Ball 1
-I’ve seen a couple of different baseball blogs mention an (as yet) unsubstantiated trade rumor involving the Brewers Geoff Jenkins for Jacque Jones. I, for one, am not a big Jones fan but I don’t see the point of this deal either. While I don’t like the guy, I do see Jones’ value to the team. For the moment anyway. I do believe that he is in a crowded outfield where he will eventually be trade bait, but I don’t think Jenkins would be the deal the Cubs are looking for. Which by the way, I DO think they are looking for a deal. Depth is one thing, but I think the Cubs have left themselves some options for an impact trade, depending on health and early season performance. I definitely think that any such deal could involve Jones, but I’m saving my thoughts on that for another post.

Strike 1
-Some reports have surfaced that the Cardinals have interest in Roger Clemens. The same reports also mention their interest in Pavano, Lieber, and Penny. Desperation may be too strong of a word, but I’m guessing their rotation looked stronger on paper than it has in camp. Just what I need, another reason to dislike the Cardinals. I was kind of liking the idea that Cardinals may have painted themselves into a corner this year. I usually admire the way they refuse to let pitchers dictate terms to their organization. Plus, over the last few years they’ve really found a way to get a lot from a little, in regards to their pitching. If they win the central this year with the projected starters that they have right now, I will cry.

Ball 2
-Telling the world how healthy the Cubs are in Spring Training seems to be a little premature and dangerous to me. You don’t spit into the wind, you don’t tug on superman’s cape, and you DO NOT flaunt health in Cubs camp in February. At least that’s how I think that song goes. I’ll admit that my optimism meter is pegged, but it always is this time of year. If healthy, Miller, Wood, and Prior could mean a lot to this year’s team…IF…A big fat February IF! I will remain guardedly optimistic for a while longer, thank you.

Strike 2
-Michael Barrett on a possible contract extension: “I will put no deadline or nothing on anything,” Barrett said. “For me, I feel like I’ve been through a lot as a player, and I feel completely blessed to be a part of this team. For me, if there’s a distraction that keeps you from appreciating putting on a Cubs uniform, then something ain’t right. That’s the way I feel.”

Hold on one second…I just….I just got a little something in my eye. **Sniffle**.

THE punch. The bleeding bean bag. Now this quote. Find all the faults in his defense that you want, but I love Michael Barrett’s attitude and toughness.

Ball 3
-Five freaking votes shy! Eight in ’05? This sucks for Ron Santo. 2009 is a long ways away, and we’re not talking about a man who is the picture of health. Posthumous awards stink, because ironically, they only mean something to the living.

Strike 3
-At least three different times in this young Spring Training, I’ve read that Lou Piniella has placed an emphasis on pitchers throwing strikes. I’ve already heard Prior repeat this new and innovative approach. Now this from Tribune writer Paul Sullivan:

Piniella’s objective with his pitchers is getting them to throw fastballs for strikes because last year’s staff led the National League in walks.
“We’ve talked to our catchers about getting them out on three, four pitches, as opposed to working the count,” Piniella said. “Not too many good things can come from long counts. First of all you’re letting the hitters see all of your pitches. Second of all your infielders aren’t going to be as attentive so they aren’t going to make as many good plays behind you. Third of all you have pitch counts and there are guys who will be out of games sooner than you would like. Fourth of all you’re in running counts all the time, so you’re opening up holes for the hitters to hit the ball through. And finally the manager is not going to be very pleased.”

AMEN!

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