Cubs fans are going to love Dioner Navarro. He's a genuine blue-collar worker - not afraid to mix it up and get dirty. He hits, he can make all the throws, and he handles the pitchers very well. So well, in fact, that I think he will challenge Castillo for the starting role.
Brett Jackson, Soriano, and young Alcantara were the most exciting Cubs in the lineup in the games I saw. Let's hope Brett gets his hitting stroke down because he would be fun to watch - very smart on the base paths. Soriano is ready to play - he may cool off in the cool Chicago weather but he should warm up as the Springs warms up.
Alcantara looks like he's about 5'5" and 120 pounds. Don't know what his official height and weight are but he is really small. However, he has gap power, runs well, and fields very well. Started a very nice double play. Switch hits - saw him drive a ball over the center fielder's head to about 400 feet for a triple left-handed. Saw him just miss a 350 foot homer right-handed when the ball curved foul. He's a keeper but I don't know how he would fit on the big league club at SS.
Camp looks very sharp. He's mid-season ready right now. Rondon also looks sharp. On the other hand, Marmol is, well, Marmol - 'nuff said.
The relievers that are going North all look pretty good.
Starting pitching is a big question mark. After the first two, you don't know what you are going to consistently get. Do we get the good Wood from last year or the bad Wood. Villanueva looks like an innings-eater but can he keep his ERA under 5? Feldman is experiencing the same difficulties he had last year and it doesn't look good. He didn't go to Houston - he stayed in Mesa to pitch with the minor league team to see if he could get some things straightened-out. That's never a good sign. Let's hope it was just the dry Arizona air affecting his grip and not some physical problem. He throws a lot of off-speed stuff - probably in the 70's but looks slower. Hitters didn't have any trouble tracking his pitches. If you are sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley when he pitches, wear protective clothing - I've never seen hitters turn so many pitches around so fast and so hard.
The regular line-up players have shown glimpses of being able to get clutch hits but we won't know for sure until a few series have been played.
The opening few series for the Cubs look very tough however, if the team were to stay together for the whole season (which they probably won't), I believe they would finish in the 70 - 80 wins area. That's a big improvement from last year.
This is a transition year from really bad to more respectable. We should be happy that they seemed to be headed in the right direction.