kerry wood cubsAh, the early morning. The very early morning. So early in the morning that you can’t even call it the butt crack of dawn. This is, like, the pre-butt crack of dawn.


  • The Cubs are holding a development camp for a handful of prospects this week (about which, more later), and they brought in a couple familiar faces to talk to the young players about the pressure of playing in the bigs: Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. Nobody knows more about the crushing weight of hype from the Cubs perspective, so I’m actually pretty pleased about this – even if it’s being used by most as a punchline.
  • The World Baseball Classic rosters came out yesterday, and, as expected, Anthony Rizzo is on Team Italy. Pitching prospects Ryan Searle (Australia) and Yao-Lin Wang (Chinese Taipei) also made squads. Interestingly, Starlin Castro was not selected for the Dominican Republic’s team, which will have Jose Reyes starting at shortstop.
  • Paul Sullivan offers his thoughts on a few of the panel discussions coming at the Convention.
  • A profile on Michael Bowden, who’s getting a chance to participate in things like the Convention and the Caravan all around his old stomping grounds.
  • Alberto Cabrera continues to pitch well in the Dominican Republic, in high pressure games, too. In his most recent start, he went four innings, giving up no runs on six hits, and striking out seven.
  • Yahoo’s Tim Brown reviews the Cubs’ offseason to date, and previews the coming storm. A sampling: “From here on, it’s relative. In Year Two of Extreme Makeover: Cubbies Edition, progress is progress. Get out of the bottom three in runs scored and runs prevented, for a start. Pick one and start from there. See what you can do at the trading deadline (or before) for Alfonso Soriano, Matt Garza and David DeJesus. Maybe win 70, 75 games, assuming they can make something happen. Last place is coming probably. Fourth, at best. The organizational course to relevance is set. The North Siders seem to understand, though perhaps aren’t especially happy about it. The Cubs drew fewer than three million fans for the first time since 2003, so clearly there’s a line to be drawn between ‘in on The Plan’ and ‘here take my money.'”
  • Jason Martinez of BP wrote at length about the Cubs’ window of contention, which he puts around 2015, primarily because of the talent lower in the Cubs’ system, and the lack of long-term commitments, which will allow the Cubs to spend when the time is right.
  • Cerambam

    3:45 am post… Refinance of the blogathon. Very nice. I did, however, struggle with the decision on whether or not to wait to read it till tomorrow… I didn’t.

  • TonyS

    Good effort Brett. It might only be the readers on the other side of the planet reading at this hour. Have fun at the convention. Living in Oz i’m unlikely to ever get to one but its on the bucket list.

    • TonyS

      # international readers and cerambam and citycub

  • CityCub

    Yeah neither could I, news is news be it at 4am or noon.

  • ETS

    The trampstamp of dawn?

    • Scotti

      Very good.

  • Westbound Willie

    I’m still not sure where this “talent in the minors” is coming from? Someone is able to project how well a 20 old kid will do in the majors in 3-4 years is like projecting the future academics of a second grader.

    Second, the era of quality free agents hitting the market, especially top pitching, is pretty much over. Everyone is signing back with their old club. Next years free agent list is frightful and only gets worse from there. Realistically unless the cubbies become the luckiest team in baseball they are likely to be the royals and/or the pirates.

    • baldtaxguy

      “…only gets worse from there [frightful]?”

      And then you have the nerve to use the term “realistically.”

    • Scotti

      You CAN, by the way, predict the future academics of a GROUP of second graders very well (by looking at their current academic production). As a group these things are quite stable. Same with prospects as a group.

      • 1060Ivy

        The analogy breaks down when you consider the average vs highest performers in class. An average prospect has a minuscule chance of becoming an everyday MLB player and a much smaller chance at becoming an All Star. If you are considering a set of players, the average player will never see the light of day as an MLB player. Odds may not be great for the top draft picks but they are still better.

  • cjdubbya

    Tangentially related, only because it’s baseball – Florence Freedom of the Frontier League is going to have Lennay Kekua bobblehead night. Yes, empty boxes for the first 1K fans. This is so minor league baseball.

