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“That’s Amore!” Chicago Cubs Preview 2017

theoWell, it finally happened. As a lifelong Cubs fan I always wished, hoped, and prayed the Cubs would win the World Series. The Cubs did it in true Cubs fashion coming back during a series, and making everyone sprout new grey hairs playing in a game seven that went into extra innings. I’d love to say I didn’t get nervous, but I’d be lying. This team is the perfect example of the new renaissance of youth that is sweeping not only MLB, but all of professional sports. I was asked this question, by my father, this past Saturday: Who was better? The 2003 Chicago Cubs or the 2016 Chicago Cubs? While the answer doesn’t matter, and I won’t share what my answer was, it’s an interesting question to say the least. The 2016 Chicago Cubs were exciting to watch, and I’m thankful I had the opportunity to catch the action live during their historic run. While they lost a key free agent in Dexter Fowler, the Theo regime bolstered their bullpen for another run in 2017. It’s hard to argue that any team will dethrone them as NL champs and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see another World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians. I say so because the Cubs are rostering the same team minus the likes of Fowler and Aroldis Chapman while the Indians’ roster is a carbon copy with the addition of slugger Edwin Encarnacion. Call me crazy, but the Cubs are built to make a run at a repeat, and it’s not too crazy to suggest they may be playing for a World Series birth for the next 5+ seasons. The Cubs now have playoff experience and will keep the taste of World Series victory within. Now, let’s take a look at this week’s team preview of “That’s Amore!” Chicago Cubs Preview 2017.

Notable Off-Season Moves:

December 7 – Traded OF Jorge Soler to the Kansas City Royals for RHP Wade Davis.

December 14 – Signed free agent RHP Koji Uehara.

January 26 – Signed free agent LHP Brett Anderson.

January 27 – Signed free agent RHP Jim Henderson.

February 1 – Traded RHP James Farris to the Colorado Rockies for RHP Eddie Butler.

Projected Batting Order:

LF – Kyle Schwarber .250/25/80
2B – Ben Zobrist .275/15/70
3B – Kris Bryant .290/40/105/10 SB
1B – Anthony Rizzo .287/35/115/10 SB
RF – Jason Heyward .244/12/45/20 SB
SS – Addison Russell .263/19/83
C – Wilson Contreras .281/17/68
CF – Jon Jay .286/2/22
Pitcher

 

Projected Pitching Rotation:

Jon Lester (LHP) 20-4/2.75/203 K
Jake Arrieta (RHP) 17-5/2.99/201 K
Kyle Hendricks (RHP) 14-8/2.30/170 K
John Lackey (RHP) 13-9/3.54/181 K
Mike Montgomery (LHP)/Brett Anderson (LHP) 8-8/3.49/135 K – 7-10/3.87/145 K
Hector Rondon (RHP)/Pedro Strop (RHP) [Setup] 2.95/29 Holds/65K – 2.63/15 Holds/80K
Wade Davis (RHP) [Closer] 2.21/38 Saves/80 K

 

Minor League Maestro Spotlight:

Ian Happ, 2B

ETA: 2018

Taken ninth overall, in 2015, Happ hasn’t stopped hitting since his college days in Cincinnati. After high school, Happ went on to earn the label as the top prospect in the Cape Cod League. Happ carried his stellar 2016 season into the Arizona Fall League carrying the Mesa Solar Sox to the Arizona Fall League title while earning himself the game’s MVP. There is work to be done on the defensive side of the diamond, but I can assure you Happ will put in extensive work to solidify his footwork at the second base position. It’s only a matter of time before Happ gets his call. Theo likes to draft polished college bats, and if the Cubs need production during the season, Happ’s call could come before rosters expand in September. Happ will become a household name throughout Wrigley, and should be targeted in all formats that include minor league players.

Jeimer Candelario, 3B

ETA: 2017

Candelario is a switch-hitter that makes phenomenal contact, and gets on base at an astonishing rate. As with many Cubs prospects, Candelario needs to be traded away if he wants to make it to The Show. At 23, Candelario has little left to prove in the minor leagues and was a call-up during the 2016 season accumulating 11 at-bats in five games. While he may not be the fastest player around, he has the reflexes and throwing arm to stick at third. There’s no question Jed Hoyer is always looking to make the right move, and with free agent starting pitchers being thin this offseason, Candelario could be moved if the GM decides to go after a starter that becomes available. For now, temper expectations, but as soon as he gets moved, it’ll only be a matter of weeks before he’s in a Major League uniform.

