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Allow me a moment to tell you that you should consume things: I have been an unabashed fan of Amazon for years. It is not an exaggeration to say that The Wife and I average three Amazon deliveries per week, and I have taken liberal advantage of the Amazon Prime video library since we cut the cord (I recently watched ‘Melancholia,’ which was beautifully shot, but I’m not really sure what the point was). A site that has virtually everything, at better prices than just about anywhere, and shipped directly to my door? Why would I not love Amazon?

The point is: I used to sell everyone on Amazon before I had any kind of affiliation with them, so I might as well keep selling folks on Amazon and use it to support the site! So, yeah, Amazon is awesome. You should buy things on Amazon, and you should do it via this banner (or by going to www.bleachernation.com/amazon), because it makes me rich helps keep this place in business:

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Thanks for your attention. On with your regularly scheduled Bullets …

  • Noted sabermetrician Clay Davenport has released his first team projections for 2014, and things look mighty rosy for the Cubs: 67-95, the worst record in baseball. Davenport walks folks through his methodology, which appears to the layman to be pretty thorough. Based on player projections, playing time expectations, etc., the 2014 Cubs project to be three games worse than the Houston Astros, four games worse than the Colorado Rockies, and five games worse than the Minnesota Twins and Philadelphia Phillies. The Brewers, by the way, show up as ten games better than the Cubs in the NL Central. In short, it’s a grim, grim picture, spat out from a statistical analysis tool with no passion or prejudice. Is it perfect or even, in the strictest sense, reliable? Of course not. But it’s among the best “on paper” reviews of the Cubs’ roster we’ll find, and it says the Cubs look baaaad. Did you really need a deep analysis around baseball to tell you as much? This roster lost 96 games last year (hey, Davenport’s system projects improvement!), and the front office has done very little to upgrade it this offseason (for reasons both explicable and understandable, mind you). And that roster had Garza/Feldman/Soriano for a half-year. Projecting anything better than “awful” in 2014 wouldn’t make much sense, would it?
  • Fortunately, baseball is a funny game, and things surprise us every year. Do I think this Cubs roster, as presently constructed, will be competitive? I really do not. The outfield is rough, the rotation is thin at the back-end, and offense as a whole is terrifying. Moreover, the Cardinals look great, the Pirates and Reds look very good, and the Brewers are still trying. But crazy shit happens, and at least the Cubs have a very young roster (and emerging prospect core) to dream on. When teams come out of nowhere and surprise, that tends to be what they look like. Even Davenport’s system gives the Cubs a 1.8% chance at the playoffs!  (And if that doesn’t float your boat, how about the number one pick in 2015!)
  • The Cardinals, by the way, are projected for 90 wins (behind only the Tigers at 91, and tied with the Rays).
  • Ryan Braun plans to come back from his PED suspension “better than [he's] ever been.” There’s a joke in there somewhere, I reckon.
  • Carrie Muskat has the list of Spring Training jersey numbers, and it’s nice to see that Kerry Wood – who’ll be there as an instructor – gets to keep his 34.
  • Looking at the Dodgers’ bullpen, FanGraphs notes that it will make more this year than the entire Astros roster. The bullpenApropos, Baseball Prospectus offers a lengthy piece on why “smart” organizations are starting to spend on high-leverage relievers (the Rays have spent a great deal in the bullpen this offseason, as have the A’s). A trend: “smart” organizations are starting to see inefficiencies in the way WAR describes relievers, and most of the market is buying/selling players based on WAR or WAR-like analyses. I’ve always been a “you don’t spend money in the bullpen because relievers are too volatile” kind of guy, but in the last three years I’ve appended that position with “except for late-inning, high-leverage relievers.” That position was based on little more than a belief that consistently dominant relievers were probably disproportionately valuable, given that their bullpen-mates were so unpredictable. You can argue that it doesn’t make sense for the Cubs to spend money on just about anybody right now, but I now feel a little justified in having pushed for certain signings over the past few years that went a bit against the grain.
  • CSN has a profile on Pierce Johnson, who made BP’s top 101 prospect list this morning (for those who missed it). Bonus tidbit from the piece? It was Johnson’s fault that Albert Almora broke his hamate bone last year! Get him!
  • Kudos to Sahadev for catching that the Cubs have added a couple more to the front office under the Research and Development department (headed by Chris Moore: Jeremy Greenhouse and Sean Ahmed. I have actually met Sean, and you will not find a more pleasant, affable guy. Hopefully he is as researchy and developmenty as he is cool.
  • The grand opening of the Cubs’ new park in Mesa was this weekend, and it featured, among other things, a 50-foot climbing pyramid, which looks simultaneously awesome and dangerous.
  • Edwin

    Well, that’s just like, his opinion, man.

