By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) In our world of social media and instant information, magazines, newspapers and others are struggling to hold their readers and more importantly advertisers.READ MORE: 2 Women Carjacked At Gunpoint In Mount Greenwood
This disclaimer is only written in advance of The Sporting News article picking the Chicago Cubs to win the 2015 World Series. Although I love good fiction as well as the next person, the former “Baseball Bible” of the game has put writer Jesse Spector in the role of prognosticator for this folly.
I have nothing against the Cubs. I will admit to believing they are on the road to becoming a consistent title contender. Adding a proven winner like Jon Lester was a most impressive move. That signing alone signaled to team supporters and the other 29 clubs that the Cubs need to be taken seriously.
But projecting a strong lineup and a competitive rotation will have to be proved on the field, rather than in a rolled-up magazine.
After Lester, it’s apparent that the dominant stuff of Jake Arrieta could give the Cubs a strong one-two punch. Arrieta was nearly the right-handed equivalent of Clayton Kershaw for the last three months of the 2014 season. That said, he’s never thrown more than 156 innings in a big-league season and never made more than the 25 starts he made in 2014. Jason Hammel as a No. 3 pitcher? He’s a good arm and great teammate, but his high in innings pitched is 176.READ MORE: Man Shot And Killed In East Garfield Park
Other than Lester and Travis Wood — who struggled in 2014 — the Cubs don’t have a starting pitching candidate who has ever hurled 200 innings. (No, Edwin Jackson isn’t a candidate.)
Meanwhile, this projected World Series-winning offense the Sporting News offers hasn’t had a 90-RBI man in years. Admittedly, if Anthony Rizzo had someone to drive in, he could easily have have topped the 100-RBI mark by now. But that represents another worry — getting men on base has been a huge problem for this club in recent seasons.
Chicago is still without a good choice to lead off the lineup at this point of the offseason. The Cubs were third worst in on-base percentage in 2014 at a .300 clip. The swing-and-miss factor also wasn’t considered in this Sporting News folly. Chicago is coming off a season in which set a franchise record with 1,477 strikeouts (9.1 per game).
I like the direction the Cubs are headed. If you suggest they may win 80 to 85 games in 2015, I wouldn’t argue with you. But please don’t try and sell me your magazine with puffed-up fantasy pieces while using and toying with Cub fans’ emotions.
I lived and died with great articles in the Sporting News from the best baseball writers in the world for decades. This piece would have been rejected for lack of substance back in the day. I love projections based on hard-line facts and good summation. The Sporting News’ prediction and piece lacked both.MORE NEWS: Ed's Tech Notes: Apple Cutting Production On iPhone 13, Twitter's New Feature, Drone Delivers Lungs For Transplant
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.