Next Stop: Houston for the Chicago Cubs

Damen JacksonCorrespondent IApril 4, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 03: Aaron Heilman #47 of the Chicago Cubs against the New York Yankees during their game on April 3, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. The exhibition game is the first game to be played at the New Yankee Stadium.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Ted Lilly-Rich Harden-Chicago Cubs

Ted Lilly - (Cubbie Nation/file)


Filed: April 4, 2009

The Cubs leave New York for Houston this afternoon to play the season opener Monday, having taken a pair of good old-fashioned beatdowns at the hands of the Yankees.

First, Ted Lilly is hammered in a 7-4 loss Friday night. Then, Rich Harden is absolutely abused in a 10-1 loss Saturday afternoon.

Thank the lord the Cubs are not in the A.L. East. With many expecting the three best teams in baseball this season to be the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays, I suspect that the Cubs would do little better than .500 locked into that division.

And the Yankees, using production throughout their lineup, and sharp pitching performances from starters Pettite, Burnett, and Wang, did little to shake that notion.

Meanwhile Cub starters Ted Lilly and Rich Harden were awful, with Rich Harden serving up five home runs today in his 3 2/3 innings of work, including a pair of Mark Teixeira. 

The good news? Cub relievers were generally sharp over both games, including scoreless appearances by David Patton, Angel Guzman, Jeff Samardzija, and yes, even Chad Gaudin Saturday.

Jim Hendry says they'll get to Houston tonight, talk it over, and announce decisions about the bullpen tomorrow. I've still got my money on Patton and Guzman, but stay tuned.

Even better news? In 48 hours, you won't care. After a day off tomorrow (just a light work at Minute Maid) the Cubs kick off the real thing at 6:05 CDT Monday. I can't think of any season where the expectations for the Cubs have been higher in my lifetime, and personally I've never been more hopeful that this year is that year.

They've looked shaky at times this spring, but the talent is there, and I'm hopeful that given the time to gel, things will come together nicely.

As an aside, I have to make a couple of endorsements. I'm a long-time subscriber to Honestly, I've never been all that fond of it actually, but when you're stuck in a hotel mid-week out of state, you take what you can get.

However, I broke down and signed up for the premium edition this year, and after having watched the Cubs-Yankees series with it, I have to say...I'm impressed. Excellent video quality, little jitter, and a much more useful interface makes it a real winner.

And the picture-in-picture viewing of multiple games is quite nice. TV-quality video might be a stretch, but it's worth the coin. And I don't say that about many things.

Also, the folks over at Digital Sports Daily pinged me the other day about a recent Cubs piece that they've written, on the Cubs potentially leaving the Mesa training facilities.

I appreciate that they're giving some coverage to a topic that hasn't been all that talked about so far. The link is here. I think you'll find it worth a read.