Game 1: Brewers 4 – Cubs 3


Brewers 1-0
Cubs 0-1

Runner Up: SP Z! (6.2 IP, 3 H, BB, 5 K, Pick Off, QS), RP Carlos Marmol (1.1 IP, 3 K, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 R)

What positives can we take from this game
– that guy from Japan may be able to play the base ball okay.
– leaving insane phone messages (as quoted above) remain fun in the ’08
– Carlos Zambrano can actually pitch great on opening day
– Carlos Marmol can pitch great on any day
– we get the “Z needs to drink more liquids/play less Guitar Hero” story out of the way early
– everyone realizes they need to work on calling each other on pop outs already
– Eric Gagne is really not good any more
– Kerry learns to deal with having a bad outing and having to shake it off pretty quickly
– there’s a slight chance of a bean ball war breaking out if Weeks has anything to say about it. He was TICKED after the 9th.

It’s one loss, one bad outing. They’ve got 161 more. Not quite time to freak out.

Tomorrow’s off, and Wednesday starts things off in a normal rhythm. Lilly vs Suppan is going to be a tough matchup, especially if Lilly pitches as he did in Arizona

many words about non issues


If a heart issue only requires a week off before getting back to normal, is it really an issue? (Alternate question: if the old Cubs Post Only page, still with VGA era graphics, exists but I forget to include a link to it for a month, does it still count?) I think this at least a 2% chance it’s only a plan to get out of boring February drills (and a 50% chance a call was put into the O’s.)

Since Mark DeRosa will be back before they start playing games that even matter a little, this doesn’t seem to matter much. The projected lineup is kinda interesting…

LF Soriano
SS Theriot
1B D-Lee
3B A-Ram
2B DeRosa
CA Soto
CF Pie

…because there seems to be a plan of stacking the OBP guys in front of Ram and giving him possibly a million RBI opportunities, while allowing Soriano to continue to be in his own world. It puts early pressure on Kosuke and Ryan to be getting on early, because flaws won’t be hidden there.

On the flipside, it allows Pie (and to a lesser extent, Soto) to just play every day and not worry about what he does at the plate. If everything else works moderately well, Felix can struggle at the plate as long as he’s fielding the way we figure he should and there’s no real problem. I’m still thinking they’ll find someone as a right handed platoon partner (because Pinella likes to rest guys anyway, and Pie off the bench in a close game has a lot of value), but it’s not a must situation if he’s batting eight.

Still, I’d be surprised if this was the default lineup by May 1st. Something will surely break before then.

There’s really nothing else going on, except the quiet dwindling of rotation options. It seems like they’ve set the order as

1) Z!
2) Lilly
3) Dempster – sounds as though a lock unless he stinks in Spring Training
4) Hill – 4th only for lefty/righty alternation
5) Marquis or Lieber
Out without throwing an in-game pitch: Marshall, Gallagher, Hart

I’m not quite sure it’ll end up being the best possible five, but I’m also not sure the difference between 5 and 9 is all that significant. Lou’s comments about Marquis or Lieber were interrupted as loser may be willing to go to the bullpen, but it feels more likely that a last minute trade might happen. I think the Cubs would like Lieber to take it and someone else to take Marquis, because the trust is gone there, but I don’t know if it’ll work out that way.

There’s that battle, there’s the closer battle (which I also don’t think is so vital – it’s more important to have people who can pitch well close & late than what order they’re in), the last two spots in the pen (totally unclear until the rotation falls out) and maybe the last spot on the bench (depending on if there’s a trade.) The roster spots are about as uncritical as they come, which is maybe why there hasn’t been much stuff to come out of camp so far.

The most intriguing news item of the spring to me so far is the new (home) bullpen seats being sold at auction. People might go a bit crazy spending for those on some weekends, though less than if they auctioned them out thru the season (they’ll only be doing it from 03/03 to 03/13.) The Cubs might make back all the money for the field resurfacing just from a couple St. Louis weekend stints.

quips report to spring training


to me, it’s not baseball season until Carlos starts being quotable.

Zambrano looks forward to opening day

“The one who invented the light [bulb] tried 2,000-something times, and he finally did it,” Zambrano said. “We have light because somebody thought about doing that. … I don’t want to spend 2,000-some times to win the first game on Opening Day, but I will do it this year and go from there.”

Fukudome in the house (note the first official 2008 appearance of Paul Sullivan snark)

Kosuke Fukudome was welcomed to the Cubs clubhouse Friday morning by wacky pitcher Carlos Zambrano, who was wearing a jersey with Fukudome’s number 1 after slipping a No. 11 jersey into the Japanese star’s locker.

Zambrano told Fukudome that the pitcher was “the real No. 1,” though in reality, we all know Zambrano is only No. 1 in walks allowed and punches thrown at teammates.

Eventually, Zambrano took off the jersey and handed it to Fukudome, who quickly learned he had been Punk’d. Fukudome smiled all the way through the prank, as the Japanese media horde, along with several Chicago TV stations, recorded every second.

