G’day, Cubs fans. We seem to have hit the dog days of spring training. As Joe elucidated in his post yesterday, the 25-man roster is slowly but surely shaping up. But, otherwise, there’s not a ton of earth-shaking news to report. (And, now that I’ve said that, the Cubs will surely make a trade today.) Nonetheless, here’s a summary of the top team-related stories* and a few superfluous notes:
Boof?! Please, God, no. In bullpen news, this frightening item came to my attention today. Rumors are afloat that Jim Hendry might be looking at trading for former Twins RHP Boof Bonser, who’s now with the Red Sox. First and foremost, Bonser is not a particular good pitcher (5.12 career ERA) and he’s coming off an injury. Apparently, the Red Sox are looking at him only as a long-relief option. So he really wouldn’t fill the Cubs’ need for a veteran right-handed set-up guy.
But there’s a greater issue at stake here: That is, no one – and I mean, no one – should be legally allowed to change his or her name to “Boof.” What’s next? Boff Logan? Tap-that-ass Grabowsky? You just shouldn’t be able to do that. And I will not sit here and allow a player with that kind of first name on my Chicago Cubs. It ain’t gonna happen. I’ll organize protests if I have to. Forget health care reform! This is important! (Ahem. Oh, and Bruce Levine continues to chirp that the Cubs are still eying Blue Jays reliever Jason Frasor as a trade target.)
Xavier Nady will head north with the team. So reports Levine in a 3/21 blog post (via Lou Piniella). X will still not be cleared to make long throws until a couple months into the season, making him a liability of sorts when he does play one of the corner spots. But his swing has looked pretty good in spring training, so let’s hope he can do some damage at the plate. This also means it’s difficult to see how the team could fit Millar and/or Tracy onto the roster. Putting Andres Blanco on waivers still seems the only way, which I’m not really crazy about. I still don’t see how Mike Fontenot can be expected to be the nominal starting second baseman and backup shortstop without drastically overexposing him.
Ted Lilly, rising. In typical Lillyesque fashion, Ted is kicking ass at shoulder rehab and is now projected to be ready by mid- to late April. I guess that makes my May 1st prediction look a little too conservative, but let’s see what happens. Ted threw a 35-pitch simulated game yesterday (Monday) and, from what I’ve read (uh, somewhere), he’d like to get two spring training starts. I believe the plan would then be to still have Ted throw a couple more minor league rehab games before returning to the rotation. In any case, I still don’t see any cause to panic over Ted as this is all working out pretty much as planned way back in January when the Lillyhammer had his shoulder surgery.
Update: Bruce Levine reports that Lilly will not make any Cactus League starts. He’ll stick to starting some minor league games and working his way toward a mid-April return to the team.
Tom Ricketts to address a roomful of well-to-do individuals this week. Namely, he’ll appear at The Executives Club of Chicago’s breakfast on Thursday. It appears as though the public can attend, but you’ll have to pay $57.50. I’m considering showing up and reenacting the upscale restaurant scene from the Blues Brothers. “How much for your women? Your wife…the lee-tle girl. I want to buy your women.”
Yesterday’s (Monday’s) game results: Cubs lose 9-2 to Indians. I saw the first couple innings of this game and listened to most of the middle innings via my At Bat 2010 BlackBerry app. Long story short: Fausto Carmona dominated. (He’s apparently been having an excellent spring.) Jeff Samardzija went for the Cubs and was…well…Jeff Samardzija. Not terrible but not great. Seriously, I don’t know what to do with the Shark. He appears to have the stuff to keep hitters off-balance to a certain extent. But he gives up too many deep fly-balls and doesn’t induce enough ground balls. And unless he really refines his secondary pitches, I still don’t see him as a strikeout guy.
So where does that leave Samardzija? In the same place he’s been for a while now – in limbo between going to Iowa to be a starter (Jeff has one remaining option year) or just sticking with the big league team as a middle reliever. It’ll be interesting to see how the Cubs handle this. If the team does send the Shark to Iowa, it would open a bullpen spot for, perhaps, lefty James Russell – who’s reportedly getting some serious consideration. I’ve seen Russell pitch a couple times now and I like what I see: Quick worker, throws strikes, not dominating but not afraid to challenge hitters. In short, he reminds me of a left-handed Randy Wells.
Today’s (Tuesday’s) game: Cubs vs. Royals, 3:05 CDT. Looks like the game will be available via mlb.tv (Royals feed). Gameday audio options appear for the Royals radio feed and an mlb.com crew doing the Cubs. Demp gets the start. Here’s the Cubs lineup via Carrie Muskat:
Aramis DH (←Back at last, though not playing defense yet. He’s been troubled by sore triceps.)
*Reddish text is hyperlinks to my sources. Check back for updates!