The Rundown: The Case for a Cubs Dynasty, Roster Finalized, Russell at 109 Percent

The Cubs are really good, we all know that. But for a visual representation of just how good they are, I’ll direct your attention to Ryan Pollack’s column on FanGraphs. In support of the idea that the Cubs are indeed a burgeoning dynasty, Pollack presents as his primary evidence the cumulative projected WAR total by teams’ controlled players over the next five years.

With 133 wins, the Cubs are way out in front. That’s nearly 20 more wins than the second-place Dodgers and is more than the Twins, A’s, and Royals…combined. The exact numbers aren’t displayed, but it appears that only three other teams (Indians, Red Sox, Nationals) even top 100 controlled wins over the given timeframe.


That’s looking at all of Major League Baseball, which is all well and good. If you want a real picture of how sustainable the Cubs’ success can be, though, just look at the NL Central. After all, a team need only win its division to have a chance to roll the dice in the playoff crapshoot.

I’ll spare you another chart, but suffice to say it’s pretty obvious where things fall. By my best estimate, the Cardinals are projected for 88ish controlled wins, 45 fewer than the Cubs, over the next five years. That’s nine fewer wins each year. The Pirates are only projected for about 60 wins, the Reds 55 or so, and the Brewers right at 40. So, yeah, good luck with that.

Despite Pollack’s best efforts to keep the numbers controlled, there’s all kinds of wiggle room in here. Even so, all teams are compared objectively and the Cubs have a clear advantage.

If the Cubs aren’t a lock to win the World Series each year for the next five years, then they’re closer to being a lock than any other team in baseball. Their current roster not only projects extremely well, but also is controlled at bargain prices. They have more than enough payroll flexibility to fill what holes may arise.

Hopefully you aren’t tired of reading about the Cubs. The 2016 season was just the beginning.

And then there were 25

Leave it to me to forget about the possibility of putting a guy on the DL in order to keep both Matt Szczur and Tommy La Stella around to open the season. After pitching pretty well in his last few appearances, Brian Duensing came down with a bad case of strategitis. It’s not contagious and he should cycle through it in 10-15 days, pending other personnel moves.

I don’t have anything against either of the position players the Cubs kept, though I don’t think either offers much in the way of impact at this point. When you get down to it, this is really just kicking the can down the road when it comes to the more difficult decision of whether to trade Szczur or option La Stella.

Of course, there’s always the possibility of another “injury” between now and mid-April.

Russell returning soon

Addison Russell is either a physical freak or he has a fundamental misunderstanding of percentages and effort-based idioms. Maybe all of the above. Speaking Wednesday about the health of the stiff back that had threatened to land him on the DL to open the season, Russell said that he’d gone from 95 to 100 percent since Tuesday.

“Just trying to make Opening Day,” Russell said. “I’m pretty confident making that opening day lineup.”

He then explained that he was actually 109 percent and would take some BP for the second day in a row to stay loose. Joe Maddon admitted that the issue was minor and that Russell would likely be playing if this was the regular season. And though the two games in Houston don’t count, everyone involved would like to see the All-Star shortstop in action prior to Sunday night.

“He’s playing,” Maddon said. “He‘s fine. If it was later in the year, he’d be playing by now.”

Comin’ up around the bend

More news and notes

  • John Lackey had a postgame beer following Wednesday’s shelling, which is funny for a couple reasons
    • I wrote in my recap that he gave up all those runs on purpose
    • My joke involved Kyle Schwarber handing Lackey a beer
  • Wrigley’s new plaza opens April 10 and features various retail shops and restaurants
    • Two-story Cubs store
    • Jostens jewelry/collectibles
    • Tavern-style restaurant w/ outdoor seating
    • Starbucks Reserve coffee bar
    • Green City Market
  • My desire to tout Fanatics is due at least partially to the fact that they pay us commissions on sales (gotta keep the lights on), but some of the new stuff they’ve got is legit
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