Cubs

Random News of the Day: MLB Predictions

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Random News of the Day: MLB Predictions

Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Posted: 9:48 a.m.

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

Here is the 'Fearless Forecast' for the 2011 MLB season. Will the rich get richer? Probably. Will the Pirates mark their 19th consecutive losing season? Probably. But there should be a few surprises that will make this baseball season more than interesting. Here goes:

( = Playoff Team)

NATIONAL LEAGUE

EastW-LGBRandom News
Atlanta Braves
95-67-Little bit of upset here, but their pitching will get them to the top. Jason Heyward is a best.
Philadelphia Phillies
93-692Ridiculously strong pitching staff. Can they stay healthy?
Florida Marlins
80-8215Pesky Marlins always overachieve. Marlins will get a new park in 2012. It's about time.
Washington Nationals
74-8821Might not be as bad as people think. Jayson Werth has to live up to 7-year, 126 million contract.
New York Mets
68-9427The roster is great...by 2004 standards. The Madoff mess continues to linger. At least Shea Stadium is gone.

CentralW-LGBRandom News
St. Louis Cardinals
86-76-Solid lineup should help offset Wainwright injury. Albert Pujols might hit one off the Arch. Will it help him stay a Cardinal?
Cincinnati Reds
84-782Could still take division thanks to an offense that's tougher than Skyline Chili.
Chicago Cubs
82-804The sleeper team of 2011? Carlos Silva's launching is addition by subtraction. Kind of a wait-and-see offense, though.
Milwaukee Brewers
79-837Nice pitching, but Prince Fielder's status could be a distraction. Look for the chorizo to dominate the sausage race, too.
Houston Astros
75-8711RF Hunter Pence now the it-man. Cannot afford another slow start, or they'll be lurking near Pirates Cove (or...6th).
Pittsburgh Pirates
69-9317If there is no NFL season...hoo-boy. At least the Penguins are intriguing.

WestW-LGBRandom News
San Francisco Giants
92-70
-Pitching staff, led by Mitch Kramer (err..I mean Tim Lincecum), needs to carry the load again.Colorado Rockies
88-744Great fantasy baseball team (Troy Tulowitzki, Ubaldo Jimenez, Carlos Gonzalez)--but they need to learn how to be a good reality team.
San Diego Padres
87-75
5Ran out of gas in September and might not have enough in the tank to hang with SF and COL in 2011.
Los Angeles Dodgers
81-81
11New manager Don Mattingly has a fairly decent rotation. So-so lineup. It adds up to a .500 season.Arizona Diamondbacks
71-91
21Manager Kirk Gibson means business. But Chase Field could be a wind tunnel if the D-Backs don't win.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

EastW-LGBRandom News
Boston Red Sox
94-68-Deep team. And it'll be interesting to see what Bobby Jenks does. Cubs fans will flood Fenway May 20-22.Tampa Bay Rays
91-711When will the first "Manny being Manny" episode happen? Not sure if Joe Maddon will put up with the tomfoolery.
New York Yankees
89-735Yes. 3rd place. Big bats, questionable rotation--but you know the Yankees will deal with that situation come July 31st.
Baltimore Orioles
75-87194th place will be a huge victory for the O's. Buck Showalter doesn't tolerate losing all that much.
Toronto Blue Jays
74-8820Might be an upper-tier team if not for the brutally tough AL East. Jays should hit a lot of homers, though.

CentralW-LGBRandom News
Minnesota Twins
90-72-The 'Rudy' of the AL Central won't go away anytime soon, especially with Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and company.Chicago White Sox
88-742"All In" for a division championship? Lineup and pitching match up with the Twins. Jake Peavy, of course, the x-factor.Detroit Tigers
84-786Keeping Miguel Cabrera away from the bottle might help Jim Leyland keep away from the cigarettes.
Kansas City Royals
75-8715A surprise team at 75-87? That's the standard in KC. Joakim Soria alone might keep them in the race for a while.
Cleveland Indians
63-9927You might see tumbleweeds rolling through the upper deck of Progessive Field. Sad. The city deserves better.

