2009 Player Previews - GROTA Round Table
Welcome to the second annual Goat Riders of the Apocalypse round table! A few days ago I EMailed the entire GROTA crew with questions on the new season. Pretty much everybody got back to me. Below are the answers we came up with... maybe in October I will repost this so we can look back and laugh at how stupid we all are.
1. Who do you think will be the team MVP in 2009?
Kyle - Geo Soto
Rob - I think Soto is the most indispensable, and I am bullish on Bradley. Having said that, I see Ramirez having a monster year.
Byron - Aramis Ramirez - Career Year, 40 dingers and a Gold Glove
Yarbage - I'm going to go out on a limb to pick Milton Bradley. I think it comes down to his over .900 OPS this season.
Jason - It's gotta be Uncle Milton. Sure, you can claim that there's a health risk there, but I think it's kind of like smoking: research into health risks is inconclusive. I kid! But seriously, kids, smoking makes you cool. In a close second we have Uncle Aramis and his ramble rousing band of clutch hitters.
Kurt - So we've got two Sotos, an A-Ram, and a Milton. I think that like last season it will be a roleplayer, and therefore my vote goes to the only roleplayer really on the table this year - Mike Fontenot. He won't put up the best numbers but he'll get the big hits.
2. What teams in the Central will the Cubs have to watch out for?
Kyle - Cards, Reds
Rob - Never ever sleep on the Deadbirds, and the Reds will contend until Cueto's and Volquez' arms fall off.
Byron - The Brewers and the Astros
Yarbage - Probably the Brewers still. They still have a good lineup, and they will probably make another move to bring in a starter.
Jason - St. Louis...because of the Dave Duncan effect. And because nothing's scarier than a team with two converted outfielders in the infield.
The Reds...because I just see them flourishing under the strong leadership of Dusty Q. Baker.
The Pirates...because they'll be driving around in a bus trying to run over the opposition.
Kurt - Trick question! Nobody in the central will come close to competing in 2009!
3. What areas should they look to upgrade at as the season progresses?
Kyle - Bullpen
Rob - All the so-called experts seem to think we wil have to get an outfielder. I think Lou's gonna want his backup 3B.
Byron - The Jake Peavy pitching slot... and shortstop.
Yarbage - My guess is will be the starting pitching, because Harden is going to be on the DL. Dempster will probably regress and Marshall is an unknown.
Jason - The rotation. And if they're interested in another starting pitcher, I think I would see if the Padres have anyone available. Also, it wouldn't kill them to grab a true LOOGY.
Kurt - If Hendry is trying for the death blow, he'll pick up another top-of-the-line starting pitcher. If he's just trying to tighten the team overall, he'll pick up another backup infielder and some arms for the bullpen.
1. Kosukue Fukudome. Project his final numbers.
Kyle - .260/.350/.380, 8 HR, 50 RBI
Rob - gawd. My guy. 8 HR, 36 RBI, .261/.355/.398. Ugh.
Byron - .285/.385/.775 12 HRs, 70 RBI, 85 Runs, 15 steals, 8 assists
Yarbage -.275/.380/.475 with 17 homers and 70 RBI
Jason - 21. Yeah, he's changing his uniform number midseason. Unless you meant his batting line, in which case I would predict:
.273, .373, .414
...because I drink the Kool-Aid
Kurt - Again, we've got diversity here. I'm going to say that he'll play slightly above average. .285/.400/.420 12 HR, 80 RBI, 15 SB
2. Who's the first guy on the DL in 2009?
Kyle - Rich Harden
Rob - Harden. Really really sucked Saturday. I'm sure something's gonna turn up sore.
Byron - Alfonso Soriano's bunny hop.
Yarbage - Rich Harden
Jason - Harden will be on the DL within a month, if he doesn't start the season there. He'll be okay after that, though.
Kurt - I'm shocked that nobody picked Bradley. For that reason, I will.
3. Who spends the most time on the DL in 2009?
Kyle - Rich Harden
Rob - Harden. Unless White Slice breaks his face running into a wall.
Byron - Alfonso Soriano's shredded groin.
Yarbage - Rich Harden
Jason - Koyie Hill. Two of his three Frankenfingers will fall off, keeping him on the DL while the grounds crew searches for his missing digits.
Kurt - Jason with the bold pick. I'm going to say the biggest DL resident will be Rich Harden.
4.Biggest surprise and biggest disappointment?
Kyle - Mike Fontenot (surprise), Ryan Dempster (disappointment)
Rob - My good surprise of the year will be Fontenot. By the end of the year, we will have forgotten he was a part-timer for years. Fukudome is my biggest disappointment already.
Byron - Biggest surprise = Gary Gaetti waiver wire pickup (a.k.a. Jim Edmonds signing.) Biggest disappointment = Fonzi's wasted season.
Yarbage - I think the biggest surprise is going to be Mike Fontenot. Disappointment will be Rich Harden because he looks bad and won't be as dominating.
Jason - The biggest surprise will be that Theriot, once again, carries an OBP over .390. I know! I didn't see it coming either.
The biggest disappointment will be that Lee still can't find his power.
Kurt - I think Sean Marshall is going to surprise us all with how well he pitches. I'm again going to go out on a ledge ... Geo Soto will disappoint us the most. Not because he will have a bad year, but because he won't have a better year than what he did in '08. He'll put up slightly worse numbers but will still be better than most catchers.
5. Which pitcher wins the most games for the Cubs in 2009?
Kyle - Carlos Zambrano
Rob - Big Z finally gets 20
Byron - Carlos Zambrano = +19
Yarbage - Carlos Zambrano finally wins 20 this year.
Jason - Carlos. This is the year! 23 wins for Carlos.
Kurt - A Zambrano love-fest. Add me to the mix. Carlos wins more than 20.
