Here’s a fun little game. How many different adjectives can you come up with to describe the disastrous 2010 season the Chicago Cubs had or how many times a specific Cubs player hurt your fantasy baseball team in 2010 (*cough* Randy Wells). The Cubs season basically ended before the May flowers ever had a chance to bloom, and while this season should be no better, the Cubs do enter the 2011 season with plenty to offer fantasy baseball managers.
Most of—if not damn near all—of the players out of Chicago will probably be taken in the latter half of your fantasy baseball draft. The potential benefit is you should wind up finding a couple of rather decent players in an area of your fantasy baseball draft that normally aren’t there.
Let’s take a look at what the Chicago Cubs have to offer in the upcoming 2011 fantasy baseball season.
Geovany Soto ,Catcher:
- Soto and the Cubs came to a one year agreement allowing Soto to stick around for at least another year, and everyone is hoping he can build on a solid 2010 campaign in which he built a very nice .890 OPS (better than his rookie year) and a serviceable .280/.393/.497 batting line in only 322 at bats. Soto is not viewed as a Top 10 catcher in most circles, but don’t be that copy cat guy and follow the herd on Soto lest you might miss out on a potentially great season.
- Power at the catcher spot is rather uncommon, but Soto is the type of player that redefines that notion. He’s hit 53 homeruns over the last three seasons—not elite numbers, but very serviceable none-the-less—and you can expect another quality year from Soto that should resemble his 2008 rookie year.
- One huge quality to mention regarding Soto is his strikeout to ball ratio from a year ago (83 to 62). The reason for his 2009 collapse was simply because he whiffed at an alarming rate. In 2010 he played with a much better trained eye, reducing his overall strikeout count which contributed to his power numbers.
The Cubs Have a Solid Rotation?
- I know, right! Call me crazy, tell me it’s time to pee in the little cup; whatever but the Cubbies actually have a rotation you can depend on in 2011 even in fantasy baseball. Big Z should start the season strong, Matt Garza defects to the NL where he should excel, Randy Wells’ 2010 numbers are a bit misleading, Carlos Silva (ya know, the same Carlos Silva who started 8-0 in 2010) is back for another year, and Ryan Dempster enters his fourth year as a Cubbie and as one of the better consistent fantasy baseball pitchers.
- Carlos Silva and Ryan Dempster were arguably the strongest pitchers in the rotation, and while Silva will be a late round flyer, Ryan Dempster should come off the boards rather early. Dempster has been very consistent over the past four years, but was also the victim of 6 terrible losses (or losses suffered in quality starts). But with an improved offense, that shouldn’t be the case. Silva was cruising along until his elbow and heart decided to curb his season, but all of that is behind him now, and he enters the 2011 fantasy baseball season as a viable sleeper pick considering how late he’ll probably go.
- Big Z and Randy Wells enter the 2011 fantasy baseball season with some question marks. Wells finished last year 8-10 with 144 strikeouts, and while he too was the victim of some tough losses, he’ll have to do more in 2011 to show he is worth a squirt. I believe he’ll be one of the better waiver wire grabs, but at this point, I don’t think he’s draftable. Big Z on the other hand is a bit misunderstood (not because he beats up Gatorade machines, or throws umpires out of the game) but because last year he was a lot better than most think.Zambrano’s ERA started off horrible, but consistently went down every month (6.56 ERA after April, 6.12 ERA after May, 5.66 ERA after June, (only pitched one inning in July), 4.36 ERA after August, and finally finished the year with a solid 3.33 ERA). He also went 8-0 in 11 starts, 74.0 IP, 64 K, 1.58 ERA, 44 BB after the All-Star break—betcha didn’t know that, hmmm? I believe Zambrano is worth taking a chance on in 2011, and can be considered a quality Top 25 pitcher.
- Matt Garza isn’t a guy that I would run out and draft, despite my belief that he will excel in the NL…eventually. Garza has steadily posted and ERA in the 3.00 range and has steadily posted a WHIP around 1.25 in his time playing for the Rays, but pitching in the AL East isn’t exactly easy either. Garza should begin to come around in June once he acclimates himself to playing outdoors more, and should be a great player to watch and pluck from the Waiver Wire tree when he’s nice and ripe.
Long Live The Mid-Range Value Guys!
- The Cubs are full of guys who could be considered mid-range guys like Starlin Castro, Marlon Byrd, and even Alphonso Soriano and you should find some short-term value in any of these guys as the season presses on.
- Soriano is one of the streakiest hitters I can remember in recent years, so his reward will come with a great amount of risk. Marlon Byrd will get you singles and doubles and even a little power, but nothing more. Byrd does have a good eye at the plate, and could even eclipse 20 dingers this year. Starlin Castro finished 2010 with a .300/.347/.408 batting line and 41 RBI over 463 at bats, but doesn’t offer much power. He should improve upon his 10 stolen bases from a year ago, making him a tasty middle range guy for most fantasy baseball drafts.
What You Should Know:
The Cubs finished strong under the guidance of manager Mike Quade (24-13) and are looking to build upon that success. Three areas that the organization feels will help was bringing back reliever Kerry Wood, the singing of Carlos Pena, and the retention of Kosuke Fukudome.
Out of that bunch, only Carlos Pena is really worth paying attention to. Fukudome only really comes alive in April, and Wood is too unstable of a pitcher. Carlos Pena on the other hand has topped 28 homeruns in each of the past four seasons and should do even better playing in the hitter friendly confines of Wrigley Field. In short, Carlos Pena (after hitting just .196 last year) is a huge sleeper candidate out of Shytown right now.