KFFL answers some important fantasy baseball questions for each Major League Baseball team as spring training approaches. What must fantasy baseball players know about the Chicago Cubs?
Sweet Home Chicago for former Tampa Bay Rays?
Wrigley Field welcomes lefty boppers, so Carlos Pena should keep his 30-homer profile given health. His BA peripherals don't express much confidence for an improvement, though, keeping him in the company of mixed CI options. Can you absorb the clip hit?
A-Ram leads Cubs' declining vets
Matt Garza's command remains solid and will be amplified if he can regain some K/9 he lost last year. His move to the Senior Circuit and his velocity increase from 2010 should help. Unfortunately, there are his sinking GB/FB and skyrocketing homer allowance, which could be a problem at tater-happy Wrigley Field. Garza remains a decent buy among No. 3 mixed starters, but his new uni doesn't automatically bump his value.
Is there value in the Cubs' veteran core?
A thumb sprain and slowing bat speed hindered Aramis Ramirez's first three months, but after June ended, A-Ram hit 19 homers and started to do more with his vast fly-ball increase. Caution: His batting average skills (line-drive rate, BB/K) are less certain to come back. Waiting for him to be your starting third sacker is risky given how he's wearing down, but he proved in the second half that he still can be a difference maker at the right price.
Alfonso Soriano will again be involved in an outfield shuffle with Tyler Colvin and Kosuke Fukudome. He's good for about 20 homers, especially if Chicago keeps him healthy in limited work. Some drafters value that more than others, but there are so many similar profiles that can be had cheaper and with more profit potential. Soriano hinted at his past talents early on last year, but his terrible contact rate and sputtering speed don't justify buying heavily into any non-dinger category.
Over his final 11 starts of last year, Carlos Zambrano posted a 1.41 ERA with a 7.68 K/9 and responded well to counsel for early-season anger issues. Given his 5.12 BB/9 and inflated LOB percentage in that window, there was some luck involved. He rediscovered ground-ball aptitude, but overall, it's declining. Can his more tempered pitching approach, with reined-in velocity, and increased splitter usage help sustain his HR/9 fortune? It'll be cheap to find out, but there isn't much to gain.
Where does Starlin Castro stand among fantasy baseball shortstops?
Castro relies on stolen bases, runs scored and BA for value. He's still raw in his major league plate discipline, and he's a BABIP-based commodity that hasn't yet shown projectable power. On the plus side, he makes enough contact to balance out his weak BB/K.
His confidence on the bases could increase in his sophomore season now that he has experience, but he still has to work on his caught-stealing percentage. This adds risk, because speed defines a chunk of his value, but his raw talent gives him a definable contribution with upside among the low tier of mixed MIs.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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