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SP Carlos Zambrano SP Ben Sheets
2007 Record 18-13, 3.95 ERA 2007 Record 12-5, 3.82 ERA
2B Rickie Weeks SS Ryan Theriot
CF *Tony Gwynn Jr. LF Alfonso Soriano
1B *Prince Fielder 1B Derrek Lee
LF Ryan Braun 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B Bill Hall RF *Kosuke Fukudome
RF Corey Hart 2B Mark DeRosa
SS JJ Hardy C Geovany Soto
P Ben Sheets CF *Felix Pie
C
Jason Kendall P #Carlos Zambrano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening Day 2008 has arrived and the season starts off with a division rival tilt between our beloved Cubbies and those Brew Babies from up north. This will be Zambrano's fourth straight Opening Day start, he's 0-1 with an 8.16 ERA in the previous three. Maybe it's Mother Nature's way of calming his nerves with the impending rain delay.

Additionally...(from Cubnut)

The Cubs need to get off to a fast start and not just because it's no fun digging yourself out of the kind of hole Lou's boys escaped last year. Between now and the end of May, the Cubs have 33 home dates; the Brewers, just 25. (Six of those Cub home games are against Milwaukee.)

At the end of the season, the situation is reversed: in September, the Cubs play just 9 home games; the Brewers, 16...the final three when they host the Cubs.

Ryan Dempster's final tune-up before he's unleashed on the National League. The Mariners send out Jarrod Washburn which should give us an idea on the type of lineup the Cubs will send out versus lefties.

Two more games before they count...Ted Lilly vs. Carlos Silva tonight in Vegas. Cubs were down 5-0 as soon as I flipped it on and Theriot grounded into an rally-crushing double play. We sure we don't Soriano batting leadoff?

The Cubs final game in Arizona this spring, as they'll hop on a plane to Vegas to finish off the spring training schedule this weekend versus the Mariners. With the Brewers and Cubs set to play next week, both managers go with minor league pitchers, Cory Bailey versus Mark DiFelice.

The Cubs travel to Tempe today to face the suddenly depleted Angels. Carlos Zamrbano's final tune-up before Opening Day and he'll be opposed by Jered Weaver. The game is on MLB.tv.

The Cubs also settled on their position players to start the season, choosing the lefty bat and infield abilities of Mike Fontenot over the superior righty bat of Matt Murton's. A difficult, but understandable decision on the Cubs part. While Murton is the better hitter, the addition of Fontenot gives the Cubs two lefty bench bats and someone besides Ronny Cedeno to back up the middle infield. The bench will consist of Henry Blanco, Daryle Ward, Ronny Cedeno, Reed Johnson and Mike Fontenot. I can't say I'm thrilled, but I do hope that if Soriano or Fukudome go down with an injury that Murton is still the top choice to replace them on an everday basis. The Cubs also released non-roster invitee Alex Cintron.

Finally, a loyal reader has four tickets for the April 2nd game at Wrigley versus the Brewers. I'm not too interested in becoming a ticket exchange or broker, but he's offering them at below face value, so I thought I'd pass along the note. Drop me an email and I'll forward it to him if you're interested. They're in Aisle 434, Row 2 and retail for $23 each. He's willing to break them up into pairs and is only asking $20 for each ticket. In other words, $40 or $80 instead of $46 or $92. I take no responsibility for their authenticity and don't think I'll do this for everyone.

Rich Hill's last or second to last chance to straighten things out before the Cubs start the regular season. He'll battle fellow south-paw Jonathan Sanchez.

The Cubs announced more roster cuts today with Eric Patterson and Sam Fuld being optioned to Triple A and Micah Hoffpauir, Casey McGehee and pitcher Les Walrond being assigned to minor league camp. With the addition of Reed Johnson, that leaves 32 in camp with 2 non-roster invitees (Alex Cintron and Chad Fox). Angel Guzman was also put on the 60-day disabled list.

I've updated our 40-man roster page and our new Cubs Depth Chart to reflect the changes.

Ryan Dempster takes the mound today to celebrate his appointment to the starting rotation. The Rangers counter with lefty Kason Gabbard.

In site news, I've added the TCR blogroll  which you can access via Quick Links on the left sidebar or under TCR Junk Drawer up top. I'm sure I missed a few Cubs blogs, so drop me a note if you want yours added.

Happy Easter to all!

Jason Marquis hopes for a few goose eggs in his basket in his last opportunity to impress the coaches before the rotation is announced Monday. Everyone's favorite Mad Dog goes for the Padres in Peoria.

