Tag Archives: Chicago Cubs

Can the upstart Cubs claim the NL Central?

1. St. Louis Cardinals

Record: 94-68

Over the past decade, the Cardinals have been the most consistent franchise because of their ability to develop players and allocate money to keep important free agents. The Cardinals significant upgraded their defense in the outfield and starting lineup with the addition of Jason Heyward. The return of Yadier Molina will improve their team because he is the heart of the team and their MVP candidate. In terms of pitching, the Cardinals have a strong 1 through 4 with Lynn, Wainwright, Wacha, and Lackey. The Cardinals do not have one of the best bullpens, but they frequently make deals at the deadline to make marginal improvements.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates:

Record: 87-75

After 20 years without recording a winning season, the Pirates have consistently won 80 games over the past few seasons. The Pirates’ lineup is filled with talented and athletic players that were former top prospects. The Pirates’ will become an above average lineup if Andrew McCutchen maintains an MVP candidate, Josh Harrison and Starling Marte continue their excellence, and Gregory Polanco turns his talent into production. In terms of pitching, they possess one of the best young arms in Gerrit Cole, who should produce like an ace, and veteran arms, AJ Burnett, Jeff Locke, and Francisco Liriano.

3. Chicago Cubs:

Record: 84-78

The Cubs are the most interesting and intriguing teams in the entire league due to their talented prospects. The Cubs have the best farm system in the league and this season they should start converting their talent into results. With the core of Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler, Arismendy Alcantara, and potential MVP Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs’ offense should be impressive and entertaining to watch. In terms of pitching, the Cubs have one of the best 1-2 punches in the league with Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta. Outside of their top two starters, the Cubs will need quality performances from Jason Hammel, Alex Wood, and Kyle Kendricks to make the playoffs.

4. Milwaukee Brewers:

Record: 82-80

The Brewers were on the precipice of making the playoffs last season before a second half plunge due to a dearth of starting pitching. The Brewers’ chances of making the playoffs will be diminished  by their lack of pitching once again. During the offseason, the Brewers dealt Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada, which limited their options and Jimmy Nelson to mature quickly. Offensively, the Brewers will be effective with Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Aramis Ramirez, and Jonathan Lucroy. If Braun can remerge as one of the 10 best hitters in the league and Lucroy and Gomez can replicate last seasons performances, they should compete for the division crown.

5. Cincinnati Reds:

Record: 78-84

The Reds will only go as far as Joey Votto can take them. Over the past two years, Votto has been decimated by injuries, which has caused the team to finish outside of the playoffs. If Votto can come close to his MVP season, by maintaining a high OBP, the Reds offense should become one of the best in the league. Along with Votto, they have quality complementary players like Todd Frazier, Billy Hamilton, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips. Due to the impending free agency of their starting pitchers, the Reds were forced to deal former All-Stars Alfredo Simon and Mat Latos. However, the Reds still have Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, and possibly Tony Congrani.

 

Analyzing the Yankees trade for Alfonso Soriano

By: Jon

On July 26, the Yankees executed a trade which brought Alfonso Soriano back to the Bronx for minor league pitcher Corey Black. Black is a 21 year old right handed power pitcher for Class A Tampa. Black was a fourth round pick in the 2012 MLB draft out of a small junior college. The Cubs were interested in Black because he contains a 100 mph fastball and a knack for striking out opposing hitters, 88 strikeouts in 82 innings. However, Black is not flawless. In 19 starts, he owned a 4.25 ERA because he has trouble locating the ball. He walked 45 players in 82 innings. Along with gaining a prospect with high upside, the Cubs were given some salary cap relief. The Cubs will be paying about 18 of the 24 million dollars owed to Soriano over the next two seasons.

