Saturday, January 19, 2008

From the Chicago Hilton & Towers

With the Convention now to the wrap up phase, let's look at the news coming out of the team and see where this is all headed.

Brian Roberts
The ongoing rumors about the pursuit of the Orioles second baseman clearly means one thing: The Cubs don't want Alfonso Soriano leading off. Where they want to hit him is a mystery, but fifth seems ideal.

Lou Piniella's statement on Soriano also had another message:

"Leadoff? I'm not going to say never," Piniella said of dropping Soriano in the order. "But he's not going to play center field. He's going to be in left field. I would say he's going to be leading off. If something unforeseen happens as far as a trade or something, it could change that. But outside of that, no."

"Something unforseen" is a public message to the Orioles that their demands for players in a trade will not be met.

The Roberts pursuit also means that the Cubs don't trust Mark DeRosa's defense or high strikeouts to be a solid contributor for a full season. It certainly sounds like they want to get DeRosa about 150 fewer at bats in 2008 than in 2007. Probably not a bad idea.

Center Field
Multiple sources say that the Cubs want a center fielder. That makes a lot of sense given that Felix Pie is the only real option and is potentially trade fodder. Additionally, a lineup that's going to rely on Pie, Ryan Theriot and Geovany Soto could have a huge dead zone after the fifth spot in the order. The best option would be for Pie to play his outstanding defense, get his OBP up to the .330 range, bat eighth, and stay out of Lou's doghouse.

If Pie's going to do a .300 OBP, the 2008 Cubs can still live with that so long as Theriot and Soto don't emulate that. That's not very certain.

The Rotation
Singing Jon Lieber means that the Cubs really have no idea who is going to pitch after Ted Lilly and Carlos Zambrano. It could be Rich Hill. It could be Ryan Dempster. It could be Jason Marquis. It could be Sean Marshall. It could be Sean Gallagher. And one or more of those guys could be gone in a trade for an Erik Bedard.

What is clear is that defacto-GM Lou Piniella doesn't like Marquis or Dempster as top options. They'll be looking for more pitching through July.

Finally, a quick shout-out to everyone who was at Kitty's last night. Andy, TJ, Oleg, Fork (who had the best near impersonation and way outkicked his coverage on Mrs. Fork), Kermit, Apex, Sharon, Marla and Peggy, and Pre all managed to handle their liquor and not scare off a well know Cub broadcaster.

See you all next year.

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