Eloy Jimenez, OF

ETA: 2019

jimenezThe Cubs landed the top-rated prospect in 2013. Jimenez is among the example of how crucial international signing spots can be. Jimenez has the highest potential of any Chicago Cubs prospect, and has a similar scouting report to that of Jorge Soler. There’s no denying Jimenez’ arm strength, and his power is evident in his 2016 slash line of .329/.369/.532 to go along with 14 HR and 81 RBI. At 6’4″ 205lbs he’s only going to get stronger. The power has already come, but expect big things as he develops more. His split time across the outfield, and his arm sees him destined for right field. He’s another Chicago Cubs prospect that needs to be on all dynasty and keeper radars. If he reaches his full potential, and stays a Cub, many records will be broken during his career.

Fantasy Outlook:

2016 saw the Chicago Cubs leaving their mark across fantasy baseball. Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester were focal points of pitching rotations, and Kyle Hendricks was solid to say the least, finishing third in the Cy Young voting going 16-8 with a 0.98 WHIP. Look for all three pitchers to fly off draft boards, and to build off their successful 2016 seasons. While there’s no denying the impact Aroldis Chapman made after the trade deadline, Wade Davis finds himself as the 2017 closer. Arguably a top-10 closer, Davis finds himself with a team coming off a World Series Championship and gunning for a repeat. 40 saves isn’t schwarberout of the question, but Davis will need to stay healthy. If at any time he falters, look for Hector Rondon to slide into the closer role with Pedro Strop waiting in the wings. If your in a league that counts holds, IRS, or IRS + H Rondon and Strop need to be owned. Both relievers have dynamite attributes and should go for closer to 20 holes apiece.

While Dexter Fowler leaves a hole in centerfield and the leadoff spot, the Cubs are giving a long look at Kyle Schwarber leading off in 2017. Schwarber possesses nowhere near the speed of Fowler, but brings a major upgrade in power. One of the saviors of the 2016 postseason, Schwarber missed all but two games of the 2016 season. We’ve seen unconventional leadoff hitters hit first, and Schwarber possesses the bat to get on base at any given time. Look for owners to scoop him up, and he will be kept in all keeper leagues. Javy Baez will be an interesting draft-day target. Baez’ potential is unquestioned, but finding playing time is the question. Baez is coming off a 2016 playoff run that saw a defensive masterpiece. He’s no sluch at the plate dropping his K% from 30% in 2015 to 24% in 2016. The potential is there for 30 home runs, but will he kept the at-bats to chase the total? Joe Maddon will find a way to get the young slugger his fair share. Kris Bryant won the NL MVP in just his second season after taking home the ROY honors in 2015. Bryant has been as good as advertised and looks primed to finally reach the 40 home run plateau. With a top-5 ADP expect Bryant to have another monster season in 2017. Anthony Rizzo has become a solid fantasy option at first base. With the ability to it 30+ HR and drive in 100+ runs, he’s a top-5 fantasy first basemen in all avenues of the game. Bryzzo looks primed for another big season from the duo, and they’ve become the face of Chicago Cubs baseball. 2016 saw bright spots from the catcher and shortstop position. Addison Russel rewarded fantasy owners by hitting 21 HR and driving in 95 runners from the bottom-half of the order. After his second call-up, Wilson Contreras became a staple at the catcher position. He hit .282 with 12 HR and 35 RBI while making an impact in the post-season. There’s no questioning every Cub in the starting lineup should be owned in fantasy baseball. If 2016 was a preview of the future, the Chicago Cubs look primed to contend for the NL Central division for the next decade.

Season Projection: 105-57 (1st in NL Central [Back-to-Back World Series Champions])

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Major League Fantasy Football 2017 League Openings

(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday March 5th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #77 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we break down both Central divisions. We will discuss potential lineups, rotations, bullpens, and any minor league potential for each team along with a heavy fantasy spin.

Our guests this week are Hernan Batista, and Jesse Ellison. Jessie is the owner of Ellison Baseball Instruction in S.E. VA. You can visit his organization at ebicamps.com. Hernan is a frequent guest on our shows, and an experienced MLFB league member.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

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(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday March 12th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #78 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we break down both West divisions. We will discuss potential lineups, rotations, bullpens, and any minor league potential for each team along with a heavy fantasy spin.

Our guests this week are Kevin Bzdek and Kevin O’Hara. Kevin Bzdek is one of our newest additions to our baseball writing staff in 2017. His articles publish every Friday morning. Kevin O’Hara is a big dynasty baseball fan and a moderator for the fantasy baseball community on reddit.com.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

I'm a former collegiate and semi-pro baseball player. Chicago sports are the love of my life [Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls] as well as European football. I promise Cubs fans that if Theo can't bring a World Series, I will knock down all doors until I work my way up to GM and bring home a World Series to the Northside of Chicago!

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