After the First Four Games….

So the Cubs lost three of the first four games over the weekend, if anyone cares to remember they were 0-4 at the same point last year and finished the exhibition season 17-13-2. While the record does not matter, it was good to see Lou Piniella get more wins than losses heading into the regular season….and one can bet ‘Sweet Lou’ will look for the same end result again this spring.

Here are a few observations from the past weekend, with all due respect to Brian, babblings from Arizona….and a few professional photos from Chris Proctor.

  • While watching fielding practice on Thursday being able to see Felix Pie one-hop a throw from center to home plate and then see Kosuke Fukudome do the same from right field on the very next offering from Mike Quade put a HUGE smile on my face.
  • Don’t forget the name Juan Mateo….he could be this spring’s surprise.
  • Andres Blanco has been very impressive in the first 4 games, both at the plate and in the field. Strong arm, good range at short and he is 3-for-5 with a walk, a RBI and 3 runs scored, plus he has started 2 run scoring innings with 2 outs and no one on.
  • The wife thinks Ted Lilly is a ‘hottie‘….sorry she is standing behind me and made me type this.
  • Fukudome’s numbers might not look that good, 1-for-5, but 3 walks and a HBP. That equals a .556 OBP and he has taken pitch after pitch that most would have swung at.
  • Neal Cotts days with the Cubs have to be numbered. He has not looked good at all in his first two games.
  • Speaking of former Southsiders, Shingo Takatsu serves up softballs….no really, they are just ask Travis Denker. Who? Exactly….
  • Felix Pie is the leader in the competition for centerfield so far.
  • Kerry Wood’s new facial hair makes me think of Goose Gossage.
  • Could Carlos Marmol be this good? And if he is….well, let your imagination run wild.
  • Speaking of hard throwing relievers, Jose Ceda is a man-child. This guy is huge, same height as Derrek Lee but bigger. He can throw real, real hard. Once he learns a little control….look out!
  • Tempe Diablo Stadium is beautiful and the people are extremely nice, just don’t ask for any water. They sell beer with Angels’ logos on the bottles, but water is at a premium and apparently you must know somebody in order to purchase it.
  • What in the world was Jason Marquis thinking? Or is that the problem, he wasn’t.
  • Geovany Soto what an arm and he can hit (3-for-8 in 3 games). The guys like pitching to him too….Forget the JO-DY! chants, how about GEO-VAN-Y!
  • Is it possible Ryan Dempster had the best outing the first go around than the other four….Zambrano, Lilly, Hill and Marquis? Not only did he pitch pretty darn good on Thursday, he also ran more laps in the outfield than anyone else has.
  • The helmets on Mike Quade and Ivan DeJesus are a welcomed addition.
  • HoHoKam Park is a miniature Wrigley Field. Once you turn onto Center Street you are in a neighborhood and then all of a sudden there is a ballpark….plus there is Old Style, right Jason?
  • Seeing Ron Santo and Steve Stone together at HoHoKam on Sunday made several around me dream about what could be in a broadcast booth one day.
  • Speaking of dreaming, will Brian Roberts ever be traded? For those of you that do not know, Roberts is 3-for-8 in 3 games with a walk, 2 doubles, 4 runs scored and 4 stolen bases.
  • The nickname ‘Big Z‘ might not be accurate any longer….how about ‘Medium-sized Z‘? The man has lost some serious weight.
  • Kevin Hart has looked good in his first 2 games, but the number on his back just brings back so much baggage.
  • The young arms in the bullpen have been impressive. Good depth and a good problem for Lou Piniella to have. Carmen Pignatiello has to be the front-runner to be the second southpaw in the pen so far. But from the right side there is Kevin Hart, Billy Petrick, Jose Ascanio, Tim Lahey and Juan Mateo.
  • Speaking of depth, think about the pitching that will be in Iowa and in Tennessee to start the season….not to mention names like Mark Holliman, Grant Johnson, Donald Veal, Jeff Samardzija and Rocky Roquet.
  • It was good to see Mark DeRosa back at the park on Sunday. ‘DeRo‘ is a big key to this team have a successful season.

And just for clarification, I have not had one glass of kool-aid and I left my fan goggles at home.

Photos from Chris Proctor

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Click Here for more Cubs photos from Chris Proctor

The Weekend in Review from the CCO….each game recap includes photos, a photo gallery and three of the four contain video from Arizona.

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon