Day Two….or should it be, “Let’s Play Two.”

Santo spoke, Ernie espoused, Lou laughed, Jim joked…. Crane cracked, DeRo defied, Jody jostled, Les cried….Derrek dreamed, Hawk hustled, Sandberg saddled, and Sutcliffe was rattled, and in the end Pat talked, Bob shouted, Ron walked, and Len touted….this is a team to fear, a team we all hold dear, a team to love, a team to hate, but in the end a team of fate. And there he was, a man named Messmer, who was so much more than just the unnamed announcer….

Day two of the Chicago Cubs convention began with a Q & A session entitled “Meet Cubs Baseball Management.” This panel included Crane Kenney, Chairman; Jim Hendry, General Manager; Randy Bush, Assistant General Manager; and Lou Piniella, Manager. Unlike last year Piniella was on time, but admitted even during year two the Convention is still overwhelming and still one of a kind. Piniella briefly talked about the upcoming season and what changes he would make in comparison to last year.

Hendry said he would be very aggressive over the next few weeks leading up to Spring Training. He added there are still free agents on the board and he is exploring the trade market. Hendry stated, however, as far as making trades, he is dependent on the other organizations and what they are willing to do.

“No one is going to make a trade to help the Chicago Cubs,” Hendry joked.

Randy Bush hyped Kosuke Fukudome. He said ‘Dome’ was their number one target on the board this offseason. Among Piniella, Hendry and Bush, Fukudome was referred to as a good on-base-percentage guy at least five different times Saturday morning. Bush also mentioned that he was excited about being a Chicago Cub. Crane Kenney said that ‘Dome’ had more lucrative offers on the table from three other teams, but he decided to sign with the Cubs for less money. This decision was due to his desire to be the first Japanese ballplayer in franchise history. Although this information has been reported since the signing, Kenney made it official Saturday morning by relaying details from the Owner’s Meeting.

While some questioned the Shingo Takatsu signing, the fact that he and Dome are close friends was revealed Saturday morning. A collective, “Ooooohhhhh….riiiight” fell over the audience, making the transaction completely understandable. Hendry assured the crowd that Shingo would not receive any preferential treatment due to his friendship with Dome. It seems pretty clear to us that if Shingo ‘ain’t‘ good enough, he will not make the team.

When asked about Dome’s batting order position, Lou said he would be a legitimate two or five hole hitter, not a fourth. When asked if he would give Dome a nickname, Lou jokingly said, “We will see what Ron Santo calls him.

While the CCO will cover the Cubs Business Mgmt. on Sunday, on Saturday Kenney said in reference to the naming rights of Wrigley Field, “The Wrigley Co. can step up and pay for what they have been getting for free for all of these years.

The conversation then shifted to Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. In our opinion Hendry seemed exhausted by his dealings with Prior’s representatives. He made it clear that Prior’s most financially sound option would have been staying in Chicago. However, he left for the West Coast and less money. Hendry’s frustrations were evident in his repetitive comments about Prior’s injuries, while mentioning his inability to stay healthy over and over again. In perfect contrast, Wood walked into Hendry’s office and said, “Pay me what you think is fair.” If, for whatever reason, you were confused about who to root for, we are glad it is no longer a mystery.

Centerfield was a popular topic and Lou commented on the abilities of Felix Pie and Sam Fuld. While it appears Pie has the advantage, we all learned last September that you can never count out Fuld. Piniella went on to say that Ronny Cedeno would contribute, but it is clear that, barring a trade, either Sam or Felix will be your starting CF in 2008. Piniella is looking for production out of Pie, and if his offense is anything like his fashion style, he will be the starting CF in the All-Star game next July.

(This is Brian, I am going on a rant here, but I saw Pie come back from a clothing store Saturday evening with two huge bags. He was wearing designer jeans, a striped shirt and white slip-ons….I may be hetero-sexual, as Jim from Tinley will agree to, but damn, the man has some style.)

For all you ladies looking to lose a few pounds and for all you men who should, call Geovany Soto. The kid looks great and his play is even better. The entire Management team talked about how his conditioning lead to his break-out performance last season and how it will continue to benefit him in the future. By the way, Sean Gallagher is thin again. Jenny Craig now has multiple options from the Cubs. If I were Carlos, I’d be worried. Then again, there is always room for Nutri-system. All kidding aside, Piniella served up a great compliment to Soto, “The pitchers like throwing to him.

Lou was loquacious for the entire hour, but it was very clear he is happy with Alfonso Soriano and his role on the team. At one point Lou compared his skills to Bobby Bonds, and emphasized his point by saying, “I don’t envision us moving him, but let’s not say for sure.

Piniella was clear, the goal is to win at least 92 or 93 games. They want to get off to a good start and let the division know they [Cubs] are here to repeat. By the way, don’t be surprised if people steal third a lot this year.

The most important news of the morning came when Lou revealed his preferred Opening Day lineup….it looks a little like this….

  • Soriano
  • Theriot
  • Lee
  • Ramirez
  • Fukudome
  • DeRosa
  • Soto
  • Pie
  • Zambrano

And put his in your vest, though ‘Z’ said he would be fine letting Ted Lilly start Opening Day, Piniella went out of his way to include Zambrano on the Opening Day lineup.

There were multiple panels throughout the day that were extremely enjoyable. Instead of writing about them, we thought it would be better to give the readers of the CCO the ability to actually listen to them, as if they were there. So go ahead, click on the links, listen to Santo, Sutcliffe, DeRosa, Eyre, Sandberg, Pat Hughes, Brian’s grade school pitching coach Tim Stoddard, and the most important member, Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks.

Please, if you have the time, take a listen. Neil and Brian wanted the Cubs Faithful to feel and understand what it is really like to be at the Convention so we posted the audio highlights. Listen, dream, enjoy and ponder what could become of this season.

In closing we would like to say the following….

Ron Santo is a Cub legend. He is a good broadcaster, an even better baseball player and above all else, his reputation precedes him. He embodies what it means to be a Chicago Cub. He is and should always be treasured for that. But this brings us to our last point….

Without Mr. Cub, this franchise would not be where it is today. Ernie Banks is the cornerstone of the Chicago Cubs and that should never be forgotten. He is, without a doubt, the greatest player in the history of the franchise and he deserves to be treated as such. So we ask you, don’t ever forget that, and the next time you see him in person, let him know that this how you feel. Without Mr. Cub, this generations’ version of the Cubs would be lacking a great deal of history. He paved the way for the teams of yesterday, the teams of today and most importantly, the teams of tomorrow, let’s never forget that.

Thanks, and until next time….

Stay Classy Ernie!!

Audio from Cubs Business Management – Part 1

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Audio from Cubs Business Management – Part 2

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This is a large file and takes several minutes to download

The North Side Mystique – Intros

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The North Side Mystique – Part 1

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The North Side Mystique – Part 2

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The North Side Mystique – Part 3

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The North Side Mystique – Part 4

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Jim Hendry took a little time for the CCO

Ryan Dempster

Michael Wuertz

Sean Gallagher

Cubs Royalty – Dutchie Caray

Hall of Famer – Bob Feller

Scott Eyre and Mark DeRosa

Felix Pie

‘Sweet Lou’

Larry Rothschild

Randy Bush

The Faithful….and no Shaun, you are not in this photo!

Click Here for a Photo Gallery from Day Two of the 2008 Cubs Convention

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne