Marshall Works Into 5th As Cubs Drop Mariners

Sam Fuld and Andres Blanco slammed home runs and Sean Marshall took a shutout into the 5th inning, as a Cubs "split squad" drubbed a Seattle Mariners "split squad" 8-1 in front of 10,910 happy fans at sunny Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in Mesa

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Cubs Sign German, Send Five to Minor League Camp

Apparently unhappy with what they've seen so far from Luis Rivas, the Cubs have signed 30-year old super-sub IF-OF Esteban German to a minor league contract, with an NRI to Spring Training. German was released by the Kansas City Royals last Friday.

King for a Day: the Cubs' One-Time Game #1 Starters

As noted here and everywhere else yesterday, Lou Piniella has decided to give Carlos Zambrano the Opening Day assignment at Houston. It will be the fifth time Zambrano has had the honor; the Cubs have gone 2-2 in Z's previous Opening Day outings.

Fergie Jenkins started seven openers for the Cubs, while Rick Sutcliffe started five, and Rick Reuschel, four. The real fun in looking over this list at Baseball-Reference.com is noting which Cub pitchers got to go in Game #1 once, but never again. Here are the last ten such Cub pitchers:

Cubs Clutch Hitting Gets Lost in the Translation

Prepping for the first game of 2nd Round WBC play in San Diego on Sunday, Team Japan edged the Chicago Cubs 3-2 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park on a cool & breezy Thursday afternoon in Mesa, AZ. 

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Carlos Zambrano - Opening Day Starter and Could Still Pitch in the WBC

The headline pretty much says it all as Lou made it official today on the Cubs' Opening Day starter. If Lou skips the 5th starter as he mentioned, the rotation for the month of April could look like this.

Beware the BABIP

I harp a lot about BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) and how it's a good indicator if a player is due for a slump or a rebound from year to year, and even within a season. The general guideline is that a player will generally settle within a range of .290-.320 on their BABIP, with the league average being .300 for a hitter and .290 for a pitcher. Now pitchers have much less control over their BABIP than hitters, that is unless they throw a knuckleball or particulary good change-up that is hard to get good contact on, but hitters actually can outperform or underperform that guideline quite significantly thanks to an ability to hit line drives, speed and a few other minor factors. That being said, they don't outperform it by that much. If you look at the 3-year leaderboard for BABIP on Fangraphs, only three players have topped the .360 mark (Jeter, Holliday and Chipper Jones with Ichiro just missing). Now those are some of the best hitters in the game and their career BABIP's are pretty high as well (except for Chipper who has a .328 career BABIP) and it's been shown that players regress more towards their own BABIP levels than the league averages. That all being said, when you see a player hitting anything over .340, you need to start worrying that it will fall back a bit unless they've been able to sustain it for a few seasons. On the flip side, if a guy is suddenly below .280 he's either had a really unlucky season or he's about to leave major league baseball (see Jones, Andruw).

The All-Time Greatest Cubs Team

I believe I heard in the promo that on today's 30 Clubs in 30 Days show on MLB Network that covers the Chicago Cubs that they're going to announce their all-time greatest Cubs team. That seems pretty easy for the most part and I'm not sure of their criteria, but let's see if we can guess.

Red Alert! Lou Says Something About the Lineup Order

I don't put much stock in what Lou says about the lineup order a month before the season, but he seemed to indicate that Kosuke Fukudome is in line to bat second after the outfielder dropped by camp today with Team Japan.

Gameday Open Thread/Cubs @ Mariners

Rich Harden gets his first start of Cactus League play with Aaron Heilman set to pitch as well. Lineup is Miles 2b, Theriot SS, Hoffpauir 1B, Fox DH, Fontenot 3B, Johnson CF, Deeds RF,  Hill C, Taguchi LF

Ronny Cedeno will start at 2B  and Cub-for-a-minute Garrett Olson will start for the Mariners.

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