Today the CCO is going to take a little break from discussing rumors concerning two players that are currently employed by Cal Ripken, Jr.’s old team….everyone is probably just as tired of reading about one of the longest-drawn-out-trades-for-no-good-reason in recent memory as this writer. So with that out of the way….
Here is the latest news and notes from around the league and from the North Side. The Favorite in the NL
A report from the Associated Press cautioned baseball fans to not award the New York Mets the National League pennant just yet. The addition of Johan Santana has improved the Mets chances, dramatically, but the AP mentioned the Diamondbacks addition of Dan Haren makes Arizona a favorite. The Padres have a good rotation led by Jake Peavy, Greg Maddux and Chris Young while the Cubs have Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly.
By judging teams just by their starting rotation, the Cubs would match up fairly well against the top teams in the league. But what the Cubs lack is a true stopper. When Carlos Zambrano is “on his game” he is one of the best in the league and Ted Lilly provided the Cubs with a lot of wins after losses last season but the backend of the rotation could lend to prolonged losing streaks….again if Zambrano is in the middle of one of his “slumps”.
Big Z appears to be keeping his ‘Magic 8 Ball’ under lock and key….so far. So without predictions and a contract to worry about, maybe Zambrano can take the next step in his development this year.
USA Today’s 100 Names for 2008
USA Today published their annual list of names “you need to know” for the upcoming season. Paul White compiled a who’s who of the “next wave of players” that could make a big impact this year….
#3 – Kosuke Fukudome
USA Today listed Fukudome’s accomplishments in Japan and mentioned he will likely hit 5th in Lou Piniella’s lineup to break up the right handers.
#7 – Geovany Soto
Jim Hendry called Geovany Soto “perhaps the best catching prospect the Cubs have had since he joined the organization in late 1994.”
#26 – Felix Pie
White mentioned Felix Pie’s offensive struggles in the big leagues last year and mentioned the fear of every Cubs’ fan….will the defensively gifted Pie ever hit Major League pitching?
#62 – Sam Fuld
USA Today talked about Sam Fuld’s stats in the Arizona Fall League and the fact he is not a big-time prospect, but “plays hard and smart and has a knack for getting on base.”
#63 – Jose Ascanio
The hard throwing right handed reliever will compete for a spot in the bullpen this spring.
Cubs on TV
The Cubs announced their TV schedule for 2008 on Wednesday. For the first time all games will be in HD in the Chicago area.
Carlos Marmol and the Closer’s Role
Paul Sullivan brought up the topic of Carlos Marmol and the closer’s role on Wednesday. Sullivan had several quotes from the USA Today article that was posted on the CCO on Wednesday.
Does anyone feel there is a front-runner in Lou’s mind for the closer’s job with camp opening next week? Should Marmol remain in the role he had last year? How many games did he “save” and how many jams did he get out of in the 6th and 7th innings? Would Bobby Howry fit better as the 9th inning pitcher? What about Kerry Wood? And for a wild card, could Jose Ceda pitch his way into the mix?
From Around the League
Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan returned to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday. Ryan was introduced as the Rangers’ team president and has been given the task of turning Texas into a winner.
Finally….look for the latest from the CCO Feedback column later today.