Power Rankings and Other Rumblings from Mesa

Sometimes die-hard baseball fans have a tendency to look down upon those casual fans or maybe those that jump on the proverbial bandwagon once their hometown team starts to win a few games and shows promise late in the season. Baseball Prospectus ran a very good report about the common fan being just as important as the die-hards or in this site’s case….the Faithful. So as we all gear up for the new season, remember a fan is still fan regardless of how much they know or don’t know. Maybe the Faithful should look at those referred to as the casual fan as being a gauge on how well the Cubs are doing during the season because if there is plenty of room on the ole wagon in August, it could be a long last few miles of the marathon.

Dayn Perry released his pre-season power rankings, with the Cubs listed 16th in the MLB and second in the central. Here is the latest from around the league, more predictions about the upcoming season and the latest on Zambrano….

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune , the Cubs are not worried about the recent ultimatum issued by Carlos Zambrano. Paul Sullivan mentioned Jim Hendry feels he can still negotiate with Z after his deadline passes without a deal being done. Zambrano took a hit in the media with his statements on Monday….some felt he should have never used the media to discuss his contract.

More on the Zambrano statements surfaced from the Chicago Sun-Times and Daily Herald. Chris DeLuca questioned the ultimatum’s source….the Tribune owned WGN and Chicago Tribune. And Bruce Miles mentioned, “Zambrano’s Chatter No Concern to Hendry.” Only time and possibly a lot of money will sort this out.

Derrek Lee had a busy off-season with Project 3000. The foundation he helped found to help prevent Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis.

As mentioned, Dayn Perry from Fox Sports.com released his pre-Spring Training power rankings for all of baseball. Perry ranked the Cubs 16th overall and 2nd behind the Cardinals (13th) with the Brewers ranked 18th and the Astros 21st. Perry stated the Cubs “are now contenders in the semi-comical NL Central.” Perry mentioned the Cubs’ season may still depend on the health of Mark Prior.

The Chicago Tribune’s, Paul Sullivan, gave his breakdown on Lou Piniella’s possible impact on the Cubs and more background on the Cubs’ new skipper. Piniella should be able to fully communicate with the team considering he did not speak or learn English until kindergarten….he grew up speaking Spanish.

Phil Rogers from the Tribune also released a report on the eve of pitchers and catchers reporting to Mesa. Rogers did bring up an interesting fact. If Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis each win 14 games in the upcoming season (as they did in 2006) it will only be the third time since 1973 (Ferguson Jenkins, Burt Hooton and Rick Reuschel) the Cubs had three starters win at least 14 games….the other two times was in 1989 and 2003, two of the three times they won their division crown since 1945.

Rogers ranked the pitchers vying for a spot in the rotation as well:

  1. Zambrano
  2. Lilly
  3. Prior
  4. Marquis
  5. Hill
  6. Miller
  7. Marshall
  8. Cotts
  9. Marmol
  10. Guzman
  11. O’Malley
  12. Gallagher
  13. Samardzija

A report in the Chicago Sun-Times listed their projected lineup and starting rotation:

  1. Alfonso Soriano – CF
  2. Mark DeRosa – 2B
  3. Derrek Lee – 1B
  4. Aramis Ramirez – 3B
  5. Jacque Jones – RF
  6. Michael Barrett – C
  7. Matt Murton – LF
  8. Cesar Izturis – SS
  1. Carlos Zambrano
  2. Ted Lilly
  3. Jason Marquis
  4. Rich Hill
  5. Wade Miller
  • Ryan Dempster, Closer

According to a report in the New York Post, even with all of the spending the Cubs did this off-season they could use a healthy Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. The Post also thinks Jacque Jones could be one of the players that gets traded before the season starts.

Baseball Prospectus’ Joe Sheehan did pick the Cubs to win the central and projected the following 25-man roster:

Soriano, DeRosa, Lee, Ramirez, Jones, Murton, Barrett, Izturis, Floyd, Theriot, Cedeno, Pagan, Blanco, Zambrano, Lilly, Hill, Marquis, Prior (or Miller), Dempster, Eyre, Howry, Cotts, Wuertz, Ohman, Novoa (or Wood)

Sheehan did leave Daryle Ward off of his list and many think with a healthy team Ronny Cedeno could be the odd man out. Sheehan also brought up an interesting subject:

“If the Cubs allow fewer than 200 home runs in 2007, they will win the NL Central. That’s how critical their home run rate will be to their success. They’ll rely less on their defense than any other NL team.”

Yahoo Sports released their thoughts on the NL Central.

MLB.com released their thoughts on the NL Central, as well.

Ken Rosenthal from Fox Sports.com and XM Radio released his report on the off-season winners and losers. Rosenthal lists the Phillies, Indians, Dodgers, Braves and Red Sox as having the best off-seasons in all of baseball. The Cubs received their own category…. A league of their own. Rosenthal mentioned his concern over all of the money spent with several questions still needing an answer. Rosenthal used the phase “Hoo boy!” to describe his feelings about the Cubs.

SI.com released a photo retrospective on spring training that includes photos of Bill Veeck, Dizzy Dean, Don Baylor, Michael Jordan and Lou Piniella among other greats of the game including Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and Pete Rose.

The Cubs made the reissue of an old number official on Tuesday. According to a report on Cubs.com, Jason Marquis will wear number 21 this season.

Because of all of the attention created by Carlos Zambrano’s statements and the Cubs trading Jae-Kuk Ryu be sure to check out the Down on the Farm: Adam Harben article that ran on Tuesday here at the CCO. There is good information about Harben’s status for Spring Training and his potential.

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

Quote of the Day

"Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow." - Plato
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