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 2010 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2010 Cubs Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Hire Jim Essian.

1) Most of last year it looked like Soto was taking batting lessons from Barry Foote, but I still foresee a nice bounce back for Geovany Soto in 2010.  Are you as optimistic?  What do you see his 2010 looking like?

Now that Soto is no longer smoking weed and swallowing entire birthday cakes whole, I’m going to label myself as “cautiously optimistic” that his 2010 numbers will look more like his 2008 numbers than his 2009 numbers.  In 2008, Soto struck out twice as often as he walked.  Last year, it was closer to 1 1/2 times as often, which is encouraging.  But I have a penchant toward pessimism, so I give three warnings:

1. In 2008, Soto had guys like Mark DeRosa and Jim Edmonds hitting behind him, for the most part.  In 2009, he had dwarves like Aaron Miles, Mike Fontenot, and mighty Sam Fuld hitting behind him.  After the success Soto had during his 2008 season, was the increase in his walk rate a matter of him getting pitched around more often during 2009?

2. In his entire professional career, Soto has had only two good years, 2007 in Iowa and 2008 in Chicago, when he had a very uncharacteristic power surge.  Are those seasons anomalies, or is this a matter of a guy “figuring it out”?

3. I won’t bother asking the weight loss questions that everyone has to ask thanks to Mark McGwire, but allegedly losing 40 pounds in three months is pretty dramatic.  Even if Soto did drop nothing but fat, how will that affect his power?  The fattest guys in my slow-pitch softball league hit the ball the farthest, so I will assume the exact same principle applies to baseball.
It sounds like Lou Piniella is going to bat Soto no higher than 7th in the lineup in 2010, meaning the only protection he’ll get behind him will come on days when Carlos Zambrano is pitching.  I will cautiously say Soto will rebound from his terrible 2009 year, hit 20 home runs, and drive in 75.

2) Pitching better in the majors than in the minors isn’t supposed to happen. Yet, Randy Wells pulled it off last year.  Can he repeat?

No, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be solid.  Wells was a great story last year, made greater by the fact that when the league started to figure him out and hit him, the Cubs had already decided to make the NL Central race uninteresting, so no one was watching anymore.  Basically each month that passed, Well’s K/BB ratio dropped, and his WHIP and opponents’ OPS rose.  Of course, Wells’ “worst” month was August, when, despite a Jason Marquis-esque 1.421 WHIP, he still managed to post a 3.69 ERA.

Don’t expect Wells’ ERA to be hovering around 3 at the end of next season, but I think you can reasonably expect it to be around 4, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 wins.  Remember Matt Clement?  I think Wells is him with fewer strikeouts.

3) Alfonso Soriano looked every bit of his Latin 34 last year.  Is there any hope that he has one last 30 homer, 20 steal season in him?

His days of stealing bases are as far behind him as his 37th birthday, but there’s no reason Soriano’s power shouldn’t be back.  The guy swings a tree trunk and tries to pull everything that’s thrown at him.  On the rare occasion when his chunk of tree makes contact with the ball, the ball goes far.  I’ve always thought Soriano is the type of hitter you want batting fifth in your lineup.  He has power, and with guys on base, there is absolutely no way he’s going to take a walk and let Mike Fontenot try to drive in a run.  Lou, apparently, feels differently, though, as it looks like Soriano is going to hit behind Marlon Byrd during the 100 games that he’s actually healthy.  Soriano should hit 30+ home runs, and with him finally down in the lineup where he should be, he could break the 80-RBI threshold for the first time as a Cub.

4) Like going into Karma in Seaside, the stench of Aramis from last year is foul.  Can he stay healthy in 2010 and get back to 30+ homers?

I hate you for making me look up what “Karma in Seaside” is.  Aramis is the best player on the Cubs, despite what the dopes wearing Theriot jerseys may say (I’ve seen GROWN MEN wearing them, for God’s sake).  Aramis started last year red-hot, and his injury was a freak occurrence.  It still burns me that the Cubs were too stupid to realize they were out of the NL Central race some time during August.  Aramis’ injury was bad, and if I had my druthers, Aramis would have been shut down and had shoulder surgery in August or September.  Instead, he finished the season and skipped surgery for cockfighting.  Oops.

