will be "OK" but expect a tough start as he learns the wind and sun of Wrigley. If it's bad enough, there will be early pressure to move him back to the corner).

Offense? Ahh, here's where I see things being quite tricky.

Barrett -- likely to regress but still good offensively

Lee -- who knows? But I simply can't project anything better than the old Lee of the 120-130 OPS+. I'm fine with that (even if he may be overpaid) but I think we need something closer to 2005 Lee to be likely to contend.

DeRosa -- this is where things really start to go off-track I fear. Taking 31-year-old productive bench players coming off career years and turning them into full-timers? Just seems to me that never works. OK, I don't know that's true but it just smells like one of those 70s Cubs moves -- Barry Foote, Steve Ontiveros, Jerry Morales, Jerry Martin. I don't think this experiment will go well though maybe it will go well enough this season before going up in flames next year. Also sounds like Piniella is slotting him in around the 7th spot, at least against righties, which is a good thing.

Izturis -- nothing on offense. Is the defensive rep justified? Is he any better than Tony Pena Jr?

ARAM -- I guess I always knew it was possible but he's achieved what a few years ago I would have thought of as his not-so-realistic upside. I now have faith that he'll hit and barring career-altering injury will likely hit throughout the life of that contract.

Soriano -- Marcel puts him about a 120 OPS+. Not worth $75 M a year (or whatever), even his 130-ish years aren't worth that contract, but hard to object to that out of your CF. I do fear a Sosa 1997 this year though -- the scearios are similar, just signed a huge contract, Sosa was gunning for another 30/30 year, similar types of offensive players. In short I can see Soriano gunning for 40/40, swinging at everything, making bad baserunning decisions -- not out of love of his own stats but because he thinks he needs to justify that contract. Of course if his 2008 is like Sosa's 1998, I could live with that. :-)

Murton/Floyd/Jones -- another complete mystery to me. I don't know how the playing time is going to shake out, I don't know if Murton's gonna bust out, I don't know if a healthy Floyd will hit like the old Floyd. All I know is one of our corner OF spots is gonna suck against lefties (unless maybe they do the Theriot at 2B and DeRosa in RF thing in which case our 2B is gonna suck against lefties).

The bench -- ugh! I have no faith in Theriot, not that I object to him as a backup MI. Having one of Murton/Floyd/Jones on the bench will help obviously, Ward may not suck. I would love to see the Cubs grab Todd Walker in place of Cedeno or maybe even Ward. I could see a 2B platoon but even if not, he could back up righty starters at 3B and 2B (and 1B if replacing Ward) and provide a second/third lefty bat off the bench. Then if we replaced Ward with a RH OF ... Ahh well.

The record ...

OK. I can see 95 wins here if most things go right. The rotation has the potential to be the best in the NL. Lee/ARAM/Soriano could post OPS+s of 150/130/130 with 110ish OPS+s out of LF/RF/C and maybe even a 100 out of 2B -- that would be a lot of runs. The team generally has good health (meaning the bench doesn't hurt us much especially since Dusty won't be starting them 2 games a week :-) and the bullpen performs as well as last year. I can see other high reward scenarios -- DeRosa stinks but Piniella moves Soriano back to 2B and Pie plays well, improving offense and defense.

The downside is probably about 72-75 wins. Poor health would be the most likely culprit, but even healthy I don't see any of the starters other than Z as a "guarantee" to be above-average and obviously Marquis, Miller, Prior, Guzman, etc. could really suck. Due to lousy OBP, the Cubs offense could be highly inconsistent. The defense seems to have the potential to be really, really bad. The bullpen...

But yes, health is the big question. Chances are the Big 5 (Z, Lee, ARAM, Soriano and Barrett just because of the black holeness of his replacement) will combine to miss about a season's worth of games, maybe more. Floyd could contribute next to nothing, Jones seems cliff-worthy. Miller, Prior, Wood could contribute nothing. Will Hill and DeRosa tire playing what are essentially their first full seasons? Will Pie or Guzman be able to step in and contribute. My brain tells me enough of those things will happen that something around Andere's 82 wins is the right mean projection.

But it's spring (well, autumn in NZ but a lovely one so far) and I met an attractive single woman last night so I'll be optimistic and go with 87-91 wins as my official prediction which puts them in the hunt for the division/wild card. Note this just continues the tradition of the 1998, 2001 and 2003 Cubs who all bounced back from horrific seasons.

Both the Cubs and the woman will likely disappoint me but I've been a big fan of both for over 30 years anyway. :-)
   17. Walt Davis Posted: March 30, 2007 at 11:07 PM (#2321128)
a messy post-season breakup looms.

Geez, I only just met her and haven't even asked her for a date yet. :-)
   18. dcsmyth1 Posted: March 31, 2007 at 12:15 AM (#2321162)
D Lee hits better than his typical projection, meaning that his 2006 season was an actual change in ability, instead of just a random career year.

