In response to Evan’s exciting list of 10 Bold Predictions for the 2015 Cubs, I’ve decided to make my own list. It takes a confident man to make a well-thought-out list of bold predictions and to put them in print, so I figured it would be more like me to give you my 10 Probable Predictions for the 2015 Cubs.
Because anyone can make bold predictions interesting, but it takes a true genius to attempt to state the obvious in an interesting way.
The Cubs will carry 25 baseball players out of Spring Training
I will even go one step further and conclude that this will consist of eleven or twelve pitchers, two catchers, and a handful of infielders and outfielders. Among this group I expect to see Anthony Rizzo, Jon Lester, Chris Denorfia, Arismendy Alcantara, and more!
Kris Bryant will start the season at AAA
It makes far much more sense to send him down for a month or so at the beginning of the year. I don’t really see any scenario in which they bring him north from Arizona.
Javier Baez will hit a new outfield sign with a home run at some point
The signs are going up, whether fans and rooftop owners like it or not, and they’re going to get in the way of probably more than one moonshot from the group of Baez, Jorge Soler, Bryant, and Rizzo over the course of the season. But in staying with the theme of my predictions, I’m going to guarantee at least one from Baez will bang off of a new sign or the scoreboard.
Rick Telander will write a column ripping the Lester signing before July
This is probably the biggest “sure thing” on my list, isn’t it? The loon that just doesn’t seem to get it will probably have this one out the Sunday after opening day if Lester gets saddled with a loss to the Cardinals. He’s allowed to have his opinions, though, ill-informed as they may often be.
Jorge Soler will go on the DL
If I wanted to be bold, I’d say with a leg injury. But I’m not being bold, remember? Soler has had injury problems in the past, and I don’t necessarily see that changing. If he even gets a minor boo-boo, the Cubs would be best served to shut him down until it’s fixed to avoid further aggravation. The scenario where Soler hits the DL at some point in 2015 is one of the most likely.
The Cubs won’t do another massive sell-off at the trade deadline
Even if the team is bad, there really aren’t many guys to trade away that have the value of a short deal. I suppose a guy like Motte, if he’s performing like he used to, could become redundant in the bullpen and fit well on a contender. But that really doesn’t constitute a massive sell-off, does it?
Lester will start more games than Arrieta
Less than a guarantee, but still not exactly bold. Arrieta’s usage of the slutter last year, plus his shoulder discomfort at the beginning of the season, makes him a prime candidate for a DL stint. Even if it’s not a serious one, it’s hard to imagine Arrieta starting 33 games in a season or going over 200 innings pitched. Lester has been the model of consistency for most of his career in that category, so unless something unforeseen happens, I feel confident with this one.
The Cubs won’t finish in last place
This will be the first season since the Astros bolted for the AL that the Cubs won’t finish in last place in the NL Centeral, and the first season since 2009 that they’ll finish higher than 5th in the division. I think a strong case could be made for either one or both of Milwaukee and Cincinnati finishing behind the Cubs in the standings.
The Cubs attendance numbers will be the highest of the Theo era
Let’s face it, fans stayed home in droves the last few years. The baseball on the field has been bad for the most part. But when Alcantara, Baez, and Soler arrived late last season, people started showing up at the ballpark more often. With Lester, Joe Maddon, and others on board for 2015, I think it’s a slam dunk that the Cubs could move closer to the days of a packed Wrigley Field.
The Cubs won’t make the playoffs
I know that Evan went bold with his Wild Card prediction, and I love it. I really hope he’s right. But I think the most likely scenario is that the Cubs finish somewhere around .500. Since the advent of the second Wild Card, the average NL Wild Card team needs 90.3 wins. The second Wild Card team needs 88.6 wins. In a league with the Nats, Marlins, Cardinals, Pirates, Giants, and Dodgers, I don’t see an 85 win team getting into the Wild Card round.
So now you’ve read the rebuttal to the 10 Bold Predictions. Am I realistic, or just being a wet blanket? Or, did I just feel like busting Evan’s balls? It’s probably a little mix of the three. Do you think any of my predictions are off base? Feel free to comment and post your Probable Predictions for the 2015 Cubs.