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Five Things Teige Wants to See From the Cubs this Season

By Teige Mullin
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Baseball season is nearly here. Too bad I get to miss the first three weeks of it due to my work schedule. I’m not salty, you’re salty. Also, YouTube ads have been getting really aggressive lately about seeing mental health. I should probably be worried about that, but I digress. Anyways, here’s five things I look forward to watching this summer.

1. I'm going to drink a Busch Light Every Time Michael Busch Hits a Homer

Not really (Idk, maybe), because it’s a gross beer, but I am excited to see what Busch can do in a full season. Just look at the damage he did in AAA last season. Ignore the 80 PA he got in the majors last season, this year he gets to show us if he’s a major leaguer or not. I don’t really care that he’s “old” (26 is old for a prospect, it’s a cruel world out there folks), if this guy develops a 2 strike approach to compliment his patience and pop, he’s going to be an exciting 1B for the next decade. It’s not nothing that fangraphs has him projected to be a 55/60/60 hitter. (Please see this Fangraphs article explaining what I just said). If you take stock in that, that means he’ll be around a .270, 25 homer guy. Yes please, and thank you (I know we can argue all day about Avg, so fine he had a 13.9% bb rate in AAA. That’s excellent in Fangraphs Land). If Busch doesn’t work out, you still have Cody who can move to 1B, Morel, Wisdom, or give Matt Mervis another crack at it (he’s projected to be a 30/50/60 hitter for reference). Ok, I’ll take a breath now, the point is. I’m excited.

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2. I'm going to drink Jameson after every Quality Start from Jameson Taillon

This will get scary if I add more drinks because this opens the door where I have to drink both Busch Light (ew) and Jameson (yay) in a short span. It’s really no secret Taillon struggled to start the year last year. I didn’t care for the signing and the start of last year was proving me right. Credit where credit is due though, Taillon worked hard with pitching coach Tommy Hottovy to essentially reinvent himself. Hottovy saw a tall, strong, pitcher with a good fastball, curveball combo and asked, “Why is this goofball trying to nibble with cutters and sinkers?” I’m hoping Taillon takes the lessons learned from last year and applies them to be a very solid #3 guy this year. And if he stinks again, at least I can scream that I was right.

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2. I'm going to drink every time Swanson or Hoerner commit an Error

I guess I started a theme so I’ll keep going. Point is, I want to Not drink on this one. Earlier today I saw Swanson led the league last year in 20 Outs Above Average, and Nico at 10th with 15. Swanson and Hoerner also had 15 and 11 runs saved, respectively. Basically, their defense was both worth over a win (sort of an outdated take, but people used to say 10 runs of value is basically worth a “win”. I’m sure their defense added more than just one win apiece honestly). Hitting home runs is sexy, but I think we can all appreciate that the Cubs have the best middle infield in the league right now. Dansby, once again, I apologize that I wanted Correa last off season.

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4. I'm going to drink every time someone mentions Bellinger's contract

This one will actually give me alcohol poisoning if I do this probably, so I’ll drink water and notionally drink for this one. But really, I’m excited to see that Cody is back on the team. Simply re-signing him immediately made this season feel like “playoff or bust”, maybe even “Division or bust”. Analytics can’t measure vibes, but the vibes sure are good right now on the North Side. I really hope we see a continuation of last year. He may not be a 40 home run hitter anymore, but shoot I’ll take a 134 wRC+ every day of the week, wouldn’t you? Seriously though, I’m already not looking forward to “And we’ll see if he opts out at the end of the year” 100 times by the end of April.

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5. I'm going to drink every time the Cubs win (and probably lose too)

This one is actually going to talk about Counsell. I’m really excited to see him extract value out of this team. Talking to my die-hard fan uncle the other day, he mentioned that he thinks Counsell is worth “7-10 wins”. Let’s do a fun experiment for last year. Assuming he’s worth a whopping 10 wins from excellent game management, a Cubs team last year that finished 83-79 would have finished 93-69, while the Brewers go from 92-70 to 82-80. Is this how it really works? No, but consider how the Cubs last year had a +96 run differential, and the Brewers +75. Now consider some of the head scratching lineup and pitching change decisions David Ross made last year. Huh, maybe the guy IS worth 10 wins. Doesn’t that just make your spine tingle a bit? Also, I have no idea why, but the Cubs will act like the Oakland Athletics when it comes to spending on players, but put a good manager in front of their face and they act like the Dodgers when it comes to spending money.

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Alright, friends that will do it for this blog. Tune in next time to see if I brown out from a day where Michael Busch hits 4 homers during a Taillon QS, (and naturally a win I’d assume, because goodness if we lose a game where this actually happens) while the defense commits no errors and Boog mentions Cody’s contract 10 times in one inning.