The student newspaper of Vernon Hills High School

The Scratching Post

Filed under Sports

MLB season preview: can the Cubs repeat?

White+Sox+players+stretch+before+a+workout+at+Camelback+Ranch+in+Glendale%2C+Arizona.+
White Sox players stretch before a workout at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona.

White Sox players stretch before a workout at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona.

White Sox players stretch before a workout at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Sloan Park, the Spring Training home of the Cubs

After 108 long years, Cubs fans had a fantastic season. After a short offseason, it is once again time for the players of the MLB to gear up for another 162 game season. According to the Westgate Las Vegas, the Cubs and Red Sox both have the same 9:2 odds of winning the World Series.
While many people are wondering how the Cubs are not the sole favorites anymore, it is explained by the offseason transactions of both teams.

The Cubs made a couple of moves. The first was the replacement of Dexter Fowler; the Cubs offered Fowler a one-year, $17 million deal, but Fowler was looking for a multi-year deal. Last offseason, he signed a one-year deal with the Cubs betting that he would be able to prove himself to get a multi-year deal. This paid off as Fowler signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Saint Louis Cardinals.

To replace Fowler, the Cubs signed former Padres and Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay to a one-year, $8 million contract. This appears as a slight downgrade from Fowler.
According to Baseball Reference, Jay has the advantage in batting average, batting .291 in 2016 compared to Fowler’s .276, but Fowler appears to have the advantage just about everywhere else, though.

Fowler hit 13 home runs, compared to Jay’s two. Fowler’s slugging percentage was .447, compared to Jay’s .389. Fowler also stole seven bases, while Jay only stole two bases. The best way to judge a player’s overall performance is through wins above replacement (WAR). In this category, Fowler had the advantage over Jay 4.7 to 1.1. In both offense and defense, Fowler’s performance was better.

In 2016, according to the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs went 11-17 when Dexter Fowler didn’t play, while they were 92-41 when he did play. This stat is concerning to Cubs fans, but there is another option to play center field for the Cubs; Albert Almora.

According to MLB.com, Almora is the 75th best prospect in the entire MLB and minor league system and third best in the Cubs organization, but saw time with the major league team last year.
In 47 games at the MLB level, Almora batted .277 in 117 plate appearances. Cubs fans remember him for pinch running for Kyle Schwarber in the tenth inning of game seven of the World Series.

He tagged up from first base to second base, a rare occasion. His heads up baserunning eventually paid off when he came around to score the go-ahead run on a Ben Zobrist double.
Almora is projected to bat .270 by Fangraphs projections, with above average defense proving he is a viable alternative to Jay.

The second major move the Cubs made was the trade for closer Wade Davis. The Cubs traded outfielder Jorge Soler for Davis to replace Aroldis Chapman. As expected, Chapman signed a five-year, $86 million deal with the New York Yankees.

This is a good move for the Cubs, as Soler never fully developed and couldn’t seem to take the next step with the Cubs. In order to develop fully, he needs more at-bats. With a crowded outfield, there would have been no spot for him to play as he is a defensive and offensive liability

In 2016, Davis was plagued by injuries but still posted a 1.87 ERA in 45 games. Reliever Trevor Cahill signed a deal with the San Diego Padres, and lefty specialist Travis Wood signed a deal with the Kansas City Royals.

Cubs fifth starter Jason Hammel also left the Cubs to join the Royals. Hammel began 2016 strong but dropped off in the second half of with a 4.35 ERA.
While it is expected reliever Mike Montgomery will get the fifth starter’s spot, the Cubs also signed Brett Anderson. Anderson has a 3.86 career ERA but has faced multiple injuries. Anderson will be another project for Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio.

Across town, there were multiple major moves made. Sox fans are expected to have a tough season, as general manager Rick Hahn pushed the team into a full rebuild.

The White Sox traded ace pitcher Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox for MLB’s top prospect Yoan Moncada, 46th overall prospect Michael Kopech, and three more prospects. This was a steal for the White Sox, as they acquired the top prospect along with a solid pitching prospect.

White Sox players stretch before a workout at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona.

Former White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton was dealt with the Washington Nationals for number three overall prospect Lucas Giolito, 38th overall prospect Reynaldo Lopez, and one more prospect.

Hahn had a fantastic offseason trading two players for four highly ranked prospects and put the White Sox in a position to win in two or three years, similar to what the Cubs did.

Outside of Chicago, the major moves this season involved key offensive players moving around. The New York Mets ended up keeping both of their key free agents in outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and infielder Neil Walker. In 2016, the Mets faced a plethora injuries including three of their top pitchers. A healthy Mets team will be back in the playoff hunt in 2017, just like in 2015.

The Cleveland Indians signed former Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion hit 42 home runs last season and drove in 127 runs. He replaces Mike Napoli, who signed with his former team, the Texas Rangers.

With a healthy Michael Brantley, the Indians are poised to once again be in contention for the World Series. Brantley was shut down August 3rd of 2016 after only playing eleven games. That was his second season in a row facing an injury. In 2014, Brantley finished fourth in AL MVP after batting .327 with 45 doubles, 20 home runs, and 97 RBIs. Luckily for the Cubs, he missed the 2016 World Series.

The Dodgers are also poised to once again be contenders. They re-signed third baseman Justin Turner to a four-year, $64 million contract. The Dodgers also re-signed closer Kenley Jansen to a five-year, $80 million contract. Cubs fans likely remember Jansen, who shut out the Cubs across 6.1 innings in the NLCS.

The 2017 MLB season is likely to be the polar opposite for Chicago fans as the Cubs are poised to once again be World Series contenders. Meanwhile, on the south side, the White Sox will struggle to win more than 65 games.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • MLB season preview: can the Cubs repeat?

    Sports

    Girls’ Volleyball sets off the season

  • MLB season preview: can the Cubs repeat?

    Sports

    Vernon Hills Football Team aims to live up to high expectations

  • Sports

    Rise of Badminton at VHHS

  • MLB season preview: can the Cubs repeat?

    Sports

    Winter sport state qualifiers

  • MLB season preview: can the Cubs repeat?

    Sports

    2017 Spring sports preview

  • Sports

    2017 NFL playoff review

  • MLB season preview: can the Cubs repeat?

    Sports

    O’Connell and Cougars On The Prowl

  • MLB season preview: can the Cubs repeat?

    Sports

    Rebuilding the Chicago Bears

  • MLB season preview: can the Cubs repeat?

    Sports

    Football team makes history

  • MLB season preview: can the Cubs repeat?

    Sports

    1908-2016: Cubs making history

The student newspaper of Vernon Hills High School
MLB season preview: can the Cubs repeat?