Alfonso Soriano
Alfonso Soriano

The Yankees needed to execute this trade for Alfonso Soriano because they offense is completely anemic. The Yankees clean up hitters have the worst statistics in MLB. This is strange for the Yankees because they are used to hitters like Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, and Paul O’Neill. Along with a horrible four hitter, the Yankees have no pop in their order. The Yankees are ranked toward the bottom in the majors in all batting categories. In July, the Yankees have hit less home runs, 7, than Alfonso Soriano, 8. Although Soriano is not a great player and frequently strikeouts, he will provide power and production to an offense that is stuck and hopeless. The Yankees may have traded for Soriano at the right time because he has recently heated up and began tearing the cover off of the baseball. Although his average has been dipping, the right hander has regained his home run stroke. Last year, Soriano mashed 32 home runs for the Cubs. In July, Soriano has hit 8 home runs and maintained a .629 slugging percentage, his best power month of the season. Th addition of Soriano will give the Yankees a bat from the right side of the plate that pitchers actually fear. The Yankees have not hit a home run from the right hand side since June 25. The Yankees needed someone who split the lefty hitters in the Yankee lineup. The Yankees three best hitters, Gardner, Ichiro, and Cano, are all lefty hitters who bat at the top of the order. If an opposing manager wanted to neutralize the batters, they could send a lefty to pitch to all three without the threat of facing a right handed batter. Joe Girardi is able to tinker with his lineup and slide Cano into the clean up spot to split his lefties in the lineup. The other managers will be have a tough decision because Soriano has a career batting average 20 points higher against left handed pitchers than right handed pitchers.

Soriano Previously with the Yankees
Soriano Previously with the Yankees

Although Soriano is not a great player, he will make a difference in the Yankees lineup. If he wins 2-3 games for them this season, the trade will definitely be worth it for the Yankees. The Yankees gave up very little in the deal and should be happy they executed it with the Cubs, although it is much to the chagrin of GM Brian Cashman.

 

 

Stats and Pics from ESPN.com

Top Shortstops and Future Star

By: Jon

Shortstop is one of the weakest positions in baseball. The top players, Tulo and Reyes, are constantly hurt while Derek Jeter is growing old and losing a step.

1. Troy Tulowitzki

Troy Tulowitzki
Troy Tulowitzki

When “Tulo” is healthy, he is by far the best all-around shortstop in the league because of his ability to hit and play defense. Tulowitzki value is so high because he has a third baseman’s bat while playing shortstop. Tulowitzki has hit over 25 HR three times in the last four years and is on pace to over 25 again. This year, he is hitting over 5o points higher than his career average, .347 verses .296. Troy is a great a defensive shortstop, who has won two Gold Gloves in the last three years. Tulo is one of the few shortstops that has the ability to drive in over 90 RBI, which is evident by the fact that he has drove in 90 RBI or more in 4 of his last 6 seasons.

2. Jose Reyes

Jose Reyes
Jose Reyes

Jose Reyes is one of the fastest players in the league. After a disappointing first season with the Marlins, Reyes traded to the Blue Jays and has thrived when he has been on the field. Before being sideline for 2 months with a torn hamstring, Reyes was batting .357. Reyes is one of the best base stealers in the league. Although he does not run like when he was with the Metropolitans, he is still a dynamic baserunner, who stole 40 bags last season. At the height of his career two years ago, Reyes batted .337 with 16 triples and 40 steals. As he career progresses, Reyes will likely fall in the rankings because his legs will not be as threatening.

3. Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez
Hanley Ramirez

Along with Reyes and Tulowitzki, Ramirez is one of the most talented players in the league, but has experienced constant injuries. Ramirez was once thought of as having the best talent in the sport, but has since struggled because of injuries and being out of weight. The Dodgers are hoping that Hanley returns to his 2009 form, when he hit .342, 24 HR, 106 RBI, 101 Runs, and 27 steals. The past few years Hanley has not hit over over .300. This year, Ramirez has rebounded by hitting .375, 5 HR, and 14 RBI in only 22 games. Although Ramirez will never steal 30+ bags again, he can still be an above average shortstop, who can hit .300 and 20+ HR. Unlike Reyes and Tulo, Ramirez is not a great defensive ball player.

Future Star: Starlin Castro

Starlin Castro
Starlin Castro

The Cubs young shortstop is the first player in MLB who was born during the 1990s. The two-time All Star has a career .287 average, although he is struggling this season. Starlin Castro is a hit machine, averaging 188 hits in his first four seasons. Many people believe that the 23 year old shortstop will be the Cubs franchise player and a future star in the league. However, Castro must focus more on defense as he consistently makes bone head plays, which angers his manager. Along with first baseman Anthony Rizzo, the Chicago Cubs have a solid nucleus that they can build upon in the future.

Stats from Baseball Reference