1-5 (T-5th place, NL Central)
2-4 (4th place, NL Central)
|Game 1||Marco Estrada (0-0, 7.20)||vs.||Edwin Jackson (0-1, 3.60)|
|vs. Cubs||(0-0, ---)||vs.||(0-0, ---)|
|vs. Cubs||(0-0, ---)||vs. Brewers||(0-0, ---)|
|vs. Cubs||(0-0, ---)
||vs. Brewers||(0-0, ---)
The Brewers aren't off to the best start this season. Hopefully they will find a cure for what ails them against the Chicago Cubs, projected by most to finish last in the National League Central. The two teams start their series today, with first pitch scheduled for 1:20 CT.
To help get a feel for the Cubs, Al Yellon of Bleed Cubbie Blue offered to answer a few questions about the team.
The Cubs had the second worst record in the MLB last season and are clearly a rebuilding team. However, they signed Edwin Jackson in the offseason and almost signed Anibal Sanchez to a big contract. What was your reaction to those moves?
Well, the Sanchez non-signing was a non-move, so I won't comment on it.
Edwin Jackson is a fine pitcher to have, even on a rebuilding staff. He's 29, never gets hurt, eats up innings and is a solid #3 or #4 starter even on a contending team (as he was for the Nats in 2012). He can be part of the next contending team for the Cubs in a year or two.
Chicago is projected by most to finish last in the division. What do you think will need to happen for them to stay out of the cellar?
No, I'm kidding. Mostly. The Cubs will need to generate some offense; the starting rotation has been pretty good the first time through, and they will need new closer Kyuji Fujikawa to close games, unlike the removed closer Carlos Marmol. If the Cubs can get leads -- and they have shown they can do that already -- a better bullpen will help them keep those leads. I still expect an improvement of 10-15 wins this year.
Jeff Samardzija started fulltime for the Cubs last year after spending most of his time in the majors as a reliever. He has been spectacular in two starts this year. How good do you think he will be going forward? What are your expectations for him this year?
Samardzija is the Cubs' ace, and he has shown at least the potential of being AN ace, period. As you note, he's been outstanding so far this year, and that comes after being solid through most of the second half of 2012. If he keeps this up, I'd look for the Cubs to try to lock him up to a long-term deal. They have already tried this, but Shark said no, probably trying to wait to up his value. I think he will. He's got a chance to have a breakout season like Gio Gonzalez had in 2012.
Of the Cubs eight projected everyday starters this season, how many do you see remaining a part of the team even three or four years from now? Is there anyone outside of Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo who has staying power?
Darwin Barney might stick around, just due to his defense. If the Cubs have better offensive players at other positions, you can live with a guy who hits like that because of his defensive value.
The only other current Cub who might stick around is Welington Castillo. Castillo hit at every minor-league level and has a cannon of an arm. He's 26 (later this month) and if he hits, he could be the Cubs' starting catcher for many years to come.
Javier Baez is the Cubs top prospect currently, but he plays shortstop. If Baez continues to hit well through the minors, how do you see the Cubs reconciling having both he and Castro on the roster potentially?
I expect Baez might wind up being moved to third base, because the Cubs could use a third baseman going forward. You're right about him being the team's top prospect -- he hit some monster home runs off major-league pitching during spring training. If he keeps that up, I can see him moving up the ladder quickly. But he will probably not be a shortstop at the big-league level.
Thanks to Al for taking the time to answer these questions for us!