The First League-Wide Projection Says the 2014 Cubs Are the Worst and Other Bullets

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The First League-Wide Projection Says the 2014 Cubs Are the Worst and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

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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.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.