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.

Cubs will be open for business as Theo Epstein weighs trading hitters for pitching

Cubs will be open for business as Theo Epstein weighs trading hitters for pitching

Theo Epstein answered questions from the Chicago media for more than an hour on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, but the most interesting part might have been what the Cubs president didn’t say, something along the lines of: These are our guys.

Or at least Epstein didn’t give the same full-throated endorsement of The Core that he delivered after engineering the Jose Quintana trade with the White Sox this summer, getting an All-Star pitcher without giving up anyone from the big-league roster.

Whether it’s the way the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Cubs throughout the National League Championship Series that ended Thursday night, the inconsistencies and frustrations during a 43-45 first half of this season or the reality of losing 40 percent of the rotation, you walked out of that stadium club press conference thinking big changes could be coming.

“We’re going to pursue all avenues to get better,” Epstein said.

The Cubs already understood this would be a challenging time to dramatically reshape their pitching staff, with Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Big Boy John Lackey and All-Star closer Wade Davis about to become free agents.

The Cubs don’t really have many (any?) high-end, headliner prospects left to trade after borrowing heavily from their farm system to acquire Aroldis Chapman for last year’s World Series run and get Quintana to help solidify the rotation through 2020.

All of Major League Baseball is looking beyond this winter and preparing for the monster free-agent class that will hit the open market after the 2018 season.

Meaning it’s time for the Cubs to make some difficult decisions about all these young hitters they’ve collected.

“It may or may not be,” Epstein said. “Those choices, they’re not unilateral things. You can’t sit there and decide: ‘Hey, this guy, we’re moving him.’ Because you don’t know what the return might be. You don’t know how the different moving parts might fit together.

“I think going into the offseason prepared to make some tough choices and execute on them — and keeping an open mind to anything — is appropriate under the circumstances where we have some obvious deficits and we have some real surplus with talented players who are really desirable.”

Let’s assume All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, MVP third baseman Kris Bryant and catcher Willson Contreras are essentially untouchable.

The Cubs used the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft on Ian Happ with the explicit idea that the college hitter should be on a fast track and could be flipped for pitching later: Is it time to sell high after the rookie just put up 24 homers and an .842 OPS?

During an exit meeting with Albert Almora Jr., Epstein said he couldn’t promise an everyday job in 2018, though the expectation would be more responsibilities: Think anyone else would be interested in a potential Gold Glove center fielder who’s already playoff-tested?

Do you want Addison Russell or Javier Baez as your everyday shortstop for the next four years? Is there an American League team willing to bet big that Kyle Schwarber will crush 40 homers a year as a designated hitter?

The Cubs have to ask themselves those types of questions, which could mean getting outside of their comfort zone and taking on some riskier pitching investments and sapping the strength that has turned them into the dominant force in the NL Central.

“We’ve really benefitted from having two or three extra — and ‘extra’ in quotes because they’re not really extra — starting-caliber players on the roster,” Epstein said. “That helped us win 97 games in ’15, 103 last year, 92 this year. That’s as big a part of the club as anything.

“Having an Addison Russell go down and being able to move Javy Baez to shortstop — that’s an obvious example of it. But those things show up every week for us. There’s a day where someone can’t make the lineup and someone else slides in and you’re still starting eight quality guys. That’s huge.

“Sooner or later, you reach a point where you have to strongly consider sacrificing some of that depth to address needs elsewhere on the club. There’s no sort of deadline to do that. But I think we’re entering the phase where we have to be really open-minded to that if it makes the overall outlook of the team and organization better.”

Translation: The Cubs are open for business. Make your best offer.

Cubs Talk Podcast: 2017 season obituary and previewing an interesting winter for Cubs

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: 2017 season obituary and previewing an interesting winter for Cubs

In the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull, Patrick Mooney and Tony Andracki close the book on the 2017 season following Theo Epstein’s press conference, looking back at what will go down as the craziest calendar year in Cubs history from last November through the team’s loss in the NLCS this October.

Moving forward, where do guys like Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr., Justin Wilson and Mike Montgomery fit? Will the Cubs re-sign Wade Davis or go after another proven closer? And how worried should fans be about the offense that completely disappeared in the postseason?

Take a listen below: