I am going to write a new article about the Cubs every month of the 2006 Cubs season. Here is issue #1.

March 2006

The Kids
Ronnie Cedeno and Matt Murton are slated to start SS and LF for the Cubs this year. I like these guys. They seem to work hard and they seem like good kids. I think Murton can flat out hit. His defense is not that solid but hopefully that will come around. And Cedeno seems great with the glove but has had trouble with the bat this Spring. I think he will be fine. Hopefully one of them will fit into the 2nd spot in the lineup, especially if the Cubs unload Todd Walker.

Wood and Prior
I can't tell you how sick I am of the same story out of the Kerry Wood and Mark Prior camps. This is an annual thing. Hey it is another year and we are looking forward to a great season - oh but wait, Prior and Wood are hurt again. I can't take this anymore so I won't. In my head I am looking at the season ahead without these guys. I am looking at Zamrano, Maddux, and maybe Sean Marshall and Angel Guzman. Marshall has had a great Spring, not giving up any runs in 5 outings. We can't rely on Wood and Prior. I think Wood will just keep getting hurt and I think the Cubs will shut down Prior every time his arm slightly hurts. Prior is a wimp. Just pitch man.

On paper, our bullpen is better this year. This is something that Jim Hendy went out, spent some money, and improved. I hope the money spent pays off. I get a little nervous when they give these guys like Eyre a multiyear deal. It reminds me of Joe Borowski. You just never know with bullpens. You are relying on guys like Michael Wuertz and Will Ohman. Relief pitching is tough. I loved Dempster last year. I hope he repeats his performance from last year.

The bench is a lot like the bullpen. You are hoping you can get some thunder from some veterans that are not good enough to be starters and also some help from young players that have yet to prove themselves. The bench is not the most important thing but it is good to have guys like Angel Pagan that can come in a game and steal a base for you. And Dusty loves playing veteran bench guys.

Central Division
The big guns in the Central have lost some big names this year. The Cardinals lost Matt Morris, Mark Grudzielanek, the Astros might not have Clemens back and if they do he won't be back until May. The team that seems to impress the sportswriters is the Brewers. They were .500 last year for the first time in years. I think they are better but a wild card team at best. I still think the Cardinals are the team to beat. I hate saying it but it is true.

I predict the Cubs will win 86 games