2013 MLB Team Preview: Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are in the middle of rebuilding their team the right way, through the draft. They are avoiding the offseason barrage of high-priced free agents, which was their vice during the final years of the Chicago Tribune ownership. The new owners, the Ricketts family lured Theo Epstein away from the Boston Red Sox before last season and ended the season with  101 losses in 2012.

Cubs fans aren’t expecting a World Series championship in 2013, but they want to see improvement. A few young prospects are expected to be called up at some point and those are the players the fans will have an interest in.

Should fans expect an All-Star season from Anthony Rizzo?

Will Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano be traded at some point this season?

Here is the 2013 MLB season preview for the Chicago Cubs.

2012 Win/Loss Record: 61-101

Key Additions: P Edwin Jackson, OF Scott Hairston, P Scott Baker, OF Nate Schierholtz, P Scott Feldman, P Carlos Villanueva, P Kyuji Fujikawa, C Dioner Navarro, Brent Lillibridge, OF Brian Bogusevic

Key Losses: 1B Bryan LaHair, OF Joe Mather, P Justin Germano, P Manny Corpas, P Randy Wells, P Rodrigo Lopez

Interleague Schedule: AL West + Chicago White Sox

Projected Starters: Wellington Castillo, Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney, IanStewart, Starlin Castro, Alfonso Soriano, David DeJesus, Nate Schierholtz

Projected Starting Rotation: Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson, Jeff Samardzija, Scott Feldman, Travis Wood/Scott Baker

Closer: Carlos Marmol

Fantasy SleepersC Wellington Castillo – Picking a fantasy sleeper on the Cubs is difficult. The sleepers that automatically come to mind, may not start the season in the Majors. 3B Josh Vitters and CF Brett Jackson are assumed to be Triple-A bound. They are not position-blocked, but both players struggled when they were called up last season (Vitters couldn’t get on base and Jackson struck out in 41% of his MLB at-bats). Castillo is forecast to be a #2 catcher in deep NL-only leagues. He crushes the ball against lefties, but struggles with righties. Dioner Navarro will be in a platoon with Castillo, but isn’t expected to be the main catcher. Castillo has double-digit power and had seasons in the Minors when he hit around .300. If you need a third catcher in a two-catcher fantasy league, Castillo is worth a roster spot. The Cubs will look a lot different in a couple years, when Javier Baez, Junior Lake, Jae-Hoon Ha, Matt Szczur and Jorge Soler are on the team…until then, Castillo is your best shot at a fantasy sleeper.

Team Analysis: The Cubs are in the middle of a talent overhaul. Team President Theo Epstein is putting his touches on the Cubs and it will take a couple years for them to pay off. They lost 100 games for the first time in a few decades and you won’t see that this year. He went out and signed Edwin Jackson, a few pitchers to fill out the back-end of the rotation and some outfielder depth. He saw the biggest faults in the team last season and immediately addressed them. The Cubs aren’t built to win right now, but they’re farm system is vastly improved. If the Cubs are out of it before the trade deadline, I expect a few players to be flipped for prospects. Matt Garza is the leading candidate to be on another team by the end of the year. They will still finish this season with a better record than in 2012. The Cubs don’t have the Astros to beat up on anymore, so it looks like they’ll actually be in last place this season.

Sportsbook.ag’s 2013 Wins Over/Under Line: 73.0 (Prediction: OVER)

2013 Projected Win/Loss Record: 71-91 (5th in NL Central)

…because people often find my site on Google by trying to find MLB players with their shirt off (I have zero idea how this started). Here is a picture of Edwin Jackson shirtless and doing some weird dance.

…I’m sorry, guys!

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