Weekend Update – 02/16/08

Day Two at Fitch Park saw the arrival of their big off-season signing. Kosuke Fukudome reported to camp early on Friday, greeted the media and spent time in the cages. Lou Piniella was one of 40 people that gathered to watch Fukudome take batting practice for the first time as a Cub. Piniella remarked after the session, “Very impressive. The ball jumps of his bat.” Carlos Zambrano greeted the Cubs’ new right fielder by wearing his familiar number 1 jersey and according to a report in the Daily Herald hung a number 11 in Dome’s locker. Zambrano removed the jersey and reportedly handed it to Fukudome as a gesture of welcoming him to the team.

Here is the latest from Mesa in an ‘All Cubs Edition of the Weekend Update’, plus the first power rankings of 2008 and a couple of rumors from the mill….

The Cubs’ pitching competition is one of ten things Ken Rosenthal will be keeping an eye on this spring. Rosenthal mentioned if the Cubs work a deal with the Orioles for Brian Roberts could help resolve the logjam“. Sean Gallagher and Jason Marquis could still be traded and Rosenthal thinks Marquis might have other possible destinations. Rosenthal finished his three paragraphs about the Cubs with the following:

“If the Cubs acquire Roberts and identify the right pitching combination, the World Series could be within reach.”

Steve Rosenbloom joined the move-Soriano-down-in-the-lineup bandwagon. The Cubs have not been able to land Brian Roberts, yet, so until they do (if they do is more accurate) then Alfonso Soriano will remain atop the Cubs’ lineup.

Steve Greenberg of the Sporting News picked the Cubs to win this year’s World Series. Greenberg claimed his prediction is an annual rite of almost spring.

The first power rankings of the 2008 season was released on Friday….the Cubs are 14th behind the Diamondbacks (#5), the Dodgers (#7), the Mets (#8), the Rockies (#10), the Brewers (#12) and the Phillies (#13) in the National League.

The Chicago Tribune mentioned two ex-Cubsthat just dogged it” during their days on the North Side….Kyle Farnsworth and Sammy Sosa.

AOL Sports predicted the National League Central might be on the way to respectability with the Brewers and Cubs leading the way….the days of the ‘Comedy Central’ could be nearing the end.

Ryan Theriot is a table-setter according to a report in the Sun-Times. If Theriot leaves camp as the starting shortstop on Opening Day, he will be the fifth different shortstop to start at the position in the first game of the year since 2004.

The Sporting News released a list of the top players at the “unglamorous positions” throughout the league. Carlos Marmol, the second best setup man in the Majors and Daryle Ward, the fifth best pinch-hitter in the league.

There was a great report in the New York Times earlier in the week about Kosuke Fukudome….well worth the read.

Lou Piniella and Jim Hendry talked about the 100-year anniversary on Thursday. Piniella accepted responsibility for one of those years while Hendry stated, “I’m in for five. I do feel badly for the people that have been wanting it all their lives. One of these years, we’re going to get it done.

Kerry Wood has put a little weight back on this off-season according to a report in the Daily Herald by Bruce Miles. Wood said he was too thin last year but is glad he is healthy and is looking forward to the season. Wood talked about Mark Prior not being in camp. Wood also remarked it was weird to see Kevin Hart in Prior’s familiar number 22.

The Cubs have filed a lawsuit against one of the rooftop club owners and are threatening to obscure the view of Wrigley Field with decorative banners according to a report in the Sun Times. The lawsuit has been filed against Tom Gramatis, who owns three rooftop clubs in the 3600 block of North Sheffield, for not honoring the agreement made between the Cubs and the rooftop owners back in 2004. Gramatis is trying to cut a new deal….the Cubs are not budging and are testing out banners to block the view.

Jon Heyman handed out his off-season grades….according to Heyman, the Cubs received a B+ this winter.

Jon Lieber worked out a deal with Daryle Ward and will once again wear his familiar number 32….Ward will wear number 33.

Tim Souers wondered this week what the Cubs were actually reporting?!?!?!

Images from Day Two at Fitch Park from www.CubsAZ.com.

From the Rumor Mill

Talk continued throughout the week the Cubs were still trying to move Jason Marquis. Bruce Levine mentioned last Saturday the Red Sox and Angels have shown interest in Marquis. The Cubs’ right hander is preparing for a spot in Lou Piniella’s rotation, not the bullpen according to a report in the Sun Times.

Rumors surfaced early in the week Dusty Baker and Kenny Lofton Part Three could be in the works. Nothing materialized, but stay tuned….Lofton is one of Dusty’s guys.

The Orioles asked the Cubs about including Jose Ceda in a deal for Brian Roberts according to a report in the Tribune, but the Cubs have labeled Ceda as “untouchable“. Ceda will be given a shot to earn the last spot in the bullpen this spring.

The Former Cub Corner

Bobby Brownlie, the Cubs first round pick in 2002, is in big league camp with the Washington Nationals trying to earn a roster spot.

Scott Williamson signed a minor league deal with the Giants on Monday that included an invitation to Spring Training.

GlenAllen Hill apologized on Wednesday for his use of performance enhancing drugs during his career. Hill was mentioned in the Mitchell Report.

Will Ohman is looking forward to his fresh start with the Braves and according to a report in the Ledger-Enquirer has no ill feelings for the Cubs.

Finally…. For those old enough to remember and young enough not to forget, the Cubs once had a ballgirl, her name was Marla Collins. Here is a link with vintage video footage, including commentary from Harry Caray.

Quote of the Day

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein