ON THE ROAD TO CHICAGO -- The Cubs play their final Cactus League game this afternoon. The intrasquad game on Wednesday, played for charity, does not count in the Cactus League standings nor will the attendance be counted in the Cactus League total (and anecdotally, I'd expect a real small crowd for the Wednesday game; most people I spoke to before I left Arizona said they weren't going, and it has an unusually early 11:05 a.m. MST starting time).
The Cubs finished last spring with an 18-12 record and some optimism, which was promptly stomped on by the Braves in the opening series, followed by some bullpen meltdowns in Cincinnati. This year's team will go 15-18 in the spring if they win today, but I think optimism is more justified than last year. Several decisions for this team -- choosing Andrew Cashner for fifth starter and Darwin Barney to be in the 2B starting mix -- were made despite players with more experience ahead of them. Those are the right calls. (Obviously, some other decisions weren't so good.) There are a lot of "if"s for this team to come anywhere near contention this year, but starting against the Pirates and Diamondbacks doesn't hurt.
I figure to be back in Chicago late tonight, so the recap of this game (and the Cactus League season) will be posted Wednesday morning, along with a preview of the intrasquad game. Today, Matt Garza will get the start for the Cubs; I'd expect guys like Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol should see action, too. Joe Saunders will start for Arizona. Once again, check Twitter as I'll tweet the lineup (or maybe it's already done) when I see it. Otherwise, post it in the comments.
Here's all the media information for today.
MLB.com Gameday for today's game
Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today. Today's game is on WGN with Len Kasper filling in for Pat Hughes.
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Discuss amongst yourselves.