Holy Crap – it’s Opening day. Where did the time go? Is winter really over? Wasn’t I just shoveling my car out of two feet of snow? Anyone excited for the grandiose small-sample predictions sure to follow today’s game recaps? Imagine if Tuffy Rhodes really hit 486 home runs in 1994? And what in the name of Bob Scanlan do we think the Cubs will do this season?
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 27, 2019
Evan Altman climbed out on a limb yesterday with some Cubs predictions for this season so I thought I would add a few of my own.
- David Bote will get 400 ABs this season and assume an everyday spot in the lineup after Addison Russell is traded.
- Kyle Hendricks will lead the NL in victories but will not get a single first-place Cy Young vote.
- Tyler Chatwood will emerge as a lights-out middle reliever, just like Collin McHugh did last season for the Astros.
- Javier Báez will lead the league in RBI but lose the MVP Award to Kris Bryant. Christian Yelich will finish third, as will the Brewers.
- The Cubs will acquire a relief pitcher in June who will become Joe Maddon’s anointed closer. If I am really going out on a limb, it will be Drew Steckinrider of the Marlins. He will cost the Cubs Brailyn Marquez and Dillon Maples.
- Maddon will sign a contract extension before the All-Star break.
- The Cubs will have an 8-game lead in the division and the best record in the NL at the break.
- Kyle Schwarber signs his extension in April and then will win the Home Run Derby in July.
- Jason Heyward hits more than 20 home runs.
- The Cubs will reach the 2019 World Series, squaring off against the Yankees.
A couple more: The NL Central will be a tight race but will finish, in order:
- NL/AL MVPs: Bryant, Mike Trout
- NL/AL Cy Young: Walker Buehler, Jose Berrios
- Rookies of the Year: Fernando Tatis, Jr., Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.
- Managers of the Year: Dave Martinez, Rick Renteria
One final forecast: The owners and players will agree to a new CBA before the end of the season.
Cubs News & Notes
- It seems like Jon Lester has been a Cub forever. He’s certainly meant everything to the team since arriving as a free agent in 2015.
- Albert Almora Jr. and Ben Zobrist head a list of a handful of candidates who could bat leadoff for the Cubs this season.
- Is the Cubs’ core good enough to win another World Series?
- Look for a big bounceback year from the Cubs offense, starting with the opening series against the Rangers.
- CI has two Cubs-Rangers series previews: One in podcast format from Ivy Envy; and the other an in-depth rundown from new columnist Ryan Thomure.
- These five players could define the Cubs season.
- It’s almost like Báez conceded shortstop to Russell as soon as spring training games started.
- ESPN’s Jesse Rogers analyzes what could go right and what could wrong with this year’s team.
- SI predicts the Cubs will finish second in the NL Central. I so love what they say about Maples: “His strikeout pitch, a sorcerous slider with tremendous late bite, is an A+ attraction that will dazzle at the big league level, so long as he can locate it consistently.”
- NBC Sports Boston predicts the Cubs will miss the playoffs entirely, with the Brewers winning the division and St. Louis grabbing one of two wild cards.
- The Sporting News proclaims the Redbirds will finish three games ahead of the Cubs in the division in a column of 27 very, very specific 2019 predictions.
- Experts see little separation between the Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers this year.
- Season of reckoning? I don’t know if I would go that far but this season could represent a turning point for the players, the coaches, and the team’s front office.
- The Cubs will need to win to save Maddon’s job and prevent the breakup of its core group of players.
- Maddon has been named baseball’s most player-friendly manager.
- Here are all the ways you can watch the Cubs this season if you don’t have cable television, or if you live outside the Chicago television market. There’s a season preview from Heavy.com to boot.
How About That!
Here’s why the Dodgers will win the NL West again this season.
Rob Manfred doesn’t seem very concerned with the health of the players in the independent Atlantic League.
If you are a regular reader of this column who lives in England, ESPN has an exciting new baseball program for you called Caps Off.
Here’s a handy guide to all of baseball’s rules changes for this year, and…
Here’s an equally handy Opening Day TV schedule.
The NY Post offers tips on how to bet the 2019 season.
This is a great post from CI’s Moshe Wilensky, celebrating Opening Day by looking back at a World Series prediction in the form of MLB ’12 The Show.
DAZN is a fledgling, England-based OTT platform that intends to take ESPN head on for viewers.
Today, timed perfectly to Opening Day, the streaming service will debut its nightly baseball “whip-around” show called ChangeUp. DAZN doesn’t have the rights to show full MLB games, but can cut in live to any exciting moment for a few minutes at a time.
The show should appeal to baseball fans who don’t care to watch full games, but would rather catch the highlights and analysis. It is a direct shot at ESPN’s Baseball Tonight and MLBTV’s Quick Pitch Live. It is also anchored by former ESPN host Adnan Virk, with former ESPN president John Skipper running DAZN’s entire U.S. business interests.
An interesting note about the platform: Jake Mintz and Jordan Shusterman, the millennials behind the popular baseball Twitter account Cespedes Family Barbecue, will host from 10 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays. The show is based out of a studio in Secaucus, N.J.
They Said It
- “I would take 95 [wins] every year. That’s going to be more difficult, even with a perfectly healthy roster all season and everybody pretty much playing up to their capabilities. I just think that the rest of the division (has) gotten better. I think the National League’s gotten better. So taking all those things into consideration, to get to that number is going to be not easy.” – Joe Maddon
- “‘Complacency’ is a tough word. ’Exhaustion’ is probably the word I would have used more. But think that some of that could have been maybe helped if we had been a little more diligent earlier in the season. We got ourselves in a tough spot, and we were playing 42 out of 43 days in a row or at least going to the field to work on stuff. Then you have a hot team on your heels and the next thing you know, you’re losing the lead. I think that we realized that this is never something to take for granted.” – Ben Zobrist
- “Cubs baseball is on the air!” – Pat Hughes
Thursday Walk Up Song
Drunk in the Day by Chicago’s own Wally Dogger. Let’s make this our annual Opening Day tradition, shall we? See you at Murphy’s Bleachers this summer.