  • salesguy

    Hooray #1 draft pick 2015!

  • Spoda17

    Woot… let’s start debating who we will pick first in 2015… DOH!

  • Elden14

    Brett, I hope you have an Amazon rewards card. You can get all kinds of monies back if you truly have ~3 deliveries a week.

    • ChrisFChi

      I buy all my PSN cards from Amazon.com. I will now direct myself here first, just to click the link.(every lil bit helps right?)

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Thanks for that, Chris. Yeah, if you go to http://www.bleachernation.com/amazon (easy enough to remember) when you do your shopping, it’ll support the site.

        • Jim

          link==dead

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Whoops. Thanks. Forgot to flick an important switch. Should work now.

            • ChrisFChi

              Very nice. I spend around $150-200 on my playstation thru amazon every month.

        • ssckelley

          Too bad you didn’t tell us about this last Thanksgiving, my Amazon purchases were quite high on Black Friday. Perhaps you did and I just missed it.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            No, this is new … and yeah, I wish I had it back then, too. I wasn’t aware of it at the time … oops …

            • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

              So if I bookmark that link and order through it each will that give you the CASH?

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                It will, indeed. Everything is totally the same for the user – it’s the normal Amazon site. It’s just that BN gets credit for having referred you to Amazon.

                • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                  Done, you’ll be get a commission for diapers and wipes.

                • ssckelley

                  It sounds like a no brainer to me. Since I shop there anyway someone might as well get a small cut.

                • Patrick W.

                  Wasn’t aware of it? Soooooo somebody doesn’t read my email as closely as I thought….

                  Also, thanks.

                  • hansman

                    “Report as Spam”

                    • Patrick W.

                      With most of my emails coming from my work @amazon.com account you would not be surprised how often I have to remind a friend “Check your junk folder.”

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    Ha. If you told me at some point about this program, specifically, then I totally missed it and feel like a dunce. I should probably have tried this out a year or more ago.

                    • Patrick W.

                      I hope everyone uses it. It can be a big help to this site.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think we looked into it and it wasn’t as good as our regular rewards – maybe it has improved since we last checked? Because, yeah, we spend a stupid amount (well, not inappropriately so – we just use it for everything) on Amazon.

      • Elden14

        I’m referring to their VISA rewards card. They use ‘points’ to say what you get back, but it equates to percentage of purchases. It essentially breaks down into 3% back on any amazon purchase, 2% on gas/groceries and 1% on everything else.

        My other card had the same 3/2/1 breakdown but this has a little more return because of the amazon purchases.

    • D-Rock

      Are you referring to a rewards credit card (ie. Visa/Mastercard)? Can’t find a rewards program on their site…

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        The Amazon credit card (visa or MC) that gives you discount on amazon but also gives huge rewards, I cut up all plastic years ago (well after the lawyers took all the credit for a complicated divorce), but my brother swears by it and uses it for everything .

  • The Instructor

    At least they are adding pieces somewhere. If the research and development office could win games that would be exciting news. However, they do not. Another lost season. I don’t want to hear about anymore “cool” developmental hires until there is something happening at the big league level. I was in board with the rebuild for the first couple seasons. But this is getting a little old. I’ve been a cub fan my entire life and I’m frustrated. I understand there is a lot of promise in the minors but does that really excuse the lack of effort to field a competitive big league roster? Is it worth getting to .500 just to miss the payoffs anyway? Yes! Then you could talk about a team that might “surprise” but a team projected to lose 90+ games will not surprise anyone, except for maybe just how bad it could get. I was excited about the 100th anniversary of wrigley and planned on a trip to Chicago. But if the Cubs aren’t gonna spend, then neither am I.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      This is a new tactic perfected by the Astros. Maximize profits with low payroll and accumulate top five draft picks for multiple years.

      • Jon

        At least the Astro’s don’t have the audacity to charge the 3rd highest ticket prices in the game.

        • gocatsgo2003

          Are we really going to get into this again? There are a litany of other concerns that go into ticket prices aside from the team’s payroll.

        • ssckelley

          The Astros would charge the same amount as the Cubs if they felt people would buy the tickets.

          • Jon

            If there is anything worse than the shitshow the FO has put out on the field the past three seasons, it’s the “enablers”, the fans that still show up to the park.

            They are like the guy that gives $20 to the alcoholic so he can buy another bottle.

            • ssckelley

              I agree, IMO this has hindered the Cubs for a long time. The fans never gave the previous owners a reason to improve the product on the field since they bought the tickets anyway. We can only hope this is not the case with Ricketts.

