Thursday, April 12, 2007

It's Not Snowing at Fitch Park

Since the Cubs don't have a game today here is your chance to see some Cubs baseball played this morning. Well it's kinda like Cubs baseball only played by guys most people have never heard of, except that one guy named Mark Prior. You might remember him, big calves, #22, was a pretty good pitcher for the Cubs back in the day.

My original intention was to report on how Prior pitched today at Fitch Park while rehabbing here in extended spring training, but then I thought why not just show you. I shot the video below of Prior's second of 2 innings pitched today, the video is 2 and a half minutes long. This is a Boys of Spring/Cubs AZ exclusive.

Prior was to have pitched 3 innings or 45 pitches but apparently had some shoulder discomfort and stopped after 2 innings having thrown 31 pitches. While Prior was pitching inning #2 I heard one of the Cubs coaches tell a player holding the speed gun that he didn't want Prior's pitches clocked. Doesn't look like Prior will be throwing in Iowa anytime soon.

Cubs Mark Prior Today

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mark Prior at Fitch Park, Mark Prior at Fitch Park

Yogi Berra once said "it's like deja vu all over again", well it's almost mid-April and tomorrow I will once again head over to Fitch Park and watch Mark Prior pitch in extended spring training. Yogi also said "You can observe a lot just by watching" so that's what I will do, observe Prior by watching and like last year will report back here on what I see. Some photos as well. I'm not 100 percent sure Yogi said the lines I mentioned because he is also quoted as saying "I never said most of the things I said".

Talk to you tomorrow

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

My Chicago Cubs Spring 07 Music Video

Q & A

As I mentioned the last couple years around this time, my blog will not be updated on a day to day basis covering the Cubs progress through the season, that is being done in many places on the net. My goal with boysofspring.com is to develop this site into the best source on the web for Cubs spring training information. From the day pitchers and catchers report until the start of the regular season, boysofspring.com is your ultimate Cubs spring training source. We are always adding new features and trying to improve this site for you- The Cubs Fan!

I would like to take a minute and answer a few questions that have come up during the past month and a half.

When will the Boys of Spring Cubs documentary be available?
Cubs Convention January 2008.

How can we advertise on boysofspring.com?
I have made it a priority to keep this website free of all external advertising, pop-ups, and other crap that bugs people on the net. We will sell our products and DVD's produced for Cubs fans by Boys of Spring on this site, but that's all.

What is cubsAZ.com?
Another way to get here and an alternate name we are now using for this
site. I think it's easier to remember and doesn't get confused between
boys of spring and boys of summer.

Do you do Public Address announcing in the regular season?
No I don't, the only team I would do that for is the Cubs at Wrigley Field and they currently have 3 people who split those duties.

Is it too late to become a sponsor for the Boys of Spring documentary?
No it's not, we continue to seek sponsors for the film. This is your chance to be involved with a one of a kind Cubs film project!

Will you continue to blog during the regular baseball season?
Yes I will, just not as often as when I am involved with the Cubs in spring. Check in from time to time as I will blog about what I'm doing, like going to Wrigley Field with the Hohokams in June.

I hear you say Hohokam "Stadium" at the games, isn't it Hohokam "Park"?
Well it was Hohokam Park until the City of Mesa decided to change the name to Hohokam Stadium about 2 springs ago. I don't know the reason for the change, Hohokam does hold an occasional concert so I'm guessing it was for marketing purposes.

If you have any questions or comments you can email us at: info@boysofspring.com or Tim@boysofspring.com

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Swagger

It's a great day to start the season, it looks like fantastic weather for a ballgame in Cincinnati, expected high of 75 degrees and sunny. There is a raised level of excitement surrounding this Cubs ballclub that was very noticeable here in Arizona this spring. (The winter visitors could be seen racing up Center Street between Fitch and Hohokam at nearly the speed limit!) Of course that's understandable with the kind of money that was spent to bring in new players and coaches. Last year's 96 loss Cubs team seems a distant memory right now. What have I seen and learned about the 2007 Cubs after spending the last month and a half around the team?

