ESPN’s Schoenfield ranks Cubs preseason No. 13
(Photo by Stephen Green)
With the official beginning of Spring Training just days away, ESPN senior writer David Schoenfield has been unveiling his preseason MLB team rankings. On Wednesday, he named the Cubs No. 13 on his list, predicting the club would finish with an 84-78 record.
I‘m just the messenger: Just pointing out that [Jon] Lester had a 4.82 ERA in 2012 and 3.75 in 2013. Yes, big 2014, new league, no DH and more cutters instead of four-seamers and he could be even better. But you never know. He may not be as good as he was last year. And then there’s Jake Arrieta, former faded prospect turned rotation anchor. He looks like the real deal but … again … you never know. Hey, I’m trying. I like the Cubs! I have them ranked 13th!
The final word: If I had more guts I’d predict them to win the division, but they have two strong clubs ahead of them and even the Brewers or Reds are capable of 90 wins. The Cubs are still sorting a few things out and waiting for some of the young guys to mature. Sometimes, teams do break through right away; if [Kris] Bryant and Jorge Soler are 3-4 win players as rookies and Lester and Arrieta throw 400-plus innings of great baseball, the Cubs could be the big surprise of 2015.
Schoenfield said he expects second baseman Javier Baez and infielder/outfielder Arismendy Alcantara to have better seasons than they had in 2014, and he likes the potential Anthony Rizzo/Kris Bryant combination in the middle of the order. Though Kyle Hendricks was stellar in his 2014 stint, Schoenfield said he expects the young right-hander to regress slightly.
Even with the Reds and Brewers coming in at Nos. 24 and 22, respectively, the Cardinals and Pirates have not yet been named and are therefore in Schoenfield’s top six for 2015, making the NL Central a tough division on paper.