New Year predictions for 2012

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To pass the time during halftime of the Rose Bowl (aka the “What Defense?” Bowl) let’s take a look a look at some of the events that may shape the Cubs’ 2012 season.  Of course, since I’m not a real psychic and don’t have a lot of insider information, I can’t really guarantee any of these will come true.  Predictions will not take into account injuries, general manager stupidity, dugout blowups, Acts of God, or fan interference.

Prince Fielder

By now it appears likely that Fielder will not be coming to the Cubs despite indications of interest.  The club is in rebuild mode (it’s rather obvious despite the team officials not saying it outright) and are selling off their assets to acquire new assets that will mature by the time the team can contend again.  It doesn’t make sense, at least to me, to acquire Fielder without having a good supporting lineup unless the plan is just to say “oooh, we have a superstar, buy tickets!”

Not even Prince Fielder can survive the Cubs' plan.

In today’s updates, it was suggested that the Washington Nationals are now the favorites to land Prince Fielder.  They have a good young core of players, are expecting Jayson Werth to remember why he was paid stupid money, and don’t have that big of a commitment to Adam LaRoche.  Plus they just signed former Cubs legend Mark DeRosa, so they’re poised to contend.  The update also suggested that because the Nats’ owner is super-rich and has a new TV deal coming up, they’d have the cash to afford Fielder.  I’d look at the Nats signing Fielder within a couple weeks, probably for about 7 years at $22MM per season.

Disclaimer: prediction does not take into account Scott Boras insanity or increased desperation level of Washington Nationals.  But it’s a safe bet that DC is Fielder’s destination.  Cubs would make more sense if they were closer to contention and not in a rebuild.

Matt Garza

The Garza trade rumors have been all over the place, but it seems that the Yankees are not going to meet the Cubs’ demands and the Blue Jays might also be out.  The Yankees still have a remarkable offense and seem to think their rotation is okay.  The Blue Jays are a bit further away from contention but they do have MVP-candidate Jose Bautista and a capable rotation as well.  I’m not really sure why the Tigers would give an arm and a leg for Garza, but at this point they appear to be the front-runners in this trade scenario.  The Tigers seem to be in “win now” mode, however, and so could have that added level of desperation to add a solid front-line starting pitcher to follow Justin Verlander in the rotation.

It sounds like talks between the Cubs and Tigers are progressing and the Tigers are willing to offer top prospect Jacob Turner and maybe more in exchange for Garza.  It makes sense to ask for more than Garza is worth in return, although I believe a Turner-for-Garza straight up trade is fair and possibly even a win for the Cubs.  If they can get more in return (an extra pitcher or two, or maybe a position player) that would be a steal.  I think the Cubs can make a steal.  If the Cubs can’t snag Turner and Nick Castellanos (#1 and #2 in the Tigers’ system) I would expect them to target Turner as a priority, then try to add Andrew Oliver.  Since first base seems to be a hole and they wouldn’t be able to trade for Anthony Rizzo after getting rid of Garza, I’d expect the Cubs to try to snag a 1B prospect from the Tigers as well, like Aaron Westlake.  But they absolutely have to get Turner in my opinion.  I think this trade happens within 7-10 business days.

Disclaimer: prediction assumes that the Tigers aren’t stupid.  Cubs could potentially get much more back depending on Tigers organizational stupidity.

The other guys

Ryan Dempster: I expect the Cubs to play him regularly until the trade deadline, at which point he’ll be traded to a contender (possibly the Yankees) wherein the Cubs pay the remaining salary and score a low-level prospect.  Dempster’s solid but he’s old so he won’t be bringing much back.

Carlos Zambrano: I don’t think he’s getting traded before spring training and the Cubs need a guy to eat some innings.  He probably sticks around until just before the waiver trade deadline in August before the Cubs take the prorated salary dump.  I.e. he’s not bringing anything back that we’d want anyway.

Carlos Marmol: Most likely moved at the trade deadline.  Jim Hendry killed his surplus trade value when he signed Marmol to that extension (still angry about that) so Cubs will have to wait for a desperate contending team for a salary-dump type move and if they’re lucky, they’ll get a prospect back who won’t completely suck.

Alfonso Soriano: I think he starts the year as the Cubs’ everyday left fielder, but when Brett Jackson is ready, he will probably be released if he sucks and relegated to the bench if he can still hit for some power.  Marlon Byrd would then take his place in LF.  Either way I don’t think Soriano remains a Cub past 2012…he’s just not a very good player and the Cubs will just eat the money.

Marlon Byrd: I think after Jackson is called up and he moves to LF, the Cubs will try to trade him to a contending team who needs an extra outfielder, probably by the July deadline.  Byrd would be replaced by Dave Sappelt or Tony Campana as the everyday LF.

Shame on you if you think I'm actually right about all this.

Andrew Cashner: I think he probably becomes the new closer after they trade Marmol.  They need a season to make sure his shoulder doesn’t explode before deciding whether or not to use him as a starter in 2013.

Carlos Pena: The Brewers need a first baseman, so I think he signs with them as a less expensive option to Fielder.  Sorry folks.

Bryan LaHair: Being that Rizzo is pretty much out of the question if Garza is traded to the Tigers, the only MLB-ready (if you can call him that) 1B option for the Cubs is Bryan LaHair.  Gonna just have to deal with it.

So now I guess we’ll wait and see what happens…what are your predictions?

And wouldn’t you know it, by the time I was done with this, halftime was over and they started playing some defense.  Lame.


About Rice Cube

Rice Cube is the executive vice president of snark at World Series Dreaming. He loves all things Cubs, with notable exceptions (specifically, the part of Cubs fandom that pisses him off). Follow on Twitter at cubicsnarkonia

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