6. Carlos Zambrano - healthy all year long or hurt?
Kyle - Hurt
Rob - This is the year he holds up. 2010, however, might be another story.
Byron - Healthy as a buck.
Yarbage - Big Z is ready to prove all his critics wrong and will make it through the entire season.
Jason - See above.
Kurt - I'm curious about Kyle's pick here ... he thinks the Big Moose will lead the team in wins, but will pitch all year long? Sure, I can join in with that. Carlos wins 24 while being forced to pitch left handed due to surgery on his right shoulder.
7. How many saves does Gregg wind up with - and do you think Marmol will eventually get that job?
Kyle - 40, Marmol will only get to close if Gregg is hurt.
Rob - I see a flip-flop deal happening at least once. I think Gregg will be the closer come playoff time, with 29 saves.
Byron - Gregg gets 25 saves. Marmol won't get the title of closer, but will still amass 10+ saves on the season.
Yarbage - Kevin Gregg ends up with 31 saves. I think he keeps the job all year, but Marmol stays in the 8th to get the major outs when the Cubs are in a jam.
Jason - No, and Gregg finishes with 37 saves. Marmol will scoop up a mere 7 saves, but about a billion holds.
Kurt - I think that Gregg will convert about 70-75% of his saves, which will eventually drive Lou to the brink. Marmol will get the gig in August, leaving Gregg with 20-25 on the year.
1. Wins: 95
Kyle - Under (barely).
Rob - OVER
Byron - Push, leaning toward the over.
Yarbage - Push, I picked 95 wins.
Jason - Push.
Kurt - Over. Way over.
Bonus question ... exactly how many wins will the team finish with this year?
Kyle - 94
Rob - At the risk of angering the baseball gods, I'm going to see last year's 97 wins, and raise ya one. 98.
Byron - 95
Yarbage - 95
Jason - 95, but with a Pythagorean expected record of 153-9.
- I love you guys, but the Cubs are a better team playing in a weaker
division. They're going to win more than they did last year, and
because I'm all about the big proclamations (and "100" just doesn't
look good enough on the Zambran-0-Meter) I will be going with ... 110.
2. Derrek Lee Double Plays: 20
Kyle - Over
Rob - So much has been made about this, that he starts uppercutting to compensate. Under.
Byron - Over. Sadly.
Yarbage -I'm taking under, because he can't win again.
Jason - Under.
Kurt - Under. Just go look at the leaders for the past 5 seasons. You'll notice that nobody trends to the top every single year.
3. Combined homeruns between Lee and Ramirez: 60
Kyle - Under
Rob - Under
Byron - Over. Barely.
Yarbage - Under, D-Lee's power days look to be over and I don't think Aram can hit 40.
Jason - Under, but don't blame Aramis.
Kurt - Under. Lee has gone from hitting like Ernie Banks to hitting like Mark Grace. He'll still be fine, but their combined output won't be as epic as an optimist would hope for.
4. Combined homeruns between Fontenot and Theriot: 15
Kyle - Over
Rob - Over. No thanks to the Riot.
Byron - Under. Fontenot 12. Theriot 2.
Yarbage - I'm going over here, because I think Fontenot might hit 15 himself.
Jason - Way over. You clearly underestimate Theriot's power.
Kurt - Over. Fontenot is going to surprise people. Theriot, not so much.
5. Combined homeruns between Soriano and Bradley: 60
Kyle - Under
Rob - Over.
Byron - Under. Soriano 10, Bradley 25.
Yarbage - I think under here, because Sori and Bradley are both headed to at least one DL stint each.
Jason - Over. Have you sen the power display for Soriano this Spring? The man is ready to play.
Kurt - Over. I think Byron is nuts. Sori's injuries have been flukish - especially the ones he had last season. He'll stay healthy even if Bradley doesn't and the Cubs will have some slugging in the corner outfield spots.
6. Days Bradley's on the DL: 30
Kyle - Under
Rob - Under, but not by much.
Byron - Over. Most of July and August.
Yarbage - I'm going under on this one, mainly because I really hope he stays healthy. We need to stay positive.
Jason - Under, although he'll take more than 30 days off overall. I'm seeing him with about 130 amazing games.
Kurt - Push. two trips to the DL = 30 days.
1. Will they get to the post season?
Kyle - Yes, NLC champs
Rob - this year so far, the Cubs have roared off to early leads, which tells me that our lineup is better than anyone else's. So yeah, but...
Byron - Yes. What am I going to say, no?
Yarbage - Yes, if we don't I might go into seclusion like J.D. Salinger.
Jason - Hell yeah.
Kurt - Yes!
2. Can they win the World Series if they do?
Kyle - Of course
Rob - during the two games at Yankee Stadium, they played like....they did the past two playoffs!!
Byron - Yes. If the Devil Rays can make the Series, why can't the Cubs do it?
Yarbage - Yes.
Jason - Yes.
Kurt - HELL yes.
Kyle - This team is built for the playoffs. Versatility on the bench and on defense.
Rob - this team, as constructed, is not built for the Big Show - still no leadership.
Byron - Why Not?
Yarbage - Any team can win once they get to the playoffs. The Marlins have one twice and nobody thought they could. I think this team is flawed, but we are still really, really good. We can only that the Cubs make some moves that put us over the top.
Jason - Because this is the year and they're due and I believe and they'll be fine in '09 and can't hardly wait and he's the one with the gun and special orders don't upset us!
Also because they will clearly be the best team in the playoffs and, with a little luck and a touch less collapselikeacheaplawnchair, they have a better chance than anyone else. Does that mean they'll do it? Well, no, these past two seasons have made that pretty obvious. However, they've put themselves in a great position and all we can do is hope they play will in the playoffs.
Kurt - This is the year!