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 2013 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2013 Cubs Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy Michael ‘Bad Kermit’ Bradt from Hire Jim Essian.
1) Brett Jackson finally made his debut with the Cubs last year and let’s just say it didn’t go over too well as he struck out more than I do at the club. Grey already made a tentative Brett Jackson fantasy call for the season but since you’re the expert, will we see Jackson in centerfield right out of Spring training and what are your expectations for him?
Since the time you began reading this sentence, Brett Jackson struck out three times. I’ve been assuming the “regular” outfield will be Soriano, DeJesus, and Schierholtz with, if there is still good in this world, as little of Tony Campana mixed in as possible. Still, the Cubs are going to utilize their backup outfielders in case all of Soriano’s tendons snap like banjo strings. Unless Jackson has a great camp (SPOILERS: He won’t.), one of those outfielders will be Scott Hairston, and I think the other one will be Dave Sappelt. I’ll be a bit surprised if Jackson is up before June, but when he does come up, I think it will be because he’s “ready” to take over full-time in center. I’ll say he goes .230/.330/.390 in 90 games, with 12 home runs and 30 RBIs. But if you find yourself drafting Brett Jackson, you might want to ask yourself why you’re in a 40-team fantasy league in the first place.
2) The Cubs picked up oft-injured Scott Baker in the off-season to bolster their starting pitching lineup. Normally, we fantasy baseball players like our pitchers in the NL but Baker is predominantly a flyball pitcher and moves from a very large stadium to one known to give up a few gopher balls over the course of the season. What are your expectations for Baker this year and would you consider him a sleeper candidate for 2013 fantasy baseball?
Wrigley is a hitters’ park, sure, but nowhere near as dramatic as it’s often categorized. If the wind is howling out, no one can keep the ball in the park, and Darwin Barney’s mom scolds him for not wearing a heavier jacket. Nevertheless, in comparison to Target Field and the Metrodome, Wrigley can be a pitcher’s nightmare. Because the Twins have been my backup AL team since I was young, I’ve always liked Baker. I don’t expect Baker to survive an entire season, but I am pretty optimistic about him. I don’t think 9-9 with a 3.90 ERA in 25 starts is out of the question.
3) Now that LaHair has found out where Quad-A players are supposed to play, Anthony Rizzo looks to take over the full-time reins in 2013 for the Cubs and the fantasy world is – to say the least – giddy. Many are projecting a 30-HR campaign from R to the izzo and he’s no doubt likely to climb the draft ladder the closer the season gets. Is the hype-train getting out of control for Anthony or are all these high expectations justified?
The Cubs hadn’t developed a decent position player since Mark Grace, and now they have Rizzo and Castro. It’s a great time to be a fan of 2/25ths of the Cub roster! I was lucky enough to watch Rizzo’s debut live. It was one extremely bright spot in an otherwise-unwatchable season, and I’m proud of the Cubs for handling Rizzo well. They let him prove everything he could in the minors, and then they called him up in one of the lowest-pressure situations possible. Yes, he significantly outpaced his MLB expectations in 2012, but I still see at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs from Rizzo this year.
4) Is it all but a given that no matter who takes the reins, Carlos Marmol is no longer the closer for the Cubs? And if he is out, is Kyuji Fujikawa the automatic in for saves?
When the Cubs signed Kyuji Fujikawa, I immediately assumed it was to close out the four late-inning leads the 2013 Cubs will have. The more I think on it, the less convinced I’m so sure. After anyone with a modicum of common sense stopped watching the Cubs in June, Marmol put together an excellent second half and finished off a respectable season. Assuming the Cubs don’t find a way to trade Marmol, I think he’s the closer on Opening Day. If he’s moved, Fujikawa is the closer. I wouldn’t expect more than 30-35 saves from either one of them, though.
5) If you did an ivy double check like Kerry Wood did when he found Andre Dawson in that State Farm Commercial on this 2013 team, what would you most likely find?
A) A .500 ball club for 2013?
B) An evolutionary chart that shows Darwin Barney turning into Ryne Sandberg if he straightens his back?
C) A healthy Ian Stewart hitting 25 homeruns?
D) Wellington Castillo has such a big season that Vienna start baking bread around their beef hot dogs in tribute?
E) Grey’s Jeff Samardzjia fantasy comes true and he becomes the Cubs ace?
Since my giddy prediction about Samardzija was correct last year, I’m going to stick with the big goon this year. He could very well be on the mound on Opening Day, and whether it’s injury-aided or not, he’d deserve it. Second runner-up is Ian Stewart hitting 25 home runs, with the Cubs finishing .500 a distant third. I can see the Cubs making a significant improvement to 70-75 wins, but 81 requires more of a stretch than Wellington Castillo’s waistband.