Journalists, bloggers, and Cubs fans worldwide are preoccupied with Mark Prior’s health issues. So, I will avoid that topic completely until I can get some concrete evidence one way or the other.
One thing I noticed at Fitch Park so far this spring, the Cubs seem to be doing more running and conditioning drills than past years. This team will definitely have more speed than recent clubs with outfielders Juan Pierre (see pic), Jacque Jones(see pic), and shortstop Ronny Cedeno. My guess is Juan Pierre’s value to this team will be greater than expected, provided he brings his batting average back to the .300 range. The long-striding Pierre had a career low .276 batting average last year, but his 57 stolen bases were the 2nd best of his 6 year career. He will put alot of pressure on opponents early with that base stealing ability-something the Cubs can sure use.
Many Cubs fans were not pleased with GM Hendry’s acquisition of Jacque Jones (see pic), but given his age, playoff experience, and speed compared to Jeromy Burnitz, he’s still an upgrade. Jones came in early to camp, and has been all smiles. He already has developed a good rapport with his teammates and manager. Recent Cubs teams have had a significant amount of HR power, but still lacked the ability to score runs. All things considered, this group gives the team a nice blend of power and speed. Pitching, chemistry, and intangibles remain to be seen.
Pierre and Jones cruise through today’s drills