Injury aside, Aramis’ swing is too line-drivey to ever make him a prodigious home run hitter.  I think he’ll hit 25+ home runs and lead the team in balls hit on the fly off the outfield wall.

5) Let’s say a half-faced Frank Langella offers you the chance to see the Cubs win the World Series but you’ll have to press a button.  Once pressed, it will force someone on the current 25-man Cubs roster or coaching staff to be fused at the hip to Milton Bradley for a year.  Whom would you choose and why do you hate them so much?

So, YOU’RE the person who saw The Box.  Can the Cubs re-sign Aaron Miles, just so I can include him in this deal?  No?  Then, without a doubt, I would choose Ryan Theriot for a few reasons.

1. I really want Starlin Castro to start at shortstop for the majority of the year.
2. I hate him.
3. He is a terrible baserunner.
4. He needs a running start to throw the ball on a fly to first base.
5. He is the most inexplicably beloved Cub since Augie Ojeda.
6. I hate him.

Can I push the button twice, so the Cubs sweep the White Sox in the Series at the cost of having Ryan Dempster fused to Milton’s other hip?  Doing an impression of Will Ferrell doing an impression of Harry Caray is not much of an impression at all, my friend.

  1. AL KOHOLIC says:

    this could be the year lou really snaps,especially if marmol walks a guy per frame

  2. sean says:

    This guy must be one of Mystery’s minions with the way he negged Soto for 4.5 ‘graphs before he predicted 20/75. Sounds like a bounceback to me.

  3. Rabbit says:

    Good stuff from Hire Jim, but I guess over a century without winning a World Series makes a fan bitter toward his team. As a Philadelphia sports fan, I completely understand that bitterness. (The 2008 WS win helped, but we’d still boo Santa Claus if given half a chance–he brought me a stupid Radio Shack video game instead of Atari for my 10th birthday, for Christ’s sake. He deserves the booing.)

  4. majortommy says:

    @sean: J-Dog would be proud

  5. GopherDay says:

    I love these!

  6. Eddy says:

    Looks like Minaya caught wind of Citi Fields’ “Metco” nick name. They’re lowering the centerfield wall from 16ft to 8ft.

    It’s not Coors field all of a sudden, since only 10 balls were hit there last year (out of 130), but it’s still something no?

  7. GopherDay says:

    @Grey: I’m eagerly awaiting!

  8. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Eddy: Seems like you answered your own question.

  9. CocoPoolies says:

    6×5 (+OPS), 10 team, keeper

    Ethier or Bay?

  10. CocoPoolies says:

    Grey, are you able to let us in on who will be doing the blogs for each team?

  11. Grey

    Grey says:

    @CocoPoolies: You want me to list 25 blogs? Bay…

  12. Stephen says:

    @Grey: Better use Aaron Gleeman for the Twins. Not a threat, just a suggestion.

  13. CocoPoolies says:

    @Grey: I suppose that’s asking for a little much. I’m pretty up in the air with Ethier and Bay as well. I suppose going with Bay’s more proven track record (despite the rising K rate) is the safer way to go.

  14. Sos says:

    Scherzer in the 14th, snider in the 20th, or neither? Can keep up to 5 and this would be my 5th…

  15. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Sos: Snider…

  16. Simply Fred

    Simply Fred says:

    @Stephen: @Grey: Gleeman’s The Man.

  17. matthole says:

    @Grey: follow up to your F-Her top 100 analysis. Assuming that everyones available in the early 4th; would you take F-Her or take either cano/B-phil or even zimmerman and then look for wainwright/lester in the 5th/6th?

  18. Simply Fred

    Simply Fred says:

    @matthole: What do you have in the way of 2B/3B in your top 3? Can’t see how you go SP in the 4th.

  19. matthole says:

    @Simply Fred: I have been doing some mocks and have come across some tough decisions. Ideally with my first 3 picks id have 1b,3b,of, or ci and 2 OFs.