WestW-LGBRandom News
Oakland A's
88-74-Fierce rotation with Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson. But will anybody in Oakland care?
Texas Rangers
86-762They'll score a ton of runs, but they're now the hunted instead of the hunters. Will the pressure get to them?Los Angeles Angels
79-839What I like to call a "Swiss cheese" team-- too many holes, particularly in the infield and behind the plate.Seattle Mariners
71-9117The Mariners will be a great team to watch...every fifth day. King Felix is worth the price of admission alone.

AL PLAYOFFS:
Boston over Oakland, 3-2
Minnesota over Tampa Bay, 3-1
Boston over Minnesota, 4-3

NL PLAYOFFS:
Atlanta over St. Louis, 3-0
Philadelphia over San Francisco, 3-1
Philadelphia over Atlanta 4-1

WORLD SERIES:
Philadelphia over Boston, 4-3

Well, either that or the Indians and Pirates meet to make this year's World Series the biggest ratings bonanza of all time.

Or something like that.

MLB.com's Cubs' 2018 Top Prospects list full of potential impact pitchers

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USA TODAY

MLB.com's Cubs' 2018 Top Prospects list full of potential impact pitchers

Could 2018 be the year that the Cubs finally see a top pitching prospect debut with the team? 

Thursday, MLB.com released its list of the Cubs' 2018 Top 30 Prospects, a group that includes six pitchers in the Top 10. The list ranks right-hander Adbert Alzolay as the Cubs' No 1. prospect, projecting him to debut with the team this season. 

Alzolay, 22, went 7-4 with a 2.99 ERA in 22 starts between Single-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Tennessee last season. He also struck out 108 batters in 114 1/3 innings, using a repertoire that includes a fastball that tops out around 98 MPH (according to MLB.com).

Following Alzolay as the Cubs' No. 2 overall prospect is 19-year-old shortstop Aramis Ademan. Ademan hit .267 in just 68 games between Single-A Eugene and Single-A South Bend, though it should be noted that he has soared from No. 11 in MLB.com's 2017 ranks to his current No. 2 ranking. He is not projected to make his MLB debut until 2020, however.

Following Alzolay and Ademan on the list are five consecutive pitchers ranked 3-7, respectively. Oscar De La Cruz, No. 3 on the list, slides down from his 2017 ranking in which MLB.com listed him as the Cubs' top overall prospect. De La Cruz, 22, finished 2017 with a 3.34 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) between the Arizona League and Single-A Myrtle Beach.

De La Cruz is projected to make his MLB debut in 2019, while Jose Albertos (No. 4), Alex Lange (No. 5), Brendon Little (No. 6) and Thomas Hatch (No. 7) are projected to make their big league debuts in 2019 or 2020. All are right-handed (with the exception of Little) and starting pitchers.

Hatch (third round, 2016) and Lange (30th overall, 2017) and Little (27th overall, 2017) were all top draft picks by the Cubs in recent seasons.

Having numerous starting pitchers on the cusp of the big leagues represents a significant change of pace for the Cubs. 

Since Theo Epstein took over as team president in Oct. 2011, a plethora of top prospects have debuted and enjoyed success with the Cubs. Majority have been position players, though.

The likes of Albert Almora, Javier Báez, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell all contributed to the Cubs winning the World Series in 2016. Similarly, Ian Happ enjoyed a fair amount of success after making his MLB debut last season, hitting 24 home runs in just 115 games.

Ultimately, Alzolay would be the Cubs' first true top pitching prospect to make it to the big leagues in the Theo Epstein era. While him making it to the big leagues in 2018 is no guarantee, one would think a need for pitching will arise for the Cubs at some point, whether it be due to injury or simply for September roster expansion.

The Cubs have enjoyed tremendous success in recent years in terms of their top prospects succeeding in the MLB. If the trend continues, Alzolay should be a force to reckon with on the North Side for years to come.

