The Scotsman. You should listen to it. It is funny, and it’ll put you into the right mindset for the weekend (you can pretty much ignore the video part of it, as it actually kind of makes the experience worse – just listen).

  • Dale Sveum continues to say that, for now, only Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood are guaranteed spots in the bullpen. He talked up a handful of the competitors yesterday: “[Rafael] Dolis is very impressive, being able to throw a 94-, 95-mile-an-hour ball that sinks that much and with that kind of depth. [Marcos] Mateo’s slider is a swing-and-miss slider. [Blake] Parker throws a very heavy fastball with a good slider, as well. All these guys are in the running for these spots. It’s going to be interesting …. [Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo] acts like he’s been out there before. He’s got a fastball that doesn’t seem to get squared up too much. He’s interesting.” Dale Sveum likes the word “interesting.” It’s going to be this year’s “obviously.”
  • Speaking of Sveum and the bullpen, Carlos Marmol is quickly becoming a fan of the new manager. After a “talk” to calm Marmol’s nerves after a couple rough outings, Marmol was in good spirits. “I felt different,” Marmol said. “[Sveum] talked to me yesterday and I feel different. I was myself, I calmed down a little bit. It’s good the manager gives you the opportunity and he lets you know that he thinks about the players …. Every person has a different personality. Now, I think he’s a good guy, understands the players.”
  • Shortly after yesterday’s post about the comments from the South Bend Silver Hawks’ owner’s hopes to bring a Cubs affiliation to South Bend – and, when I say “shortly,” I mean within a few hours – the Silver Hawks had re-upped their commitment with the Diamondbacks, and the owner was apologizing on Twitter to Silver Hawks fans for “the confusion” (not sure how there could be “confusion” when the owner said “the stars seem to be aligning” for a switch to the Cubs). He added that the Peoria Chiefs are a great organization, and he respects their affiliation with the Cubs. Methinks someone was cleverly leveraging a hot rumor for a better deal with the D-backs. (You’re welcome, Mr. Berlin. (I kid. Mostly. It’s equally possible that Berlin felt some heat from the D-Backs for his comments, and scrambled to appease them.)) It stinks for South Bend Cubs fans, and who knows what will happen long-term, but I’m sure the folks of Peoria are very happy. For that reason, so am I. (The story got some attention in the Peoria Journal Star, too.)
  • Tim at Obstructed View offers a very interesting analysis of how much trouble the Cubs might be in (or not, actually) when it comes to revenue from ticket sales this year. The new dynamic pricing in the bleachers could prove to be a stroke of genius.
  • In a weekly chat, ESPN’s Doug Padilla said (among other things) that, after checking in with folks in Vegas, the Cubs’ current over/under on wins this year is 72.5. Unfortunately, that sounds about right. You taking the over or the under?
  • Bruce Levine interviews Brett Jackson, and elicits a few interesting bits, including Jackson’s affinity for Reed Johnson (“He has that certain awesomeness that you can’t pinpoint.”), Jackson’s appreciation for the coaching of Dave McKay, and a quote Jackson digs from Oscar Wilde (“Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”).
  • Dale Sveum used to be quite the fox.
  • MLBullets at BCB, featuring some awesomeness by the Tampa Bay Rays.
  • jstraw

    72.5 is ridiculous. Bet the farm on the over.

    • Brett

      I’m not baiting (or taking a position, really) – you think this team clearly looks that much better than last year’s team? I see a much better rotation, a better defense, a slightly worse bullpen, and a far worse lineup.

      • hansman1982

        Better management, better rotation depth. Those two things are worth 5 wins in my book.

      • Frank

        The other day, Keith Law was saying he thinks the Cubs will be “respectable” — and maybe a little better than that with some luck. I don’t know exactly what that means in terms of wins, but it sounds good (for this year).

  • jstraw

    Clearly better? No. I think they can win 73 games.

    • Brett

      I assumed by betting the farm, you meant you saw them going way over.

  • hansman1982

    Since we lost Carpenter and Kurcz I am going to say WAAAY under for the rest of our lives!

    I would say 75, but I just hope we are out of it by the deadline so its an easy decision to sell, if we aren’t going to make the playoffs anyway.

    • Luke

      Actually, that’s a good point.  If the Cubs are able to do some selling in July, then they could conceivably unload Dempster, Garza, Maholm, Soto, Byrd, Soriano, Lahair, and a couple of veteran bullpen arms.  While that might be a fantastic move for 2013, it could take the 2012 edition from a 77 win team to a 67 win team in a hurry.