  • The Dude Abides

    Do they have Dusty Baker there to introduce Wood & Prior?

    • DeathToFlyingThings

      Dusty will pick them up on Tuesday

  • KidCubbie

    So who playes 1B in Spring Training while Rizzo is at the WBC?

    • Melrosepad

      I wouldn’t mind trying to get Thomas Neal on a minor league deal and see what he can do. He was a former top prospect of the Giants.

      • yield51

        Nobody is expecting him to miss more than a few days. I’m sure the Cubs will have some NRI’s that can play 1B, and Clevenger has also played a little 1B.

    • Kyle

      As of right now, Clevenger is probably the next 1b on the depth chart. Vitters, Lillibridge, Valbuena could all see some time there.

  • ssckelley

    Brett, I am having trouble reading your articles and reading the recent comments on the right hand side on my iPad. Your little Bleachernation Podcast ad is covering up parts of the content.

  • Melrosepad

    Is it wrong of me to want a minor league deal for Prior just to see if there is anything left in the tank? Obviously he would be a bullpen guy now, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him at least in spring training.

    • yield51

      I think his playing days are gone. HIs K/9 numbers were good last year with AAA Yankees. His BB/9 were awful though. If he wants a job in the organization I’m sure he could have one though. Maybe in the radio booth for a minor league affiliate, or some sort of low level local scout.

      • Pat

        You mean he could be not a player, but an “employee”? The circle is now comple.

        • Pat


      • Cizzle

        The “Hi. I’m, Mark Prior” radio ad just went through my head and it made me happy to remember the days when the Cubs were in contention.

  • Kyle

    The best part about Cabrera’s latest start down there was no walks. I know he can strike people out. He needs to show he can not put them on first for free.

    I love Cabrera as a breakout prospect. I’d just as soon see him stay in the pen, where his stuff plays amazingly, considering how awful all his previous attempts at starting have been. But if he can make it work, then he could be a huge find.

  • North Side Irish

    Ben Badler had this write up about a prospect workout in the Dominican. 18 year old LHP working in the low 90s sounds pretty nice to me…have to figure the Cubs had someone in attendance. Be nice if they had more of the International FA pool money left.

  • http://Isa Voice of reason

    Will wood and prior tell the kids to learn from their experiences and stay off the roids?

    • MichiganGoat

      What is just your “reason” speculating? Do you have any evidence that they ever took “roids” or are you just wanting to stir shit up?

      • scorecardpaul

        I don’t have any evidence, but do a little research, and you might see his point. I am sorry I don’t have more specifics for this, and this might sound like I am rambling, but here goes….I remember early in Priors career when he was strugling, they brought up some guy from Texas who had pretty much worked with prior and taught him how to pitch?? The Cubs made a big deal out of it. They brought him back a few more times in the next year or so. He was held in very high regard by Prior and the Cubs. The big steroid scandal broke, and I remember this guy saying something on the lines of… You guys need to realize all of the good players have been using steroids since they were kids. There is no way a nonuser would be able to keep up with a user. He said something like they are in a position were if they want to play they have to use steroids. Needless to say, the Cubs didn’t fly him in anymore.

        • MichiganGoat

          Okay I can appreciate the susceptibility based on this but if that is true then ALL THE PLAYERS are suspect and possibly guilty. I guess I don’t see the need and see people calling out players based on suspect as I don’t know “clown question”esque. I can’t wait for the day we stop with all the suspicion on focus on baseball again.

          • scorecardpaul

            I agree, but I also have a hard time with people saying look at how big this guy got, he shouldn’t be in the HOF. Look at the newest abuser who just admited many years of use. Lance Armstrong didn’t get very big. These guys are professional athletes most of them didn’t get there by being stupid. Obviously some overly abused them in conjunction with an intense excercise program and got huge. But I don’t think any pitcher would ever want to be built like Sammy Sosa. It just wouldn’t work for them. That doesn’t mean they didn’t use??