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Writer's Block

Like you care.

But anyway, I spent the last two days in New York. Why is this, you ask?

If you've been here a while, you know that I serve on the Eastern Directors Council of the Directors Guild of America. Every couple of months, the council meets on a Saturday morning in New York City, so I fly out on Friday and return late Saturday. This time was a bit stressful -- if you're in Chicago, you know that the weather here was pretty awful the last couple of days, which resulted in a flight delay on the way out, and then it was foggy and rainy in New York yesterday. If you've ever flown into or out of LaGuardia Airport, you know that a couple of droplets of drizzle cause delays there, so I was late getting home too.

As I said, like you care.

I return to Super Bowl Sunday, which to my mind is a benchmark -- the end of the football season, which means that baseball is coming SOON -- only ten days till Cubs pitchers and catchers report.

And I've got a couple of the usual rumormongering links for you today. First, Ken Rosenthal says the Cubs are still interested in Tony Graffanino -- but that acquiring him would be dependent on trading Todd Walker first.

I'm not sure I see the benefit here. Sure, maybe Graffanino's a bit of a defensive upgrade (notwithstanding his key error in last year's ALDS), but his career high in AB (379) was set last year. This isn't to say that he can't play every day -- look no further than Mark Loretta for an example of someone who established a much higher level as an everyday player once he got a fulltime position with the Padres in 2003, rather than being shuttled all around the infield -- only that he hasn't done it yet.

You know, years ago you used to be able to tell who was who in the old Soviet Union leadership -- the Politburo -- by the way they lined up on national holidays at the Kremlin. As of today, the Cubs' version of that lineup still has Walker listed at the top of the depth chart at 2B. But that could change anytime, and has.

Rosenthal also says:

The Padres might want to think twice about starting catcher Mike Piazza against the Dodgers. According to STATS LLC, new Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal and center fielder Kenny Lofton each stole six bases off Piazza last season, tied for the most of any opponent. The Cubs' Juan Pierre, Braves' Marcus Giles and Astros' Willy Taveras were next with five steals each.
So -- expect the Cubs, who will be running more anyway this year, to go crazy against the Padres.

And Phil Rogers comes out with his usual wild-ass speculation, which led to the headline on today's column: "Can't go home again? Lee might"

Gotcha, right? No, don't worry about Derrek (yet, anyway). This is about CARLOS Lee, and Rogers says the White Sox might reacquire him, without any real facts to back that up, but also speculates the Cubs might be interested in Lee.

Which is something they should have done last offseason.

There's another note in Rogers' column that is of interest to those of us who would love to see Barry Zito in Cub pinstripes:

A's general manager Billy Beane is not optimistic about getting a long-term deal done for Barry Zito, which would make him a top target for the two New York teams next winter. The Cubs are also likely to have a prominent opening, with Greg Maddux and Kerry Wood in the last guaranteed years of their contracts.
I'd say if this is the case, Zito might become a trading-deadline possibility if the A's find themselves out of the race -- which I don't expect; Oakland looks like the class of the AL West at this writing.

Hey, enjoy the game and all the junk food you're undoubtedly going to consume today. It was 65 degrees in New York on Friday afternoon. Felt like spring. Baseball is coming.