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Open Thread: Cubs vs. Astros, Friday 7/13, 1:20 CT

At last! Seems as if we've been waiting longer than just five days for the Cubs' regular season to resume. That's why I'm posting the game thread early -- let's get this thing started again!

As noted in several diaries, Geovany Soto has been recalled from Iowa, with Felix Pie sent down. This is good news for those of you who expressed so much love for Soto on this site -- now, we'll get to see if he really is major-league ready. He'll start today. This is likely the first of several moves over the next few days, as there's no way the club can afford to carry three catchers for an extended period. Look for either Rob Bowen or Koyie Hill (likely, Hill) to go by the end of the weekend for a 12th pitcher (probably Billy Petrick) and then we begin the can-we-finally-trade-Jacque-Jones-watch. I'm guessing Jones will get quite a bit of playing time over the next two weeks, in an effort to get him to hit enough so someone will deal for him.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
C. Zambrano
vs. Jason Jennings
J. Jennings
10-7 W-L 1-4
4.03 ERA 4.07
107 SO 43
54 BB 19
17 HR 6
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs
Z threw well enough against the Pirates last Sunday, leaving while trailing only 3-2, but the Cubs couldn't hit Shane Youman, and then Bob Howry put that game out of reach. But since the beginning of 2006, Z is 4-0, 0.46 in five starts vs. the Astros, and is particularly tough on Lance Berkman, who is only 7-for-50 lifetime against him. (Careful with Carlos Lee, though, Z: 12-for-35, 4 doubles, 4 HR, .343/.410/.800.)

When the Astros got Jason Jennings from Colorado, he was one of the few pitchers who actually seemed like he could throw well at Coors Field, and so teams thought, "Gee, if he can throw well at altitude, he ought to be lights-out at sea level!" Instead, he spent almost two months on the DL, has made ten starts for Houston and has won one of them, with four losses and five no-decisions. He hasn't faced the Cubs since May 26, 2005, also vs. Zambrano, a 3-1 Rockies win. Apart from Z, only Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez remain from the lineup that faced Jennings that day.

I commend all of you to Bruce Miles' interview of John McDonough, posted today. Bruce didn't hold back in his questions:

Q. Perception has become reality in many stories concerning the Cubs. You hear that the Cubs won't be able to spend money to acquire players at the trading deadline. Can you address that and talk about whether you'd even be able to take on a player whose contract runs past this year?

A. If Jim were to come to me and he were to present a trade that he thinks would be advantageous for the Cubs this year and in the future, we would absolutely take a look at it. We're not being handcuffed by anybody.

Last year, we stated our mission. Our mission is, "It's time to win. We need to get into the winning business." Jim and I have had numerous discussions about what he might be thinking after the break. We are going to be in the race, I'm very confident of that.

Today's game is cable-only (tomorrow, I have learned, will be sent to 58% of the country via Fox), so check the Mediacenter. Gameday (2007 version) Gameday (2006 version)

Finally, I will try to post from my phone from the ballpark when I arrive on the condition of the grass in the outfield.

Discuss amongst yourselves.