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March 2014

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10 Bold Predictions for the 2014 Cubs Season

Written by , Posted in General

Happy Opening Day everyone. If you’re like me, this is a personal holiday for you. I’ve taken it as a holiday from work and/or school for as long as I can remember. I’m definitely one who is on the bandwagon to make the day a national holiday. If the sport is our “National Pastime”, then the day should be a holiday.

I make no secret that I am not a fan of spring training. I don’t get excited about the season until it’s here. As far as I’m concerned, spring training is a necessary evil. That said, I’m excited about this team and excited about this season. I am much more excited about the 2014 season than I was about last season. I am going to go on record with 10 bold predictions for the season. Take these with a grain of salt for two reasons. First, note the key word, bold. They aren’t intended to all come true. Second, know that I completely suck at predictions. ESPN recently asked me to fill out my ballot for the 2014 season for various questions and then tabbed me in their “expert panel”. I laughed at that. So, away we go.

1. Mike Olt will lead the team in home runs – If you’ve listened to our podcast at all, you know we’re all fans of Olt and we want him to succeed. This year, after reportedly clearing up the vision issues that caused his development to come off the track, he will come out and not only solidify his claim to the third base job, but do it in such a manner that it causes the front office to wonder why they even considered using Luis Valbuena or Donnie Murphy there to begin with. Olt has power and it will be on display in 2014.

2. Javier Baez will have started at least 15 games at shortstop for the Cubs by September 1. – I haven’t decided if I think this will be a result of an injury or issue with Starlin Castro and his production, or if it will simply be an element of Baez pushing his way into the lineup. Regardless of the reason, Baez is close and we’re going to see him sooner rather than later.

3. Anthony Rizzo will finish in the top 10 for the NL MVP race. – So many people are down on Rizzo and the season he had in 2013, but when you really look at the numbers, they weren’t horrible. This year he continues to improve and rebounds strongly to begin to make a name for himself in the NL.

4. Kyle Hendricks will make at least 10 starts for the Cubs – I like Hendricks a lot and I feel like he’s next man up in the event of an injury or poor performance. Nevermind the fact that it came down to Carlos Villanueva and Chris Rusin for the last spot in the rotation. Hendricks is the guy who will get the longer look.

5. Pedro Strop will finish the season with more saves than Jose Veras – I was actually a little surprised when the Cubs brought in Veras. There was no question that the pen needed to be improved, and it has been, but the move to bring in a closer when at the end of 2013 you let Strop audition for the job seems weird.

6. The bullpen will finish in the top 5 in the NL for ERA – It’s improved and bolstered with power arms. Be excited.

7. More than one player will represent the Cubs in the All Star game. – If I have to pick, I’m going with Rizzo and Travis Wood.

8. Castro will be traded by the July 31 deadline and Darwin Barney will not. – Just a hunch.

9. People will quickly see why Arodys Vizcaino was considered a top prospect when he announces his presence with authority after being recalled from Iowa and becomes one of the top arms in the pen. – I believe very strongly in this guy, so much that I called for him to make the opening day roster. He didn’t, but watch what happens when he comes up. At least 10 K/9 ratio and an ERA under 3.00.

10. The Cubs will win 81 games in 2014 – I hinted at this in the last few weeks on the podcast and I’m locking it in now in writing. This team will be .500 when all is said and done. You heard it here first.


Opening day means all the teams throw their best. Personally, I think Wood is the best pitcher in the rotation, but you can’t deny that Samardzija is a good choice after the monster performance he posted last year against the Pirates on opening day. His opponent is Francisco Liriano, who really turned his career around last year after signing with Pittsburgh. Since he’s spent the majority of his career in the American League, very few members of the roster have seen him for any amount of time. He’s a three pitch pitcher (Fastball, Slider, and Change). What I find interesting is that last year we saw a drop in the amount he used the fastball despite the velocity staying the same. As a result, he saw a significant increase in production. Another interesting note: Date back to 2009 reports that vs. lefties he simply does not use the change up, only throwing it 1.8% of the time. Compare that with how he approaches the righties, where he uses the change 24.3% of the time.

  • Doug S.

    Envious of those of you able to take today off and catch the opening day games.

    I like Joe’s predictions. If we can realize No. 6 I’ll be a happy guy. No 8. – not so much.

  • Doug S.

    Envious of those of you able to take today off and catch the opening day games.

    I like Joe’s predictions. If we can realize No. 6 I’ll be a happy guy. No 8. – not so much.

  • Noah_I

    Agree with 4 and 9, but Vizcaino will take a bit to get up. He’s going to spend the first few weeks of the season in Daytona, probably due to weather issues much more than anything else.

    Disagree with 2 (unless Castro is injured), 3 (on a team that I don’t think is going to finish .500, Rizzo is going to have to put up close to a .900 OPS to get any MVP vote), 8 (Castro won’t be traded this season), and 10 (I’m guessing a max of 78-79 wins).

