Opening day at Wrigley is upon us, though the undying Chicago winter pushed it back 24 hours. In the past few weeks, many blogs have posted their bold predictions for the coming season. But based on the disaster that was my NCAA bracket, it’s obvious that prognostication is not my forte. So instead, I’d like to take y’all — while I was born and raised in Chicago, I now reside in Charlotte, NC — on a little trip down memory lane. I’ll return to financial topics next week.
I recently stumbled across a Baseball Prospectus article entitled “The Optimist’s Guide to the 2016 Cubs,” written by Ken Funck during 2014 spring training. It predicts a future as imagined by a long-suffering Cubs fan and it was fun to see what Mr. Funck got right and got wrong. While not particularly accurate, it is surprising how much of the spirit of his predictions came to pass.
For example, his prediction for July 2014 was:
The Cubs are bad, but Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo both take big steps forward…Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood put together excellent campaigns and are traded in July for additional prospects – we’ll call these new players “The Sharkwood Haul.”
He correctly predicted the bounce-back seasons for Castro and Rizzo in 2014. Not exactly a major stretch, but credit where credit is due. More impressively, he accurately predicted trading Jeff Samardzija for prospects mid-season as part of a two-pitcher deal. He just got the second pitcher wrong.
Funck was also right that the Cubs would target one of the top two free-agent pitchers in 2015, which is more impressive than it seems. Prior to 2014, most “experts” had the Cubs staying sellers — and perhaps cellared –until 2016. Even though Funck incorrectly guessed Max Scherzer instead of Jon Lester as the free agent signing, kudos are due. Finally, he correctly predicted that David Price would be traded in 2014 (okay, that was a gimme back then).
He got plenty wrong, of course. He missed the emergence of Jake Arrieta, who had joined the team in mid-2013, and also Kyle Hendricks. His 2014 draft prediction of Tyler Beede was, thankfully, off base. Many of the Cubs’ prospects he expected to break out instead fizzled into obscurity, notably Arismendy Alcantara and Pierce Johnson.
Some of his errors were completely understandable. For example, he predicted Castro as the starting shortstop for the 2016 Cubs. Back in 2014, this was as safe a prediction as could be made about the team. No one in 2014 thought the Cubs would trade away their lone perennial All-Star for salary relief (in favor of a 35-year-old free agent, no less).
Yet Mr. Funck certainly did better than our very own Evan Altman, whose 10 bold predictions for 2014 failed on at least seven counts. Yeah Evan…I dug that up.
Anyone else have any old predictions they saved from the early rebuild days? I’d love to see them.
Ed. note: Wow, can’t believe he found those predictions. That was actually my 13th post ever at Cubs Insider, way back when we were not even two months old and were still under the ChicagoNow banner. And the original post from which that was drawn came from maybe November of 2013, when I had published it at Yahoo. The reader comments are the best.