A rival scout sizes up the CUBS
I don't think they'll lose 100, but this is a 90-loss team for sure. There are just too many holes.... ANTHONY RIZZO has a great power swing and has a chance to hit in the .280 range. But there aren't enough guys in the lineup around him.... Last year was a career year for NATE SCHIERHOLTZ: He hit 21 home runs, but for a corner outfielder that's not enough. If guys like that are playing rightfield and hitting fourth, that's a last-place team.... WELINGTON CASTILLO used to struggle to retain the pitch plan for hitters—he was always looking to the dugout for help. But he's gotten a lot better. He could be a solid everyday catcher for a while, and that's hard to find.... STARLIN CASTRO makes too many errors at shortstop trying to overthrow. He seems to lose focus, and it drives you crazy.... Since settling into a starting role, JEFF SAMARDZIJA has really improved. He's had a better breaking ball, better use of the split-finger, better fastball command.... TRAVIS WOOD got off to a really good start last year, then leveled off. He was more lucky than good: He wasn't missing many bats. What he was in the second half is more of what he is—a back-of-the-rotation pitcher.... PEDRO STROP has a power arm and will hit 100 mph. He has closer potential.... The guy to watch is third base prospect KRIS BRYANT. He'll be an impact player soon: tremendous raw power, tremendous leverage in his swing. He can be a 30-home-run hitter.
2014 Projected Statistics and Run Totals by ROTOWIRE.COM
PROJECTED RUNS SCORED
NL AVERAGE 667
PROJECTED RUNS ALLOWED
NL AVERAGE 677
The Cubs are headed for another 95 or so losses in 2014, but they're on the right track. They have one of the best farm systems, with top-tier prospects in shortstop JAVIER BAEZ, third baseman KRIS BRYANT and centerfielder ALBERT ALMORA, all of whom should be in the majors by 2016. But off the field owner Tom Ricketts has alienated many fans with his plans for renovating Wrigley Field, which continues a generation-long process of turning the Cubs into just another team. As a check against that, the owner should throw a bone to tradition and move more of the home schedule back into the sunshine. The Cubs have 38 home night games scheduled, up from 28 in 2011. New local laws allow them to play up to 43. So much of the Cubs' image is based on the sight of a sun-dappled, ivy-ringed yard, shirtless fans on backless benches. As Ricketts follows the model of what the Red Sox did with Fenway Park, he should hold on to this one aspect of Cubs history.
TOM DIPACE (RIZZO)
JOHN BAZEMORE/AP (SAMARDZIJA)