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The Cubs Won’t Show Up in Center Field Rankings, But That Might Be OK and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News, MLB News and Rumors

The temperature this morning was right in that perfect(ly bad) zone where it’s raining, and as soon as the rain hits the ground, it freezes. As a dutiful parent, recognizing this hazardous condition, I cautioned the kiddos to walk very carefully in to school this morning. The Little Girl dashed off, but The Little Boy preferred to hold my hand. Fine by me – so I grabbed his glove in one hand, while I held their school bag in the other. But much to both of our surprise, it was actually me who should have been more careful, because I stepped way too casually on the curb, slipped, and wiped out. All while still holding his hand and the bag. It hurt, but I’m fine.

We get into school, and The Little Boy confides in me: “That was scary when you fell.”

I probably did a poor job hiding my smile. What a sweet sentiment. “I know, buddy. That’s why we wanted to be careful, and I’m just glad it wasn’t you or your sister. I’m OK.”

“It was scary because you had our bag. I was afraid my lunch box or my water bottle was going to fall out.”

“Oh. Well. They didn’t. Have a great day, son.”

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  • We’ve been tracking Buster Olney’s position rankings the past couple weeks, not only because we like the dopamine hit upon seeing so many Cubs included, but also because each ranking provides a springboard for us to discuss the player(s) on the list. There are still more to discuss, and we’ll get to them in time, but one that’ll get only the Bullets treatment is the center field list. There are no Cubs on the list, which makes a great deal of sense – for 2017, the Cubs are looking to fill the Dexter-Fowler-sized hole in center field with a combination of Jon Jay and Albert Almora Jr., neither of whom could fairly make a top ten list on his own right now.
  • Could their combined production wind up among the top ten center fields in baseball this year? Together with some probable time spent out there by Jason Heyward when the two corner outfield spots are needed for other bats? Sure, it’s possible. It’s also possible that Almora isn’t ready yet, that Jay’s recent injuries aren’t the only reason for his decline, and that Heyward’s bat doesn’t bounce back. If all those things happen, the Cubs’ center field situation could look really ugly, at least on the offensive side. But if Jay hits righties like he has shown through his career, while playing his typical steady defense, and if Almora plays his typical elite defense, while holding serve at the plate, then the Cubs could wind up with a really nice center field situation overall. At worst, I like the flexibility on the roster of being able to swing Heyward over to center if necessary, and also to play Jay or Almora in any outfield spot if necessary. As we saw last year (and the year before (and the year before (and the year before (infinite loop)))), you can’t predict how things are going to shake out over the course of a season – all you can do is be prepared. The Cubs’ roster is actually fairly well prepared to cover the outfield well in a variety of ways.

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  • As for the rest of Olney’s list, the best player in baseball is at the top, and the St. Louis Cardinals’ new center fielder is number seven.
  • The Brewers’ ZiPS is out for 2017, and as you’d expect, it doesn’t look like an especially competitive team. However, what’s interesting: because they’ve accumulated so much young/prospect talent, they have more players projected to perform at a 1.0+ WAR level than the Cubs or Nationals or Giants. In other words, the Brewers are extremely deep in near big-league-ready players whom ZiPS expects to be better than terrible if they were thrust into playing time. And, given a chance, many of those players would be much better than terrible. Maybe even good! (This is why Michael and I have been saying for months now that the Brewers (and the Phillies) could be the NL team that surprises folks in 2017 or 2018. The collection of young talent is impressive, and it’s percolating. (I’d bet even more strongly on the Phillies, for what it’s worth – they have a similarly impressive stable of young talent, but they will also have payroll might that the Brewers never will. When the Phillies decide they’re ready to flip the switch, they could go from bad to excellent in a matter of days next offseason.))

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  • A visual on some of the latest on the plaza side of the Wrigley Field renovation:


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor of Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.

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