By Matt Spiegel-
(CBS) The Bulls year will end tonight. It will be shocking if it doesn’t.
And with that, Chicago baseball season will begin anew in some ways.
It’s a good time for a second opener. There will be more isolated focus in single television homes.
Even with the Blackhawks expected long run toward Lord Stanley, there will be more conversational room on the Score’s air.
And with the warmer weather, which Tuesday truly brought for the first time all spring, it feels right for a new start.
Let’s take a Mulligan on the first 40 days. Or, if you’d rather, a Hanley. Cool by you, White Sox fans?
It can’t possibly stay this bad. It won’t.
Dan McNeil wanted action on a Cubs-Sox wins wager on yesterday’s show. He thinks the Cubs are set up better for the foreseeable future than the Sox, and in terms of a rebuild, he’s right. If we’re talking 2015 win totals, I take the Cubs without a doubt.
But he wanted action on this year; not based on preseason projections, but knowing what he knows now on May 14. I gave it to him.
I get the Sox win total for 2013, while he gets the Cubs win total for 2013, plus 4 and ½. The stakes for the bet, well, they’re steaks. $100 from www.allenbrothers.com. That ought to get us an appetizer. So, Mitch Rosen bumped it to $200. Big shooter.
Mac has positioned himself as Danny Woo Woo for the foreseeable summer. I guess that makes me Spiegspaw. Or maybe I’m both Ribby and Rhubarb? Hell, peg me as Andy the Clown if you’d like, though he was just a poor man’s Max Patkin.
This bet is going to be an easy one. This is in no way a reflection on the Cubs long term plan, or my belief that it’s the absolute right thing to do. It’s just a look at the rest of this season, in a bubble.
The teams are dead even today at 16 wins apiece, so our second opener is timed just right.
Here are 10 reasons the White Sox will finish with more wins than the Cubs. (And cover that 4 and ½ win spread)
1. The Cubs organization is less interested in winning.
If they can be sellers, outside of protecting a precious small core, they will be. A successful few months for Scott Feldman and/or Matt Garza will be grounds for trade. And the months that follow will feature more losses with them gone.
The Sox could conceivably go in the same direction of course, but they have fewer dealable assets. Jake Peavy would be the game changer.
2. Ascension to the defensive mean.
The White Sox simply can’t stay this bad at preventing runs. Not for a team that set franchise fielding records last year – this level of team-wide suck is simply unsustainable.
3. Divisional rivals will fade in the AL Central.
Every team in the division other than the Sox is playing at or better than .500. That won’t last, specifically for the Twins, and I’d bet the Indians. Those teams will have to lose to someone.
4. That South Side bullpen will blow fewer leads.
Even if, say, Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain are sent away in deadline trades, there are still plenty of arms to get to Addison Reed. That ‘pen provides fewer chances for late inning chaos than the Cubs, so fewer wins will turn into losses.
5. The warmth will bring the home runs.
U.S. Cellular Field has been a top-5 park for HR production in every one of the last 10 years. This season? 12th. That will rise back to the top with warmth and winds. Insert assumed truism about Latin players here, then check. Alex Rios’ second-est career HR months are May and June. Alexei Ramirez’ top three are June, July and August. Those guys will help.
6. Chris Sale and Jake Peavy.
One of the best 1-2 punches in the American League will put the Sox in position to win at least twice every five days. The Sox are one of three AL teams with two starting pitchers among the top 10 in WAR. Got the other two? Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez in Detroit is easy. Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma in Seattle is not.
7. Edwin Jackson.
He’s not leaving the Cubs rotation anytime soon. And he’ll give you one complete pile of garbage every third or fourth start. It’s what he does.
8. Cubs bats beyond Rizzo & Castro.
The Cubs are 12th in OBP in the NL, including those guys. Care to bet on Luis Valbuna and Cody Random remaining at .385 or better? I’ll write a blog with a list about it. Also, as soon as it’s sensible, Brett Jackson will be here to whiff his way towards development.
9. The return of White Sox pieces is a genuine factor.
Mac poopooed this yesterday, but Dayan Viciedo could easily end up being the most productive power hitter on the team, despite missing the time he has. His mere existence improves the lineup. Gordon Beckham is arguably the team’s best defender, at a premium position, and his presence will go a long way towards solidifying the infield defense immediately.
10. Danny Woo Woo is simply not destined to thrive.
His existence is just unnatural, like the Dodo Bird. It is a beast designed for eventual extinction. I presided over his funeral in 2009, and have this year’s eulogy half-written.
But hey, we’ve got action. Sox minus 4 and 1/2 wins.
And this town’s baseball season appears to need some side action.
Listen to Matt Spiegel on 670 The Score weekdays from 9am–1pm CT on The McNeil & Spiegel Show. Follow him on Twitter at @MattSpiegel670.