Another set of projections are out for the 2013 Chicago Cubs, and this set comes from Baseball Prospectus. The PECOTA projections, as they are known, are not particularly kind to the Cubs so far, although they do project 77 wins for the 2013 club as constructed, which actually strikes me as mildly optimistic.
I don’t want to give away the farm on this one because the projections are premium information right now, but I will share a little bit of BP’s wisdom.
The back end of the bullpen is projected to be very good for the Cubs, with Carlos Marmol at a 2.88 ERA and 1.20 WHIP – and just 36 walks in 61 innings, which, for him, would be incredible. Kyuji Fujikawa is even better, at a 2.56 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. The system isn’t nearly as kind to the rest of the bullpen, including James Russell, who comes in at an ugly 4.82 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. Only Hisanori Takahashi fares well, and that is – I assume – because he’s being projected as a situational lefty. Then again, if he makes the Cubs, that’s what he’d be, so maybe he would pitch pretty well.
The system also kind of hates Jeff Samardzija, who projects just a 4.56 ERA and 1.38 WHIP – the worst marks of any of the seven rotation candidates. Some regression for Samardzija in 2013 is possible (as is some advancement), but that seems like a bit much, assuming he plays a healthy season. PECOTA likes Matt Garza (3.61 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) and Scott Baker (3.62 ERA, 1.16 WHIP), and is pretty lukewarm on the rest of the rotation candidates.
The offense looks ugly, too, with Anthony Rizzo the only regular projected to have an OPS over .750 (and he’s at just .787). Darwin Barney projects at an atrocious .259/.298/.354 line, and Starlin Castro is at just .287/.326/.421. I’d bet a dollar or two that a healthy Castro puts up a much better line that than this year.
The system believes Brent Lillibridge will win the last bench spot in Spring Training (and then will be terrible), believes that Scott Hairston will see more plate appearances than Nate Schierholtz (and will be pretty decent), and believes that Alfonso Soriano will regress substantially.
All in all, it isn’t a pretty picture. But, then, that doesn’t ring altogether unfair when you consider the roster, particularly on the offensive side. Sure, you hope they outperform expectations, but the expectations are what they are. On paper, this is a weak roster with some decent pitching. These projections fall largely in line with that gut feeling.
It’s important to note that this is but the first iteration of the PECOTA projections, which will be revised from time to time.