The Cubs Off-Season Report – The 2006 Season Projections

2006 Chicago Cubs Team Projections – Street & Smith’s

The 2006 season is right around the corner and pitchers and catchers report in 4 short days, I cannot believe it is almost here….where did all the time go? The CCO has printed 2006 Cubs Pocket Schedules and for those of you that would like a .pdf version, email me and I will send you the file. Also, for those of you that will be attending Opening weekend in Mesa, I have extra tickets for the March 2nd and March 5th games, email me as well and we can have a ‘party on the lawn’. What will the 2006 season bring? Could this be the year? Street & Smith’s has released their 2006 predictions and here is what they had to say….

The 2006 projected lineup for the Cubs:

Juan Pierre – CF
Neifi Perez – 2B
Derrek Lee – 1B
Aramis Ramirez – 3B
Jacque Jones – RF
Matt Murton – LF
Michael Barrett – C
Ronny Cedeno – SS

Starting Rotation: Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano, Greg Maddux, and Glendon Rusch

Bullpen: Ryan Dempster, Bobby Howry, Scott Eyre, Jerome Williams, Roberto Novoa, Todd Wellemeyer and Michael Wuertz

Before we delve further, three things caught my eye. One, Kerry Wood in the starting rotation. We have all read he will not be ready until at least May and may not pitch in the rotation until June or July. Two, where is Scott Williamson? I have read and heard he is on track, why is he not in their list? Three, where is Will Ohman? Wouldn’t he make the bullpen before Wellemeyer?

Street & Smith picked the Cubs to finish second in the National League Central, behind the St. Louis Cardinals, the Astros third, the Brewers fourth, the Reds fifth and the Pirates sixth. They picked the Braves to win the East, the Giants to win the West, the Mets to win the Wild Card and the Angels to win the World Series over the Cardinals.

The Cubs ranked 9th in 2005 in runs scored and finished 3rd in team batting average. The additions Juan Pierre and Jacque Jones will provide the Cubs with a different look and will add speed to their lineup. The past two seasons the Cubs have finished a combined total of 37 games behind the Cardinals, despite winning the season series last year 10-6.

The health of the pitching staff is the same concern as it is every season. With Kerry Wood coming back from surgery, there are question marks again. The past two seasons Wood and Mark Prior are a combined 28-24 and Greg Maddux has won 29 games in the same period. Carlos Zambrano has become the Cubs’ ace and is 43-25 over the past three seasons, averaging more than 215 innings. Zambrano’s only question mark is controlling his emotions, if he could do so….he would be one of the elite pitchers in the game. The additions of Howry and Eyre could help the Cubs in the late innings, but Street & Smith’s questioned those signings.

The Cubs were out scored by 11 runs last season and that stat is not surprising if you consider their record. What is surprising is that the Cubs had 248 more total bases than their opponents. The Cubs have said in 2006 they will play more small ball than in years past. With the additions of Jacque Jones and Juan Pierre to the Cubs outfield to go along with Matt Murton, the projected starting lineup for the Cubs outfield totaled only 32 home runs last season. Felix Pie could be in the mix for 2006 and if so could move Jones to left field, depending on the play of Matt Murton. With the lack of power in the outfield, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez will be the only real power threats in the Cubs lineup.

Street & Smith talked about the middle infield of the Cubbies, a hot topic of conversation as of late. They are projecting Ronny Cedeno at shortstop and Neifi Perez at second base. Jerry Hariston, Todd Walker and John Mabry will be bench and role players for the Cubs. Hariston will split time in the outfield and at second base. Again my question is what do you do with a .300, left handed hitter in Todd Walker?

The clubhouse, Dusty Baker’s management style and lack of leadership on the team are some of the big concerns in ’06. Who will become the leader of this team? Will it be Derrek Lee? Will the Cubs extend Dusty Baker and Jim Hendry’s contracts? All of the answers to these questions remain up in the air. If the Cubs get off to a slow start, I think some of the questions will be answered.

Numbers and Stats from Street & Smith’s:

– 1,256 strikeouts by the Cubs pitching staff in 2005, 5th straight year the Cubs led the Majors
– Juan Pierre has 978 hits over the past 5 seasons, Ichiro (1,130) and Albert Pujols (978) are the only 2 that have more

Power Ratings: Rotation 4, Infield 4, Catching 3, Defense 3, Bullpen 3, Outfield 3, Bench 3 and Management 4 (all out of 5)

Top Minor League Prospects (in order): Felix Pie (OF), Mark Pawelek (LHP), Angel Guzman (RHP), Sean Marshall (LHP), Ryan Harvey (OF), Rich Hill (LHP), Donald Veal (LHP), Brandon Sing (1B), Eric Patterson (2B) and Grant Johnson (RHP) They list Rich Hill as being the Impact Rookie.

Final Grade from Street & Smith’s – 87 and an Up Stock Report

Well there you have it….the first magazine prediction here at the CCO for the 2006 season. Lindy’s Baseball Scouting Report is next and you will not believe what they have to say.

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney