Fantasy Baseball Preview: The Cubs

Fantasy baseball draft season is coming, so you best be prepared by delving through every major player on each team. Fantasy FanHouse is here to help with a quick once-over.

Meet the ...
Team who decided 97 wins wasn't enough. Seriously, why would you go out and intentionally make your team worse? Sorry, I'll spare you the huge homeristic rant right now. Instead, I'll just say that you can find good fantasy options at nearly every turn with this team, even though you shouldn't be taking any in the first few rounds.

The Breakout
The Cubs front office has been adamant that Mark DeRosa was traded because they are confident in the ability of Mike Fontenot to take over as a solid everyday player. If last season was any indication, he's going to be a sneaky late-round middle infielder. In only 243 at-bats, the diminutive left-hander doubled 22 times, hit nine home runs, and drove home 40 runners. If you compute those numbers to a full season, you're looking at 20 homers and close to 90 RBI. That .305 batting average won't do any harm to your team either.

Obviously, there are concerns. At 28, he's a bit old to be finally getting his first shot. This is because he was never a great minor league player. What if he doesn't adjust well to his new role, especially with the very able Aaron Miles waiting in the wings?

These reasons are exactly why you'll get Fontenot far too cheap for a player of his ability hitting in this lineup. He's going to fall far down draft boards, and you can snatch him up from the leftover bin. Not too shabby for 20 home run potential, eh?

The Bust
Just for the sake of symmetry, I'll point out that I fully expect Fontenot to hit more home runs than Derrek Lee. I'm dead serious. Lee's power is shot. From May 30 to the end of the season he hit seven home runs. That's seven bombs in 101 games and 450 plate appearances. His slugging percentage during that time was a meek .416 -- which is lower than what Placido Polanco slugged for the entire season.

I'm not discounting the hot start Lee enjoyed last season, as it set him up to at least not put up embarrassing totals. You just have to realize he's a first baseman. Do you draft your first basemen to put up 20 homers while not overly helping you in RBI, runs, steals or average? He's a barely above average hitter at this point in his career, and that's not going to cut it as a corner infielder in fantasy baseball.

The Lineup
1. Alfonso Soriano, LF
2. Mike Fontenot, 2B
3. Derrek Lee, 1B
4. Milton Bradley, RF
5. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
6. Geovany Soto, C
7. Reed Johnson/Kosuke Fukudome, CF
8. Ryan Theriot, SS

Aaron Miles will also see plenty of time all around the infield.

The Rotation
1. Carlos Zambrano
2. Ryan Dempster
3. Ted Lilly
4. Rich Harden
5. Johnny Wholestaff*

*Seriously, this thing is up in the air. Aaron Heilman, Sean Marshall, Chad Gaudin and Jeff Samardzija all want it. The Jake Peavy rumors won't die -- which would place Peavy atop the heap and knock everyone else down a slot -- and the Cubs had already planned on Marshall being a swing-guy who makes about 15 starts and works in long relief a bunch. He would keep Harden healthy and spell Zambrano. My early prediction is Heilman taking the spot and Marshall still making those 15 starts.

The Bullpen
CL - Carlos Marmol
SU - Kevin Gregg
SU - Samardzija
SU - Neal Cotts

The Skinny
I said there were a lot of quality options, and I wasn't kidding. I count seven position players, four starting pitchers and a stud closer who should be owned in the overwhelming majority of fantasy baseball leagues. Sure, people like Fontenot, Theriot and Lilly may spend time on the bench or waiver wire, but for the most part, the Cubs have lots of options, including Ramirez and Soto -- who reside towards the upper echelon of their respective positions.

o. Bradley will be a monster when he's actually in the lineup. That's the problem, though. He's only played more than 100 games three times, and last year most of those 126 games were as a designated hitter. He's a middle-round very-high-risk/very-high-reward guy.

o. You could say Soriano is overrated due to name recognition, but you could also call him a sleeper because of these past two injury-riddled seasons. It's easy to point to his dwindling steals totals and his inability to stay healthy the past two seasons. Still, most of the time he missed last season was due to getting hit by a pitch. That hardly makes him fragile or old. He stole 19 bases and hit 29 homers last year. Prorate those numbers over the course of a full season and you have 28 steals and 43 jacks. He's still only 33, so keep an eye on him. If he falls into the earlier mid-rounds, it's time to take him yourself. Just don't get caught up dreaming about a repeat of 2006.

o. Zambrano is not a fantasy ace, so please don't treat him as such. You'll be disappointed in probably every category other than wins. (unless your league accrues offensive stats for pitchers -- he had a higher OPS than Lee last year)

o. I'll discuss this in many other places of the draft kit, but Marmol is going to be an elite closer -- starting immediately.

o. Getting things figured out on the hill isn't entirely out of the question for pitchers in their thirties. Everyone knew Dempster had innate ability when he was younger, and he just couldn't ever put it all together on a consistent basis. Maybe he just needed to become a more cerebral pitcher? I'm not counting on a huge step back. He's a very solid option as a second fantasy starter.

Fantasy Baseball Preview: The Cubs originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Wed, 18 Feb 2009 08:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments

Copyright FANHO - FanHouse
Contact Us