The five most beautiful words in the English language: "Pitchers and catchers report today!"
In past years, I've posted the picture you see above along with the five words below it as a single post... but with SB Nation's new format, I couldn't make that simply take over the front page as before.
So instead, I thought I'd give you five things about this year's team to discuss, as the Cubs get ready for their first official team workout, which will happen Tuesday.
- Starting rotation. Thank heavens, we aren't going to have to see the likes of Jason Berken and Justin Germano pitch for the Cubs, ever again. (I guess I can't promise that definitively, but it seems likely.) Adding Edwin Jackson, Scott Baker and Scott Feldman to Jeff Samardzija and Matt Garza puts a pretty decent rotation on the field for Opening Day, presuming they're all healthy. And at least there aren't Berkens and Germanos behind those five, but better options like Travis Wood and Carlos Villanueva. Theo & Jed have provided some rotation depth, which should help...
- The bullpen. Last year, when Carlos Marmol melted down, there was really no one to step up and take over. Now, the Cubs have Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa, who's been hard at work already. Fujikawa had excellent command in Japan and could close if Marmol fails again; if Marmol is good, the Cubs have a solid setup man, and further options in middle relief.
- Question marks on offense. Will Alfonso Soriano have the kind of year he had in 2012? Will Ian Stewart be 100% healthy and produce a .250/.350/.450 season, the way he hinted he could in half a year with the Rockies in 2009? If the answers to those questions are "yes", the Cubs could produce a decent number of runs, especially with a full year of Anthony Rizzo. If the answers turn out to be "no", it could be another long year.
- The bunting tournament. Yes, they're doing this again. It didn't seem to help much with actual bunting during 2012, particularly with the players that have to do this most often, the pitchers. As a team-building exercise, I suppose it was fun. Perhaps this year, the players will actually learn how to bunt.
- Will Scott Hairston ever be added to the 40-man roster? The first report of Hairston's signing was made 17 days ago. What's the holdup?Usually by now I have a complete numerical roster available, but none is, at least not yet.
There will be more questions and things to look at, obviously, as the first spring game gets closer -- it's just 13 days away. Baseball!