pierce johnson missouri stateThat Opening Day falls on April Fools Day is undoubtedly a magnificent joke on the Chicago Cubs, engineered, I presume, by the Mayans. But I’m sticking to my theme of hope, if only for today. Don’t fall for the gags today, folks. Nothing anyone says about anything is legit.

  • The Astros and Rangers kicked off Opening Day-ish with an 8-2 Astros win last night. Silly, Astros – you’re just screwing yourselves out of that number one pick next year! Hooray for exaggerated extrapolations! Rick Ankiel for MVP!
  • The Cubs are expected to make an announcement on Darwin Barney’s status today (knee cut). If he heads to the disabled list, Brent Lillibridge is expected to be the regular second baseman in his absence, and Alberto Gonzalez is likely to be added to the roster.

  • Keith Law recently saw Cubs pitching prospect Pierce Johnson in action, and had some complimentary things to say … but also had a caution. Here’s a portion of his comments: “He showed three promising pitches on Friday, working at 89-94 mph, more at the high end of that range starting in the second inning, with a slider that ranged from average to plus in the 70-84 range as well as an average change at 80-82 that he used to left- and right-handed hitters. He also showed better fastball command in that outing than he had previously in the spring. I wasn’t a fan of his arm action when he was at Missouri State, and it’s still the same today – he turns his pitching hand over extremely late, as he’s bringing his forearm forward to release the ball, in a way that puts a lot of pressure directly on the elbow, called ‘valgus stress.'” At least it’s good to hear that likes his stuff – Law says Johnson could be a solid three – and we’ll just have to watch out for the arm concerns.
  • Dale Sveum is pretty confident that his players aren’t going to get used to losing under his watch.
  • Jon Greenberg previews baseball in the city of Chicago this year, and he says many things, but I choose to quote only this: “Nothing is for certain when it comes to rebuilding, but even a cynic like me has faith in the Theo Trio (Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and minor leagues boss Jason McLeod). As painful as a rebuild is, I think in a few years we’ll be happy with the results.”
  • Jesse Rogers offers a thorough preview of the Cubs going into the season.
  • Last year for the open of the season, I published a very long piece that I’d been working on for months. Because it’s as appropriate this year as it was last year, because some of you may not have seen it, and because I’m kind of proud of it, I thought I’d share it here: If It Takes Forever: Mortality, the Chicago Cubs, and a Person Named Steve.

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