    Could go either way on 1 (I cold see both Olt and Rizzo hovering around 25 HRs), 5 (depends on when Veras is traded), 6 (I think they’ll be at least average, and with a little luck could jump to top 5), and 7 (Castro and Rizzo could make it, as could Samardzija or Wood).

  • Noah_I

    Agree with 4 and 9, but Vizcaino will take a bit to get up. He’s going to spend the first few weeks of the season in Daytona, probably due to weather issues much more than anything else.

    Disagree with 2 (unless Castro is injured), 3 (on a team that I don’t think is going to finish .500, Rizzo is going to have to put up close to a .900 OPS to get any MVP vote), 8 (Castro won’t be traded this season), and 10 (I’m guessing a max of 78-79 wins).

    Could go either way on 1 (I cold see both Olt and Rizzo hovering around 25 HRs), 5 (depends on when Veras is traded), 6 (I think they’ll be at least average, and with a little luck could jump to top 5), and 7 (Castro and Rizzo could make it, as could Samardzija or Wood).

  • Sean Powell

    1. Maybe, but I think Rizzo does it. Olt will have the inevitable rookie struggles as pitchers get the book on him, and he might not play every single day, as Valbuena will get some starts at 3rd.
    2. I don’t think so – 2B for Javy this year.
    3. Agree with Noah – Cubs will be too bad. Maybe #10…Rizzo will have a good season, though. I think he could lead NL in extra base hits.
    4. A few starts – I don’t think he’ll get to 10.
    5. Possibly – Veras is a flip candidate.
    6. Lots of boom/bust in the bullpen. I’d be more comfortable predicting that they will lead the NL in strikeouts.
    7. I love Wood, but he will regress. I’d go with Rizzo/Shark
    8. No.
    9. Viz starting the year in warmer Daytona. I see a possible Sept. call-up, but not before then – no reason to rush and risk it this season.
    10. No – although they have a chance to play some surprisingly good baseball this year.

    • Noah_I

      The question with Wood is largely if he maintains the IFFB rate while limiting the HR/FB rate. FanGraphs ran an interesting piece a few weeks back about how Wood could be one of these anomalous guys. I agree with you that he likely regresses, but he’s a guy I at least see as having a meaningful possibility of perennially outperforming his FIP and especially his xFIP.

  • Sean Powell

    1. Maybe, but I think Rizzo does it. Olt will have the inevitable rookie struggles as pitchers get the book on him, and he might not play every single day, as Valbuena will get some starts at 3rd.
    2. I don’t think so – 2B for Javy this year.
    3. Agree with Noah – Cubs will be too bad. Maybe #10…Rizzo will have a good season, though. I think he could lead NL in extra base hits.
    4. A few starts – I don’t think he’ll get to 10.
    5. Possibly – Veras is a flip candidate.
    6. Lots of boom/bust in the bullpen. I’d be more comfortable predicting that they will lead the NL in strikeouts.
    7. I love Wood, but he will regress. I’d go with Rizzo/Shark
    8. No.
    9. Viz starting the year in warmer Daytona. I see a possible Sept. call-up, but not before then – no reason to rush and risk it this season.
    10. No – although they have a chance to play some surprisingly good baseball this year.

    • Noah_I

      The question with Wood is largely if he maintains the IFFB rate while limiting the HR/FB rate. FanGraphs ran an interesting piece a few weeks back about how Wood could be one of these anomalous guys. I agree with you that he likely regresses, but he’s a guy I at least see as having a meaningful possibility of perennially outperforming his FIP and especially his xFIP.

  • Doc Raker

    11. The Cubs will contend through April 15 at least.
    Happy Opening Day! I hope we enjoy it. I can’t wait for warm weather baseball, this cold April baseball is uncomfortable to watch at times. It reminds me of playing high school baseball at Benet Academy in Lisle on miserably cold April afternoons, playing in 40 degree temps really takes the joy out of the game.

    If I was being paid multimillions I probably would have enjoyed playing in 40 degree weather a little more.

  • Doc Raker

    11. The Cubs will contend through April 15 at least.
    Happy Opening Day! I hope we enjoy it. I can’t wait for warm weather baseball, this cold April baseball is uncomfortable to watch at times. It reminds me of playing high school baseball at Benet Academy in Lisle on miserably cold April afternoons, playing in 40 degree temps really takes the joy out of the game.

    If I was being paid multimillions I probably would have enjoyed playing in 40 degree weather a little more.

  • Eddie Von White

    – Its opening day, therefore I am agreeing with Joe on all 10.
    – Not only do I want Pedro Strop to excel to the top, I want the nickname “Dro-Stro” to catch on.
    – I was planning on working all day, but after reading Joe’s post, I am taking the afternoon off to watch the Cubbies. Thanks Joe
    – One other thing, to quote George Washington: “There’s no such thing as a necessary evil. If it’s evil, it’s not necessary.”

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      Wow a George Washington quote on Opening Day now I am really pumped up!