    @Simply Fred: @Grey: Another thing I came across is that one could supposedly assemble a formidable team just on guys who had off years last year. wright, sizemore, reyes, bay (mets),johan, hamilton, berkman, carlos lee, quentin, cole hamels. Could be high reward, but could be very dangerous too….(not nec. all of these players, 4 are mets (and would that be a factor too?

    Would you limit the amount of “risky” players you’d be willing to draft, if so how many (most of them are early rd picks too), or would you feel fortunate to have these players “fall” to you?

  20. Simply Fred

    Simply Fred says:

    @matthole: Your top 3 looks at similar options that I am finding. You won’t have a problem scooping me on a single one of those players. I have taken Hamels when he fell to a comfortable level for me. From my mocks, I don’t see those guys falling nearly far enough considering the risk of coming off injuries. Grey will weigh in that he is less concerned about sizemore, reyes, quentin than scaredy-cats like me.

  21. Simply Fred

    Simply Fred says:

    Happy Birthday, Freak! Hope you are eating good tonight!

  22. Eddy says:

    @Simply Fred:
    That article’s a good read, thanks for posting it up. Quite concerning too considering that I almost ALWAYS end up with Reimold as my 5th OF. I wanna know what Grey’s thoughts on it are.

  23. Simply Fred

    Simply Fred says:

    @Eddy: May not be a big deal. Let’s see what The Man says.

  24. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Simply Fred: He made contact 87.9% of the time when swinging at pitches inside the strike zone, the same as Hanley Ramirez. Reimold had an OBP of .365 so he obviously can lay off pitches. In fact, he only swung at 20.5% of pitches outside the strike zone, the same as Mauer. So Reimold swings at fastballs? At least he can hit them. Also, that article gives 2-0, 3-0, etc. count averages. In one year, I have to assume those are extremely small sample sizes. Finally, he’s being drafted around 200th overall. You can do worse at 200.

    @matthole: Zimmerman/Lester

  25. Eddy says:

    Very true. Thanks!

  26. SamYo says:

    Grey, I just did a mock draft, what do you think ?
    C – Mike Napoli (rd 7)
    1B – Ryan Howard (Rd 2)
    2B – Ian Stewart (Rd 8)
    SS – Alcides Escobar (Rd 15)
    3B – Evan Longoria (Rd. 1)
    OF – Curtis Granderson (rd 3)
    OF – Carlos Quentin (Rd 5)
    OF – Josh Hamilton (rd 4)
    Util – Dexter Fowler (Rd 13)
    Util – Cameron Maybin (Rd 17)
    SP – Jon Lester (Rd 6)
    SP – Jake Peavy (Rd 9)
    RP – Billy Wagner (Rd 11)
    RP – Matt Thornton (Rd 12)
    P – Brett Anderson (Rd 10)
    P – David Price (Rd 14)
    P – Phil Hughes (Rd 16)
    P – Clay Buccholz (Rd 18)
    BN – Ryan Madson (Rd 19)
    BN – Scott Downs – (Rd 20)
    BN – Chris Tillman (Rd 21)
    BN – Mike Cameron (Rd 22)
    BN – Brandon Wood (Rd 23)


  27. Grey

    Grey says:

    @SamYo: Whoa, Ian Stewart’s got sunglasses. Cool. Your team’s pretty upside heavy. You can probably wait a few more rounds on Carlos Quentin, Stewart, Napoli and Anderson. I think you might only have one pitcher — Lester, that you’re happy with. I don’t mind Anderson, but it’s way too early for him. Not sure what the Mike Cameron pick is about. Like Wood there. And it looks like you have one and a half closers. Eh.

  28. Pirate Jesus says:

    @Grey: 12-team 5×5 H2H 9 keepers, standard positions with MI/CI/3OF/1Util/9 pitchers who do you think I should keep?

    Miggy Cab, Kinsler, Asdrubal, Drew, Tejada, Pena, Bourn, Hunter, Ichiro, Adam Jones, Hart

    Billingsley, Lincecum, Wainwright, Bedard, Qualls, Wood

  29. Steve says:

    As I mentioned previously my h2h league counts AVE and OBP. There’s been a suggestion that we swap AVE for Hits.
    Thoughts on Hits as a category?
    Someone has also thrown Fielding Percentage into the discussion. Doesn’t feel right to me. What do y’all think?