The Cubs return to Mesa to take on their city rivals. Ted Lilly goes for the Cubs versus Javier Vazquez.

The Cubs complete their home and home series with the Rockies today, as they travel to Tuscon. Sean Marshall will go for the Cubs against fellow south-paw, Mark Redman. Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to throw against some minor leaguers in Mesa.

UPDATE: The Cubs trimmed their roster down to 36 by optioning Neal Cotts to Triple-A and assigning Koyie Hill to minor league camp. That leaves 5 non-roster invitees still left in camp: pitchers Chad Fox and Les Walrond and position players, Micah Hoffpauir, Casey McGehee and Alex Cintron.

The Rockies visit HoHoKam this afternoon at 3:05 Chicago time. It's Rich "89.4 MPH" Hill vs. Franklin Morales.

And Lou Piniella confirms: when he said he'd have a rotation announcement by Friday, he meant it, dammit.


In the first half of Wednesday's day/night Cubs exhibitiongameathon, Ryan Dempster gets the start at HoHoKam (2:05 Central Time), while in the second game, starting at 9:05 Central Time, Jon Lieber throws against the Giants.

If Lou Piniella sticks to his vow to name the five-man starting staff by the end of the week, this would be the last chance for Dempster and Lieber to make their respective cases. Jason Marquis, who allowed just one run in five innings against the Royals Tuesday, has made a pretty good case for himself already.

Miniscule sample sizes and spring training weirdness aside, here's how Dempster, Lieber, and Marquis stack up so far:

It's back to Cactus League play as the Cubs host the Royals at HoHoKam Tuesday afternoon at 3:05 Central.

Kosuke Fukudome will see some familiar faces in new Royals manager Trey Hillman, who managed the past five seasons in Japan, and righthander Yasuhiko Yabuta, who pitched the last 12 seasons for Chiba Lotte. Yabuta has given up 14 hits and 8 earned runs in 7 innings pitched and Fukudome is hitting .229--I wonder if they'll talk about the good ol' days.

In Hated Rival News, would-be Brewer trade bait Chris Capuano is now just another guy whose elbow needs watching. And while second baseman Rickie Weeks has been horrible in the field this spring, with a team-high five errors, at least it's deflecting attention from how awful Weeks has been at the plate: 20 strikeouts in 40 AB and a .125 average.

Through it all, the Brewers have gone 14-6 in exhibition play.

We just have to keep repeating:

Spring training records don't mean anything...

Spring training records don't mean anything...

Spring training records don't mean anything...

The Angels (10-6) visit HoHoKam this afternoon at 3:05 to play the Cubs (6-12). The game will be carried on WGN Radio, WGN-TV, mlb.tv and Gameday Audio, but no one will be tuning in, as the world's attention will be focused instead on the University of Illinois' attempt to secure an NCAA Tournament berth.

Carlos Zambrano starts for the fourth time this spring. He's yielded just one earned run and one walk in nine innings--with eight strikeouts.

Among the hitters, Micah Hoffpauir remains the hittingest one we've had--18-for-37 (.486!) with a slugging percentage of .811(!!).

On the other hand, Kosuke Fukudome is getting cranky.

Rich Hill (0-1/7.04) throws against Nick Masset as the Cubs make their only visit to Tucson Electric Park this Cactus League season. (The Sox will travel to Mesa next Saturday.) First pitch is at 3:05, and the game will be telecast in Chicago on WGN, though described by the insufferable White Sox announcing team. (Wild guess: at some point in the broadcast, lifetime .239 hitter Hawk Harrelson will talk about how much more fundamentally sound baseball players were in the Old Days.) Pat and Ron will also have the call on WGN Radio.

Another reason for a Cub fan to love, or at least be fond of, Lou Piniella, from Chris DeLuca in the Sun-Times:

Piniella feels compelled to bring a competitive team to Tucson today to face the White Sox, but Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Soriano will stay in Mesa, along with Henry Blanco and Felix Pie, to work on their hitting. ''We have to take a representative team over
there,'' Piniella said of the two-hour trip to Tucson. ''First of all,
we're playing the White Sox. Second of all, the game will be televised
back in Chicago.'

I have been unable to find any reports on the x-ray results following Alex Cintron's nasty encounter with that foul ball off the bat of Mark DeRosa yesterday. If you've heard or read anything, please post it in the Comments.

Update: According to cubs.com, neither Cintron nor Cedeno made the trip to Tucson. Piniella says Cintron "probably could've come today, He
was a little sore. He's fortunate that he didn't get hit a little
higher because it could've cracked his cheekbone." Cedeno stayed behind to rehab a tight hamstring.

 

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