It is believed that Weaver's offers are in the range of two years for markedly less than the $8,325,000 he made last season. That should be affordable for the Pirates, who are projected to have about $11 million remaining in leftover money toward next season.
whatever. attempting to predict dave littlefield's behavior is not how i plan to spend my morning.
jeff sackmann posted his team preview of the cubs today at Beyond the Boxscore and eyeballs the cubs at 86 wins --- a 20-game improvement over last season. that's right in synch with david pinto's estimate of a couple weeks ago. are these guys high? i decided to run a quick PECOTA aggregation, the same exercise that projected the cardinals to win about 86 games. cutting quickly to the chase: my PECOTA-derived estimate trues right up with sackmann's and pinto's. it's slightly more optimistic, in fact; i've got the cubs at 87 wins.
here's how it breaks down. first, i've got the cubs improving their offense by about 100 runs, or roughly 10 wins:
"base runs" is a run-scoring model that's slightly more accurate than runs created; i ran both formulas to see if the respective year-to-year comparisons matched, and they essentially did. if we split the difference between base runs and runs created, we get an estimate of 831 runs scored --- probably a league-leading total. here's how i distributed the at-bats in my projection:
infield: lee 500, derosa 450, cedeno 450, itzuris 350, ramirez 539
outfield: soriano 576, jones 400, floyd 337, murton 300, pagan 250, pie 150
catchers: barrett 450, blanco 151
i then added 337 at-bats' worth of replacement-level bench play, and 300 at-bats for the pitchers. note that PECOTA anticipates a significant improvement in the cubs' plate discipline --- nearly 70 more walks this year than last. if'n your curious, PECOTA's projection for derrek lee isn't particularly rosy; it places his OPS in the high .800s, which neighborhood he inhabited for three consecutive years prior to his big breakout in 2005.
ok, now for the pitching staff:
here the cubs pick up 70 runs, or about 7 games. in this telling, the distribution of starts goes: zambrano 32, marquis 30, lilly 27, hill 26, marshall 18, prior 10, and wade miller 8, with the last 11 going to a generic replacement-level pitcher with a 5.75 era. the bullpenners are dempster, howry, eyre, cotts, kerry wood, ryu, mateo, novoa, ohman, and wuertz, plus a catch-all replacement-level category (35 innings) with a 5.00 era. i estimated 60 unearned runs to derive the overall runs-allowed figure; the cubs coughed up an abysmally high figure last year, 76, but they were below 50 in each of the prior three seasons.
putting these numbers into the pythagorean won-loss calculator, we end up with:
look, it's only january; they're only made-up numbers. but from here, it looks like it might be an interesting summer . . .