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Open Thread: Cubs vs. Mariners at Mesa, Thursday 3/15, 3:05 CT

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SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Yes, it's early for a game thread. Can you tell I'm a little excited to be here?

The weather is supposed to be spectacular -- sunny and hot for several days, and in the mid-90's today, upper 90's over the weekend, record high territory. Local TV this morning said that the earliest-ever 100-degree reading in Phoenix occurred on March 26, 1988. There's a shot at breaking that over the weekend.

Is it time for Mark Prior to go? Chris DeLuca says no, but notes the Cubs themselves may be starting to cut the cord. Jay Mariotti says yes, and for once Mariotti's not snarky, but even a bit wistful:

Ultimately, the Cubs should be most bothered by the fact Prior says he's healthy. When he was fighting shoulder and elbow discomfort, his struggles made sense. He's trying to build back arm strength now, but when and where is that supposed to happen? If the answer is Class AAA Iowa, who knows if Cubdom ever sees him again?

Baseball is a business, not a nursery school, especially when the franchise in question hasn't won in 98 years. My soft side would love to wait one more season for Mark Prior. My realistic side says he needs a new baseball life far, far away from here.

We may know much more after Prior's appearance in a minor league game at Fitch Park tomorrow. I'm going to attend this game and will report back here.

Last fall, in the Rule 5 draft, the Cubs picked troubled OF, former #1 draft pick Josh Hamilton from Tampa Bay and immediately traded him to the Reds. Should they have kept him instead? Hamilton's having a great spring and may break camp with the Reds -- his drug and other troubles apparently behind him.

Speaking of the Reds... and oh, am I going to start something here... Pete Rose says he bet on the Reds every night when he was managing them:

"I made a big mistake," said Rose, who has not been allowed into the Baseball Hall of Fame despite his record 4,256 hits and participation in six World Series. "It's my fault. It's nobody else's fault."

You got that right, Pete. And you still think you're going to be reinstated and get into the Hall? Forget it. I know, I know -- there are people in the Hall who did far worse things than Rose. But Rose broke a cardinal rule of baseball that is posted on every clubhouse door, with the penalty for doing so clearly spelled out. If anyone should have known not to do that, Pete Rose should have.

Now, on to today's game, in which Ted Lilly will start for the Cubs and Cha Seung Baek for the Mariners. According to MLB Audio's page, there is no radio broadcast today, so you'll have to be content with Gameday.

Discuss amongst yourselves.