Well, I would probably disappoint Ray Gifford if I didn’t make some note of today being opening day for the Cubs in Arizona against the Diamondbacks. So even though I am certain to be in bed before the opening pitch … here’s the probable lineup:
I find it heartening that the only new name on the starting roster is Jeromy Burnitz, a very strong hitter who spent last season at Colorado (take that, Ray). Last season he ranked 8th in the NL in home runs and 7th in RBIs. Everyone else is solid, solid, solid. Zambrano is growing into himself, and I hope he continues to do so. Gene Clines as hitting coach also gives me hope, because we hit like crap last year (and I have double fealty to Clines, who played for the Pirates when I was a wee lassie).
Downside? Having both Wood and Prior injured at the beginning of the season, although both are on the mend. Missing Alou (although I think there are a few folks in Chicago who won’t miss him). Not happy about the prospect of Mark Grudzielanek showing up at Wrigley in a Cardinals uniform. Borowski and Hawkins leaving a lot unknown in the closer position. Missing Farnsworth’s muscular pitching style, and having someone around who I can nickname “Puka Boy” (after the puka shell necklace Kyle always sports).
All things considered, if the things I think are downsides are all nostalgia-driven desires to see the guys I like back again, then I think we’re in for another good year.
UPDATE: Holy cow, did we really win 16-6? Derrek Lee rocks, of course, one of the best trades we ever made (although Choi continues to do well and develop).