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Let's play ball: The simulated 2012 Cubs, White Sox seasons

RedEye sims the Cubs and White Sox seasons to get a sneak preview of 2012

April 03, 2012|By Ryan Smith, For RedEye

Wait till next year might be the eternal cry of fans of Chicago's baseball teams, but the uncertain shape of the Cubs and White Sox have some already talking about 2013 before a single meaningful pitch has been tossed this season. Is it possible the media and fans are writing the eulogies of these two rebuilding franchises too soon?

To find out if hope should spring eternal once again, RedEye simulated the upcoming season using the video game "MLB 2K12."

CUBS

RECORD: 72-90, 5th place in the NL Central, 22.5 games back

The good news for the Cubs is they won't be the crappiest team in the NL Central. That title goes to the hapless Houston Astros. The bad news is they'll be pretty close. The North Siders start the simmed season on a sour note with an 8-17 record in April and don't get much better. They manage a 14-11 July to sneak into third place at the All-Star break but slump late and lose the final seven games of the year to guarantee the third-worst record in the National League. On the bright side, tickets at Wrigley Field might be available at Wal-Mart-like discount prices in 2012.

PITCHING STUD

Carlos Marmol: 2.68 ERA, 72 K's, 46 saves in 49 opportunities

Marmol continues to be stuck in a strange pattern of having dominating seasons every other year. After regressing in 2011 and blowing 10 saves, the Cubs closer only blows three in 2012, finishing third in NL Reliever of the Year voting.

PITCHING DUD

Chris Volstad: 6-13, 5.02 ERA, 140K's

Volstad switched places with former Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano and, unfortunately, pitches like Big Z circa 2011. On the upside, Volstad was much nicer to Gatorade coolers than Zambrano ever was.

HEAVY HITTER

Alfonso Soriano: .261 batting average, 28 HR, 81 RBI

Soriano's season is deceptive because the Cubs' Jekyll and Hyde outfielder is inhuman in the first half of the season, hitting .308 with 24 HR, 63 RBIs and a trip to the All-Star Game. The second half? He misses 50 games with injuries and can't hit a lick the rest of the way.

BUSTED

Starlin Castro: .269 BA, 6 HR, 57 RBI, 28 SB, 15 errors

His defense may be much improved, but the Cubs young star-to-be takes a massive step backward at the plate, essentially managing the same numbers as new center-fielder David DeJesus. Ouch.

WHITE SOX

RECORD: 82-80, 2nd place in the AL Central, 2.5 games back

Manager Ozzie Guillen and former ace Mark Buehrle may have ditched the South Side for South Beach, and the Sox's lineup may have more holes in it than a pair of your grandfather's old socks, but give the team credit for scrapping their way to respectability. According to RedEye's sim, the Sox will break .500 and give the Tigers a run for first place in the always underwhelming AL Central up until the final week of the season. The Sox new slogan: "Hey, We're Totally OK!"

PITCHING STUD

John Danks: 19-5, 2.94 ERA, 105 K's

After a ho-hum 2011, this left-handed starter reverses course with an out-of-nowhere season that has the Sox saying "Danks a lot." His strikeouts have declined a lot since racking up 162 in 2010, but his ERA and run total go way down, resulting in Danks finishing fifth in AL Cy Young voting.

PITCHING DUD

Jake Peavy: 4-3 record, 4.10 ERA, 63 K's

It's not as if Peavy pitches poorly in 2012, it's that his body is like the real-life version of the board game Operation. He sustains a groin pull, shoulder strain and broken finger and manages just 15 starts. Is it too late to give him the nickname "DL"?

HEAVY HITTER

Paul Konerko: .254 BA, 31 HR, 87 RBI

At this point, Paulie K going for 25 home runs and 75-plus RBIs is like the sun rising in the east. He might be slowing down a hair, but even at 36, the guy can still rake.

BUSTED

Adam Dunn: .209 BA, 16 HR, 49 RBI, 112K's

What's worse, that a .209 average would be considered a rebound year for the man who should be renamed Adam Done, or that he ends up getting traded after the All-Star break to Baltimore for backup second baseman Robert Andino? You decide.

Ryan Smith is a RedEye special contributor.

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