  • Eddie Von White

    – Its opening day, therefore I am agreeing with Joe on all 10.
    – Not only do I want Pedro Strop to excel to the top, I want the nickname “Dro-Stro” to catch on.
    – I was planning on working all day, but after reading Joe’s post, I am taking the afternoon off to watch the Cubbies. Thanks Joe
    – One other thing, to quote George Washington: “There’s no such thing as a necessary evil. If it’s evil, it’s not necessary.”

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      Wow a George Washington quote on Opening Day now I am really pumped up!

  • Seymour Butts

    12. CAPS takes a tumble from the bleachers onto the warning track after bouncing off the basket. He was reaching into section 303 for a Rizzo HR that was slicing away from his beloved 304. Missed it by 37 feet.

    • Sheldon Cooper, PhD

      37 is the 13th prime integer in the positive sequence. 13 is also Starlin Castro’s number and the 7th positive prime integer. 7 was Jody Davis’ number and the 5th positive prime integer. 5 is the number of outs given to a batting team in an inning where the fielders have made 2 errors on routine grounders. 2 is the second positive prime integer divisible only by itself and 1.

      • PLCB3

        1 is not a prime number

      • Sheldon Cooper

        “Dr” Grime is a hack.

      • PLCB3

        Who? Frank “Grimey” Grimes?

    • PLCB3

      That would expose my weight issues on national TV, and it would also expose the how poor the structural integrity of Wrigley Field is. Just like the Simpsons episode when Homer gets stuck on the water slide at Mount Splashmore.

    • Ranch everywhere.

      • PLCB3

        I haven’t spent a single penny at Subway in 2014 so far.

      • You don’t say!

  • Seymour Butts

    12. CAPS takes a tumble from the bleachers onto the warning track after bouncing off the basket. He was reaching into section 303 for a Rizzo HR that was slicing away from his beloved 304. Missed it by 37 feet.

    • Sheldon Cooper, PhD

      37 is the 13th prime integer in the positive sequence. 13 is also Starlin Castro’s number and the 7th positive prime integer. 7 was Jody Davis’ number and the 5th positive prime integer. 5 is the number of outs given to a batting team in an inning where the fielders have made 2 errors on routine grounders. 2 is the second positive prime integer divisible only by itself and 1.

      • AC0000000

        1 is not a prime number. Therefore, 37 is the 12th positive prime integer, 13 is the 6th positive prime integer, 7 is the 4th prime integer, 5 is the 3rd prime integer, and 2 is the first prime integer.

      • Sheldon Cooper

        “Dr” Grime is a hack.

      • AC0000000

        Who? Frank “Grimey” Grimes?

    • AC0000000

      That would expose my weight issues on national TV, and it would also expose the how poor the structural integrity of Wrigley Field is. Just like the Simpsons episode when Homer gets stuck on the water slide H2WHOA! at Mount Splashmore.

    • Ranch everywhere.

      • AC0000000

        I haven’t spent a single penny at Subway in 2014 so far.

      • You don’t say!

  • Happy opening day, FVTBuds. Whatever happened to our Johnsons?

    • Seymour Butts

      must be playing hard…with themselves.

      • I enjoy a good hard Johnson reference as well as anyone but in the case of the younger Johnson I think it’s exactly the opposite. I think he found someone else to play with!

      • Seymour Butts

        Beef appears to be having some Johnson issues of his own.

      • (his)

      • Joe Aiello

        I gave serious consideration to editing Lizzies comment to just read “I enjoy a good hard Johnson” and deleting the rest. I refrained, but boy was it hard. (insert rim shot here)

  • Happy opening day, FVTBuds. Whatever happened to our Johnsons?

    • Seymour Butts

      must be playing hard…with themselves.

      • I enjoy a good hard Johnson reference as well as anyone but in the case of the younger Johnson I think it’s exactly the opposite. I think he found someone else to play with!

      • Seymour Butts

        Beef appears to be having some Johnson issues of his own.

      • (his)

      • Joe Aiello

        I gave serious consideration to editing Lizzies comment to just read “I enjoy a good hard Johnson” and deleting the rest. I refrained, but boy was it hard. (insert rim shot here)

  • PLCB3

    No score after 9. Into extras. On the bright side, Marmol isn’t going to be able to blow it like he almost did last year on opening day.

  • AC0000000

    No score after 9. Into extras. On the bright side, Marmol isn’t going to be able to blow it like he almost did last year on opening day.

  • Eddie Von White

    Ugh!

    • Agreed. 82 mph hanger.

      • Eddie Von White

        If its not one Carlos, its another.

      • PLCB3

        Got to love his stache though. Reminds me of Salvador Dali.

  • Eddie Von White

    Ugh!

    • Agreed. 82 mph hanger.

      • Eddie Von White

        If its not one Carlos, its another.

      • AC0000000

        Got to love his stache though. Reminds me of Salvador Dali.

  • Doc Raker

    13. A Johnson will start an argument in section 304 when a fellow fan interprets Starlin Castro’s 2013 BABIP as an unlucky streak.

  • Doc Raker

    13. A Johnson will start an argument in section 304 when a fellow fan interprets Starlin Castro’s 2013 BABIP as an unlucky streak.