Travis Wood

Cubs opposition research: Previewing the 2018 San Diego Padres


Cubs opposition research: Previewing the 2018 San Diego Padres

The expectations couldn't be any higher for the 2018 Chicago Cubs. 

It's 2016 all over again. The goal isn't just a trip to the playoffs or another NL pennant. It's World Series or bust for this group of North Siders.

With that, let's take a look at all of the teams that could stand in the way of the Cubs getting back to the Fall Classic:

San Diego Padres

2017 record: 71-91, fourth place in NL West

Offseason additions: Eric Hosmer, Chase Headley, Freddy Galvis, A.J. Ellis, Tyson Ross, Bryan Mitchell, Kazuhisa Makita

Offseason departures: Erick Aybar, Yangervis Solarte, Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill, Jhoulys Chacin

X-factor: Hunter Renfroe

Renfroe has been heralded as one of the top prospects in the game in recent years and while he hit 26 homers in only 445 at-bats in 2017, it was some pretty empty power. He posted just a .284 on-base percentage and struck out 140 times compared to only 27 walks. 

With seemingly everybody hitting 20 homers nowadays, the Padres will need more out of Renfroe if they have even a prayer of contending in 2018. 

But with Hosmer now in place at first base, it moves Wil Myers back into right field, leaving Renfroe without a position for the time being. He'll have to force his way into the lineup and back into the future of this rebuilding team.

Projected lineup

1. Manuel Margot - CF
2. Carlos Asuaje - 2B
3. Wil Myers - RF
4. Eric Hosmer - 1B
5. Chase Headley - 3B
6. Jose Pirela - LF
7. Freddy Galvis - SS
8. Austin Hedges - C

Projected rotation

1. Clayton Richard
2. Tyson Ross
3. Bryan Mitchell
4. Dinelson Lamet
5. Luis Perdomo


Look, when 34-year-old Clayton Richard is your ace and your projected No. 2 starter is a guy in spring training as a non-roster invitee, you don't have much hope of contending.

Richard joins Matt Szczur and Christian Villanueva as former Cubs projected to make the Padres' Opening Day roster, but the Friars are still probably a couple years away from challenging the Cubs in the National League.

Don't get me wrong: The Padres have some nice pieces. Myers is only 27, Hosmer brings instant credibility as a very good (but not superstar) player, the 23-year-old Margot is one of the most exciting young outfielders in the game and Hedges is an intriguing catcher with pop and solid skills behind the plate. Lamet and Perdomo could wind up as being staples in the San Diego rotation for the next half-decade or more.

But there's just not enough pitching depth or high-end talent to really classify the Padres as a serious contender in 2018. 

Prediction: Fifth place in NL West, no playoffs

Complete opposition research

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Franciso Giants

(Projected lineup/rotaiton from

Should Cubs consider bringing back a familiar face for more pitching depth?

Should Cubs consider bringing back a familiar face for more pitching depth?

Travis Wood is no longer employed, so could he be a part of the answer as the Cubs search for pitching?

To start, it's never a good sign when two teams that are not contending get rid of a guy and actually pay him to go somewhere else.

But the Cubs know Wood well, so surely it could be a great buy-low opportunity, right?

Wood helped the Cubs win the first World Series in 108 years and famously stopped wearing shirts after that. 

His final stat line in 2016 was solid — 4-0, 2.95 ERA, 1.13 WHIP — but he was not counted on as much of a factor in the postseason, appearing in 9 games but pitching only 6.1 innings.

The reason for that is Wood essentially became a LOOGY (a Lefty One-Out GuY) in that he struggled mightily against righties. The southpaw finished the 2016 season with a .265 batting average and .865 OPS against vs. right-handers as he and the Cubs searched for answers — to no avail — on how he could get opposite-handed hitters out.

The bad news is, those struggles not only permeated into 2017, but they actually got worse. He allowed a .317 batting average and .935 OPS against righties while posting a 6.80 ERA in 39 games (14 starts) for the Royals and Padres last season.

Wood is still young (he turns 31 in February) and could be signed to something like a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training as a LOOGY with upside. Plus, he'd represent more starting depth, too, which is always valuable and something the Cubs are still currently looking for the week before Christmas.  

Of course fans want him back as well so Joe Maddon could utilize him in ridiculous and awesome ways again like as a left fielder or pinch-hitter.

Leonys Martin's Cubs debut was unusual to say the least


Leonys Martin's Cubs debut was unusual to say the least

When the Cubs dealt for Leonys Martin just before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline, not one scouting report mentioned he was an outfielder AND emergency reliever. 

Martin made his Cubs debut in a blowout loss to the Pirates on Monday, and to the surprise of fans and probably Martin himself, it came on the mound. 

Not wanting to use another bullpen arm in a game that the Cubs were almost certainly going to drop, Joe Maddon did a Joe Maddon thing and brought in Martin. It did not go very well. 

Martin retired two hitters, but he also served up a two-run bomb to David Freese. His career ERA is now 27.00. 

To his credit, Martin appeared to be having a lot of fun out there. Maybe Maddon should leave the outfielder-reliever combo to Travis Wood, though: