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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.

  1. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    the poor cubbies,growing up in Illinois and a card fan,ive heard it all about them,Ryne Sandberg for pres

  2. Wilsonian says:
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    Growing up in Illinois and being a Cubs fan (even though I live closer to STL than CHI), life has been rough, but I still love these worthless bastards. Thanks for this post, it was true in all respects, and pretty damn funny as well.

    @AL KOHOLIC: you do know that the Mayans were going to be correct with the end of the world in 2012 when Sandberg takes over for LaRussa and Pujols signs with the Cubs.

  3. AdamH says:
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    How does his average and OBP improve “if some of those Tropicana doubles turn into Wrigley Field home runs.”

  4. NewBVick says:
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    I’ll tell you what’s biblical. Pena parting the center field crowd in half with the mere swing of his all mighty staff. Now that’s Austin 3:16 worthy stuff!

  5. Where do you think Soto hits in the line up this year. Is he not the best hitter on the team?

  6. Eddy says:
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    @NewBVick:

    +10 for you for that Stone Cold reference, sir.

  7. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @AdamH: Have to wait for this Cubs blogger to answer.

    @NewBVick: Ha

    @Mr. Punch: I think fifth. Don’t think the lineup is set in stone yet. My guess would be Aramis, Pena, Soto — 3, 4, 5…

  8. Chunk says:
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    @AdamH: Haha good point…

  9. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    WILSONIAN
    I actually do like the cubs,always loved the fact that they televised most of thier games since way back in the 70,s,And Sandberg was awesome

  10. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Jay: He could see a modest increase and for him that could mean a lot of homers. You are right though, he does hit bombs.

  11. GopherDay says:
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    There are some rumors about a possible Michael Young trade to the Rockies. EY2 is rumored to be a part of the deal. That would kill his value unless he got into CF…Or the oft injured Kinsler gets oftly injured.

  12. Nick says:
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    @Grey:

    What do you think about Yahoo’s new feature that will allow players to be traded for draft picks in keeper leagues?

  13. GopherDay says:
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    @Nick: Is that a new feature? Hmmm…Our keeper league already uses that, it could make it easier on the commish.

  14. Wilsonian says:
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    @GopherDay: they just changed that with this past season’s football leagues. It used to only be in their premium version, but ESPN made all of that free last year, so Yahoo had to change in fear of losing people in their leagues.

  15. GopherDay says:
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    @Wilsonian: I don’t play football, so I didn’t realize that. That’ll be nice if they do have it for Baseball.

  16. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Nick: I think it should be standard in all leagues.

  17. @AdamH: Oops. That should have been deep fly-outs, not doubles.

    I just fired my fact-checker.

  18. @Grey: If Soto bats 5th, where do you have Byrd? My horrendously uneducated guess is:

    If Fukudome starts:

    Fukudome
    Castro
    Aramis
    Pena
    Byrd
    Soriano
    Soto (which is a ridiculous waste)
    Baker/DeWitt

    If Colvin starts:

    Baker/DeWitt
    Castro
    Aramis
    Pena
    Byrd
    Colvin (BLECH)
    Soriano
    Soto

    The lack of a true leadoff hitter really makes both lineups a mess. And I agree with the commenter above that it’s a crime to bat Soto any lower than 5th in either lineup.

    I could also easily see Quade flipping Byrd and Aramis in both lineups.

    In conclusion, I have no idea.

  19. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Bad Kermit: Yeah, I’m not 100% sure. Mine was a guess too. I just figured you want righty, lefty, righty… So I guess my question is why Byrd over Soto? Catcher or not, he’s a better hitter. When Soto rests they can put Byrd there…. It can be what you’re suggesting though…

  20. Cubs really need a leadoff hitter. Why not Marlon Byrd? Just stupid, he could have some pop. Pena looks like a bounce-back candidate; why not Aramis? Contract year, coming off of an injury-plagued first half that killed his final numbers. I’m saying .290-28-90, not bad in a bad year for 3b

  21. freak says:
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    I loved the poem.

