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 2012 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2012 Cubs Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Hire Jim Essian.
1) Epstein made over the team best he could going into the Spring. Who do you think still goes and how soon? (I think Carlos Marmol is out-ski, but you would know better than me.)
Now that we’re less than two weeks from Opening Day, it’s much safer for me to opine that the team will at least enter the season pretty much as-is. I’ve been lobbying for the trade of Carlos Marmol since 2009, and now his arm is more useless than a one-game wildcard playoff (ZING, BUD!). I don’t think he’ll make it through the end of the year as the Cubs’ closer, even if he remains on the Cubs’ roster. Hopefully, Ryan Dempster performs well enough and adds a hilarious enough Dick Vitale impression to his resume to get traded away, but Jim Hendry gave him a stupid contract, and the Cubs might actually have to eat some of it to unload him. What a horrible thought. Alfonso Soriano is having a great spring, and people were saying Carlos Zambrano was equally “untradeable,” so I have a glimmer of hope that Jeo Hoystein can move him. Now that Marlon Byrd is off gluten, there’s no point in him staying in the city with the greatest pizza on the planet (Get bent, New York.). I think he’ll be traded away for scraps, and Brett Jackson will finish the season in Chicago. Oh, did you want to talk about tradeable players with actual value? The Cubs have one. And that one is Matt Garza. He won’t finish the year in a Cub uniform. Maybe the Cubs can even get Sam Fuld back in a Garza deal!
Maybe. The Red Sox are coming in on June 15th. Because I’m a procrastinator, you obviously asked this question prior to Carpenter being sent to Boston to complete the Theo Epstein “trade.” But so I don’t cheat you out of an answer, I’ll make this rotation prediction: Jeff Samardzija will make 20 starts in a Cub uniform this year.
3) Bryan LaHair is keeping the 1st base bag warm for Rizzo or LaHair stays at 1st for the entire year putting up better-than-expected numbers?
Bryan LaHair is Micah Hoffpauir 2.0. He even wears the same number. That is not a compliment. LaHair is having a miserable spring, and Rizzo is having a great one. I know the front office is playing it safe, tempering expectations for Rizzo and keeping pressure off him by saying that LaHair is their guy. Nonsense. Rizzo will be up by the All-Star Break. I’m going to make a not-very-bold statement right here and say that before the start of August, the Cubs’ Opening Day roster will have undergone a 40% turnover.
Baker gets the most ABs. Barring an injury to Soriano, the outfield is crowded enough as it is to count on significant at-bats from Reed Johnson. That’s not even taking into account the fact that Reed’s back is made of Styrofoam and that he has a penchant for running headlong into walls. Tony Campana is a terrible baseball player, and the Cubs finally have a front office capable of recognizing that fact. I hope he doesn’t see the inside of Wrigley Field this year. Wellington Castillo is having a great spring, but so is Steve Clevenger. There’s no guarantee that Castillo will even make the team, even though both “backup” catchers deserve to make it over Geovany Soto. The Cubs seem intent on unloading Blake DeWitt, and Darwin Barney is only slightly less bad than Campana. That is going to leave a big hole at second base. Baker should get a lot of at-bats there, especially against left-handed pitching. He’ll also spell David DeJesus in right field against lefties.
Reed will probably end up with the best slash line. For whatever reason, he loves hitting in a Cubs uniform, and can’t hit anywhere else. He’s the anti-Cub.
5) What would make you happiest as a Cub fan in 2012?
A) They win more than 75 games
B) It’s uncovered that Alfonso Soriano is using a fake name (real name Carlton Banks) and must forfeit the rest of his contract.
C) Ian Stewart’s bat livens up in the denser Chicago air.
D) Travis Wood morphs into a young Kerry Wood and Darwin Barney evolves into someone other than Darwin Barney.
I’m going to put them in order from what would make me least happy to what would make my heart grow larger than Tony Campana’s hat.
A) Whether they win 75 games (that’s my exact prediction) or 82 games (they won’t), this team isn’t built to do anything in the 2012 playoffs, so it doesn’t really matter. 2014. That’s the year I predict they’ll be back in the playoffs. They should even win a game or two. Only 11 years after their last playoff victory! Hooray!
D) How dare you suggest that anyone could take the place of Kerry Wood? He’s #34 in my heart. Travis Wood is having a shockingly bad spring, so at this point I’d be happy if he morphed into MIKE Wood. I truly hope you intentionally used the word “evolve” in reference to Darwin. Knowing the Cubs, if he does evolve into someone else, that someone will be Augie Ojeda. Which will actually be a significant improvement.
B) I’m a big Soriano apologist. I like the guy. He tries hard, he accepts blame when he sucks, I hear he’s a good teammate, and it’s not his fault that Jim Hendry overpaid him in both dollars and years. But, yeah, that money could be far better spent elsewhere.
C) I know you’re a big Ian Stewart guy, and I really hope you’re finally right about him. The Cubs took 30 years to replace Ron Santo, and I hope it doesn’t take them another 30 to replace Ramirez. He was the best hitter on the team for the last several years, and I hope Stewart finally blossoms into a threat at the plate and makes me forget all of those thrilling Ramirez walkoff home runs.