  30. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Pirate Jesus: Miggy, Kinsler, Jones, Bills, Lincecum, Wainwright, Ichiro, Pena and Drew.

    @Steve: Fielding %? Why? Seems like you’re just making things difficult on yourself. Hits instead of AVE seems like tomato-tomahto.

  31. Steve says:

    @Grey: Guy who suggested it thought it would reward players who do more than just hit. To me, that’s a stat for Billy, Theo and Brian to worry about, not fantasy managers.

  32. Eddy says:

    I think a pretty substantial difference with Hits instead of AVG is that shortstops and 2B cant really be punted as many do in regular leagues. Guys like Cano, Pedroia, Utley, and Jeter all of a sudden become must-haves in order to stay competitive in that category.

  33. Simply Fred

    Simply Fred says:

    “If spring training goes completely normal and I can’t make up any ground, then I would imagine starting the season two weeks late,” said Lidge.

  34. sean says:

    @Eddy@Steve: : That’s pretty asinine. Replacing AVG with Hits just makes the category a race to stack ABs.

    For example, O-Cab had the same number of hits as Pedroia in ’09 (185) and Ryan Howard only trailed that pair by 13 hits (172) despite a .270 average. Hell, even Jimmy Rollins tallied 165 hits while batting .250.

    Swapping AVG for H makes anyone who gets 600+ ABs instantly valuable, even with a .250 average…

  35. Grey

    Grey says:

    @sean: @Steve: Yeah, I take back my tomato-tomahto comment and tend to agree with Eddy and Sean. Hits do tend to favor guys who get ABs, rather than actually good players.

  36. Mark says:

    This cracked me up. Great stuff here. I think Aramis’ freak injury will linger on in 2010. He wasn’t playing for a reason toward the end of 2009.

  37. Greg says:

    I’ve been enjoying this team-by-team Q&A series. Thanks!

    BTW, I remember shortly after Sweet Lou came to the Cubs he was asked about Theriot. His quote was something about Theriot being a “nice little player.” Reading between the lines, it didn’t sound as though Lou envisioned Theriot as being his ideal everyday shortstop, but he’s apparently been Lou’s best option at SS thus far.

  38. Tony says:

    Has anyone else done any YAHOO MOCKS?

    Am i really seeing this? WOW i can’t wait to post this one….

  39. BigFatHippo says:

    @Grey: You agreed with me that I should keep Bourn for $5 but I see you have him ranked below Shelly Duncan ferchrissakes, Shelly Duncan????????? She’s not even a good actress……….

  40. Steve says:

    @BigFatHippo: WTF? Are you drunk? You’re looking at the 2010 rankings, right?

  41. BigFatHippo says:

    @Steve: Yup, Lou’s War Room with Grey’s predictions.

    And no, but I will be drunk shortly…….

  42. Steve says:

    @BigFatHippo: There’s no one even called Duncan (first name or last) in Grey’s top 300.

  43. BigFatHippo says:

    @Steve: Update IV with Grey’s projections. Duncan #63 OFer, Bourn 67…………..

  44. Steve says:

    @BigFatHippo: Yeah, see that now. Question better asked of Lou probably.

    And what’s with the ‘No’ to the extra OF?

  45. BigFatHippo says:

    @Steve: I don’t want to have to think too much, it hurts my head. Us old guys don’t like change……….

  46. Grey

    Grey says:

    @BigFatHippo: I need to update that when I get home, red’s me… Players I don’t cover is Chone.

  47. Grey

    Grey says:

    @BigFatHippo: Or vice versa with black.

    Edit: Stupid autofill.

  48. Steve says:

    @BigFatHippo: One extra player? Pppffft.
    @Grey: Tell him how lame he’s being.

  49. BigFatHippo says:

    @Grey: So where would you rank Bourn? I thought I’d keep him for cheap steals and not have to worry about a whole category.

    Maybe keep Bills for 15 or Hamels for 20?

