The Last Saturday in January

The first month of the New Year is all but complete and there are only four Saturdays left before the first Spring Training game of the Piniella era. The last eight days have seen more activity from the North Side of Chicago. From the signing and commitment of Jeff Samardzija to the release of Glendon Rusch, the week that was just added to the anticipation for the upcoming season.

While the Bears are preparing to face Peyton Manning and the Colts next Sunday, the Cubs are preparing to erase the very forgettable season that everyone endured just a year ago. The Cubs have added words such as swagger, depth and OBP to their vocabulary….the expectations are once again high for the upcoming season and for once, rightfully so. One can almost hear the magical words of Pat Hughes, “Chicago Cubs baseball is on the air.” Here is the rest of the week that was…. “We are going to be good and stay good,” were the words spoken by Jim Hendry last week at the convention….and this was just hours after the Cubs signing Jeff Samardzija to a major league contract and in turn making baseball his one and only sport.

  • Dave Kaplan on Friday night asked Alfonso Soriano if he was given the choice which outfield position would he like to play…. Soriano’s answer was center field, an answer that seemed harmless enough at the time.
  • Saturday morning, Dave Kaplan told Lou Piniella what he had asked Soriano the night before and the reaction of Piniella quickly spread throughout the convention and became a topic for debate by much of the mainstream media.
  • Sunday morning the rumors of the imminent signing of Cliff Floyd surfaced again and many reports cited the reason being Soriano’s willingness to play center field.
  • Sunday afternoon the Bears beat the Saints to earn a trip to the Super Bowl to face the Colts….everyone in Chicago dusted off their VHS copy of the Super Bowl Shuffle.
  • Monday and Tuesday….more rumors about Cliff Floyd and the Cubs shopping Jacque Jones. Jason Marquis was given clearance by the Cubs to wear his familiar number 21 but no official announcement has been made.
  • Wednesday the Cubs finally signed Cliff Floyd to a 1-year deal. The rumors and concerns over playing time for Matt Murton surfaced immediately. The Cubs 40-man roster grew to 42 and other moves became mandatory.
  • Thursday the Cubs released Glendon Rusch. Several reports stated he would have not been able to pitch in 2007, so this move was inevitable. The Cubs roster currently stands at 41….

Around the rest of the league….

  • The Cardinals took a step back on Thursday with the announcement that Jeff Weaver had agreed to terms with the Seattle Mariners. The Cardinals trying to spin the likes of Braden Looper in their starting rotation is one that has to infuriate Cardinal fans everywhere.
  • Sammy Sosa appears to be headed to the Texas Rangers. If he makes the team, will he play against his former team when they face off in Arlington June 19th – June 21st?

On February 1, 2006 the biggest concerns among the Faithful was who would be the starting second baseman come opening day and the health of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior….what a difference a year makes.