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 2011 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2011 Cubs Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Hire Jim Essian.
1. I kinda went a little googly when I heard Carlos Pena would play half of his games in Wrigley. It’s wrong of me to ask a Cubs fan to be conservative in their optimism, so let’s not. Give me what kind of year in 2011 you think we’re gonna see from Pena.
Whaddya mean, conservative? 80 home runs, 220 RBIs, and he brings Ron Santo back from the dead.
Carlos is heading to far friendlier confines for a hitter. I couldn’t care less about his batting average, but both that and his OBP should improve if some of those Tropicana deep fly-outs turn into Wrigley Field home runs. Carlos had a hot start last year (22 RBIs in March and April). That initially worried me, as some of the Dominican-born Cubs haven’t historically enjoyed the frigid Chicago spring. However, last year, Carlos had 14 RBIs and a .981 OPS in a ten-game April trek through Baltimore, Boston, and Chicago. I hope he gets off to a quick start, if only to silence the pessimistic, self-anointed Wrigley faithful who still miss Derrek Lee. Since the Cubs still don’t have a leadoff hitter, Pena won’t get as many RBI chances as he did in Tampa Bay. But I expect an excellent bounce-back year, especially if he’s recovered from the plantar fasciitis. The Cubs’ staff claims that he’s fully recovered, but they also promised me that Mark Prior wasn’t made of glass. I’m going to say 32 HRs, 90 RBIs, 90 BBs, and 150 Ks. And I’m probably going to be wrong. By a lot.
Also, when is the last time the Cubs had a player against whom opposing teams actually used a dramatic shift? EXCITEMENT IN WRIGLEY FIELD!
2. Starlin Castro has such a cool name I always feel like I want to like him, then I look at his numbers. I have his projections down for 75/5/55/.305/12 in my top 20 shortstops for 2011 fantasy baseball. Use my projections as an over/under and tell where I’m wrong.
5 HR: OVER. Starlin has been living with Alfonso Soriano, so he’s probably packed on some weight just by picking up beers and bar skanks. I’d say 5 is pretty close to where he’ll end up, but I’ll take the over. I expect fewer than 10 long balls out of Starlin, though. Let’s say 7. That’s biblical.
.305 AVG: OVER. He had a calamitous June and September, but Starlin hit over .305 during his other three months in the bigs. I see him in the neighborhood of .315. He’s excellent at using the whole field, and since he’s not a power hitter, the occasionally swirling winds at Wrigley shouldn’t rob him of too many hits.
12 SB: OVER. I’m hoping the stupidity of Ryan Theriot permeated the entire locker room last year, causing many of Starlin’s bad baserunning decisions. With Theriot gone, and with Castro getting a full season’s worth of at-bats, he’s obviously going to be on base more. Even if he still runs like a chucklehead, he’ll do it more often. I’d say at least 15 steals. That will, sadly, lead the team.
3. Last year, Tyler Colvin felt like he came a bit out of nowhere. This year, I’m not even sure how many ABs he’s going to get. Is he platooning in right? Will he play left after Soriano does one of his patented hopping catches and hurts his knee? What kind of numbers do think we see from Colvin?
Hey! Soriano played in 147 games last year (much to the chagrin of some Cubs fans). The poor guy just can’t win.
Only Jim Hendry could have possibly ended up with a lefty-lefty platoon in right field, but I think that’s exactly what Mike Quade has. At least at the start of the season. Kosuke Fukudome has never been worth the money for the Cubs, but he takes his walks, which Colvin is seemingly incapable of doing. If that trend continues, I expect Fukudome to win the leadoff hitter derby and get the bulk of the starts in right field. However, assuming Colvin has no ill effects from getting Van Helsinged last year, he should still pick up a couple of starts each week at any of the three outfield positions. If Soriano explodes or Marlon Byrd is traded before the deadline (which should have happened last year), Colvin will step right in.
That said, Reed Johnson will probably hit .480 in the spring, make the team, and SCREW UP EVERYTHING.
Also, for what it’s worth, I laughingly disagree with anyone who claims that Colvin can hit 30-35 home runs if he “ONLY GETS A FAIR CHANCE!” Because those same people were saying that about Mike Fontenot. And Matt Murton. And Corey Patterson. And Roosevelt Brown.
4. I did a half-ass job of covering the Matt Garza to Cubs move. Let me hear what you think we’re going to get with Garza in Chicago.
Against that old advice of not picking a pitcher in the first round, I took Roy Halladay with my first pick in my fantasy draft last year, because he was heading from the ridiculously loaded AL East to the NL. And Halladay made me look less dumb than I normally look. I will not be picking Garza in the first round this year, but I do think he’s going to experience a similar improvement in most of his stats. Since wins are stupid, those will drop due to the Cubs being mediocre in even a best-case scenario. He’ll pick up 10 wins. Or, if he’s lucky, he’ll win 11 and edge out the 2010 version of Carlos Silva! But I won’t be at all surprised if Garza’s ERA is around 3.70 and his WHIP drops below 1.20. And if he fans 170 batters, may 150 of them be Cardinals.
5. The Cubs have some of the best fans in MLB yet the average Cub fan probably couldn’t name even 4 players off their last World Series winner. What would be the best way to educate Cubs fans about their last champion while tying it into the 2011 team? 1) Hire a poet to write a snappy poem about the Cubs new double play combo “Castro to Baker to Pena” set to “Tinker to Evers to Chance.” 2) Chop two fingers off Carlos Zambrano’s throwing hand and start calling him Mordecai. 3) Sign Jamie Moyer so he can regale the team with the shenanigans he pulled in the clubhouse back in 1908.
Oh, I can name practically the whole team! Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, Kerry Wood, Matt Clement, Sammy Sosa, Moises Alou, Aramis Ramirez, Kenny Lofton, Alex Gonzalez, Eric Karros, Mark Grudzielanek, Damian Miller, Randall Simon, Joe Borowski, Mike Remlinger, Kyle Farnsworth, Dave Veres, Mark Guthrie, Antonio Alfonseca-
Wait. What do you mean? They didn’t win Game Six OR Game Seven? IMPOSSIBLE!
It just so happens I’m a bit of a poet, so I took the liberty of penning the new version of “Tinker to Evers (pronounced, EE-vers, by the way) to Chance.”
The title is, “Dempster is Wearing Clown Pants.”
He tries to distract us from watching these turds.
Silva is starting? No chance.
He tries to pretend they won’t finish in last,
But one hundred and three winless years have passed.
To keep Hendry employed, they’d better win fast.
Dempster is wearing clown pants.