Prior to the start of the season, I had posted my 10 Bold Predictions for the Chicago Cubs in 2014 and said that I'd be sure to revisit them and after the season. But you, loyal reader, deserve better, so now that we're nearing the quarter pole in the season-long race, I wanted to take a look at my predictions to see where I stand so far.
The Cubs will win 85 games (L, 0-1)
They call 'em "bold" for a reason, and it appears that this one can be crossed out already. Currently winning at a .342 clip, the Cubs are on pace for only 55 wins, which is good enough to secure a great draft pick, but not quite enough to support my prediction.
Dale Sveum will be replaced as manager (W, 1-1)
The original CI post was partially culled from predictions I had made in a Yahoo post prior to Sveum's firing, so this one was determined a long time ago. While it doesn't seem like a stretch now, this wasn't a slam dunk at the time I projected it.
Starlin Castro will bat .300 (Push, 1-1-1)
He's only hitting .279 right now, but it's still early and it's quite evident that his approach has improved a great deal over last year's pedestrian .245. Even many of Castro's outs have come on squarely-hit balls, leading me to believe that a resurgent season and a return to .300 are very possible.
Javier Baez will win Rookie of the Year (L, 1-2-1)
Given his struggles thus far, it's unlikely that Baez will even see the Bigs this season (but for a possible September call-up), let alone have a shot at the ROY award. Had I run this prediction during Spring Training, it would have looked pretty darn good. An ankle injury and a 40+% K-rate have served notice that the can't-miss prospect with the violent swing can indeed miss...a lot. He can still right the ship, but AAA looks like more than just a temporary layover at this point.
Scott Baker and Daniel Bard will be solid members of the bullpen (L, 1-3-1)
Not even gonna bother with this (Cue sad trombone noise).
Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood will combine for 35 wins (Push, 1-3-2)
Well, if the offense could get moving behind Shark, this prediction might look at least somewhat plausible. However, a 3-7 combined record in 16 starts isn't necessarily a great indicator. Samardzija has allowed only 9 earned runs all season, 3 of which came in one game.
Opponents have scored a TOTAL of 25 runs in games Jeff has started, yet the Cubs have scratched out only 15, including 3 shutouts. That's not even 2 runs/game of offensive support for a team that averages just over 4 (still pretty weak, but enough to win more games). Had the Cubs simply reached their average runs scored in each of Shark's starts, he'd likely be 6-2 (opponents have scored 4 or more only twice in his 8 starts).
The Cubs will stand pat at the trading deadline (Push, 1-3-3)
Well, this could still come true, but only if they've already moved their pieces by then. It's likely that Jason Hammel will be gone, along with (fingers crossed) Darwin Barney and Nate Schierholtz, and probably even the aforementioned Jeff Samardzija.
Wrigley purists will enjoy the video board (L, 1-4-3)
As with seemingly everything else in the sprawling business plan, this addition is behind schedule. Due to the semantics of the sentence though, this will likely never be true. Purists are, by nature, resistant to change and may never accept something they feel will ruin Wrigley's ambiance.
If they wanted to watch a giant TV, they reason, they'd just stay home with their big-screen set. And if they wanted something to blare distracting rock music, they'd just go for a drive with their teenaged kid or grandchild. Never mind that these are myopic and jaded opinions, they're going to be held steadfastly.
Anthony Rizzo will be an All-Star (Push, 1-4-4)
With a .275 average, 7 HRs, and 21 RBI, this one is looking like a darn good possibility. Since the Cubs will likely end up with only one representative in the game, it's looking right now like either Rizz-OH! or Shark will make the trip to Target Field.
The Cubs will win both the first and last games of the season (L, 1-5-4)
A season-opening 0-1 shutout doomed this prediction pretty quickly and a matchup with the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers (it hurts to type that) at season's end could tank it completely.
Well, it's not really looking too good for me at this point, is it? I gave myself the benefit of the doubt on a couple of these, thus giving me a chance, albeit a slim one, to break even. Luck is in short supply on the North Side, but I may just be able to find enough to pull me through.
My not-so-bold prediction at this point is that I'm going to end at 2-8, but we'll see what happens. I'll continue to monitor this and check back a couple more times, as I do want to hold myself accountable and to let you all know that I am indeed as big an idiot as you think I am.
Seriously though, I do think today's world of blogs and social media has made it a little too easy to sort of forget about what we write or to hide behind revisionist work as time passes. But I want to own what I put out there, even when it's wrong or poorly-received (like this post, for instance).
Despite the fact that I might not like or agree with all the feedback I get, I appreciate the hell out of each and every one of you who will read this. You make it possible for me to do what I love, and for that I thank you.
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