Santana’s trade to the Mets may mean Z is no longer the best Venezuelan pitcher in the NL, but he’s got a tight grip on most insane. This should be a fun season.

Anyway, I wouldn’t actually mind Fukudome third, especially with the Roberts trade stalled. You could do something like this

1) Soriano (assuming he’s stuck there)
2) Lee (OBP!)
3) Kosuke
4) A RAM
5) DeRosa
6) Soto
7) Theriot
8) Pie

It doens’t matter if Theriot doesn’t return to early season form or Pie bounces back, because they’re not making outs between the best guys. If Brian Roberts ever did become a Cub, I’d put him second, Lee 4th, and slide everyone else down a spot. I’m not thinking too much about that deal, though, because it seems totally stalled.

Reality is Soriano, Theriot or DeRosa, Lee, Ram, Kosuke, Soto, DeRosa or Theriot, Pie as the opening day lineup, but it’s nice that Kosuke wants to bat third.

(The Dempster thing was totally overblown. How dare an athlete – or whatever Ryan is – suggest his group is going to succeed.)

4 for 1


– Kosuke Fukodome’s physical is supposed to be happening today, with the press conference tomorrow. He’s supposed to wear #1 and will have KOSUKE on the back of his jersey, but I guess we know all that for sure tomorrow.

I said it before – this signing fits the needs of the team very well. It’d be nice if Soriano was dropped to 4 or 5 in the lineup, but as long as they have Fukudome batting before Lee and Ram, they should be driving in a few more runs. Last season, the Cubs were very reliant on power hits for wins, and Fukudome’s presence should make them a bit more balanced.

Four years is just the right length. Kosukue will be 31 in April, and you’ll probably not want to pay him big money for his 35 year old season. $12 mil a year is a lot, but he’s so much better than the suggested alternatives.

I would not put much stock into any positional promise the Cubs have or will make to Fukudome before April 1st. Last off season, Soriano was told he’d be in one position for the whole season and DeRosa was told he’d be the everyday second baseman, and both promises were quickly broken. If the Cubs end up in a situation where Fukudome in CF makes more sense, that’s where he’ll be.

– Mark Prior being non-tendered was no surprise. Reading the coverage the next day, it was probably something both sides quietly knew for months, because of Prior’s reaction to the 1y with team option deal the Cubs offered (the only offer they could make.)

I know that if Mark Prior blossoms somewhere else, the Cubs will be mocked for letting go of such a player, but he’d clearly hit a dead end in Wrigley. Too many scars from ’04, ’05, ’06 and ’07 that’ll never heal right. I hope for him the same that’s happened with Tyson Chandler. Chandler had peaked out with the Bulls, and I think needed to go some place out to become the near-All Star level guy basketball player he’s become – and he’s doing in the other conference, so the Bulls don’t have to see him and regret what might have been (but never could be) more than two times a year. I hope Prior makes a (unlikely) return to form, but I hope he does it in place which doesn’t play the Cubs often.

– I was regretting being out of the loop for most of last Thursday, because I desperately was interested in hearing the leaks and rumors from the Mitchell report (more than reading the actual report itself, which I know is odd.) It had occurred to me that Thursday was quite possibly the day when Sammy Sosa would be confirmed as to have used unauthorized PEDs. Instead of just rumors and guesses, there was going to be an actual investigation to back up assumptions. I actually saw The List just before leaving that morning, scrolled to Sammy’s name, shrugged, (saw Wood and Prior and Neifi as well) and got going.

You can only imagine my delight when I downloaded a copy of the actual report, hit control-f, and only found Sosa in a section of “people who won’t talk to me [the abridged version]”. They got many other people, but they didn’t get Sosa. (Or most of the other people on that fake list.)

Does this prove Sammy Sosa has never used steroids or HGH or anything else stronger than Flintstones Vitamins? Nah, of course not. I’d like to think he didn’t, because it makes my memories better and all, and I’m more than willing to believe the stories about how he picked pitches to swinging at much better (because I’m sure I saw that.) If I could separate myself from my feelings and you asked me if I thought he used something, I’m sure I’d say yes, and he’ll never be found out in the way those in the Mitchell report were – the purchases would’ve been done outside of the US, and only those extremely close to him would know and have no motivation to ever tell. But as long as Sammy’s name doesn’t come up on an lists or returned checks, here’s still a glimmer of disbelief I can hold onto.

Objectively, I think not being on the list, and the list including enough names to push the “so many people were using, you should punish no one” viewpoint (which is crap to me, but I don’t count) means 5% – 7% more votes when it comes to HOF time. And perhaps that’s enough to push him from a high 30% – mid 40% guy to mid 40% – low 50% guy who gets a lot of attention forever and gets in on a veterans ballot (when all those in the same situation as he get to vote.) Everything helps a little bit.

– If the Cubs can make their team better by trading for Brian Roberts, I’m all for it. I just won’t believe it has a chance until Erik Bedard gets moved.