Every spring and every team has it’s own little tree of story-lines to keep fans interested. Today’s post is dedicated to identifying the branches and twigs of Cubness that are likely to keep the Chicago faithful atwitter for the next month and a half.
The Geovany Soto Chronicles One of the most prevalent subjects I’ve seen thus far concerns our young catcher. Which Geo will we see in 2010? The 2008 Rookie of the Year? Or the 2009 disappointment? Time will tell. On Tuesday, Geovany responded to speculations that he’d been on steroids (the 40-pound weight loss raised suspicions.) Here are some selected quotes from his statements:
“I wasn’t strong. I was just fat.” (Good answer, Geo.)
“My dad used to tell me, because I used to open the refrigerator a lot, ‘Just eat right, small portions throughout the day, it’s a lot better,’ We didn’t know that [growing up]. I got a personal trainer, a professional in that area, to try and help me. I stick to the program and it worked. I’m really happy I did it, because I feel a lot better.” (That’s good enough for me.)
The Progressions of Ted Lilly When will our lovable lefty be able to pitch again? Ted wants to be ready by Opening Day, which seems… optimistic, to say the least. But, hey! If anyone can do it, Ted Lilly can. If he came back early and threw a no-hitter in his first start of the season, I wouldn’t be surprised. Seriously, though, this is what Ted himself had to say:
“If it turns out to be May 1 or whenever after that, then that’s what it is. The whole idea is to not only come back as soon as possible and start contributing, but to be productive, too.”
He also spoke of the early arrivals to camp of many Cubs players:
“I would hope that failure is a major motivator. This is my opinion, but us not getting to the playoff is failing. We’ve got a lot of talent, and we expect that of ourselves.”
Ted also had this to say, on 2010 being the last year of his contract.
“I think the best thing to do is not make it be about yourself. I don’t want to draw attention to myself that way or distract from anything our club is trying to do. I don’t think it’s all about me. That’s my perspective, and I’d like to keep that behind closed doors.”
I love this man.
The non-story of Carlos Marmol It irritates me that people are already making an issue of “Marmee.” It’s as if folks are expecting him to fail. I do not see Marmee as a problem at this point. HE IS OUR CLOSER, LET US ACCEPT HIM AS SUCH AND GET BEHIND HIM ALREADY.
The Return of Greg Maddux He’s back! Squeeeeee! Who isn’t happy to have Mr. Maddux amongst us? Beat reporter Carrie Muskat twittered the following on Wednesday: “Greg Maddux just strolled into the Cubs facility at Fitch Park, looking more like a special ass’t to GM than a pitcher.” Oh, how I smile. Because, let’s be honest… Greg Maddux has always looked a little more like a general manager’s assistant than a pitcher.
Battle for the back end of the rotation So we got Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster. We hope Ted Lilly will be ready soon and that Randy Wells will be able to replicate his outstanding rookie season. Then we got Carlos Silva, Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzellany, and Jeff Samardzija in competition for the fifth spot (and the fourth spot, whilst Ted R. Lilly is vacant from it.) My money is on The Shark.
Battle of the pine-riders There is also competition for a spot (probably just a single spot) on the bench. Combatants include Micah Hoffpauir, Andres Blanco, Kevin Millar, and Chad Tracy. I can’t help but root for James Micah Hoffpauir. At the same time, I have a major crush on Andres Blanco’s glove. Sigh.
Is the future now? What kind of showing are we going to get from super-prospect Starlin Castro? This is probably going to be the most interesting twig to keep an eye on throughout the course of the spring. Cubs legend and minor-league manager Ryne Sandberg had these things to say:
“Is it too big a jump at his age? It’s all up to the individual. But I’ve never seen a guy start at low A, go to high A, then Double-A and the Arizona Fall League all in one year and dominate like Castro did.”
“We don’t know how he handles adversity because he hasn’t had any. But when he was with us at Double-A, I saw a lot of good things. He was disappointed if we lost, or if he didn’t advance a runner, or didn’t feel like he had a quality at-bat.”
“He could be slated for Triple-A, but if he has a big camp, he might give them no choice.”
For even more good springy info, check out this Bruce Levine chat from Tuesday.