Projected Standings and the Middling Cubs, Huge Love for Hernandez, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Projected Standings and the Middling Cubs, Huge Love for Hernandez, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Snow Thank You.

•   Annually, the USA Today baseball panel predictions for the standings get a lotta lulz, because historically they’ve been really weird and wild, but this year’s look pretty fine to me on first glance:

•   Like I said in the tweet, I think the Cardinals are probably a touch high, but I would have them on top in the Central, and I’d have the Brewers and Cubs pretty close together thereafter, around the .500 mark. I’d probably have the Reds a bit worse, and I’d have the Pirates historically bad (as they are). I would add that you’d hate to see the Cubs actually finish around .500 this year. Either you hope they’re clearly competitive from the jump and carry that through the year, or they’re clearly not competitive, and sell off like mad at midseason (which would, organically, drop their win total – that wouldn’t be the goal of the selloff, just a byproduct).

•   Elsewhere, I think the Braves are probably too high relative to the rest of the very strong NL East – I’d bunch them up more. I could never project a team for 105 wins, even if I do agree that the Dodgers are super stacked. I don’t love the Astros this year, so I could see more bunching in the AL West, too.

•   The MLB Pipeline crew named a prospect for each organization who could be getting all the buzz in two years, and I found it interesting that the guy they went with for the Cubs was newly-signed 17-year-old shortstop prospect Cristian Hernandez. In two years, you could easily see a whole range of Cubs prospects being particularly buzzy, but Hernandez might have the biggest upside of them all. I mean, look at what Pipeline says: “Signed for $3 million out of the Dominican Republic on Jan. 15, Hernandez has more upside than perhaps any Cubs international signee ever – even more than Eloy Jiménez or Gleyber Torres. He’s built like a young Alex Rodriguez or Manny Machado and exudes five-tool potential with a high likelihood of staying at shortstop.”

•   Read that again. More upside than Eloy or Gleyber, who were TIP-TOP signings at the time they were signed (literally numbers one and two in the class). It’s not hard to see why they could say something like that, given that Hernandez’s physical projection has him able to be a bat like Jimenez, but with a glove better than Torres at shortstop. How often do guys actually reach those kinds of projections? Ah, just about never. But it’s another way to contextualize just how enormous Hernandez’s upside is at this moment. It’s top-five-prospect-in-all-of-baseball in a couple years type stuff.

•   The actual tax associated with the luxury tax is never going to be a huge number relative to payroll:

•   In my view, what concerns teams more are the baseball consequences (a smaller consideration), and the loss of their revenue-sharing refund after consecutive years over tax (the big consideration).

•   One of a kind:

•   Fanatics is doing a big one-day sale, so make sure you check it out:

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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.