“That’s Amore!” National League Central: Chicago Cubs 2015

Hasn’t 106 years without a World Series been long enough? Well, if you’re a Cubs fan you know what I’m talking about. It’s not as if they haven’t been to the playoffs, but for some reason the Cubs forget how to play baseball come September. I’ll admit, I cried in 2003 after the Cubs blew a 3-2 series lead. It was the worst sports moment of my life. They were destined for a World Series appearance! I still place the blame on the botched double play ball by Alex S. Gonzalez. Forget Bartman, the Cubs had plenty of chances to win. They were leading 3-0 in the eighth inning. There’s no reason Dusty didn’t call “Kid K” out of the bullpen. My thought was to get to the World Series and worry about your rotation later. This never happened and the “curse” continued. Luckily, there is a lot to be excited about in the Chicago Cubs organization. Theo is leading the way, and there’s a guy who will play third base just waiting for his chance to be the dominant force we know he will.

Bryant

Last season the Cubs finished 73-89. That record landed them at the bottom of the NL Central. I don’t see them finishing this poorly again. Jake Arrieta was a huge addition, and if he can build upon last season he can solidify the number two spot in the rotation. They have players that will be fantasy studs, and their minor league prospects are some of the best around. They brought in Jon Lester, and Miguel Montero gives them a decent left-handed hitting catcher. These upgrades will not go unnoticed.

 

1. Dexter Fowler – CF .260/8/35 He can easily go for 15+ SB
2. Starlin Castro – SS .280/15-20/70 Back to 10+ SB
3. Anthony Rizzo – 1B .280/30/90
4. Jorge Soler – RF .260-.270/20+/60-75
5. Kris Bryant – 3B .260/25/65 The savior arrives in late April
6. Chris Coghlan – LF .270/5-10/30-35
7. Javier Baez – 2B .230/20-25/60-70 Strikeouts kill his average
8. Miguel Montero – C .250/15/65

 

Looking at their projected lineup, Castro, Rizzo, Soler, and Bryant look to lead the way. Baez is a deeper pick, but needs to cut down on his strikeouts. If he can keep it south of 150, he could be a great player to plug into your utility spot on fantasy rosters. Mike Olt will probably start at third, but once the Super 2 deadline has passed, it is Bryant’s job for years to come.

 

Russell

Top Prospect to Make an Impact First:

Addison Russell: Bryan Luhrs has him ranked as the number two shortstop prospect in baseball. I can’t agree more. He’s MLB ready and isn’t much different from Castro. You may lose a bit of speed compared to Starlin, but he has just as many tools and may have a brighter future than Castro. If the Cubs are in it down the stretch, his call will come in 2015 after Castro has been dealt for pitching. He was an absolute steal from Oakland.

1. Jon Lester 3.15/15-18 W/210 K
2. Jake Arrieta 3.30/12-15 W/185 K
3. Jason Hammel 3.85/10-12 W/150 K
4. Travis Wood 4.50/8-10 W/125-130 K
5. Kyle Hendricks 3.60/10-12 W/115-125 K

 

I like Lester and Arrieta at one and two, but the following three scare me. Hammel was solid last season before moving to Oakland, but I can’t see him staying dominant for an entire season. Travis Wood is mediocre and I like Hendricks’ potential more. I can easily see Maddon flipping them at four and five. If Castro is moved, I believe Wood will be part of the package to bring in a solid starter. Lester and Arrieta have plenty of fantasy value, and Hendricks could be a nice piece in deeper leagues.

 

CJ

Top Prospect to Make an Impact First:

CJ Edwards: I have him ranked in my top NL pitching prospects. People need to realize he isn’t a dominant pitcher like other prospects. He’s not going to overpower anyone, but he keeps his fastball low in the zone and has a better than average curve. If anyone struggles after Lester and Arrieta, Edwards could get the call to take their rotation spot. Even if no one does, he could be a great long reliever this season. It’s vital to have a guy that can come in and pitch early in games if starters fail to go deep. His potential really reminds me of a Matt Clement-like pitcher. Someone that isn’t going to anchor your roster, but can have enough fantasy impact to take up a roster spot.