  • Cliffy

    jstraw,don’t be so sure. what if the Cubs were to trade Garza and Soriano prior to the start of the season? Short term things could easily get worse while long term things get better. So you just cant be sure.

  • Luke

    Right now, I’d take the over.  I still see a 77ish win team largely due to the improved pitching and defense.  That offense still looks anemic, though.

  • terencem

    I hate to say it, but I’d take the under on the wins. Most projections only give the Cubs up to 72 so Vegas set a pretty good line.

    If I’m wrong, I won’t be sorry.

  • wernert

    If they are relatively healthy, I can see 75+ wins. I mean, how many times do we play the Astros again?

  • Tank

    I may be crazy but I’ll take the over, as the team is currently constructed. I’m saying 78 wins, I think the starting pitching will help and the fact they will be out of it by May will relax the team and just allow them to play. No pressure.

  • Kyle

    Over. I’ve got them at about 76 or 77.

  • Beer Baron

    Despite the “Marmol and Wood are the only guaranteed spots in the bullpen” rhetoric, I have to assume James Russell is locked in too. Otherwise demoting Beliveau and Gaub yesterday seems odd. I realize that Scott Maine and Trever Miller are still technically competing with Russell, but I think in reality they are competing against one another and Russell is locked into something similar to the old Marshall role. The rhetoric is just to keep the spirit of competition going . Or have I missed something?

  • Dan

    Take the over! My argument is…, when was the last time Theo Epstein had a season under .500? NEVER!

    • DocWimsey

      When was the last time he had a team with a rotation this weak or with guy like Darwin Barney or Brian LaHair penciled in as starters? Theo inherited a good Boston team and he helped make it an even better one. We want him because of the latter, not the former.

      (That being said, if you can get a time machine and scoop the ’04 Sox into ’12 Cubs uniforms, then I won’t mind one bit. It certainly would liven things up in the Cubs clubhouse!)

  • BD

    Over. 81-81 is the perfect example of mediocre, right?

  • Pat

    Can you get the Cubs to move their AAA affiliate to Indy? Great ball park is walking distance from work. Could possibly lead to my divorce though…

    • Cedlandrum

      Hey man no way. ICubs are right where they belong. Especially this year with Vitters, Jackson, Rizzo, and Castillo/Clevenger being slated for there to start and Lake likely joining at some point.

      • Luke

        Batting practice in Iowa might just be the best show in the Cubs farm system.  Add Rebel Ridling to the rest of that lineup and BP should be well worth watching.

        • Cedlandrum

          Not to mention Marquez Smith who can hit the ball as well. Should be a fun year in Iowa. I am guessing Smith will play 2nd.

          Rizzo- 1st
          Smith- 2nd
          Motta- SS (I really think losing Gonzalez is a big loss for depth in the system)
          Vitters- 3rd
          Ridling- Left
          Jackson- Center
          ???? in RF
          Catcher- Clevenger/Castillo

          Plus starters- Jay Jackson, Casey Coleman, Travis Wood, and at some point maybe McNutt. Should be a good club.

          • Luke

            I’m still hoping that Flaherty or Gonzalez make it back, but I’m not optimistic.  I also think Smith can play short if someone else winds up on second (Cardenas, maybe).

            Right field… Nelson Perez, maybe?  To be honest I’m not sure who is likely to be in right for Iowa this season.

            If I could only see one minor league team this season, it would be Peoria.  Iowa, especially early in the season, would be a very close second.

            • Cedlandrum

              Ah I forgot about Perez. I bet he starts at AA though. It will be interesting.

    • Brett

      If they move East, I’m bringing them to Columbus.

  • DocWimsey

    Hmmm….. a 0.450 team sounds about right to me. The Cubs biggest problem last year was dreadful starting pitching: only 3 staffs (Orioles, Astros and Rockies) gave up more first inning runs. Combine that with a mediocre offense, and you had lots of games in which the Cubs were out early. (Only 4 other teams averaged trailing by more runs at the end of 5 innings; how the Cubs managed to win over 70 this way still puzzles me!)

    I think that the pitching will be better this year, but the offense is going to take a huge hit: I just do not see Stewart & LaHair matching ARam’s & Pena’s HRs, and the pitching will not be improved enough to pick up the slack.

    Still, it’s 50:50 that a 0.450 team will win 72+ games, and although the Cubs do get to play the Astros a lot, they also have to play the Reds, Brewers and Cards a lot. So….


