We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2010 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2010 Cubs Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Hire Jim Essian.
1) Most of last year it looked like Soto was taking batting lessons from Barry Foote, but I still foresee a nice bounce back for Geovany Soto in 2010. Are you as optimistic? What do you see his 2010 looking like?
Now that Soto is no longer smoking weed and swallowing entire birthday cakes whole, I’m going to label myself as “cautiously optimistic” that his 2010 numbers will look more like his 2008 numbers than his 2009 numbers. In 2008, Soto struck out twice as often as he walked. Last year, it was closer to 1 1/2 times as often, which is encouraging. But I have a penchant toward pessimism, so I give three warnings:
1. In 2008, Soto had guys like Mark DeRosa and Jim Edmonds hitting behind him, for the most part. In 2009, he had dwarves like Aaron Miles, Mike Fontenot, and mighty Sam Fuld hitting behind him. After the success Soto had during his 2008 season, was the increase in his walk rate a matter of him getting pitched around more often during 2009?
2. In his entire professional career, Soto has had only two good years, 2007 in Iowa and 2008 in Chicago, when he had a very uncharacteristic power surge. Are those seasons anomalies, or is this a matter of a guy “figuring it out”?
3. I won’t bother asking the weight loss questions that everyone has to ask thanks to Mark McGwire, but allegedly losing 40 pounds in three months is pretty dramatic. Even if Soto did drop nothing but fat, how will that affect his power? The fattest guys in my slow-pitch softball league hit the ball the farthest, so I will assume the exact same principle applies to baseball.
It sounds like Lou Piniella is going to bat Soto no higher than 7th in the lineup in 2010, meaning the only protection he’ll get behind him will come on days when Carlos Zambrano is pitching. I will cautiously say Soto will rebound from his terrible 2009 year, hit 20 home runs, and drive in 75.
2) Pitching better in the majors than in the minors isn’t supposed to happen. Yet, Randy Wells pulled it off last year. Can he repeat?
No, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be solid. Wells was a great story last year, made greater by the fact that when the league started to figure him out and hit him, the Cubs had already decided to make the NL Central race uninteresting, so no one was watching anymore. Basically each month that passed, Well’s K/BB ratio dropped, and his WHIP and opponents’ OPS rose. Of course, Wells’ “worst” month was August, when, despite a Jason Marquis-esque 1.421 WHIP, he still managed to post a 3.69 ERA.
Don’t expect Wells’ ERA to be hovering around 3 at the end of next season, but I think you can reasonably expect it to be around 4, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 wins. Remember Matt Clement? I think Wells is him with fewer strikeouts.
His days of stealing bases are as far behind him as his 37th birthday, but there’s no reason Soriano’s power shouldn’t be back. The guy swings a tree trunk and tries to pull everything that’s thrown at him. On the rare occasion when his chunk of tree makes contact with the ball, the ball goes far. I’ve always thought Soriano is the type of hitter you want batting fifth in your lineup. He has power, and with guys on base, there is absolutely no way he’s going to take a walk and let Mike Fontenot try to drive in a run. Lou, apparently, feels differently, though, as it looks like Soriano is going to hit behind Marlon Byrd during the 100 games that he’s actually healthy. Soriano should hit 30+ home runs, and with him finally down in the lineup where he should be, he could break the 80-RBI threshold for the first time as a Cub.
4) Like going into Karma in Seaside, the stench of Aramis from last year is foul. Can he stay healthy in 2010 and get back to 30+ homers?
I hate you for making me look up what “Karma in Seaside” is. Aramis is the best player on the Cubs, despite what the dopes wearing Theriot jerseys may say (I’ve seen GROWN MEN wearing them, for God’s sake). Aramis started last year red-hot, and his injury was a freak occurrence. It still burns me that the Cubs were too stupid to realize they were out of the NL Central race some time during August. Aramis’ injury was bad, and if I had my druthers, Aramis would have been shut down and had shoulder surgery in August or September. Instead, he finished the season and skipped surgery for cockfighting. Oops.
Injury aside, Aramis’ swing is too line-drivey to ever make him a prodigious home run hitter. I think he’ll hit 25+ home runs and lead the team in balls hit on the fly off the outfield wall.
5) Let’s say a half-faced Frank Langella offers you the chance to see the Cubs win the World Series but you’ll have to press a button. Once pressed, it will force someone on the current 25-man Cubs roster or coaching staff to be fused at the hip to Milton Bradley for a year. Whom would you choose and why do you hate them so much?
1. I really want Starlin Castro to start at shortstop for the majority of the year.
2. I hate him.
3. He is a terrible baserunner.
4. He needs a running start to throw the ball on a fly to first base.
5. He is the most inexplicably beloved Cub since Augie Ojeda.
6. I hate him.
Can I push the button twice, so the Cubs sweep the White Sox in the Series at the cost of having Ryan Dempster fused to Milton’s other hip? Doing an impression of Will Ferrell doing an impression of Harry Caray is not much of an impression at all, my friend.