Cardinals Lineup Projects Really Well Unfortunately, Stroman and Alzolay, and Other Cubs Bullets

I GOT A LOTTA PROBLEMS WITH YOU PEOPLE. (Happy Festivus. Meet me over by the pole for the feats of strength.)

•   The ZiPS projections are out for the St. Louis Cardinals, and they’re really strong on the positional side:

•   As you can see, ZiPS is extremely buying Tyler O’Neill’s breakout, is over the moon about Harrison Bader’s defense, thinks Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt will be really good, still believes in Paul DeJong, and thinks Dylan Carlson takes another step forward. The depth is not necessarily great, so I suppose, even if all this were true, they’d be exposed if there were a number of injuries. But having a group of positional starters that projects this well (plus top prospect Nolan Gorman waiting for a shot) is, well, it makes me think about the things the Cubs still need to do if they actually intend to contend this season.

•   On the pitching side, however, it’s a group of starters who project as almost exactly average, except for Jack Flaherty, who projects for only 130 innings. In the bullpen, it’s Giovanny Gallegos and then a lot of questions. Heck, Alex Reyes is literally the only other reliever – including depth – who projects for an above-average ERA. No wonder bullpen is expected to be their focus coming out of the lockout.

•   On the whole, this looks to me like an 85 to 88-win team on paper. I’m not sleeping on the pitching concerns, but that’s a really strong defense that’s gonna help soften those concerns. The projection systems never like the Brewers, so I tentative expect the Cardinals to look the “best” on paper whenever the Brewers’ ZiPS come out.

•   Grant Brisbee was writing about the Giants possibly pursuing Nick Castellanos after the lockout ends – it’s a seemingly obvious on-paper fit – but his process leads him to note a terrifying comp in Aaron Rowand, who was a very similar type of swing-first, line-drive hitter, and who completely fell off at the plate in his 30s (the line drives disappeared, and the hard contact with it). It’s not a deep dive, and the Rowand offensive comp (imperfect, as Brisbee notes) isn’t even the main point of his article. But the concept – that swing-first types who frequently go out of the strike zone, but have success because they hit line drives and don’t strike out, might not age well – got me wondering if there’s an actual trend to study. Or is it just a one-off? And even if this type doesn’t age well, is there a reason why Castellanos (and/or others like him) couldn’t improve their discipline a bit as they age? Certainly other players have seen their plate discipline improve in their 30s.

•   Given how Adbert Alzolay has already shown the penchant to be a learning sponge who can adjust his pitch mix and his individual pitches so quickly, I am really excited about him getting to spend more time around another pitcher with a wide mix who also loves to tinker. And, hey, maybe Marcus Stroman will pick up some things from Alzolay, too:

•   Speaking of Stroman, I bet this was an exceptionally good feeling:

•   Like I’m ever not gonna watch Aramis Ramirez walk-off homers:

•   Heads up for interested folks:

•   Launch angle swing:

•   Yes, this is legit mind-blowing even as we watched it happen:

•   “Brett, how will you possibly fill time during a two month lockout?!” You have no IDEA how many stupid tweets I can tweet:

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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