Freeform Friday

The last Friday without baseball for the next 8 months…. The Cubs single game tickets go on sale at 10:00am C.T. this morning. So while you are in the virtual waiting room today open another browser and spend your time on the CCO debating the latest from Day 8 of Camp Lou.

Lou Piniella announced on Thursday that Ryan Dempster will take the hill in the Cactus League opener against the Giants. Also, Piniella is toying with the idea of hitting Kosuke Fukudome third, dropping Derrek Lee to 4th and Aramis Ramirez to 5th.

Here is the rest of the news and notes from Mesa….

Q & A

Bob Nightengale of USA Today recently sat down with Lou Piniella and talked all things Cubs. Nightengale asked Piniella about his first season in Chicago, Kerry Wood as the team’s closer, Ryan Dempster in the rotation and Dempster’s prediction of a World Series title.

Piniella thinks Wood might be better in the 7th and 8th innings. If Dempster cannot crack the rotation, there is always the bullpen and Piniella called Dempster’s prediction “bold.

Jose Ceda

The Cubs’ young flame-thrower continues to impress in Mesa. Bruce Miles quoted Piniella in the Daily Herald:

“There’s good possibilities down the road; I don’t know how long that road is. We’ll see. We’re going to give him a chance here. (His lack of experience) doesn’t mean he can come up here and not make a good impression and win himself a job.”

According to a report on Cubs.com, Jose Ceda is “hoping to stick around the big league team” and does not want to be sent back down to the minors.

No Longer a Kid….Just K?

The Cubs’ elder statesman told the USA Today, “I haven’t felt like this in years.Kerry Wood is in camp and most importantly, healthy. Wood talked with Bob Nightengale about how close he came last season to calling it quits and the success he had in the pen last year.

Top Performers of the Winter

Baseball Prospectus’ latest report is stocked full of stats, all focusing on the recently completed winter leagues. The top reliever from the winter? You guessed it….Carlos Marmol. Of the 40 batters Marmol faced he struck out 22. In 13 innings Marmol faced only ONE over the minimum. Clay Davenport’s take, “complete, utter, domination.

Billy Williams has been impressed with Marmol so far this spring as well. “If you can hit him, you’ll make the team.

Catching All?

Jon Hunton, the 11th round pick of the Cubs in 2004, signed with the Fort Worth Cats of the American Association.

The Heckler unveiled Sam Fuld’s training regiment. And it sounds very painful….

Aramis Ramirez is not Sammy Sosa….just ask Paul Sullivan.

Lou Piniella is the 7th best manager in the majors according to Ken Davidoff of Newsday. Number 1? Jim Leyland of the Tigers.

CCO Mailbag

The CCO tries to answer all comments and emails, but sometimes things fall through without being addressed. Case in point, earlier this week I ran an article “The Usual Prospects?” and two loyal readers of the site, Agustin and Jim K. asked about a couple of names they are unfamiliar with…. Dae-Eun Rhee and Larry Suarez. This will hopefully answer a few of their questions.

Dae-Eun Rhee – The 18-year old right-hander (turns 19 on March 23rd) was signed last July. Rhee is the latest free agent from Korea. He did not pitch in pro ball last year but was impressive in the instructional league. Rhee’s fastball has been clocked in the 90-94 MPH range with a good curveball, excellent control and changeup. Baseball America described his changeup as more like a splitter that “dives at the plate.

Larry Suarez – Suarez just turned 18 in December and signed with the Cubs in 2006. Suarez has been compared to Carlos Zambrano for more than one reason. Suarez is similar in stature to Zambrano (6-4, 245), from Venezuela and has a strong right arm. Suarez hit the low 90’s on his fastball as a 15-year old. Suarez features a slider, a changeup and a lot of raw ability. He was 1-4 in 14 games, 9 starts, in the Arizona Rookie League last year with 35 strikeouts, 26 walks and 37 hits allowed in 40 innings. Oneri Fleita ranked him as the best pitcher in Latin America in 2006.

Anyone that has specific questions they would like answered, drop me an email, neil@chicagocubsonline.com, and I will do my best to answer in a timely manner….and who knows, depending on the volume maybe the CCO will turn the mailbag into a regular column once the season begins.

harry.jpg
Cubby-Blue was one of many that toasted to Harry on Thursday night.

Cubs Related Swag…. Check out 100 Years of Tears and for more Cubs themes, check out CubsCD.com

Finally…. Just a reminder the CCO will be in Arizona next week for the first four games of the Cubs’ Cactus League schedule. There will be full game recaps and photos from each game. If you are planning on attending and would like to analyze the game and talk baseball all afternoon, send me an email….neil@chicagocubsonline.com.

Quote of the Day

"What scares me is what scares you. We're all afraid of the same things." - John Carpenter

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