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 2014 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2014 Cubs Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Mauricio Rubio Jr. from CubsDen.
1) Anthony Rizzo‘s struggles against lefties have been well documented and while the power was still there in 2013, his batting average fell from .285 to .233. Razzball has him on the sleeper list for 2014. What kind of production should fantasy owners expect from the young first baseman and do you see his average rebounding in 2014?
I don’t think he’s a .285 guy and I don’t think he’s a .233 guy either. Everything I’ve read on Rizzo had me thinking he’d be around a .260-.270 hitter with 30 HR potential. I think that’s still the case here and I would guess that his average sits in that range in 2014.
Rizzo’s issues with lefties is a concern moving forward but I don’t think it’ll be enough of an issue to preclude him from being a potential top-10 1B by the time 2015 rolls around. I think owners would be wise to understand that he’s not likely to be an MVP candidate but he can provide above average production across the board. I think he can be Paul Konerko eventually.
2) What’s up with Starlin Castro? He’ll turn just 24 years old this spring and was phenomenal in 2011 and 2012, but his numbers last year left many fantasy players disappointed. Will the bad times continue or can he bounce back and quiet the naysayers in 2014?
Man, Castro’s an interesting case. My heart wants to believe that he’ll rebound and blossom into the .330 hitter I envisioned in 2011 but he’s got a big hole to crawl out of. He’s still young and I think that if he goes back to the approach he had in 2011, where he was more of a free swinger, he’ll rebound. But there are concerns that his head is messed up from all the tinkering. I take solace in the seasons that guys like Robin Yount had at 23, but yeah, I’m concerned here.
3) Predicting saves in fantasy is a lot like herding cats, but the Cubs have a few quality options in their bullpen including my personal favorite, Pedro Strop. Who ends the year with the most saves for the Cubs in 2014 and is there a dark horse name that we should know?
It’ll be Jose Veras, even if he’s traded, but Strop will make a strong case. You have to watch for guys like Kyuji Fujikawa, Hector Rondon and maybe even Jake Arrieta (who #Craig believes will be a reliever when it’s all said and done). I like Blake Parker too [Ed. Note -- He's my saves sleeper!], and they have a lot of young power arms that should be coming through the system soon. Tony Zych is a name I would tab.
4) The Cubs have one of the strongest farms in baseball right now, and deep league/keeper league players always have one eye on a team’s prospects. Which prospect(s) from the Cubs system do you see coming up and having the biggest impact in 2014?
I think Mike Olt will be given every opportunity to win the 3B job out of Spring Training which I think pushes Valbuena to second and Barney to a UTL role. Kris Bryant has a lot of polish and will likely be up this year barring a catastrophe. Which, given the franchise, is a real possibility. A lot of people ask about Javier Baez. I don’t think he comes up this year unless Castro is an abject failure. I think they’re waiting out to see what Castro produces before they make any decisions with Baez.
5) Two-parter: 1. Which of the following bizarre Cubs injuries was your favorite (there were actually a lot to choose from when I researched this).
A) Jose Cardenal’s eyelids swell shut – 1974
B) Sammy Sosa strains his back while sneezing – 2004
C) Felix Pie twists his testicle – 2008
The answer is always the twisted testicle. I didn’t even know that was possible.
2. Which current Cub is most likely to suffer a weird injury and why?
So, four clowns…