  50. Tony says:

    12 team H2H mock @ yahoo. Unreal…. left the draft room with Kerry Wood, stubbs, headley, and another closer or two still on the board.

    Here’s my team, please comment, is this real? Seriously it was a full draft and only 3 guys left early and we’re talking 14th roundish or later.

    Here’s my draft in order

    Wright RD1 P12
    Bay 6th round
    heath bell
    bruce rd12 p1
    jorge d la rosa
    jonathon sanchez
    juan pierre
    garrett jones
    chris davis
    travis snider
    MATT CAPPS last pick 23rd rd………… realy? did i just get all those players.

    My league will never go like this,but a fantasy baseballer could only hope….

    what do you guys think?

  51. BigFatHippo says:

    @Tony: Nice team, I’ll drink to that……….

    Too bad you were drafting with a bunch of snowbound 12 year olds hopped up on Red Bull and Kit Kats…..

  52. Grey

    Grey says:

    @BigFatHippo: Thought we just went over who you should keep pitching-wise. Didn’t you have Wandy at $5? Thought you were going the cheap route. Maybe it was someone else… I’d think about Bills at $15, it’s not exactly a bargain for either.

    @Tony: Yeah, I agree with Hippo. You’re in a draft of snowbound 12 year olds who don’t have a Valentine’s Day date. dlR’s seems early there, don’t see the reason for Pierre, love your last three picks, Soto’s great value at 13….

  53. sean says:

    @Tony: Sick lineup. Pitching’s a little too risky for my taste. Lester, Kershaw, DLR, Price, JOS. Could be Lester and four blowups. Could be lights out. A nice predictable innings-eater type could have really helped balance out the risk of your young guns…

    Still, you put yourself in such a great position in hitting that you could always deal bats for an elite starter as the season progresses. Nice work!

    I’ve always found that Y! leagues get crushed by dominating hitting and being a waiver wire scavenger for hot arms.

  54. sean says:

    I have a cash draft on fanball in about an hour. Jumped into a super cheap league to get a feel for the mechanics of their system and to fiddle with Sweet Lou’s war room. I’ll let you guys know if it’s a worthwhile alternative to CBS cash leagues. Fanball pays out 1-3 in the pricier leagues; that may be reason enough to jump if the format is tolerable…

  55. BigFatHippo says:

    @Grey: Yes, I have Wandy at 5 and Weaver at 5. Just don’t want to keep Bourn if you think he’ll regress too much, say .245 with 30 SB? What would be the point?

  56. Tony says:

    @sean: let me know about how that works, payouts, etc….. and how the draft goes….

    @BigFatHippo: @Grey: i’ll agree when pedroia went 10th overall, and i questioned the guy on it and he DEFENDED it, i knew it was going to be a wild draft…. saw Jorge Posada go in the 6th round i think? just ridiculous…. monterero was there when i took soto too…. there were about 3 guys i knew had a clue, yet still obviously didn’t when you see my team, and i missed my first two picks, comp picked them for me….. miggy, fielder and howard all went after me….?

    My league is much above this, there will be like 3 guys who maybe KINDA go by those ranks the others wont whatsoever… will yahoo adjust their ranks?

    some say they will, i am not sure, can’t remember i usually never do a yahoo mock…

  57. Manager Fredi Gonzalez hopes to use outfielder Cameron Maybin out of the No. 2 spot in the lineup this season.

    “Right now, Maybin is the guy you want to do that,” Gonzalez said. “In a perfect world, I’d like to give him an opportunity to bat in that spot.” The 22-year-old should slot between Chris Coghlan and Hanley Ramirez in Florida’s batting order this season, providing a nice boost to his fantasy value if he can hack it.

  58. Grey

    Grey says:

    @mrbaseball: Nice, thanks for the heads up!

