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David Price? Matt Wieters? Josh Vitters? Max Scherzer, maybe? The Rule 4 Draft (AKA "June Draft", or "First-Year Player Draft") is just about a month away (June 7-8), and the Cubs are preparing their list, and checking it twice. Thanks to their lousy 2006 season, the Cubs will have the 3rd overall pick in the draft, as well as the #48 overall pick as compensation for losing Type "B" FA Juan Pierre to the Dodgers. However, in addition to players selected in the draft, the Cubs will be able to sign more players...
Tonight's game between the Cubs and Cardinals has been canceled due to the tragic death of STL RHP Josh Hancock in a traffic accident in St. Louis early this morning. He just turned 29 a couple of weeks ago, and worked three innings in yesterday's 8-1 Cubs victory. Hancock was reportedly traveling westbound on I-64 west of Compton Avenue at about 12:30 AM when his Ford Explorer SUV plowed into a tow truck parked on the side of the road. Hancock was pronounced dead at the scene. The tow truck driver told police he was assisting a stranded motorist, and was seated in his parked truck in the far left lane of the highway with the wrecker's emergency lights activated. He said he saw the SUV coming up behind him, but it did not slow down before slamming into his vehicle. The tow truck driver was not injured. Hancock played college ball at Auburn, and was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 5th round of the 1998 June draft, making his MLB debut with BOS in 2002. The Red Sox traded him to the Phillies for 3B Jeremy Giambi during the MLB Winter Meetings in December 2002, and then Josh was dealt to CIN in a trade deadline deal where RHP Todd Jones went from CIN to PHI on July 30, 2004. Hancock started nine games for the Reds over the last two months (August-September) of '04, but spent most of the 2005 season on the 60-day DL (groin). Hancock was released by the Reds in February 2006 when he reported to Spring Training overweight and out of shape, but was subsequently signed by the Cardinals as a FA, becoming an important cog in the Redbirds '06 World Series Champion bullpen (3-3 with a 4.09 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 62 games). Our prayers are with Josh's family and friends.
With Angel Guzman scheduled to get the start next Tuesday at Pittsburgh, but with a 5th starter not needed again until May 12th at Philadelphia, here is what the Cubs should do to give themselves a little bit of an edge, although they probably won't:
Yesterday was the last Cubs EXST game for two visitors from another country, two aspiring baseball players who have been working out with the Cubs Extended Spring Training contingent at Fitch Park in Mesa the past couple of weeks. The National Baseball Team of the Peoples Republic of China arrived at Scottsdale Community College for Spring Training last month, led by head coach (and ex-Cub manager) Jim Lefebvre and pitching coach (and ex-MLB LHP) Bruce Hurst. They played games against various minor league ST squads and college teams in Arizona, before having their team split up and sent to various MLB EXST camps, with the team's players (and Chinese translators) assigned to the MLB clubs who expressed an interest in the program. The Cubs EXST contingent at Fitch Park was lucky enough to get two of China's better players, outfielder Qi Ze (pronounced "Chee") and catcher Hao Guo-chen (they call him "How").
UPDATE: A Cubs press release says he experienced shoulder discomfort and will see Dr. Yocum within the next few days. (Rob G.) It was Almost Cy Young 2003 versus Hopefully Cy Young 2013, as Mark Prior faced-off against Chris Huseby in an EXST intrasquad game at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in sunny and warm Mesa, Arizona.
MLB will be observing the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers this coming Sunday, a debut that broke the so-called "color-barrier" that had unofficially prohibited blacks from playing Major League Baseball (MLB) for some 60+ years. A number of MLB players will be wearing number 42 in memory of Jackie, and there will be ceremonies at MLB ball parks. Along with the anniversary celebration, you will probably be reading and hearing comments about MLB's apparent failure to carry-on and fulfill the legacy of Jackie Robinson. And while there does indeed appear to be a growing disinterest in baseball (in general) and MLB (in particular) among younger African-Americans (especially devotees of hip hop and the culture that has flowered with it over the last 15 years or so), is this disconnect with the younger members of Black America really baseball’s fault, or is it mostly beyond baseball’s control?
UPDATED: APRIL 3 Here is the 2007 Opening Day Organizational Depth Chart for the Chicago Cubs and their four "full season" minor league clubs, Iowa (AAA), Tennessee (AA), Daytona (A+), and Peoria (A):
It was caviar, champagne, wheat toast, and strawberry marmalade for breakfast, as the Iowa Cubs and Salt Lake Bees (LAA) met at Fitch Park Field #3 in what is the final ST game for both AAA clubs before they leave Arizona. A Throng of Three (including your ol' pal Arizona Phil, who had nothing better to do) was on hand when the first pitch was thrown at 9 AM (MST), with Rich Hill (CUBS) facing Jered Weaver (LAA). It was the final tune-up for Hill before his first scheduled start next Friday at Milwaukee, while Weaver is trying to increase his pitch count and innings while recovering from biceps tendinitis. First the Good News: Rich Hill pitched today. Now, the Bad News...
For the second time this Spring, Micah Hoffpauir stroked a game-winning HR, as the Cubs rallied to defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-4 before an all-time single-game Cactus League record crowd of 12,917 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon. box score
Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez homered, and Mark Prior got his final 2007 ST start before being optioned to AAA Iowa, as the Cubs and Rockies battled to a ten-inning 4-4 tie in front of a capacity crowd of 12,716 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park today in Mesa. box score

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