Countdown to Pitchers and Catchers: 3 Days
USA Today posted its projected win totals for all 30 teams on Monday, and predicted the Cubs to win 101 games during the upcoming season, the most in baseball and four more games than the Cardinals.
USA Today said their “win totals are based on exactly how many games we think each team will win. And unlike the many excellent projection models out there, we are not beholden to formulas capable of producing strikingly accurate statistical projections, but lack an occasional necessary human element.”
Here’s how USA Today sees the 2016 season playing out in the standings:
• NL Central: Cubs: 101-61; Cardinals: 97-65; Pirates: 88-74; Brewers: 64-98; Reds: 61-101
• NL East: Nationals: 89-73; Mets: 87-75; Marlins: 78-84; Braves: 67-95; Phillies: 61-101
• NL West: Giants: 90-72; Dodgers: 88-74; Diamondbacks: 86-76; Padres: 73-89; Rockies: 62-100
The USA Today has the Cubs, Nationals and Giants as the three division winners in the National League with the Cardinals facing either the Dodgers or the Pirates in the NL Wild Card Game.
• AL Central: White Sox: 90-72; Royals: 84-78; Indians: 83-79; Tigers: 82-80; Twins: 80-82
• AL East: Red Sox: 88-74; Blue Jays: 86-76; Rays: 83-79; Yankees: 83-79; Orioles: 78-84
• AL West: Astros: 90-72; Rangers: 85-77; Angels: 83-79; Mariners: 77-85; A’s: 66-96
FanGraphs Steamer projection has the Cubs posting a 94-68 record, tops in baseball with the Dodgers (92-70) and Nationals (88-74) winning the NL West and NL East. In the American League, the Red Sox (91-71), Astros (86-76) and Indians (84-78) end up winning division crowns.
Baseball Prospectus releases the PECOTA Projections early Tuesday. It will be interesting to see how BP’s projection system sees the upcoming season playing out.
Expecting the Cubs to win 100 or more games could make for a frustrating summer. A lot has to go right for a team to win 98 games as Jed Hoyer recently pointed out. The last time a Cubs’ team won 100 games was 1935 and before that was 1910. And the Cubs current front office has not been part of a team that posted a triple-digit win total in a single-season.
The Cubs, Cardinals and Pirates should duke it out all season in the NL Central. And the team with 95 wins should own the top spot in the division after game 162.
The Cubs have not made it official, but Matt Murton will be in camp this spring with the team he broke in the majors with in 2005. Just about everything about the Cubs has changed since Murton last wore the blue pinstripes.
According to a report from the Japan Times, Murton finalized his minor league contract with the Cubs. Murton passed a physical, the only holdup to completing the deal to return to the States.
Matt Murton broke Ichiro’s single-season hit record his first season in Japan. Murton clashed with the Hanshin Tigers media after his first year
Theo Epstein selected Murton in the first round of the 2003 draft and traded him in the Nomar Garciaparra deal in 2004. Murton had opportunities to play in South Korea and other minor league offers from Major League teams.
Matt Murton feels the Cubs are the best fit for him at this point in his career.
According to Baseball America, veteran catcher Luke Carlin signed a minor league contract with the Tigers. Carlin started last season with the A’s. After he was released on July 1, Carlin signed on with the Cubs and finished the year with Triple-A Iowa.
The 35-year old backstop hit .182/.318/.273 with three doubles and a triple in 21 games for the I-Cubs.
Luke Carlin is back where his pro career started. Carlin was selected by the Tigers in the 10th round of the 2002 draft.
News and Notes
• Patrick Mooney explained why the Cubs think their rock-star young players won’t believe all the hype.
• Expectations soar as Cubs try to end championship drought according to a report from Yahoo Sports.
• FanGraphs questioned Dexter Fowler’s defensive improvement. And while Dexter Fowler “likely did not improve defensively last season, it certainly looks like whichever team signs him will be getting a very good deal” if he inks a contract in the two-year, $20 million range.
• The Cardinals might have a better starting rotation than the Cubs according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. And Benjamin Hochman is not being a Cardinals homer. MLB Network’s Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette ranked the Cardinals’ rotation in their top five … and the Cubs’ starters did not make the cut. Those that are overlooking the Cardinals in anyway should re-think their position. On paper, the Cardinals are a better team than the one the Cubs eliminated from the post-season last year.
• Yadier Molina plans on being ready for Opening Day according to a report from Derrick Goold. Molina had the cast removed from his left hand a week and a half ago and is currently wearing a splint. Molina is scheduled to have the splint off within two weeks.
• The Brewers are considering moving Ryan Braun back to left field according to a report from Hardball Talk. With Khris Davis now in Oakland, moving Braun to left and allowing Domingo Santana to play right field would make sense for the Brewers. David Stearns and Craig Counsell will talk about the move with Braun before making the decision.
• Thirteen teams attended Alexei Bell’s showcase according to multiple reports. Ken Rosenthal’s sources said the D-Backs, Dodgers, Phillies, Royals, Blue Jays, Giants, Yankees, Marlins, Cardinals, A’s, Red Sox, Padres and Reds had representatives at his workout.
• Expectations are rather high around the Diamondbacks as Spring Training begins. The D-Backs should be in the mix for the NL West all season with the Giants and Dodgers. Seeing Arizona win the division and make a trip to the playoffs would not surprise anyone that follows the game. Nick Piecoro talked to Tony La Russa and the Hall of Fame manager is fired up as he prepares for the start of his 51st Spring Training. The Cubs second series of the season is against the D-Backs, a four-game set at Chase Field (April 7-10).
• According to Carrie Muskat, the Corey Kluber trade taught Jed Hoyer valuable lessons.
• Former Cubs’ outfielder Tony Campana signed a minor league contract with the Nationals and received a non-roster invite to Spring Training. Campana missed last season recovering from a torn ACL he suffered before camp opened with the White Sox.
• A year later, James Shields and the Padres face different expectations according to a report from Dennis Lin.
• Tim Sheridan rocked it with his video pics of Cubs camp … and Albert Almora Jr. is sporting a ‘That’s Cub’ T-Shirt … Courage Urgency Belief
• For those that like to interact with other Cubs fans on Facebook, check out Cubs Win, Cubs Win! The Facebook page is run by Phil Gialluisi, a longtime reader of Chicago Cubs Online, and all around good guy. His page is for Cubs fans who are looking to connect on Facebook with other great Cubs fans. Phil has created a Facebook destination where Cubs fans can share pictures, videos and much more. For Phil it’s all about connecting Cubs fans with other great Cubs fans … click here.
This Day in Cubstory
2005 – Cubs signed free agent Will Cunnane
2004 – Cubs signed free agent Craig Wilson
1981 – Sergio Mitre, born
1977 – Cubs traded Champ Summers to the Reds for Dave Schneck
1971 – Mike Hubbard, born
1967 – Cubs signed free agent Al Spangler
1952 – Barry Foote, born
1943 – Bobby Darwin, born
1936 – Don Landrum, born
1934 – Don Eaddy, born
1912 – Ray Harrell, born
1909 – Cubs purchased George Browne from the Boston Doves
1892 – Ed Schorr, born
1880 – Carl Lundgren, born