The Sporting News posted its predictions for the upcoming season. And not only is the publication picking the Cubs to win the National League Central Division, the Sporting News is going all in and predicting the Cubs will beat the Tigers in the Fall Classic and win the World Series.
According to the Sporting News, the Cubs (Central), Nationals (East) and Dodgers (West) will be at the top of the respective divisions at the end of the year. The Sporting News has the Cubs topping the Dodgers in the NLDS and the Cardinals in the NLCS before facing the Detroit Tigers in The Series.
Jesse Spector explained why the Sporting News is picking the Cubs to win The Series.
The Sporting News likes Jon Lester at the top of the rotation followed by Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel. And the Cubs have depth behind the top three with Kyle Hendricks in “some kind of mix” with Travis Wood, Tsuyoshi Wada, Jacob Turner and Felix Doubront.
The young bullpen “have some good things” in Hector Rondon, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop and Neil Ramirez, plus veteran Jason Motte.
Spector likes the Cubs lineup anchored by Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro and pointed to the experience Arismendy Alcantara, Jorge Soler and Javier Baez received last year will benefit them in the upcoming season. And of course, Kris Bryant will “eventually be along as well.”
Joe Maddon will help the young players succeed, just like he did in Tampa according to the report. And the Cubs “have the talent in place to make a quick jump in the standings.”
Jesse Spector believes the Cubs “are good enough to get there” and the franchise is “due a couple of breaks.”
The first projection from FanGraphs pointed to a 10-game improvement and 83 wins for the Cubs in 2015.
Jesse Rogers spoke with David Ross Wednesday. The Cubs backup catcher signed with the team for one reason, to win in Chicago and “that’s the goal for everyone that’s coming there.”
Jed Hoyer told ESPN Chicago, that Ross and Jon Lester were not a package deal. The Cubs had interest in Ross whether or not the team signed Lester.
The Cubs began recruiting Ross as soon as teams could talk to free agents. Signing Lester showed Ross the Cubs were serious about winning, but Joe Maddon was “a game-changer” for him.
David Ross talked to Ryan Dempster and Mark DeRosa about what it was like playing for the Cubs and on teams that won.
Hoyer also told Rogers that Ross will not be Lester’s personal catcher. The Cubs do not want to limit Ross to one pitcher or keep Miguel Montero from catching Lester. Hoyer explained that could “be dangerous” in the event of an injury. The amount of times Ross is behind the plate on the days Lester pitches will be up to Joe Maddon.
Jesse Rogers reported David Ross will not be at the convention next week.
Miguel Montero and David Ross
Mark Simon took a look at the National League and how each team has changed defensively this off-season.
The Cubs wanted to upgrade defensively behind the plate and did just that with the additions of Miguel Montero and David Ross. Montero and Ross are “both excellent in the pitch-framing department” while Welington Castillo “ranked among the worst in that department.”
Theo Epstein told Mark Simon, “Framing is something [Montero] does well, especially in the low part of the zone which is important for us. We have a lot of guys that pitch down there. He had outstanding framing numbers last season which jibes with the narrative of Henry Blanco working with him [in Arizona]. They really focused on that. It’s a nice thing to have. He can steal a couple of strikes here and there for your young pitching staff.”
According to Baseball America, Marcos Mateo signed a minor league contract with the San Diego Padres. A report earlier in the off-season indicated Mateo signed with a team in Japan. The Cubs did not confirm the report at the time, but Mateo is no longer in the organization.
Mateo spent last season in Triple-A Iowa’s bullpen and was 3-0 in 33 appearances with a 3.86 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. Mateo saved two games and struck out 43 batters while walking 17. The now 30-year old right hander (turns 31 in April) led the Dominican Winter League in saves.
The Cubs acquired Marcos Mateo as the player to be named later in the trade that sent OF Buck Coats to the Reds in September 2007.
Marcos Mateo pitched in 44 games for the Cubs over two seasons (2010-11) and was 1-3 with a 5.04 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and 4.44 FIP.
News, Notes and Rumors
Jim Bowden reported Thursday night talks between the Orioles and free agent OF Colby Rasmus “are gaining steam.”
Anthony Rizzo was voted as the face of the Chicago Cubs in the poll conducted by the MLB Network.
According to Crain’s Chicago Business, Sloan Valve Company plans to have a lot of fun with the new partnership with the Chicago Cubs.
Jake Johnson wrote an open letter to Cubs fans.
Jason Bere was named the bullpen coach for the Indians. Bere pitched for the Cubs in 2001-02 and was a combined 12-21 with a 4.74 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 4.22 FIP in 48 starts. Bere was just 1-10 in 16 starts in 2002.
If the Nationals were listening to offers for OF Denard Span, it’s highly unlikely Mike Rizzo is now. According to multiple reports Thursday, Jayson Werth will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder Friday. Werth is expected to miss at least two-three months. Ken Rosenthal reported the surgery is on Werth’s AC shoulder joint.
The Pirates non-tendered Gaby Sanchez last month and the former Marlins and Pirates first baseman decided to take his talents to Japan. According to a report from Hardball Talk, Sanchez inked a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
WBBM is giving away a pair of Cubs Convention passes.
According to Jon Heyman, former Cubs’ catcher Geovany Soto is in talks with four teams about a possible deal for the upcoming season.
Chad Billingsley has received multiple offers according to Ken Rosenthal, but he did not provide a list of teams. Hardball Talk indicated the D-Backs were interested in Billingsley early in the off-season. Billingsley’s former agent, Dave Stewart, is Arizona’s general manager.
The MLB Network is launching a new original documentary series called MLB Network Presents and will be hosted by Bob Costas. The first MLB Network documentary airs Tuesday, Jan. 13 at 8:00pm CST … The Odd Couple: Bochy & Flannery. This series should be must-see TV.
This Day In Cubstory
2010 – Cubs signed free agent Bryan LaHair
2009 – Cubs signed free agent Milton Bradley to a three-year, $30 million contract
2006 – Cubs traded Corey Patterson to the Orioles for Nate Spears and Carlos Perez
2001 – Cubs signed free agent Todd Dunwoody
1975 – Cubs selected Ed Putnam in the first round (third overall pick) in the amateur draft. Putnam signed with the Cubs on Feb. 21.
1969 – Cubs acquired Ted Abernathy from the Reds for Bill Plummer, Kenneth Myette and Clarence Jones
1953 – Ivan DeJesus, born
1952 – Joe Wallis, born