  22. Grey's a Fool says:
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    1) http://store.nike.com/us/en_us/?l=shop,pdp,ctr-inline/cid-1/pid-357674&cp=usns_0328071544#l=shop,search,searchList-cooperstown%20heritage

    that is fitting don’t you think?

    2) I got stuck with Reynolds last year in a keeper draft.(Foolish, I know) I picked up Pedro Alverez and plan on keeping him. Am I kidding myself with this trade offer?

    Note, he has nothing for keepers, and would keep all of them. Also has Napoli.

    Players I Give: M Reynolds, G Sanchez( or I Davis), G Floyd, N Walker, M Rivera
    Players I Get: Mauer, I Stewart

    His Starters: Loney, H Kendrick (sleeper?), Headley or Stewart.

    thanks sir

  23. Eddy says:
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    @Grey’s a Fool:

    I think if you’re going to be asking him for advice, the least you can do is change your handle.

    And my take is that if you really think you’re winning out that trade, then, well, good luck to you.

  24. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Kelder: I go over Aramis in the top 20 3rd baseman rankings.

    @freak: Yeah, me too.

    @Grey’s a Fool: I go over Kendrick in the top 20 2nd baseman post. I’d take the deal if I were him.

  25. Tony says:
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    @grey, what do you think of this mock team? 14 teams:

    C weiters
    1B tex
    2B EYjr
    3b zimmerman and sandoval
    SS desmond and hardy
    OF pence, grady, tabata, stanton, magglio, borbon, brown, giJones, venable

    SP- Wainy, Gallardo, hughes, medlen, durchercher,

    RP- krimbel, f-cord, aardsma, mike adams….

    I think i need less OF’s and more SP’ing? LOL Middle infield isn’t pretty either…. but other than that what do you think?

  26. Steve says:
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    @Tony: Medlen had Tommy John surgery at the end of last year.

  27. Tony says:
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    @ steve: haha…. hmmm shouldnt have taken him, now im down to 4 starters!

  28. chata says:
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    @Tony:

    yeah , the 9 outfielders is a bit much .

  29. Gordon Wittenmyer says:
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    Bad Kermit: LOOK IN THE F’ING MIRROR!

  30. 9 OF is okay if you are in a league that starts OF

  31. Mr2Bits says:
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    Hey Grey : I was thumbing through your ranking and noticed no Matt LaPorta any where. Is he off your radar this year? If not, what are your projections and run down of him?

  32. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Tony: Team’s a bit of a mess, no?

    @Mr2Bits: Don’t think he’s anywhere near a top 20 1st baseman, but he’s okay in a very deep league for some upside. Though you should have a 1st baseman way before the end of a draft. As UTIL, it’s not terrible. Best case scenario, 75/20/85/.260

  33. Tony says:
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    @grey: ya i guess it was just a mock, i wasn’t paying too much attention and filled my bench slots with extra OF’ers. I swap a few OF’ers for some decent SP’ing fliers and I think I did alright…. My middle infield will still suck/be weak. It is a 14 teamer tho….

  34. Curt says:
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    Do you thing the signing of Damon in Tampa mean Desmond Jennings stays in the minors for a bit???

  35. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Curt: I do think so, yeah.

  36. Earl Battey says:
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    What do you think of this team?
    C Michael Napoli, TEX
    1B Miguel Cabrera, DET
    2B Aaron Hill, TOR
    SS Alcides Escobar, KC
    3B Ryan Zimmerman, WAS
    CI Prince Fielder, MIL
    MI Ben Zobrist, TB
    OF Andrew McCutchen, PIT
    OF Hunter Pence, HOU
    OF Jay Bruce, CIN
    OF Delmon Young, MIN
    OF Chris Young, ARI
    Util Justin Morneau, MIN

    SP Clayton Kershaw, LA
    SP Tommy Hanson, ATL
    SP Dan Hudson, ARI
    SP Gio Gonzalez, OAK
    SP Jeremy Hellickson, TB
    SP Jhoulys Chacin, COL
    RP Jonathan Broxton, LA
    RP Joe Nathan, MIN
    RP Chris Sale, CHW
    Bench:
    OF Adam Jones, BAL [CF]
    SP Edinson Volquez, CIN
    OF Domonic Brown, PHI

    I know the MI situation is a little scary, but I like the potential of having three good 1Bs in my lineup.

  37. @Earl Battey: How’d the draft fall for that team? How many teams in the league?

  38. Earl Battey says:
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    @the fake tom:

    10 teams, and all ten drafters were there. I waited forever on pitching and MI, though I think I took Kershaw in the 7th. I had the 2 slot, and took Miggy, Prince and Zimmerman with my first 3 picks.

  39. Earl Battey says:
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    People out there think 1B is crazy deep. One of the other guys said something when I took Miggy and Prince with my first 2 picks and followed that with Morneau in the 6th. I checked after the draft, and he will be rocking Konerko and McGehee at 1B and CI. I feel pretty good about how things fell.

  40. Vincent Salvatore Delpino says:
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    There’s a very good chance that the Cubs will win it all this year.

  41. Tony says:
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    @grey: steelers or green bay?

  42. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Earl Battey: Ten team leagues are obviously stacked. Even if you’re in a ten team league, I’d mock 12 team leagues. This team is silly with good players. For a ten team league, I think your staff might be a bit too much on upside. Hudson through Chacin are obviously great, I love them, but it’s a bit risky to have all of them in a 10 team league. I talk about 1st base not being that deep in the ESPN mock draft post.

  43. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Tony: Whoever the underdog is… Packers?

  44. Steve says:
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    @Grey: Chet’s a Steelers fan, so that behoves you to support the Packers.

  45. Tony says:
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    @grey: ha believe it or not the STEELERS are actually the underdog! they’re getting 3 points.

  46. Roll It and Burnett says:
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    @Earl Battey: Wow, if that were your actual team, I think you’d run away with the league

  47. Earl Battey says:
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    @Grey:

    I love the suggestion of doing some 12 team mocks to prep for a 10 team draft. Regarding all the upside pitchers, I guess I could have gone a different direction with one of them. I suppose I could have had someone like Kuroda instead. On the other hand, I think I’d rather have all of them (and I have Volquez on the bench) and then I’d work the wire for a replacement if necessary. If I really wanted a safer alternative, I would have had to take one instead of one of my position players.

  48. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Earl Battey: Well, that is the thing with ten team leagues, plenty of useful pitchers on waivers.

    @Steve: Kiwi fever running wild! That VW commercial was the best one during the game.

  49. GopherDay says:
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    @Steve: @Grey: The commercials this year were rather anti-climatic IMO. The VW, definitely topping the list though.

  50. Eddy says:
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    @GopherDay: @Grey: @Steve:

    Really? That topped the list for you guys? I don’t know, I think it’s all the hype it got since it was previously leaked that raised my expectations too high for it.

    I think Doritos nailed some pretty funny commercial. All the Bud Light ones were just annoying. And the Living Social one that played at the very beginning (the one where the guy went through so many changes he ended up being a woman at the end) was a top three for me.

  51. Steve says:
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    @Grey: VW (and their agency) have been making great ads for the best part of 60 years.

  52. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @GopherDay: Yeah, they were kinda lame overall.

    @Eddy: I like the Living Social one too. Seamless action cuts are tough, they did it well.

    @Steve: True

  53. Hennessey says:
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    (spacebar-not-working-still)

    Should-I-keep:

    $1…J.Hellickson
    $2…J.Sanchez
    $3…M.Bumgarner

    Thanks!

  54. pubscout says:
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    Grey: Which side do you like – Hamilton/Ubaldo for AGone/Marcum? Thanks.

  55. BleacherBum says:
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    They’re still shitty

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