Theriot outperforms his projections and posts a good OBA, and therefore gets significant playing time, at several positions. He might even end up taking the regular 2b job from DeRosa.

All of the other position starters meet their projections, with some variation according to how much a few of them are platooned.

D Ward does little, and is a wasted roster spot.

A Pagan does a pretty good job as the 5th OFer.

Zambrano has typical good season, but does not win the Cy Young

Lilly, Hill, Marquis, and Miller are .500 pitchers as a group. One or two of them will be better than expected, and one or two will be worse, but it's hard to say who.

Dempster will be replaced as the closer at some point. Maybe by Howry, or even maybe by Wood if he comes back strong.

I have no idea what Prior will wind up doing. He might not pitch a MLB game this year, or he might, in May or June, replace whichever of the non-Zambrano starters is really sucking and be above-average.

Piniella will do a good job, meaning that he will make both avg fans and saber fans reasonably happy with his moves.

The Cubs will win 83 games.
   19. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 31, 2007 at 01:12 AM (#2321187)
Some great comments here. I'm now of the opinion that the Cubs' success this season depends on Walt's fate with the attractive Kiwi.
   20. Andere Richtingen Posted: March 31, 2007 at 01:32 AM (#2321196)
To me, the rotation is really key. I have a lot more confidence in my projection of the offense, that it will be improved to averagish but it will be tough for it to be excellent. The rotation, however, is a huge wild card. Walt's optimism has a logical basis, and I myself said that if the Cubs get 190+ IP out of their top four starters, with the caveat that one of them is Prior, they will be making a stride toward winning 98+ games. Well, Prior's stock has fallen from GM to Enron in that time period, but even assuming that, the potential is there.

Also, regaring the bench, I don't see it as being particularly good, and there are some flaws that carry over from last year. But I don't think that Ryan Theriot, who I still really don't believe to be a major league ballplayer, is going to possess the same degree of roster inertia that we've seen in the likes of Neifi, Macias or Lenny Harris.

Regarding Prior, at this point I think he's finished. He has a lot of talent, so he might be able to reinvent himself as a different kind of pitcher, but I don't see that happening in 2007. I'd love to be wrong.
   21. Walt Davis Posted: March 31, 2007 at 03:48 AM (#2321214)
I'm now of the opinion that the Cubs' success this season depends on Walt's fate with the attractive Kiwi.

I'd never quite thought of it that way before but the Cubs of the last 30 years and my love life of the last 30 years unfortunately bear a striking resemblance to one another. Back-to-back winning seasons have been few and far between. A chaotic, ineffective mix of swinging for the fences and over-reliance on small ball. Always a few superstars but too much reliance on replacement-level talent. And as I get older, I appreciate the 7-man bullpen.

And yes, last year we both had disastrous seasons.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: April 01, 2007 at 04:09 AM (#2321526)
But I don't think that Ryan Theriot, who I still really don't believe to be a major league ballplayer, is going to possess the same degree of roster inertia that we've seen in the likes of Neifi, Macias or Lenny Harris.

I tend to agree, but we don't have much in the way of internal options (unless Patterson takes a big step up in which case we have a very pricey utility guy in DeRosa or a blocked Patterson) and, alas, if Hendry goes shopping for a new backup MI, he's likely to end up with a Neifi/Macias type.

Where I hope we'll see a big difference is that Piniella won't feel it necessary to get the bench players 200 PA each. Then it won't matter much if we have a zero for backup MI, until someone gets hurt.
   23. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: April 02, 2007 at 05:26 PM (#2322665)
87 wins

   24. Giantandre Posted: April 04, 2007 at 12:47 AM (#2323950)
Pops 87 W's would be the top end of my thoughts.....Somewhere between 82 and 87 W's seems about right..

Carlos throws a No hitter..
Alfonso hits like a 2004 version not a 2006 version
Dempster either Kicks Ass or gets His Ass Kicked no middle ground
Hendry makes deal for a real SS
Mark Prior wins first 5 starts (starting in late June) and then gets injured again
Barrett has best year yet, plays outside of Chicago in 2008

Cubs, Cards, Brewers & Reds are bunched all season...He who beats the trade deadline gets the Division...No Wild Card from the central....I could see the Cards being 4th out of that group, Brewers are my call right now.
   25. Famous Original Joe C Posted: April 12, 2007 at 09:40 PM (#2333621)
Prior left his start today with a sore shoulder, scheduled to see Yocum, per Rotowire. Not that you didn't see this coming.
   26. dcsmyth1 Posted: April 12, 2007 at 10:23 PM (#2333650)
I heard on the radio that Prior left because his side was hurting. Who knows what it will turn out to be.

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