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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 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?

I think Jeff Samardzija gets injured right at the deadline preventing a trade in a freak unicycle accident involving three clowns and Ryan Dempster.

So, four clowns…

 

Mike also writes for TheDynastyGuru. If you’re a tweeter on Twitter he’s @643ball.

  1. John says:
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    In my league, our last pick is free the next year if we roster him all year.

    So is Baez a potential at all to be top 75 player in 2016?

    2014 – i roster him
    2015 – free player
    2016 — 11 teamer with 5 keepers

    Would have to keep him over Jose F, Braun, Cano, Bautista, Freeman

    Thank you

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      @John: if you are going to take a chance on a minor leaguer like that, Baez is a guy I would take it on. Of course anything can happen in two years, but legit young power from the left side of the infield? Yes please.

  2. burningbridges247 says:
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    Ryan Dempster…..four clowns……sheer beauty.

  3. tj says:
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    jose veras is an astro…

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      @tj: I think the Cubs signed him to a one-year contract at the end of December…

    • P Swayz on a Horse says:
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      @tj: no, he’s not…

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      @tj: hasn’t been an Astro since mid-2013…when he was traded to the Tigers…ellipses…

      • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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        @Sky: it’s pretty rare that somebody is over 6 months off when they try to correct somebody about something like this. give him a trophy.

  4. The Thumb says:
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    This is probably more of a question for Scott, but Bryant making the MLB over Baez this year?? I don’t see that happening at all…

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      @The Thumb: I can only speak for myself, but I agree with Mauricio and it wouldn’t shock me to see Bryant in the majors this year if he hits, since he’ll likely start the year in Double-A and he’s a college bat. He’s got a clearer path than Baez IMO, who is slightly younger and also has Castro in his way at the moment. It’ll be an interesting season for both prospects nonetheless…

  5. Full Sized Pond says:
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    What is the deal with Junior Lake? Will he get playing time? Will he succeed? There were a lot of people interested in him when he was in the minors. And he had a dominant winter.

    Would love to hear a cubs fan thoughts on him…

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      @Full Sized Pond: Looks like he is slotted to be the left fielder on Opening Day according to the depth chart…

  6. Count de Monetball says:
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    I was both excited and scared to read about my cubbies this coming season. Based on what you guys said I should be. Come on cubbies we need some Tanaka.

  7. BarstoolRodeo says:
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    I forgot about the nut twist.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      @BarstoolRodeo: I can’t imagine how painful that is…

  8. Aims metal plate says:
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    What about Tyler Colvin being empaled with the shattered bat?

  9. I like the Junior Lake question. I hope somebody in the know has the answer.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      @Fanthed: ZIPs has him at 9 dingers and 15 steals in 400 PA, check back here for Grey’s outfield rankings…

    • Wake Up says:
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      @Fanthed: extremely free swinger…slump-prone…

  10. Wake Up says:
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    I don’t like the Konerko comp…Who would you compare Rizzo to?

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      @Wake Up: hmmm….Trumbo-esque?

      • Wake Up says:
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        @Mike: I could see that…I’d say Trumbo is around his floor, with room for more…

        • Mike

          Mike says:
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          @Wake Up: yes, def. a lot of upside here, as Grey mentiond in ranks

  11. Tom Jacks

    Tom Jacks says:
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    Great stuff Mike. As a Cubs fan, I’ll say that Cubs Den is my go to blog on the team.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      @Tom Jacks: Thanks Tom!

  12. Mick9019 says:
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    I was offered Jason Heyward and Ian Kennedy , I would have to give up profar and tanaka, thoughts? It’s a standard espn league but dynasty format. I am strong at middle infield with gyorko, Castro, Simmons and bogaerts. Thank you

    • Mike

      Mike says:
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      @Mick9019: I would hold in that format. You’re deep at MI, true, but I think you can get better value than that for those two…

      • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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        @Mike: @Mike: simply dodge a kennedy, like that underage girl should’ve done long ago.

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