clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh, 7 April 2008

It's Ted Lilly and Tom Gorzelanny in the home opener at 1:35 PM. Here's the box: Freddy Sanchez is back at second base. Doug Mientkiewicz starts at first.

For this series, I answered some questions about the Cubs for Byron from the Cubs blog Goat Riders of the Apocalypse, and Byron answered some questions for me. You can read my answers to his questions here.

Bucs Dugout: What do you expect from Kosuke Fukodome? Early reports have suggested he'll be like J.D. Drew but healthy; what do you think?

Goat Riders: Skills wise, JD Drew might be a decent comparison for Kosuke. Where Kosuke's got the jump on Drew will likely be in PR and health. My biggest fear for Fooky was that he would start slowly and the right field bleacher bums would get on him like they did with Jacque Jones. Well, those fears were baseless, as Fooky exploded out of the gate. I'm hoping for a .310/.390/.600 line with 40 doubles, 20 homers, 15 steals, and 15 outfield assists. From what we've seen over the first six games, those numbers are attainable.

BD: Go ahead - say something nice about rookie catcherGeovany Soto.

GROTA: Soto has some Cubs fans cautiously optimistic. The bar isn't all that high, and I think Soto's got more pop then some people expect. The key to remember is that Soto is being compared to Michael Barrett, Jason Kendall, Damian Miller, Paul Bako, and Henry Blanco. In other words, expectations are low, and if Soto's name is even mentioned in the rookie of the year race, he'll have outperformed the recent past by a wide margin.

BD: Am I incorrect to think that Carlos Marmol is a better pitcher than Kerry Wood? Would Marmol have won the closer job if his name were as recognizable as Wood's?

GROTA: Marmol may end up being better than Kerry Wood, but the closer decision is defensible. (Think Mariano Rivera setting up for John Wetteland in 1996 where Marmol is Rivera.) Wood has a reputation for being a fearless competitor while Marmol absolutely self-destructed under the post-season pressure of the NLDS. The Cubs are in the enviable position of having three guys who could close games (Bob Howry, Marmol, and Wood), but Woody is my pick for closer.

BD: Why, given the Cubs' relative abundance of decentstarting pitching options (Sean Marshall, Jon Lieber, etc.), is Ryan Dempster in the rotation?

GROTA: Dirty pictures of Jim Hendry, Lou Piniella, or both? This is a question we've struggled with much of the winter. It doesn't make a ton of sense, but it has the added benefit of getting Dempster out of the closer's role. What doesn't compute is that Dempster has exactly one season of effective starting pitching in his past, and that was in 2000. Jon Lieber, meanwhile, won 20 games in 2000 and 17 in 2005. It would seem to me that Lieber ought to have a spot in the rotation. Regardless, we do have a plethora of starting options, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a trade in the near future.

BD: Was 2007 Rich Hill's peak, or will there be even better times in the future?

GROTA: We at GROTA have high hopes for Rich Hill in the future. Granted, nothing in 2008 has indicated that Hill will have a better season this year than last, but he is a lefty, and that generally confers an extra measure of patience. The other thing you have to realize is that Rich Hill has never had a bad outing in his life... but he is occasionally kidnapped and imprisoned by his evil twin Mitch who likes to hang curveballs and serve up fat floaters right down the middle of the plate.