Renewed Optimism

A report in Sunday’s edition of the Chicago Sun-Times listed the Top 5 Sport Stories of 2006 in Chicago and the Cubs off-season spending spree was listed at number 3. “Cubs Vow to Improve”….and on paper they have. The Cubs have spent money and in the process have kept most of their farm system in tact. Chances are the 2007 roster for the Cubs is just about set, there will be battles for the last spots on the 25-man roster, which will make for some interesting competition, but all in all Lou Piniella should have a pretty good idea of what he will have to work with come mid-February.

Jim Hendry has created a feeling of excitement amongst the Faithful, now it is up to Lou Piniella to turn a bunch of individuals into a team. Here is a recap from the Holiday weekend, a few roster moves from down on the farm and the latest from around the league….

The Cubs 40-man roster is full and without releasing or trading a player they cannot make any additions to the team….so hold off on putting Cliff Floyd in a Cubs’ jersey just yet.

40-man Roster as of December 26th:

Pitchers

Rocky Cherry
Neal Cotts
Ryan Dempster
Scott Eyre
Angel Guzman
Rich Hill
Bobby Howry
Ted Lilly
Carlos Marmol
Jason Marquis
Sean Marshall
Juan Mateo
Wade Miller
Roberto Novoa
Will Ohman
Mark Prior
Clay Rapada
Glendon Rusch
Jae Kuk Ryu
Kerry Wood
Michael Wuertz
Carlos Zambrano

Catchers

Michael Barrett
Henry Blanco
Geovany Soto

Infielders

Ronny Cedeno
Mark DeRosa
Brian Dopirak
Cesar Izturis
Derrek Lee
Scott Moore
Aramis Ramirez
Ryan Theriot

Outfielders

Buck Coats
Jacque Jones
Matt Murton
Angel Pagan
Felix Pie
Alfonso Soriano
Daryle Ward

The battle for the last spots on the 25-man roster should be between Ryan Theriot and Ronny Cedeno for the position players and between Michael Wuertz, Roberto Novoa, Rocky Cherry and Clay Rapada for the last spots on the pitching staff. Glendon Rusch should start the year on the DL and it is questionable if he will ever pitch again or not. Will Ohman was mentioned in trade talk at the beginning of the off-season but his name has not been brought up in a while. Having Neal Cotts, Scott Eyre and Will Ohman in the bullpen to start the season is very unlikely but possible. Several reports have mentioned Piniella will use Cotts the same way Rusch was used by Baker, a swingman out of the pen that can spot start when necessary.

Ronny Cedeno struggled last season at the plate and in the field. Some have looked at the inconsistent way he was used by Baker as the problem but most think more time at Iowa could help him develop into the player the Cubs thought they had at the beginning of 2006. The signing of Mark DeRosa put Cedeno’s roster spot in jeopardy and in a report on Cubs.com after the signing of DeRosa, Hendry mentioned that Cedeno would have to compete for his roster spot. And then there is Ryan Theriot….

The Riot, as he is known, became a fan favorite at the end of last season. Everyone liked his hustle and his desire to play the game. In the simplest of terms, Ryan Theriot is a ball player. Theriot showed a lot of patience at the plate and a decent glove in the field but there where those rookie moments, that if repeated, will land him in Iowa to start the season. A report in Sports Illustrated mentioned the signing of DeRosa could have blocked Theriot from a starting spot, one he could regain once the Cubs realize the best way to use DeRosa is as a utility player, not an everyday 2nd baseman.

Jim Hendry still has a couple of moves up his sleeve and at least one should be a trade. Cliff Floyd is one the Cubs radar, but who else is? That’s what makes the off-season so much fun and worth paying attention to.

Articles from the Weekend….

From the Wire….Suppan Agrees to Terms with the Brewers
A Rainy Night in Ohio
No Guarantees
The Ghost of Larry Himes

Moves from the Farm System….

The Cubs released the following pitchers from the Minor League system last week:

Ryan Bicondoa (RHP)
Steve Bronder (RHP)
Jose Caridad (RHP)
Roger Evenson (RHP)
Kyle Holden (RHP)
Robert Ransom (RHP)
Isaac Pavlik (LHP)
Jesus Yepez (LHP)

83 Free Agents left on the Market according to a report on ESPN.com

94 Free Agents have signed this off-season according to a report on ESPN.com

Well, that’s the latest and I’m sticking to it!!

Quote of the Day

"Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday." - Dale Carnegie

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