  • Edwin

    I’ll take the under. The offense is going to be terrible to watch. The Cubs were terrible at getting on base last season, and will be worse this season. They lost two of their top OBP guys in Ramirez and Pena. Even if Castro takes a step forward, this offense is going to be brutal. They have almost no power in the lineup, they won’t draw walks, and they don’t have great baserunning skills. The starting rotation will probably be worse than last year as well. Garza is due to regress, and even if Dempster has better luck this year than last, he’s still another year older, and in the decline of his career. None of the other candidates have a very bright future, other than being potential #4 or #5 starters. The bullpen lost it’s best pitcher from last year in Sean Marshall, and didn’t really replace him with anyone that good. More than likely Jeff Samardzjia will wind up in the bullpen, and this year he probably won’t get so lucky with his strand rate and HR/FB%. The Cubs might have gotten slightly better on defense, but got worse on offense, worse in the bullpen, and will probably have a worse starting rotation. Especially if they end up trading some of their top SP. Last year our starters got hurt and we didn’t have any SP depth, so we had to turn to guys like Rodrigo Lopez. This year when our starters get hurt we will get instead hand the ball to…Rodrigo Lopez. Or someone equally as bad.

    The pessimist in me thinks that most of the “bounce back” candidates the Cubs picked up won’t. The optimist in me was strangled to death long ago by the pessimist in me (he kept thinking that the pessimist would stop choking him, right to the bitter end. The pessimist was pissed that the optimist kept pouring him half empty drinks all the time.)

    But, you know. Anything can happen. I guess.

    • Andrew

      Wow somebody could use some Zoloft.

    • Noah

      I think the opening day starting rotation may be worse on paper than the starting rotation last year. Zambrano was still viewed as a legit middle of the rotation guy at the start of the season and Cashner had top of the rotation potential.

      But I think the performance from the rotation is going to be better. I don’t think you’re going to see much (if any) fall off from Zambrano’s 2011 to Maholm’s 2012, and the Cubs are much more solid in the 4 and 5 slots, plus actual MLB caliber starting pitchers they’ll have to either stash in AAA or the bullpen.

      I’ll take the over, but I’d guess 73 wins if I had to guess a specific number (so I’m barely over)

  • Aisle 424

    I’m still sticking with my projection that the Cubs lose 100 games. I think they are going to trade at least 2 from the group of Soto, Dempster, Garza, Soriano and Byrd. If they keep this team together for the whole year and there is any sort of production from DeJesus or Stewart and nobody else falls off the table (I’m looking at you Dempster), they can win 72-74 games.

    Thanks for the link, Brett!

    • Norm

      “I think they are going to trade at least 2 from the group of Soto, Dempster, Garza, Soriano and Byrd.”

      I hope its all of them!

    • Brett

      No problem – thanks for the thoughtful article.

  • DocWimsey

    “The pessimist was pissed that the optimist kept pouring him half empty drinks all the time.”

    Ah, the glass is always full; you clearly just do not appreciate air! 😎 You know, all of that stuff between Sori’s bat and an outside slider: or all of that stuff that’s not under most balls that Barney hits. Of course, I think that watching the Cubs this year will be like a glass full of liquid, but with my head held in it……

    • Andrew

      then dont watch them…

  • Norm

    Well, I guessed 72, but I’m going to go over anyway.
    1) I think pitching will surprise…more ground balls, fewer walks
    2) I am bullish on LaHair (as in he can equal Pena’s production, so no net loss)
    3) Hoping Castro’s d improves significantly and Stewarts D over Aram makes the left side pretty solid.

  • Packman711

    This South Bend Cub fan is bummed.

  • Andrew

    I can’t believe all this pessimism I mean with “fans” like these who needs enemies. If you think its out of the realm of possibility that the Cubs compete for a wild card spot, then why are you watching. Sure the Cubs might not have the best team on paper to start the year but anything can happen. Look at espn’s power rankings from last year, Arizona went from 25th ranked to 6th ranked, the CARDINALS were ranked 27th after the first week. I know that doesn’t satisfy all of you pessimistic statheads but its reason to get excited for the Cubs’ chances this year because their record is 0-0 right now like everyone else. I’m fine with predicting the Cubs are going to have 72 wins but don’t say it as though its an objective fact, because it’s an opinion. You never actually know whether the Cubs will win it all this year until their eliminated from the playoffs so don’t say you do. I predict the cubs can get a .500 season behind strong pitching and defense and timely hitting so I’d bet the over in a heartbeat.

    • JR Cubs

      Well, I will be watching and think there is no way in hell the Cubs compete for a playoff spot. Even though they will more than likely be bad, it will be a breath of fresh air to watch the new look Cubs.

