BOOM. Opening Day’d. I am a fool in love.
- Jed Hoyer is bummed that the Cubs couldn’t find another lefty to suit their needs in the bullpen, but I suppose that’s something that could still happen. “Ideally, we would’ve been able to find another lefty,” Hoyer said. “We haven’t matched up yet. I think it’s safe to say it’s something we’ll be looking to do during the first part of the season to try to find another lefty. Russell is a very good left-hander, but having two would make life easier for Dale [Sveum].” If Rodrigo Lopez is going to be called up soon to join the pen, it’s fair to wonder: who goes out if the Cubs add another lefty?
- Speaking of the pen, Theo Epstein acknowledges that, after the losses of Sean Marshall, Andrew Cashner, and Jeff Samardzija, the pen looks a bit weaker on paper. “That’s a good bullpen right there just with the guys we’ve taken away,” Epstein said. “To be honest with you most clubs address it all year long, so whoever we select to start the season with, that’s not necessarily the final answer. Let’s be realistic.” Epstein’s right, there will be changes, probably as soon as next week. But, as he said, here’s me being realistic: Marmol/Wood/Russell/Camp/Dolis/Castillo is a really scary bullpen, and not in a Nasty Boys kind of way. Good bullpens seem to come out of nowhere every year, though, so who knows.
- There are a number of changes you might notice at Wrigley Field today, including the completed patio area in right field, together with the new LED board. There is also at least one Target logos on the smaller outfield doors, a soft-toss/batting cage area in left field under the bleachers, and empty offices, which have been relocated across the street. I believe there are some new food options, too.
- On the new patio/rooftop-style seating area in right field, Jeff Baker joked that it could get ugly when fans try to reach down over the new LED board to retrieve a home run from the basket out there. “That’s going to be nightmare, people trying to jump over and ‘Curious George’ it down in the basket,” Baker said with a laugh, per Paul Sullivan. “It looks like a cool place to watch the game though.” It’ll be a cool place to watch the game for at least a week, until the smell from the corpses below reach the patio.
- Now that Spring Training is over, you get a flurry of quotes about what it was like for the players, which necessarily imply some not-so-flattering things about how Mike Quade ran the show. Take, for example, this one from Alfonso Soriano: “This manager and coaching staff made us work much harder this Spring. They are very honest with you and treat each player with a lot of respect, I really like that style.“
- Bryan LaHair remains 50/50 for today’s game, though he’s “optimistic.” If he can’t go, there’s a chance he’ll be put on the disabled list to start the year. Those back issues can linger, man. Blake DeWitt would probably draw the start in LaHair’s absence, which, like, yeah. As much as LaHair is a question mark, at least he might make the pitcher a *little* nervous.
- You DirecTV users can breathe a sigh of relief: the Trib and DirecTV have reached a deal so that you’ll get your Cubs on Opening Day on WGN.
- Paul Sullivan looks at nine issues facing the 2012 Cubs, and concludes things with a very frank: “This ain’t the year.”
- The Ricketts Family has settled a dispute with a long-time Chicago vendor, who had set up shop in the McDonald’s parking lot across from Wrigley Field. After buying that McDonald’s, the Ricketts sought to set up their own Chicago merchandise shop, and got into a bit of a scrape with the previously-existing tenant. But, as I said, it’s now been settled (and you’ll see the huge merchandise area when you head to Wrigley).
- The Iowa Cubs still haven’t released their final roster or named an Opening Day starter. You can understand the roster part, given that it could or could not include Tony Campana, depending on Bryan LaHair’s back, and there could be other 40-man roster moves that impact it. But no Opening Day starter yet? Surely the team knows who’s going to go, and who is on what rest. So why wouldn’t they have named him yet? Is it a “just in case there’s a trade” situation?
- Patrick Mooney profiles Theo Epstein, and it’s swell.
- The winners of the “Pledge” Ticket Giveaway have been selected, and emailed. There were so many good pledges that I couldn’t choose the two “best,” so I gathered up all the good ones, and selected two of them randomly. Congrats to BN’ers Packman711 and Derrick Lloyd. Check your emails, gents, and get back to me.
- If you didn’t win one of those tickets, I’ve got good news: I’ve still got one more ticket (bleachers) to the April 12 game to give away. Should be a lot of BN’ers at the game, so it should be a fun one to go to. If you want the ticket, here’s what you do: show up in today’s Game Thread on the Message Board during the game, and tell me you want the ticket. That’s it. I’ll select someone at random after the game to give the ticket to. Pretty simple.
- I recorded a podcast last week with The Central Message, and they just now got around to posting it (I kid – going up on Opening Day was intentional). You can listen here. Those guys are a lot of fun (it’s a Cubs fan and a Cards fan trying to play nice). I show up around the 43 minute range.
- And then I did another podcast yesterday on a variety of Cubs-related topics with MidwayMadness. (I show up pretty early, and yes, I need to find a better place to talk on the phone.) Also a blast. They’ve had some heavy-hitters on their podcast before, so I was honored. It’s fair to say I’m growing addicted to guesting on podcasts.