In the Tribune today, Larry Rothschild has something positive to say about the Cubs plan for Mark Prior.

“Going in we need to look at it like we can’t count on him, and if he’s back it’s a big plus,” Rothschild said. “We can’t get caught short. … You hope if he does everything he can, and if everything happens the right way, you have a pitcher who’s obviously going to help.”

This is what I like to hear. It’s the mindset the Cubs should have had last year. Instead, we counted on not only Prior, but Wood, and Wade Miller as well. Those three assumptions came back to bite us.

The Cubs need to go into this season as if they have never even heard of Mark Prior before. We need to treat him like he was when he first burst onto the scene, an added bonus. If we get 10 starts out of him, great. If not, oh well, we’re prepared anyway.

That being said, in my mind right now, I see the rotation looking like this:

1. Carlos Zambrano
2. Rich Hill ~ I hope he’s as good as we saw
3. Sean Marshall ~ I’m giving him a shot
4. ?
5. ?

That leaves us with 1 lock and 4 question marks. I’d fill the rotation from # 2 to 5 with two players from our system (i.e. Marshall and Hill) and then I would go out and get two arms.

Obviously, it would be very unrealistic to assume the Cubs would make a run at Barry Zito AND Jason Schmidt, but I think one of them is reasonable. Barry Zito would be my first choice. That would leave another spot to fill. I’d take a good look at the following and make my play:

  • Jason Marquis
  • Adam Eaton
  • Vicente Padilla
  • Gil Meche

There isn’t a lot on the market this year. We need to get what we can and hope that the losing last year gave our pitchers the big league experience they may not have gotten otherwise. Hopefully that will help in the long run.

Ryan Dempster gets the vote of confidence

He also endorsed the return of Ryan Dempster as the Cubs closer, saying one bad stretch should not erase the job he did in 2005.

“He just let things get to him a little more than the year before,” Rothschild said. “He knows what went wrong, and there was nothing wrong arm-wise or velocity-wise.”

I’m fine with this move. I’ll be honest with you. I never put much stock in closers. One minute, Brad Lidge is the best in the game, one Pujols blast later and he’s terrible. Guys are up and down and I think Ryan will be back next year in full force.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids and helps people protect their assets as an independent insurance agent. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail