Cubs

Random News of the Day: MLB Predictions

422371.jpg

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.

Adbert Alzolay makes some memories on an otherwise forgettable night for the Cubs

Adbert Alzolay makes some memories on an otherwise forgettable night for the Cubs

The Cubs lost an entirely forgettable game on Tuesday night, dropping the second of their four games against the NL East-leading Braves by a score of 3-2. They left four men on base, only managed four hits, ran into two outs, and made one error in a game that was over well in time for a Clark Street nightcap, or three. 

What was memorable about Tuesday night was the performance of Adbert Alzolay, the Cubs’ top pitching prospect who was making his first major league start. The final line: 4.2 innings pitched, one hit, one run, four walks and four strikeouts. It’s certainly not the prettiest line you’ll see in tomorrow’s box scores, but the 24 year old passed the eye test with flying colors. 

“Everything was good - he was outstanding,” Joe Maddon said after the game. “I just think he hit a well there at the end. We just have to get him more used to that. Listen, he’s been injured in the past, he’s coming back - you’ve got to be real sensitive to the number of pitches and workload you put on him, because you can see how good he’s going to be.”

Things got off to an inauspicious start for Alzolay, whose first pitch of the game was crushed 413 feet into the left field bleachers for a leadoff homer, courtesy of Braves’ outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. It would prove to be the only hit and run that Alzolay allowed on the night. 

“It’s just one pitch,” he said. “You have to keep working - the game continues. I was just starting the game, so if you lose your mind in that situation than you’re not going to last a lot of innings.

“Even after the home run, he came right back and said, ‘I’m fine’,” Maddon added. “Then he went up and got three really good hitters out. I liked the mound demeanor, we’ve just got to get him a little further along in regards to being stretched out.”

After coming out flat with his secondary pitches during his 4-inning relief appearance on June 20th, Alzolay flashed better command and execution of both his curveball and changeup. Half of his strikeouts came on the curveball - one to get left fielder Austin Riley in the 2nd and one to get Acuña in the 3rd. After throwing 13 changeups in his debut, Alzolay double that number on Tuesday (27). 

“I’m feeling really confident throwing the pitch in any count,” Alzolay said of his changeup. “Tonight I threw it a couple times when I was behind in the count and I got a good result after that, so I’ll just keep on throwing it.

“For us to get confident at something, you have to practice, you have to execute it, and you have to use it in the game,” said catcher Willson Contreras, who plated both of the Cubs’ two runs with a double in the 4th. “For him to be able to throw the changeup for a strike, and strikeout people, it’s really good - especially at his age.”

Maddon couldn’t answer when Alzolay would make his next start. With Kyle Hendricks eyeing a return around the All-Star break, there would seemingly be a few more opportunities ahead of the rookie. Given what he showed on Tuesday night, it’d be hard to argue against it.

"He can be really good in the big leagues," Contreras said. "He still needs to make adjustments like all of us, but with the confidence he has, the ability he has, and the way he prepares before the games, it's going to take him a long way."

Cubs Talk Podcast: Ryne Sandberg: Part 1

ryne-sandberg-1013.jpg
USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Ryne Sandberg: Part 1

Luke Stuckmeyer sits down with Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg for a wide-ranging conversation centered around the infamous "Sandberg Game."

Ryne gives insight into his feelings upon being traded to the Cubs (2:00), and discusses the reason he ended up with the No. 23 (5:00). Plus, how the 1984 season changed everything and raised his personal expectations sky-high (9:00) and the "Daily Double" dynamic between him and Bob Dernier (16:00).

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

Subscribe: