Happy Opening Day! For me this is New Year's Day. While our predictions and those of the local media aren't all that optimistic for the season, were all really excited to see some real baseball. It's going to be a cold day in Pittsburgh, a high of 45 degrees, and it's probably not going to be a lot of fun hitting against two hard throwers in Jeff Samardzija and A.J. Burnett today.
The game is on WGN at 12:35 CT
News and Notes:
- UPDATE (12:20): Stephen Bruno, Ben Carhart, Dustin Geiger, and Tim Saunders have made the Daytona announcer. Congrats to Bruno for making the leap and keep your eye on Carhart. The guy is the least known on this list but he can hit -- in fact, all of these guys can hit. Earlier, Zeke DeVoss announced he would also be playing in Daytona. Looks like it's going to be a fun team to follow. Here is the tentative Daytona roster, which includes a couple of surprises.
- Update (11:30): Cubs released some minor league players today. They are: RHP Jason Berken, RHP Ty’Relle Harris, RHP Scott Weismann, LHP Matt Spencer, 1B Paul Hoilman, 3B Dustin Harrington, OF Elieser Bonne, OF Nelson Perez. None were considered big tme prospects although Hoilman, Weismann, and Perez have had productive seasons.
- David Kaplan writes that the Cubs and the city of Chicago are trying to hammer out a last minute deal before Opening Day.
- Carrie Muskat tweets that the team expects to put Darwin Barney on the DL and Alberto Gonzalez will take his roster spot. Robert Whitenack has been removed from the 40 man roster. Whitenack was considered a top prospect but an 87-88 mph fastball with no command means he almost certainly won't be chosen by another team.
- Paul Sullivan writes that Dale Sveum and Theo Epstein are much more comfortable as they begin their 2nd year.
- Gordon Wittenmeyer talks about the Cubs rebuilding and high profitability right now. I think that's just part of the plan as the Cubs go young, but I expect them to have the highest payroll in the NL Central by about 2015.
- No surprise seeing Starlin Castro in the Opening Day lineup. It's his 196th consecutive game played, second longest current streak in the majors next to Prince Fielder (343 games).
- Still waiting on official minor league rosters but Rock Shoulders (1B-OF) tweeted that he and a few others will be at Kane County to start the year. The others are Trey Martin (CF), Dan Vogelbach (1B), Pierce Johnson (RHP), Ian Dickson (RHP), Tayler Scott (RHP), and relievers Brian Smith (L) and probable closer Eddie Orozco (R). I thought Johnson might have had a shot at high Class A Daytona but I'm more than excited to see him pitch at Kane County, where I presume either he or Jose Arias will be the Opening Day starter.
- I'll be writing a weekly column for the Ivy Drip, brought to you from Sam Fels and the folks who bring you the great hockey newsletter, The Committed Indian. First issue is free!
1. CF: David DeJesus
2. SS: Starlin Castro
3. 1B: Anthony Rizzo
4. LF: Alfonso Soriano
5. RF: Nate Schierholtz
6. C: Welington Castillo
7. 3B: Luis Valbuena
8. 2B: Brent Lillibridge
9. SP: Jeff Samardzija
What to Watch For:
Felzz: The DP combo. Brent Lillibridge has played second before. So it shouldn't be total clown shoes today. But Opening day adrenaline, an familiarity between 2B and SS, and an over eager Starlin Castro trying to prove he's a gold glover....worth watching.
John: A.J. Burnett is tough on the Cubs, even the new ones they've picked up this year, holding the current players to a career line of .233/.269/.272. Last year Burnett went to two outs in the 8th with a no-hitter before Adrian Cardenas broke up the no-no -- and even that almost never happened as Burnett may have been robbed of a called 3rd strike in that same at-bat. In my lifetime, that's about as close as the Cubs have gotten to being no-hit. The last time the Cubs were no-hit was September 9th, 1965 by the great Sandy Koufax. It was also a perfect game. So with all that, I say the guy to watch today is Starlin Castro, who has hit .462 against Burnett, although all of them have been singles.
Tom: Jeff Samardzija is a type of competitor that relishes the chance to pitch on opening day. Lets see if he can step up and pitch like an opening-day starter.
Filed under: Preview and Game Thread