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And Death Is Not An Option

MESA, Arizona -- OK, let's say you're Dusty Baker and Jim Hendry.

And your choice for temporary replacement for Mark Prior is between Sergio Mitre, who has sucked bigtime ever since he was anointed, or Jimmy Anderson, who had his sinker working very well today and allowed only one unearned run (due to his own fielding error) in five innings in a 12-2 blowout of the Diamondbacks.

So who would you pick? Yeah, I know, it's pretty obvious who the best choice is -- Anderson. Or just about anyone but Mitre. But what are they gonna do? Yeah, they're going with Mitre. And why?

Oh, you're gonna love this. Because Mitre is on the 40-man roster and Anderson isn't.

Now seriously, how hard is this? There isn't one player around who couldn't be outrighted to Iowa? Yes, I know Jimmy Anderson looks like this sometimes and sometimes not (he especially used to look like this throwing against the Cubs when he was a Pirate), but going off the recent performances, this should be a no-brainer, and given that Anderson's a lefty, that should make it even more obvious.

Or maybe Mitre has inherited Lenny Harris' collection of compromising photos of Dusty Baker. I can't think of any other reason to keep him on the major league roster.

Well, if the Cubs can hit like this every time Mitre starts, maybe it won't matter. They bombed Randy Johnson, who doesn't look like the Johnson of old (he hit two batters and threw a wild pitch); Sammy Sosa homered and Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez both hit 410-foot doubles off the hitters' background in CF. Then Dusty cleared the bench again and the reserves chimed in; the Todds (Walker and Hollandsworth) also both homered.

The Cubs signed Glendon Rusch, who had been in camp with the Rangers, and Damian Jackson, who had been in camp with Colorado, to minor league contracts today and both saw action. Rusch threw an effective scoreless inning and he has been successful in the past, though not in the last two years. He'll be assigned to Iowa and who knows? Lefties often turn their careers around late, and though Rusch isn't young -- he's 29 -- this is a good, low-risk signing. The club's other recent acquisition in the Cruz deal, Richard Lewis (no comedy jokes, please), also got into today's game for the last couple of innings. Finally, Michael Wuertz, who has apparently made the team as the 12th pitcher, at least for the first couple of weeks, threw a scoreless inning with two strikeouts, and Kent Mercker also threw an efficient scoreless inning.

There were three enterprising young girls who were spritzing people with water bottles (it wasn't even that hot today, only in the 80's and partly cloudy) and somehow collecting dollar bills from some of the people sprawled on the lawn. I couldn't tell if that was payment for being spritzed or for not being spritzed. Meanwhile Krista helped fill the girls' water bottles up and Jeff worked on his tan (he says that once we get back into the bleachers, the tan is "front only" and besides, when will it be this warm in Chicago? June?).

I got stopped in the aisle at one point by a guy who liked the T-shirt I had on (a 2004 Cub spring training shirt that I bought at Maryvale on the 20th, but which they do not sell at Mesa), and told him where I got it, and then I realized I was in earshot of one of the Ho Ho Kams, so I said loudly, "They have the highest souvenir prices here in the entire Cactus League!" Seriously, you can get nicer stuff elsewhere and for better prices. They even mark up stuff like the Cub media guide ($15 in Mesa, $10 in Chicago). There's really no excuse for this. I understand the contract with the current concessionaire and the city of Mesa has two years to run. After that I trust they'll make themselves a better deal.

Today's attendance of 12,838 brought the Ho Ho Kam Park season total to 189,692 (11,856 per date for 16 dates), as mentioned yesterday, an all-time record not only for the Cubs, but for any team in spring training.

I will not be at tomorrow night's game at the BOB (one BOB exhibition at regular season prices is enough for me, thankyouverymuch), but it will be televised locally here (as well as televised in Chicago on WCIU), so I will report on that game late tomorrow or Saturday morning.