    • Edwin

      Dude, seriously. I’m watching because I like to watch the Cubs, regardless of what their record may or may not end up being. And of course it’s opinion. I don’t think anyone is saying anything otherwise. There’s nothing wrong with being too pessimistic, just like there’s nothing wrong with being too optimistic about the Cubs. I don’t think my views of how well the Cubs will do this year makes me any more or less of a Cubs fan.

      • TWC

        “I don’t think my views of how well the Cubs will do this year makes me any more or less of a Cubs fan.”


      • Andrew

        there is something wrong with being pessimistic for no reason at all. You honestly believe the rotation will be worse this year after last year’s debacle?!?! even if we lose two starters like what happened last year, the replacements will be actual starting pitchers like Wells and Wood with Lopez being an emergency option. And yes i believe there is plenty wrong with being pessimistic because its annoying to listen to. When I go to a Cubs game I would much much rather sit next to a fan that believes the cubs can always win than one that insists they’ll lose the game or have a crappy team, so I’d rather all the downers just stay home and talk to themselves instead of telling others how crappy our favorite team is.

        • TWC

          I don’t believe the Cubs will be significantly (±5%) better or worse than they were last year.  I believe that it’s possible for them to exceed that 10% in either direction.  But unlikely.

          But, seriously, get over yourself.  My heart bleeds that skepticism is annoying for you to listen to.  When I go to a Cubs game, I’d much rather sit next to an fan whose opinions of the team are based in reality, not unabashed homerism.

    • hardtop

      real fans watch no matter what. we just happen to be educated fans with realistic expectations. it doesn’t hurt to hope for a surprise season, but to expect something thats unlikely is kind of… crazy. we know they are going to stink but we watch for the promise of a brighter future. fans who only stick with their team when they are winning, or only watch when the playoffs are within reach, are called white sox “fans”.

      • SirCub

        “fans who only stick with their team when they are winning, or only watch when the playoffs are within reach, are called white sox “fans”.”

        Rim shot!

  • djriz

    It’s really simple. It all depends on the 2013 Amatuer draft class.

    If there is a no doubt about it, franchise changing, suder-duber-star available, then the Cubs will win just enough games to preclude them from drafting him…lets say 74.

    If the top players available are ….meh….they will get the first pick with…lets say 68 wins.

  • Cubbies4Life

    Move the I-Cubs to Indy? AAAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!! (That was me screaming, and people are starting to stare). I’m so psyched to see the I-Cubbies and all those hot prospects on April 5, I can hardly stand it. Try to take them out of Des Moines? Ohhh, buddy, you’d have a fight on your hands!

    • Noah

      I don’t see the I-Cubs leaving anytime soon. They’ve been in the Cubs organization for more than 30 years now. Also, don’t they draw really well for a minor league team?

      • Luke

        I don’t see the Cubs pulling out of Iowa or Daytona anytime in the foreseeable future.  There is a lot of history in both of those relationships.

  • Eric S

    I’m taking the over as well. Not much better, but better. 75-77 tops. Think about it if Marmol didn’t blow 10 saves last year the Cubs are a .500 team. If he blows half they win 76. So take last year and give Marmol credit for saving half of his blown saves. I personally expect to see a bounce back year from Dempster as Riggins is gone, who didn’t know anything about a big league staff. Hate to say it, but Silva was right. Bosio is a better pitching coach and can work with this group. The offense while not terribly exiting may surprise some people and with good decisions and base running might scrape together a few extra runs. The ballhawks however, can keep their gloves at home. Can we have an over under on how many home runs the Cubs will hit as club? I’ll take the under whatever it is.

    • DocWimsey

      Blown saves are not loses, and the Cubs won some of Marmol’s blown saves. Regardless, given that the Cubs were out homered by 14 and out-walked by an astounding 155, they would have been the luckies 0.500 team ever. Given the relationship between performance and records, the Cubs might actually have one a game or two more than expected. (That’s entirely within sampling error, so it does not mean that they were somehow “clutch”: they were bad and a tad lucky.)

      If you want to see where the Cubs lost games, then look at the first few innings. The Cubs were among the worst at giving up first inning runs while being league average at scoring them. Most games are won by the team that holds the first lead, after all.

  • Dick

    Look at the Cubs schedule the first 7 weeks of the season. They have 39 games against almost all contenders. I’ll be stunned if they have 15 wins by the end of that period. I think this will lead to a garage sale by mid-season, which is fine with me. The Iowa team at the beginning of the year will be better than the Cubs.