This season will be a weird one. As a Cubs fan, I usually come into the season with a little optimism, but mostly waiting for the impending doom and gloom to arrive. Even if the team gets off to a slow start in April, these guys basically have a lifetime pass, right?
Jason Heyward played with a broken swing for the entire season. He spent the offseason rebuilding it from scratch. How long will the Cubs stick with him if he struggles again?
I usually mess with all the MLB team preview photos in MS Paint as a joke, but this photo of David Ross getting carried off is just too damn perfect.
Here is the 2017 MLB season preview for the Chicago Cubs.
2016 Win/Loss Record: 103-58
Key Additions: RP Wade Davis, RP Koji Uehara, OF Jon Jay, RP Brian Duensing, SP Brett Anderson, SP Eddie Butler, SP Alex Mills, C Carlos Corporan, RP Jim Henderson, SP Casey Kelly, SP Williams Perez, RP David Rollins & 2B Jemile Weeks
Key Losses: OF Dexter Fowler, RP Aroldis Chapman, C David Ross, SP Jason Hammel, RP Travis Wood, RP Trevor Cahill, OF Jorge Soler, OF Chris Coghlan & RP Joe Smith
Interleague Schedule: AL East
Projected Starters: Wilson Contreras, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Ben Zobrist, Albert Almora Jr. & Jason Heyward
Projected Starting Rotation: Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey & Mike Montgomery
Closer: Wade Davis
Fantasy Sleeper: SP Mike Montgomery – The Cubs struck gold when they traded for Montgomery last season. They first used him as a long reliever and then started him a few times at the end of the year. He’s the reason the Cubs didn’t exercise the option on Jason Hammel. Montgomery will start the year as the fifth starter and I expect him to do very well. Kyle Hendricks killed it as the fifth starter and Montgomery could be a steal if he does as well as I think he will do this year as a full-time starter.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: OF Eloy Jimenez – Jimenez is far from ready to be called up, but you will be hearing his name a lot. The Cubs showed last year that they are not afraid to trade prospects for players they think will make them a better team right now. They traded Gleyber Torres and Billy McKinney to the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman last year and the move proved to be worth the one-year rental. They also traded Jorge Soler to the Royals this Winter for closer Wade Davis. Jimenez will start the year in High-A and all signs point to the 20-year old dominating there.
Team Analysis: The Cubs had such a memorable year. Not only did they blow away the competition in the regular season, but the playoffs were so much fun, and painful to watch. I was a wreck during the entire World Series and a complete basket case during Game 7. I couldn’t feel my face during extra innings. It was such a fitting way for the Cubs to end a 108-year championship drought.
The Cubs come into the year with ‘mostly’ the same roster. They do have a new closer and will desperately miss Dexter Fowler, but the rest is basically the same. It will be interesting to see how the team does without the immense pressure to win a title for the Cubs fans. Most teams probably feel more pressure to repeat, but it’s the opposite for the Cubs.
Jake Arrieta and John Lackey are both in contract years. Arrieta wants a $200+ contract, but I don’t see the Cubs handing one to him. They are already paying Jon Lester a ton and they need to save money to keep Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and the rest of the core with the team. They have a few more years until those contracts need dealt with, but Arrieta wants a seven-year deal. I don’t see it happening. This will probably be the last year for him in Wrigley.
The Cubs are the favorites to win the NL Central as well as the World Series. It would take a full collapse for them not to make the postseason, but the Cubs are in a place they haven’t been in a really long time.
2017 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 96.5 (Prediction: OVER)
2017 Projected Win/Loss Record: 101-61 (1st in NL Central)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.