The Rundown: Opening Day Arrives, Jumping on Prediction Train, Officially Adopting Wally Dogger to Start Season

Holy Crap – it’s Opening day. Where did the time go? Is winter really over? Wasn’t I just shoveling my car out of two feet of snow?  Anyone excited for the grandiose small-sample predictions sure to follow today’s game recaps? Imagine if Tuffy Rhodes really hit 486 home runs in 1994? And what in the name of Bob Scanlan do we think the Cubs will do this season?

Evan Altman climbed out on a limb yesterday with some Cubs predictions for this season so I thought I would add a few of my own.

  1. David Bote will get 400 ABs this season and assume an everyday spot in the lineup after Addison Russell is traded.
  2. Kyle Hendricks will lead the NL in victories but will not get a single first-place Cy Young vote.
  3. Tyler Chatwood will emerge as a lights-out middle reliever, just like Collin McHugh did last season for the Astros.
  4. Javier Báez will lead the league in RBI but lose the MVP Award to Kris Bryant. Christian Yelich will finish third, as will the Brewers.
  5. The Cubs will acquire a relief pitcher in June who will become Joe Maddon’s anointed closer. If I am really going out on a limb, it will be Drew Steckinrider of the Marlins. He will cost the Cubs Brailyn Marquez and Dillon Maples.
  6. Maddon will sign a contract extension before the All-Star break.
  7. The Cubs will have an 8-game lead in the division and the best record in the NL at the break.
  8. Kyle Schwarber signs his extension in April and then will win the Home Run Derby in July.
  9. Jason Heyward hits more than 20 home runs.
  10. The Cubs will reach the 2019 World Series, squaring off against the Yankees.

A couple more: The NL Central will be a tight race but will finish, in order:

  1. Cubs
  2. Cardinals
  3. Brewers
  4. Reds
  5. Pirates

One final forecast: The owners and players will agree to a new CBA before the end of the season.

Cubs News & Notes

How About That!

Here’s why the Dodgers will win the NL West again this season.

Rob Manfred doesn’t seem very concerned with the health of the players in the independent Atlantic League.

If you are a regular reader of this column who lives in England, ESPN has an exciting new baseball program for you called Caps Off.

Bryce Harper jerseys are a hot ticket in Philadelphia and everywhere else, apparently.

The Blue Jays have traded Kendrys Morales to the A’s. Morales seems perfect for Oakland.

Here’s a handy guide to all of baseball’s rules changes for this year, and…

Here’s an equally handy Opening Day TV schedule.

The NY Post offers tips on how to bet the 2019 season.

On Deck

This is a great post from CI’s Moshe Wilensky, celebrating Opening Day by looking back at a World Series prediction in the form of MLB ’12 The Show.

Extra Innings

DAZN is a fledgling, England-based OTT platform that intends to take ESPN head on for viewers.

Today, timed perfectly to Opening Day, the streaming service will  debut its nightly baseball “whip-around” show called ChangeUp. DAZN doesn’t have the rights to show full MLB games, but can cut in live to any exciting moment for a few minutes at a time.

The show should appeal to baseball fans who don’t care to watch full games, but would rather catch the highlights and analysis. It is a direct shot at ESPN’s Baseball Tonight and MLBTV’s Quick Pitch Live. It is also anchored by former ESPN host Adnan Virk, with former ESPN president John Skipper running DAZN’s entire U.S. business interests.

An interesting note about the platform: Jake Mintz and Jordan Shusterman, the millennials behind the popular baseball Twitter account Cespedes Family Barbecue, will host from 10 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays. The show is based out of a studio in Secaucus, N.J.

They Said It

  • “I would take 95 [wins] every year. That’s going to be more difficult, even with a perfectly healthy roster all season and everybody pretty much playing up to their capabilities. I just think that the rest of the division (has) gotten better. I think the National League’s gotten better. So taking all those things into consideration, to get to that number is going to be not easy.” – Joe Maddon
  • “‘Complacency’ is a tough word.  ’Exhaustion’ is probably the word I would have used more. But think that some of that could have been maybe helped if we had been a little more diligent earlier in the season. We got ourselves in a tough spot, and we were playing 42 out of 43 days in a row or at least going to the field to work on stuff. Then you have a hot team on your heels and the next thing you know, you’re losing the lead. I think that we realized that this is never something to take for granted.” – Ben Zobrist
  • “Cubs baseball is on the air!” – Pat Hughes

Thursday Walk Up Song

Drunk in the Day by Chicago’s own Wally Dogger. Let’s make this our annual Opening Day tradition, shall we? See you at Murphy’s Bleachers this summer.

 

22 Comments

  1. Ah…my favorite day of the year. I normally take a sick day, but since the Cubs play at 2ct, I will just grind it out until 2.35 (the best part of being a teacher). It is hard to not be optimistic on opening day, so I will say the Cubs win the division with 93 wins (I wanna say 95), Bote becomes a regular and serious contributor. Russell is dealt around the ASB. Happ is on the block too. Maples or Mekkes becomes a set-up piece for Joe. The Cubs bullpen is among the league leaders in ERA and Ks. Darvish wins 14 games, loses about half of that number. Hendricks and Hamel win 32+ together. Quintana pitches like the ’17 version and rumors will fly about being dealt. Lester becomes a .500, mid/bottom rotation arm for the rest of his career. Bryant, Rizzo and Baez will hit a combined .890 OPS as the 2-3-4 hitters (though Rizzo will miss 20+ games with his back). Contreras reasserts himself back into the conversation about “best catcher in baseball”. Schwarber is up and down, still leading to questions about consistency and the Cubs will receive offers for him. Heyward gets up to close to league average hitter…maybe even 98 OPS+ in part time duty. Zobrist has a couple of hot spurts, but age and nagging injuries keep him down. The Brewers rotation breaks down, leading to an 88 win year in third. The Cards bore themselves into a 2nd place finish and get bounced in the wildcard.

    1. I forgot Almora. Another hot start, becomes a key cog, but Joe rides him too hard again and he fades until the playoffs.

  2. Schwarber hits a HR off a LHP last game of the spring and then sits opening day vs a LHP is disappointing when they were doing all that take of more set line ups and given guys a change to bust being in platoons.

    1. Zag has probably earned some pt vs. LHP. A great spring. I like leaving Schwarb out until he can be placed in the game at a crucial moment.

  3. My bold prediction: The number of Cubs wins will be in the triple digits. The Cards scare me most in the division, and 7 of the last 10 games of the season are against them. Time to PLAY BALL!!

      1. I hope you are right! I do like that Pham and Grichuk are expected to do big things this year, now that they are no longer Cardinals. If they do manage to meet those expectations and the Card’s offense sputters, I am sorry to admit that would bring me joy!

  4. Messages don’t get sent or received after one game in baseball. Although a few more like today, and the Cubs will be putting the league on notice.

  5. Trea Turner will steal 486 bases this season at his current pace. The Dodgers will hit 1056 home runs as a team. Also, my desk chair just lost a screw. At its current pace I will be sitting on the floor in 12 days.

    1. With Javy hitting 324 homers to KB’s measly 162, it’s gonna be hard for him to win the MVP over El Mago.

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