I have all kinds of respect for Al, and I absolutely support the need for optimism regarding a franchise that hasn't won a championship in 100 years.
Still, I have to say, Al's player projections (I'm referring to his original ones, not the combined averages of everyone who's made predictions) share one characteristic: Too optimistic.
Just looking at the eight hitters he's profiled so far (Soto, Fukodome, Lee, Pie, Soriano, Theriot, Ramirez, DeRosa) I notice that he doesn't predict anyone to have an off year. Not only that - he's forecasting what I'd consider career or nearly career years for Lee, Ramirez and Soriano, and is expecting Fukodome to have no trouble at all adjusting to a new league/new country (maybe this is possible - but then again, he may not be the second coming of Ichiro).
In sum, Al expects these 8 players to combine for 171 homers (and this is including Theriot, Pie and Soto - none of whom have demonstrated much power in the MLB so far). That means the Cubs as a team will hit well over 200 homers. I hope so. But I wouldn't count on it after the team combined for just 151 last year and only added one offensive player of any note during the offseason. He also says not a single one of these players will hit under .275. I'd love to see that, believe me. But I don't think it's going to happen. I particularly have my doubts whether Pie can go from .215 to .275. I hope - believe me - but I have doubts.
The pitching projections also seem too optimstic, though a bit more restrained. I suppose we can hope Zambrano's ERA falls by almost 50 points from last year, and that Hill develops into one of the elite pitchers in the NL (as Al's projections predict), but then again, what are the odds of both of those things happening the same year?
I hope Al is right. If he is, it will be one exciting summer. But on the other hand, one has to expect at least a few players to have off years in 2008. If all the players perform as Al is predicting, the Cubs have no excuse not to go all the way.