On the even of baseball's Opening Night on Sunday - here are some last-minute tidbits from around the rest of the division.
The Pirates start the year with reliever John Grabow on the 15-day DL, and as of Friday it wasn't known whether 2006 NL batting champ Freddie Sanchez will start the season on the DL or not. Even if he plays, he had only seven ABs during ST so he might show some rust. Also, their closer, Salomon Torres, had a brutal ST with a 14.21 ERA over 6-1/3 innings.
In St. Louis, it looks like Edmonds will avoid starting the year on the DL. But the Cardinals have replaced three of their five starters since the end of last season. Two of the new starters have never started a game in the majors. The third hasn't won in double figures or posted an ERA lower than 4.55 since 2003. One of the two returning starters has yet to pitch his 100th Major League inning. Their right-handed setup man was shut down for the year due to elbow surgery. And the guy who was expected to start in RF will open the year on the DL. So LaRussa must not only battle the bottle and the pitching problems, but juggle a RF-by-committee situation as well.
In Milwaukee, Corey Koskie's return from post-concussion syndrome continues at a brutally slow pace. Several Brewers relievers struggled in ST. Still, the Brew Crew starts the year mostly healthy and could get off to a fast start in the division race.
The Astros are also healthy for the most part, although Brandon Backe is probably through for the year. The main question marks in Houston are in the back end of the rotation after the loss of Pettitte and, probably, Clemens.
That leaves the Cubs. For 99 years that's been the ultimate goal of almost everyone who has played for them - to leave the Cubs. In case you haven't noticed, I do love to pick on the Cubs. Popular Communications Magazine, April 2007 issue, page 76, last paragraph on the page, in a discussion about the chronology of disasters, part of an article dealing with radio communications during disasters:
“Not all disasters are of the 'natural disaster' genre, of course. We humans have time and again proven that we can conjure up some pretty serious disasters on our own, and I'm not just talking about FEMA's response to Katrina, or the last 99 years of Chicago Cubs history.”
This year, things were going to be different, they said. So now, with the Cubs presumably already on their way to Cinci for Opening Day, Prior starts the year at AAA. Wood starts the year on the DL. Oh, wait, this is supposed to be about news. Sorry. Oh, how I do love to pick on the Cubs.