Even with an entire spring schedule to go, guessing the Cubs' 25-man roster is pretty easy

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USA TODAY

Even with an entire spring schedule to go, guessing the Cubs' 25-man roster is pretty easy

MESA, Ariz. — The frequent mission of spring training is to iron out a 25-man roster.

But at Cubs camp, that mission seems to already be completed.

With an entire Cactus League schedule still to play, the Cubs’ 25-man group that will leave Arizona for the season-opener in Miami seems pretty well set.

The starting rotation: Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood.

The position-player group: Willson Contreras, Victor Caratini, Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez, Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Tommy La Stella, Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr., Ian Happ, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist.

The bullpen: Brandon Morrow, Steve Cishek, Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr., Mike Montgomery, Brian Duensing, Justin Wilson and Justin Grimm.

Boom. There’s your 25.

Joe Maddon, do you agree?

“You guys and ladies could probably write down what you’re seeing and be pretty accurate,” Maddon said Thursday. “I can’t deny that, it’s true. Oftentimes, when you’re a pretty good ball club, that is the case. When you’re not so good, you always get auditions during spring training.

“I think what the boys have done is they’ve built up a nice cache in case things were to happen. The depth is outstanding. So you could probably narrow it down, who you think’s going to be the 25, and I won’t argue that.”

It’s the latest example in a camp that to this point has been full of them that the Cubs are one of baseball’s best teams and that only a World Series championship will fulfill expectations. Had the front office stuck with a starting rotation of Lester, Hendricks, Quintana, Chatwood and Montgomery, then there would’ve been a spot open in the bullpen. But the statement-making signing of Darvish jolted the Cubs into “best rotation in the game” status, sent Montgomery back to the bullpen and further locked the roster into place.

Guys like Grimm and La Stella have been forced off the 25-man roster at points in recent seasons, though even their spots seem safe. Maddon even said that a huge spring from someone else wouldn’t mean as much at what guys have done at the major league level in recent memory.

“Spring training performance, for me, it’s not very defining,” Maddon said. “You’re going to be playing against a lot of guys that aren’t going to be here, more Triple-A guys, even some Double-A guys. Some guys come in better shape, they normally look better early. The vibe’s different. You play a couple innings, you don’t get many at-bats, the pitcher doesn’t see hitters three times and vice versa. So I don’t worry about that as much.

“It’s more about, guys that might be fighting for a moment, what do they look like, does it look right, does it look good, how do they fit in? Is there somebody there that you scouted? Because what matters a lot is last year and what you did last year and the last couple months of last year.

“So of course guys that have been here probably have a bit of an upper hand, but we’re very open-minded about stuff. And I think when you look at the guys, you’re right, it’s probably pretty close to being set. But stuff happens.”

Could the recently signed Shae Simmons give Grimm an unexpected challenge for the final relief spot? Maddon said guys who have been with the Cubs in the recent past have a leg up. Could Chris Gimenez turn his experience with Darvish into a win over Caratini for the backup catcher spot? Maddon threw cold water on the "personal catcher" narrative last week.

Of course, Maddon left the door open the possibility of an injury that could open up a roster spot and even shake up the depth chart. But barring the unforeseen, this 25-man group looks locked into place.

That gives the Cubs an edge, perhaps, in that they can specifically find ways to tune up those guys rather than focus on getting enough at-bats for players who are fighting for roster spots. But most of that edge came during the winter, and in winters and summers past, when the front office built this team into a championship contender.

There have been plenty of years when the fans coming to Mesa to watch the Cubs play in spring training saw the blossoming of a big league player thanks to a monster spring or a surprise tear during March. That’s going to be unlikely this spring, a reflection of just how far this team has come.

“It’s easy for me to reflect on this because when I started out with the Rays, wow,” Maddon said. “That was a casting call trying to figure it out. You had very few settled positions when you walked in the door. And then as we got better, it became what we’re talking about. As we moved further along, you were pretty much set by the time (you got to spring training) except for one or two spots.

“So I think the better teams are like that.”

The Cubs are most definitely one of those better teams.