As you can see from the myriad of posts around the blogosphere it is prediction season where Major League Baseball is concerned. Writers are cobbling together their thoughts on the upcoming season and the topics span just about everything under the sun.
Admittedly, over the past 4 years or so I could have cared less as to who would be the team MVP, most improved player, comeback player, or for that matter LVP (Least Valuable Player). The season was usually assumed to be over by May and predictions for a potential losing team are voiced to pass the time.
However, we seem to have the potential to not only compete this year, but some outlets have us contending (I think the contending talk is still crazy, but I guess a guy can hope!) This makes predictions a little weightier and more fun to write.
Anyhow, for the new and improved 2015 Chicago Cubs, I give you my predictions…..
Rizzo will get the Cubs WAR title, once again……
There are a few people who could win this title. I have a real good feeling about Jorge Soler this season. I am probably higher on him than any other player on this team. The table is set for Jorge to explode on to the scene. That being said, I don’t think he will overtake Rizzo. Rizzo got the title last year with a 5.6 WAR and I think he needs to get up to 6.0 in 2015, which he will do, to grab this title again.In 2014 the closest to Rizzo was Jake Arietta with a 4.9 WAR. The next closest position player was Castro with 2.9 WAR and then it goes down hill.
Along these lines, if I had to make a sub-prediction, I would say we have at least three more guys with a WAR above 3 for the position players. Counting pitchers it could be four or even five, considering Lester is pretty much automatic for anything above a 3.5 WAR.
2015′s lineup is sure to be even better and that should help Mr. Rizzo. All things considered, and barring injury, we should expect big things from Anthony this year, as he will have a full season with the likes of Baez and Soler hitting on either side of him….or possibly Mr Bryant????
Which brings us to……
Kris Bryant probably won’t get NL Rookie of the Year………
Okay, before we start rioting on my front steps, understand something, this years rookie class could be incredible. If all goes as planned with Kris Bryant, and if Jorge Soler stays healthy, the Cubs could have two rookies in the top 5 this year for the NL and that will be really good. I still think Bryant strikes out too much and I highly doubt that area of his game will just improve moving up a level, usually it goes the other way and weaknesses get exploited.
Plus the fact, this is my breakout year for Jorge Soler. As a matter of fact, I think Soler gets ROY in the end, as he strikes out a bit less than Kris Bryant, and has a few weeks in the majors under his belt already. Bryant finishes about third on the list. Not shabby at all!!
I am looking at guys like Joc Pederson, Archie Bradley, and possibly Yasmany Tomas out west as major contenders if no Cubs grab it. Then again, it could be a pitcher like Noah Syndergaard, Jonathan Gray, or Andrew Heaney. Everybody I mentioned here could be there at seasons end.
Jon Lester will be worth every penny………
If I had to choose among the free agent pitchers this past off-season, Lester and his contract get my vote. The real comparison comes between Lester and Scherzer in reality, and considering Wrigley field and it’s dimensions, I will take the ground ball pitcher every time. Scherzer, with the past benefit of pitching in a cavernous Tiger Stadium, is a bit more of a fly ball guy (Scherzer’s ground ball percentage = 38.8% vs. 46.8% for Lester) The difference between a few more ground balls and a few in the air at Wrigley could be the difference between saying, “Worth every penny!” and “Maybe we paid too much?”
Can you imagine how tough Lester will be in the cold with the wind blowing in? He could start off 6-0! Okay maybe 5-1. Plus, the transition from A.L. to N.L. is usually a good thing for a pitcher. Worth every penny, I say!!!!
The Cubs/Ricketts family will eventually own every rooftop surrounding Wrigley (eventually, maybe not all of them this year)…..
…and the Cubbieville neighborhood the Ricketts are trying to build and develop will be complete. I have this vision that Wrigley, and quite possibly a square block around Wrigley, will become something close to an amusement park and in all honesty, I could care less. What was once a quaint little neighborhood with a ballpark nestled in the middle turned into a gong show when businesses started monetizing the rooftop viewing perches that you now see. I remember the good old days when you knew a guy, that knew a guy, that lived in one of the Wrigleyville brownstones surrounding the ballpark. The acquaintance got you on the roof and $15 bought you into a few kegs. Some dude was cooking hot dogs on a Smokey Joe in the corner and the buns might have had mold on them, don’t know and don’t care. It was pure in so many ways and has since been bastardized. The romance is gone!
I liken the current rooftop situation to eating at hooters, you do it once to say you did it, after that you realize there are better options. The last two times I experienced a rooftop (both corporate affairs) I actually watched maybe 20 minutes of the game. I then sat inside in a loungey, swanky atmosphere (nothing says baseball like teak, dirty martini’s, and white leather) and watched the game on a flat screen TV with the other hundred or so people crammed into the third floor bar. I think maybe five people sat on the actual rooftop.
They should keep one rooftop open as an attraction in the new Cubbieville theme park, but they should rip out all the splashy stuff, throw a dude in a tank top and a bad tan up there and tap a keg. The experience allows one to sit on a tar roof with a cold hotdog and a red solo cup of Old Style. The view is over the edge of the parapet, and I hope you are in the front row if you want to see the game!
Joe Maddon will do something entertaining……
The Cubs have ruined many a manager. Similar to my Detroit Lions, the Cubs are the kind of place where managers careers go to die. The only guy I can think of in the last 30 or so years, that managed a team for an extended amount of time past his tenure with the Cubs, is Dusty Baker. Find me an ex-Lions head coach who was a head coach after the Lions? None! Nada! Cubs are the same running joke.
I sort of feel like Maddon is just crazy enough to do it. Some will say a manager has little influence over the outcome of a game, those who believe this are also people who never followed a team that had a good manager. It is quite possible that the manager can only effect a small bit of minutia within the game, but they can have a deep effect on the season as a whole.
Joey Madds has been known to do some wiley stuff, he will do something to give the writers something to write about, mark my words! His season opening comments thus far have been warmup. I can just see it now, Joe Maddon walking a goat into the stadium on opening day, or maybe he is caught stroking a black cat in the dugout?
Okay, so that’s it for ridiculous predictions from me, what do you have? Sound off in the comments and maybe we can keep a running total of crazy predictions throughout the season and see who wins.