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    Well what do you know I was about to order a few things via Amazon, great timing.

    • Edwin

      Same here. I just ordered seasons 1 and 2 of Primal Grill.

  • BlameHendry

    Does this REALLY come as a surprise to any of you?

  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

    Aw man, looks like Sean got that job over me (Like I ever had a chance haha)

  • ssckelley

    Everything I read on Pierce Johnson is favorable, he seems to be a good person along with a pretty darn good pitcher. I hope he makes it to Chicago and ends up a fixture in the rotation.

  • Oregon Cubs Fan

    My favorite line from the piece on Johnson:

    “Maybe it’s a long stretch, but maybe I could be there in a year,” Johnson said, admitting he secretly hopes the Cubs don’t win a World Series until he makes it to Chicago. “I’m doing whatever it takes to get there, and I want to be there when it happens.”

    If the Cubs win the World Series before Johnson is ready to make the major leagues, that would be a huge miracle. But hey – they do have 1.8% chance of making the playoffs this year.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    When all of the farm system rankings came out I was surprised to see tht the Astros have so many top prospects. I think they may be poised to actually win some games this year. Why do I get the feeling that we will be chasing the number one pick this season? Not a snowballs chance in hell that we re-sign Samardzija. If this rooftop crap lingers and results in litigation then this could be one of the ugliest seasons in Cubs history. Why am I so negative? Because I live in the lake effect snow belt in Northern Indiana and it sucks to have 6″ to foot of new snow to deal with every day. I have this feeling that Chicago is as disfunctional as Washington is and I’m watching re-runs of ground hog day over and over.

    • farmerjon

      The 6″ of snow here over the weekend has morphed into drifts between 6-12 FEET…can’t the cows feed themselves today? ; )

  • nate1m

    I think the they could do a bit better than expected. If Castro returns to form and Rizzo takes a step forward their three year averages would have pulled down the team (and I expect that from Rizzo). The same could be said of Shark and Arrieta (possibly Jackson but I’m not sure). Also, who knows who could be playing second and third even to start the season let alone by the end of July. I’m not saying they’ll win a lot more games but I don’t think this team will be the worst in baseball. I’d look for a step forward to say 72-90.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      If is a big word that contains only two letters. Considering that the only real veteran players we have are basicly utility guys like Valbuena, Schierholtz and Murphy, the weight of the world is on Castro and Rizzo. With the situation in the outfield and uncertainty at third and second base those two guys are the only guaranteed day to day starters to their positions aside from Castillo. Think about that for a second. Aside from pitcher and catcher only two of seven position players are projected to be long term solutions. You could argue that Valbuena is an every day guy, but that’s only because of the weakness in that lineup. Yes Lake could break out and Rizzo and Castro could have carreer years, but would you bet money on that? I’m sorry but I can’t see a team that only has two out of seven positions filled with guys that would start on most MLB teams. That’s pathetic when you think about it. But I have been wrong before aand in this case there is nothing I’d like better than to be proved wrong.

      • http://bleachernation.com woody

        I am saying that most teams have one or two weak postions, but not five!

  • EQ76

    “Even Davenport’s system gives the Cubs a 1.8% chance at the playoffs! ” – So, you’re telling me there’s a chance!

    • Edwin

      Well played.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      (That’s what’s linked. :) )

  • TTH

    The order of finish in those predictions seem pretty good, but the win totals for the good teams, and the loss totals for the bad seem low. There will be teams that win more than 91 and there is at least one team built to lose 100.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That tends to be an issue with all projection systems, because they can’t project sell-offs midseason, which tends to drive down the worst teams.

    • MichaelD

      They are also individual team averages. It would be highly unlikely that the best team in baseball would only win 91 games. However, there are scenarios where the Tigers would only win 70 games, though there will also be some where they win 100. Overall when you look at an individual team’s average wins it will be pushed more toward the middle.

  • Jim
  • Chris

    “Ryan Braun plans to come back from his PED suspension “better than [he's] ever been.” There’s a joke in there somewhere, I reckon.”

    Ryan Braun is the joke.

    • FFP

      I looked for the joke in this sample and couldn’t find it. Perhaps this sample was mishandled. Do we have a report on the chain of custody of this quote?

  • fortyonenorth

    “And if that doesn’t float your boat, how about the number one pick in 2015!”

    That’s what Theo’s been shooting for the past two years. This year he’s got a legitimate shot. In the scheme of things, this doesn’t bother me at all. Go Cubs!

    • terencemann

      They could be looking at a situation where they are sitting at .500 or above on draft day 2015 and they’re picking first. Should be a good day.

