Buster Olney concluded his series of winter rankings with the top 10 teams of 2016, and the Chicago Cubs are the best team in baseball according to the input he received from evaluators across the league.
The Cubs finished last season with the third most victories in baseball. While the Cubs might not win as many games as a year ago, most feel Joe Maddon has a better team on paper than the one that made it to the NLCS.
Olney pointed to the additions of Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist making the Cubs “even better and deeper, both at the plate and in the field, and they also added a reliable rotation plow horse in John Lackey.” Olney added the Cubs face the tough challenge of winning the NL Central to ensure they avoid the NL Wild Card Game.
The Cubs “are the early pick here to take another step forward this year and do something they haven’t done since 1908: win the World Series.”
Buster Olney’s top 10 teams in 2016: Cubs, Royals, Red Sox, Giants, Rangers, Astros, Cardinals, Mets, Pirates and Blue Jays. The best of the rest: Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Indians and Nationals.
The Cubs ranked in the top five in six of Buster Olney’s seven categories. Defense remains a big question for Maddon’s team and the Cubs were not mentioned in Olney’s evaluation of the top 15 clubs.
Cubs Single-Game Tickets
Cubs’ single-game tickets for the 2016 season go on-sale Feb. 26.
The Cubs have a good shot at selling out the entire season. Season-ticket holders renewed at a 98 percent clip, according to Crane Kenney, so getting tickets at Wrigley Field for the upcoming season from the team could be rather challenging this year.
The virtual waiting room figures to be standing room only on the last Friday in February.
Pearl Jam announced Tuesday two dates this summer at Wrigley Field, August 20 and 22.
On-sale date, ticket prices and additional details will be announced soon.
Eddie Vedder will play Wrigley while the Cubs are on the road in Denver and San Diego. The Cubs have a nine-game, three-city West Coast trip with the Rockies (Aug. 19-21), Padres (Aug. 22-24) and Dodgers (Aug. 26-28).
The CCO on the Radio
Tom will join Darin Pritchett and Rick Carter on WSBT Radio in South Bend tonight (Wednesday, 5:30pm CST) talking Cubs prospects with South Bend Cubs Radio. Those that would like to listen to the show can follow this link … WSBT-960
Here is Tom’s radio schedule over the next four weeks, please note one change:
- Wednesday, Jan. 20 – 5:30pm CST
- Wednesday, Jan. 27 – 5:30pm CST
- Thursday, Feb. 4 – 5:30pm CST
- Wednesday, Feb. 10 – 5:30pm CST
Those that missed last week’s segment, click here to read the transcript.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Tom Ricketts’ vision has Cubs’ brand thriving according to a report from CBS Chicago.
• Ryne Sandberg embraces being back with the Cubs and his return home according to a report from Carrie Muskat.
• The Tribune reported that RHP Ryan Williams could be a sleeper this season for the Cubs if the injuries create an opening in the rotation. Williams was the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year for 2015.
• Jesse Rogers posted a Twitter mailbag on ESPN Chicago.
• The Cubs have all the signs of a juggernaut according to Phil Rogers.
• Bruce Levine reported Kris Bryant’s whirlwind off-season is about to end.
• Patrick Mooney questioned if the Cubs still see catching as part of Kyle Schwarber’s future.
• According to Ken Rosenthal, the Orioles are reluctant to surrender the 14th pick in the draft to sign RHP Yovani Gallardo. The Orioles could sign a top International prospect to compensate for losing the draft pick.
• The Yoenis Cespedes rumors picked up Tuesday in the wake of Justin Upton signing with the Tigers. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Tigers were negotiating with Cespedes as well as Upton. Rosenthal’s sources said the Marlins were “among the teams that have discussed pursuing Cespedes on a short-term deal and likely would require accompanying a trade of Marcell Ozuna.” Rosenthal reported it’s unlikely the Marlins would be in on Cespedes. And Bob Nightengale shot down the Marlins’ interest in Cespedes. Nightengale talked to David Sampson who said the Marlins do not have room in the outfield for Cespedes. Rosenthal confirmed the Nationals interest in Cespedes if his price drops.
• According to Bruce Levine, the White Sox are among the finalists for Yoenis Cespedes. Levine reported his market is down to five teams: White Sox, Angels, Astros, Mets and Braves.
• And the Padres are monitoring the market for Yoenis Cespedes, according to Dennis Lin, but “a match seems unlikely.”
• The Rockies made it official Tuesday and announced signing OF Gerardo Parra. The Nationals and Giants were the other two teams in the running for Parra according to Patrick Saunders.
• Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy wants to win and doesn’t see Milwaukee winning in the foreseeable future. Lucroy told Tom Haudricourt he would “lose credibility and respect” if he said the Brewers would compete for a spot in the playoffs this year. Lucroy would welcome a trade to a contending team.
• The Dodgers signed RHP Joe Blanton to a one-year, $4 million contract.
• Major League Baseball is investigating gambling charges against Yu Darvish’s brother according to a report from Hardball Talk.
And last, but not least, Antwaan Randle El was taken by the Cubs in the 14th round of the 1997 draft and if he could do it over again, he would have played baseball instead of football. Randle El has trouble at the age of 36 walking down stairs and he struggles with remembering even simple conversations with his wife.
This Day in Cubstory
2014 – Cubs signed free agent Chris Coghlan
2014 – Cubs signed free agent Lars Anderson
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Bobby Scales
2009 – Cubs signed free agents Jason Dubois, Luis Rivas and Mike Stanton
2005 – Cubs signed free agent Cody Ransom
2003 – Cubs signed free agent Mark Guthrie
1998 – Cubs traded Jon Ratliff to the Braves for Ray King
1983 – Geovany Soto, born
1981 – John Baker, born
1979 – Cubs signed free agent Steve Waterbury
1972 – Cubs traded Johnny Callison to the Yankees for a PTNBL. Yankees sent Jack Aker to the Cubs on May 17, 1972 to complete the trade.
1929 – Gale Wade, born
1891 – Earl Smith, born