Just Two More Weeks Until Opening Day: How Are The Cubs Looking Now?

Joe WillettSenior Writer IMarch 23, 2009

MESA, AZ - MARCH 06:   Mitch Atkins #60 of the Chicago Cubs pitches during a Spring Training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at HoHoKam Park on March 6, 2009 in Mesa, Arizona.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Through 27 Spring Training games, the Chicago Cubs have been motoring as they try to get themselves ready for the season.

When the Cubs are on, they are one of the better teams in the majors. That has been shown throughout the spring, even though the players are not playing full games.

They have won two of their last three games by over 10 runs, 13-2 over the White Sox and 20-5 over the Athletics, which is quite a staggering number. With players playing more innings as spring training continues, each of these games become more and more of a prediction of how the season will go.

Carlos Zambrano pitched just two games ago for six innings, striking out six and not allowing a walk in a 5-3 win over the Mariners.

At the time of this article, the Cubs are 13 days and 20 hours away from their first game in Houston against the Astros. They are starting to get their players accustomed to playing full games, which is exactly what they are doing.

Cubs players, however, are ready to get to Houston and start playing games that count. 

Derek Lee has said that he wants to shorten the current Spring Training schedule, which consists of 39 games.

"I don't think anybody needs that long to get ready. So it's nice that soon there's some games that are going to count," said Lee of the current Spring Training system.

Sweet Lou Piniella has said that he is getting ready to start shortening his roster, as he plans to have the team down to 30 players by Tuesday, which is when he will start playing his starters with much more frequency.

Piniella has also said that he wants Ted Lilly back to the team as soon as the World Baseball Classic is over, and has him slated to pitch a simulated game the day after the WBC finale.

The Cubs fear that he is falling behind on his workouts and would be better off with the team. Lilly has not pitched since March 17.

The closer position, which seemed to be suited better for Carlos Marmol, is now looking more wide open. As former Marlin Kevin Gregg has not allowed a run this spring, but the fact that he led the majors in blown saves last year, leaves the Cubs weary of handing him the reigns.

A much more slept-upon position battle is for the second catcher spot on the team.  Paul Bako, a former Cub, is back with the team and has plenty of experience. Koyie Hill is batting over .400 this spring and has looked fantastic.

Piniella has said that he does not feel that the decision on that spot needs to be made anytime soon. However, he might wait a while before choosing who gets to stay in the majors.

The Cubs are playing well, and they look like they could have a great season. 

Are they World Series ready?  We'll just have to wait and see.

I'm Joe W.

This article is also published at TheDailyCub.com, which boasts writers Bob Warja, Pat De Marco and Katelyn Grabarek.