  • ibcnu2222

    Hello Rodan!!

    • mjhurdle

      Rodan looks fierce, looks like a high scARP+

      [img]http://s12.postimg.org/uzsxov57h/rodan.jpg[/img]

    • ssckelley

      I doubt he will be available at #4.

  • Jon

    Hooray for tanking!!!!

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      It’s all for you, think of it this way everyone will have plenty to come on hear and complain and moan about. If we were successful 75% of the comments would never happen, complaints are easy and everyone loves to complain. It’s the sad reality of humanity.

  • Jon

    Is there a Bryce Harper/Stephen Strasburg like phenom on the horizon by any chance for the 2015 draft?!?!

    • D-Rock

      Jon, you beat me to that post…

    • D-Rock

      I’m looking into it. Maybe ESPN Next or SI has a story…

    • D-Rock

      Mike Cameron’s son is projected to be the #1 pick in the 2015 draft as of right now, but obviously a lot can happen between now and then.

  • On The Farm

    Brett, make sure you work out a deal with Amazon that if enough business is generated through this website, that BN get’s its own personal Amazon drone to deliver our stuff.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Done. Look up.

  • D-Rock

    Is there a next Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg projected to be in the draft for 2015? Maybe the Cubs are going the Washington Nationals route…

  • Senor Cub

    I just have a hard time seeing this team losing 95 games this year. Don’t they get sick of losing after a while. Doesn’t someone become the “next man up” if someone is not taking care of business.

    This team had tons of blown saves last year, that part should not be a problem this year. My projection based on nothing but hope and optimism is 80-83.

    Jackson will pick up the slack from Garza’s departure, that will put Jackson at 14-12 vs. 8-18. Feldman’s 7 wins will be picked up by the new guys Rusin/Arrieta. This is a better team guys, even if on paper they don’t seem much better, they will be.

    • CubFan Paul

      Defensively they’ll be better and that’ll keep them competitive.

      But that’s as far as I’ll go.

  • itzscott

    Well, just like last year Kane County, Daytona, Tennessee and now Iowa will be infinitely more interesting to watch than the Chicago Cubs.

    The #1 2015 draft choice is cool consolation at this point though.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      You forgot Arizona and Boise.

      • ssckelley

        Arizona was boring to follow last season, Boise might be interesting.

  • DCF

    Wow, this projection really hits it home how bad the Cubs are.
    But I guess the state of the team really is that bad: The rotation is missing the #1 and #2 starters, the outfield is free from above-average hitters and for 2B and 3B it’ll take some luck to get at least average production.
    So by my count, the Cubs are missing 2 starters, 2 outfielders and 2 infielders to become a legitimate above-average (which is still less than a “competitive”) team.
    Well, that’s depressing.

    And speaking of depression: That’s what Melancholia is all about. The movie first shows the view from “outside” i.e. from friends, relatives etc. Afterwards it’s the inside view. If you look at the second half being told from the first-person-perspective of a person suffering from depression, maybe it makes a bit more sense.

  • Javier Bryant

    Did Wellington Castillo switch to number 5 then? Or is it just for spring training?

  • FortyFour

    Edwin Jackson should join Rizzo & Castro with improved seasons. Baez could provide a jolt to the offense in mid-June either at 2B (if Barney fails to improve his average) or 3B if Olt is unable to earn this position. Our bull-pen will be better and I am bullish that our rotation will be solid, with or without Shark (based on Arrieta performing and the TBD 5th starter outperforming most teams’ 5th starter, and the Cubs have others like Hendricks that are ready to supply depth). 3B is a question mark that may be good IF Olt is 100% healthy. The outfield is the real sore spot, aside from Lake (figuring Nate will be flipped by mid-season). I think the Cubs will finish north of 75 wins but more importantly get more MLB experience for young pitchers and players like Olt and Baez.

    Plenty of teams that are picked to do well will not (Boston in 2012) and others, like the 2014 Cubs, will surprise.

  • Beer Baron

    “This roster lost 96 games last year…and that roster had Garza/Feldman/Soriano for a half-year.”

    On the bright side – that roster also had Marmol for a half-year.

  • NorthSideIrish

    According to these projections the Yankees miss the playoffs again…that would make me happy. And the Reds under .500? Not so sure about that one.

    • mjhurdle

      I don’t see the Yankees making the playoffs this year either. That division is really good, and Im not sure that, even with the spending they did this offseason, they did enough to replace Cano and improve the pitching enough to get them in.

      and yes, i would also be happy if the Yankees missed the playoffs again :)

  • miggy80

    Sweet, I guess I won’t be missing anything during that 2 week Italian honeymoon in mid-June.

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