Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Finals Week

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MESA, Ariz. -- The decision over the Cubs’ final spot in the rotation could come down to the final days before the season starts, unless a trade in the next week speeds up that process. Either way, the fifth spot could wind up just as important as the spot manager Lou Piniella plans to lock in by early next week.

That’s because Piniella said he plans to pitch his entire five-man starting staff on its full rotation throughout April, even with three off days the first 15 days of the season, in part to continue evaluating the back end of the staff.

``We’re not going to a four-man,’’ Piniella said this morning. ``And the reason being is, let’s find out who our third-best starter is. So we’ll be pitching our rotation, to find out during the course of the season, too.’’

Piniella said he plans to have the closer role resolved as well as at least ``80 percent’’ of his rotation by next Tuesday. He’d like to have all the big decisions made by then, and probably will if the Cubs make one of the trades they’ve been pursuing this spring.

``A lot of things here are [affected by] what can happen trade-wise or not,’’ Piniella said. ``And that’s why you’ve got to be a little cautious in what you say or don’t say.’’

Even after a postgame meeting with front office staff Sunday, Piniella said he wasn’t given an indication what to expect on the trade front.

Meanwhile, Kerry Wood has emerged as the late-camp favorite for the closer role, with back-to-back assignments Wednesday and Thursday, as well as an inning-plus appearance over the weekend being the final tests for him.

As for the rotation, right-hander Jon Lieber or right-hander Ryan Dempster is expected to be named to fill the No. 3 slot between lefties Ted Lilly and Rich Hill, with the fifth spot coming down to today’s starter, Jason Marquis, left-hander Sean Marshall and the guy left over from the three-hole decision, barring a trade of Marquis and/or Marshall.


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6 Comments

PLEASE MAKE KERRY WOOD THE CLOSER!!! As a Sox fan I cant wait for this to happen. Why do Cub fans like this guy when he has done nothing but they boo and complain about Latroy Hawkins and Corey Patterson? Those guys are BAD but Wood is WORSE!!! He was the highest paid cub for a long time anyway I cant wait to see this.

What!?! That comment made no sense whatsover!

Wow . . . classic, typical Sox fan: caring more about the Cubs failure than your own team's success.

Stay in your own dugout, okay Mike? You guys have enough issues over there . . . you don't need to be thinking about ours.

By the way, Cubs fans like Kerry Wood not only because of his talent (which, admittedly, hasn't been on display lately because of injuries) but because of his heart and his guts.

And, he has something you and most Sox fans lack: class. He left MILLIONS of dollars on the negotiation table, and resigned with the Cubs for less money and less years, because he feels he owes the organization and its fans. That's class, son.

If you need more of a definition: Jim Thome has it, Ozzie doesn't. Konerko does, AJ doesn't.

If you can't root for Kerry Wood, you shouldn't be watching baseball.

Good comments, Steve C.
Especially the last two paragraphs.

My comment:
Fukudome has to bat 2. He sees a lot of pitches and being a lefty hitter will potect the steal by the 1 hitter.
Then Lee, Ramirez and Soriano next in any order.
And keep Pie out of the 8 hole; his patience is improving, so let's keep it going.

I'll be stoked if Kerry Wood gets the closer role. We need Howry's experience in the setup role (especially if Eyre fails to get started right again this season) and Marmol just isn't experienced enough..yet. Remember Marmol's tendancy to come in and give up the big home run. He did it in the play-offs after Lou pulled Carlos too early and again this week off of his first pitch. He doesn't know when to pick the right time to challenge the batter with a fastball, vs a change-up or slider.
I am super happy that Prior is now San Diego's problem. Steve C. said it best about Kerry having guts. Prior never did and never will. He is a paper tiger.
Kerry has class and guts and is a team player. Prior only cared about how much money he was getting while on the DL. Wood wants to be a Cub and will pitch anywhere Lou tells him to; even if his arm falls off.
You cannot find that loyalty except on the Cubs.
Zambrano and Aramis are two other examples. They left bigger money on the table to come back with Chicago and finally give us fans what we have been wishing for. A winning ball club and hopefully, a World Series victory.

That's my two cents. Now, I'll stand by for you loser trolls to begin your whiny tripe.

Assuming the Cubs acquire Brian Roberts to play 2b, how come Pinella hasn't tried DeRosa in CF? He's played OF before and probably even some center in the past. He's a good athlete and could probably make the transition. This way, we could have DeRosa in CF for all lefties in a platoon with Pie and supersub across RF, LF, and 2B to give those guys a break once a week or so. If Pie doesn't pan out, he could be the FT CF.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on March 18, 2008 1:19 PM.

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