  59. sean says:

    Draft shaped up nicely. Felt a few force picks, but all-in-all I like the value. Drafted sixth… 10 team 5×5

    C: Soto (18)
    1B: Fielder (2)
    2B: Utley (1)
    SS: E. Cabrera (20)
    3B: Youkilis (4)
    MI: Stewart (15)
    CI: Morneau (6)
    OF: Markakis (3); BJ Upton (5); Nelson Cruz (9); Carlos Quentin (11); Johnny Damon (16)
    U: Rasmus (21)
    SP: Ubaldo (7); Hamels (8); CBills (10); Garza (13); Shields (17)
    CL: Marmol (12); CoCo (14); Nunez (19); Lyon (24)
    BN: Buchholz (22); Joba (23); Wuertz (25); Hughes (26); David Ortiz (27)(I know I broke a cardinal rule, but the 27th?!?!); Gregg (28)

  60. Grey

    Grey says:

    @BigFatHippo: I don’t think Bourn’ll regress that much.

    @sean: Real solid team and even Ortiz there you can’t argue with. Morneau in the 6th? That’s ridiculous. Youk in the 4th is great, Stewart in the 15th, Soto in the 18th… This should be money in the bag.

  61. matthole says:

    @Grey: Which round would you look for a catcher?

  62. matthole says:

    Also heard on baseball tonight that jose reyes may bat 3rd w/beltran out

  63. Grey

    Grey says:

    @matthole: re: Reyes — Seems unlikely. re: catcher — 10 to 15th.

  64. The Dude says:

    @Tony: I’m with you on the skewed Yahoo rankings. It’s ridiculous. Here’s a Yahoo Mock I did last night. I’m actually a little annoyed at a couple of my own picks (AJ, DiceK), but couldn’t resist them for the rounds I got them in. At the end there were so many players left that I wanted but were undrafted I didn’t know what to do with myself. Liriano went undrafted, several closers went undrafted. I later went back and looked at Yahoo’s rankings and found that many of the guys on Grey’s top 300 are ranked 1000+ by Yahoo.

    1. Evan Longoria (TB – 3B)
    2. Prince Fielder (Mil – 1B)
    3. José Reyes (NYM – SS)
    4. Félix Hernández (Sea – SP)
    5. Nick Markakis (Bal – OF)
    6. Josh Hamilton (Tex – OF)
    7. Adam Dunn (Was – 1B,OF)
    8. Carlos Peña (TB – 1B)
    9. Julio Borbón (Tex – OF)
    10. Ian Stewart (Col – 2B,3B)
    11. Brian Wilson (SF – RP)
    12. Jake Peavy (CWS – SP)
    13. Huston Street (Col – RP)
    14. A.J. Burnett (NYY – SP)
    15. Jonathan Sánchez (SF – SP)
    16. Miguel Montero (Ari – C)
    17. Frank Francisco (Tex – RP)
    18. Phil Hughes (NYY – SP,RP)
    19. Daisuke Matsuzaka (Bos – SP)
    20. Chris Davis (Tex – 1B,3B)
    21. Octavio Dotel (Pit – RP)
    22. Jason Frasor (Tor – RP)
    23. Juan Pierre (CWS – OF)

  65. Brian says:

    @Grey: A guy from a league I’m organizing (not the one on here) has suggested we add total bases and holds to our H2H categories. Total bases I’m cool with, but holds?

    Never played in a league with holds and wonder if you have. If so, how is it? … waste of roster space? Does making Angel Guzman enter the fantasy baseball conversation push it a little too far?

  66. @sean: Totally fair point. My negging of Soto was just to cover my ass if he flops again. I really do think he’ll have a rebound year, but if he doesn’t, I already gave you three reasons why he didn’t! Now, no one can be mad at me! Hooray!

  67. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Brian: I don’t like playing holds. As a stat, it’s a bit arbitrary.

  68. Brian says:

    @Grey: Yeah, unfortunately no one is opposed to it, so I’ll look at it optimisticly and feel a little better having my closers handcuffed.

  69. Steve says:

    @Brian: One good thing is, Holds guys are not hard to find. For example, The Padres have a factory that produces them in a basement beneath Petco.

  70. Brian says:

    @Steve: Haha I’ll keep that in mind on draft day.

  71. Steve says:

    @Brian: Of course we don’t know how often the Padres will actually have a lead so that a reliever can get Hold…

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