 

Bullpen:

Believe it or not, the Cubs have a better than average bullpen. Hector Rondon ran away with the closer role and is a guy that could easily come close to 40 saves. Neil Ramirez was a breath of fresh air himself. 53 strikeouts to 13 walks is pretty fascinating in 43.2 innings of work. Pedro Strop had a really good season and is a great guy to throw flames in the eighth inning setting it up for Rondon.

 

Wrigley

All in all, it’s going to be a fun season on the North Side of Chicago. Again, the Cubs have some of the best prospects in baseball, and, if they all produce, there’s no reason they can’t start competing this year. 2015 will be a year to work out the kinks, but they are long gone from finishing last in the division. If they aren’t contending for a Wild Card spot, look for them to break many teams’ hearts during the final months of the season.

 

Fantasy Targets: Keep An Eye On:
Anthony Rizzo Javier Baez
Starlin Castro Miguel Montero
Jon Lester Dexter Fowler
Jorge Soler Pedro Strop
Kris Bryant C.J. Edwards
Jake Arrieta
Hector Rondon

 

Season Projection: 82-80 (4th in NL Central)

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Major League Fantasy Sports Radio Show:  Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts Sunday March 15th from 7pm-9pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. We will be taking live callers at 646.915.8596. This week’s topic will the Outfield positions.

The guests this week include Joe Iannone, Kyle Amore, and Joe Ciccone. Joe is the future CFO of MLFS, and a writer. Joe’s articles publish every Monday morning, and he focuses on the AL East division. Kyle Amore is a writer withMLFS and his articles publish every Tuesday. Kyle focuses on the NL East division. Joe Ciccone is a writer with MLFS and his articles publish every Thursday. Joe focuses on the AL West division.
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4 replies

  1. Thoughts on Alcantara??? I really like him, but seems like he might be the odd man out or just a super-utility guy

    • I like him as well. I think he will definitely fill the super-utility role. I don’t think there are too many complaints against a guy that hits from both sides of the plate and can play anywhere in the outfield and replace Baez, at second, if he struggles. I love the fact that he’s only 23. He’s going to get at-bats. I have a feeling the Cubs bench will be David Ross (to catch Lester), Alcantara, Denorfia, Lake, and either La Stella or Sweeney. More than likely La Stella so they can have their infielder, backup catcher, two OF, super-utility Alcantara, and once Bryant comes up Olt may be the odd man out.

  2. Great article Kyle. I agree with everything you said, but I only have 2 problems:
    1. Comparing your best pitching prospect to Matt Clement would only come from a fan of a team that has never won the WS. Sorry, Kyle I couldn’t help myself. 🙂
    2. It is going to be hard to follow your advice on the list of players on the right that you said keep an eye on, Other than maybe CJ Edwards, all the rest will be drafted. I agree 100% that Baez is a risk, not just for the Cubs but even more so for us in fantasy. But I bet he gets drafted in the 12th round by someone who is not afraid to gamble on owning the next Uggla. That secret is out. I’ve always loved Fowler and Strop and I’d be happy to enter the season with Montero as my C.

    Too bad Olt’s star has fallen so far. In 2011 & 2012 he hit just under 60 HR and 200 RBI with a .287 BA.
    30 HR power doesn’t grow on trees.

    • Actually, the only one of the players listed in “Keep your eye on” that’s owned in more than 10% of ESPN leagues is Baez. Montero isn’t gonna go when most leagues play only one catcher and the player pool there is deep. Strop and Fowler aren’t even going in the top-60 at their respective positions. The majority of owners should not and will not spend a draft pick or auction dollars to acquire them on draft day, but I agree with Kyle that they merit watching should their value spike after the season starts. But very few will have these four rostered when they leave their draft, nor should they.

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