I learned that the biggest change in the Cubs isn't a new player but a new Manager- Lou Piniella, and his ability to change the mindset of the club. This spring Lou has mentioned "the Cubs swagger", which can only be earned by playing winning baseball. Of course Lou can talk of the "swagger" having won a couple World Series as a player and as Manager of the championship Reds of 1990. Are the Cubs developing that confidence? The short answer is yes, but it's a work in progress and will increase as the Cubs continue to play fundamentally sound baseball. Lou is a master of motivation and understands well that mental toughness is nearly as important in baseball as physical abilities.

Speaking of physical abilities, It's apparent that new Centerfielder Alfonso Soriano has a ton. Soriano is still on the learning curve in CF, and is going to have some rough days this season as he had this spring. As evidenced by his being one of the first position players to report to Fitch Park, it won't be because of lack of effort. He is a free swinger, and strikes out alot, not your typical lead-off man. His power and base stealing abilities will help the Cubs put early pressure on their opponents.

Matt Murton will start the season batting in the #2 spot, with his patience and ability to see alot of pitches it should allow Soriano to do his thing on the bases. Murton is also improving in the field and really seems to be having fun playing. Cliff Floyd will share time with Murton and Jones. He provides a big bat and appears at least 90% recovered from his Achilles and ankle problem of last year.

Derrek Lee could be up for an MVP this season. The quiet Cubs leader was nearly unstoppable this spring at the plate, and continues to refine his gold glove skills.

Aramis Ramirez batting clean-up has really impressed this past month and a half, working hard and hustling, yes I said 'hustling' and 'Ramirez' in the same sentence! His defense was stellar this spring, as was hit bat, and he looks poised for a huge offensive year.

Jacque Jones' arm appears to be completely healthy. His value to the team is enhanced by the fact that he could also play Centerfield if Soriano doesn't work out there. If Jones can duplicate his offensive #'s of last year, he'll be solid in the 5th spot in the batting order.

Michael Barrett worked as hard as anybody on his defense this spring. Hopefully
that will be evident during the season. We all know that Barrett can hit. Too bad they can't morph Henry Blanco's defense and Barrett's offense into the perfect Cubs Catcher.

Mark DeRosa comes in as the new starting 2nd baseman, batting 7th in the order today. Solid with the leather, he also did a nice job playing 3rd base this spring. DeRosa had a career year offensively last season, like Jones if he can come close to those numbers the Cubs will be very happy.

At shortstop, Cesar Izturis also is fully recovered from his injuries of last season. A slick fielder, Isturiz also had a nice spring at the plate batting .311. Any offense they get from him will be a bonus.

I've learned Carlos Zambrano is going to win the Cy Young Award, and the Cubs will win the World Series this year. And that is straight from the Big Z's mouth. Ok, he later backed off of the World Series comments a little bit. Big Z is the Ace of the staff, he's young, fiery, and a leader. Hopefully he'll get his long-term deal done soon.

As for the rest of the pitching staff, Theodore Roosevelt Lilly had a very solid spring, and could be poised for a big year. Jason Marquis looked like a much improved pitcher this spring than how he finished up last year. Rich Hill and Wade Miller are big keys to the Cubs starting rotation, because of Hill's inexperience and Miller's rehabilitation they are both somewhat wildcards.

The bullpen looks to be solid with a huge key to the Cubs season hinging on closer Ryan Dempster being able to regain his 2005 form. Dempster was solid this spring, and looked great having lost 20 lb during the off season. Piniella seems to think that Dempster has the right mindset to rebound and get the job done this season. Any positive results the Cubs get this season from Kerry Wood and Mark Prior will be a bonus. The team took the right approach going out and getting other pitchers, and not hinging their season on the two injury prone stars.

This year's Cubs certainly aren't a perfect team, but are very talented and under the guidance of Manager Piniella, should continue to improve throughout the season. Several people have asked me how well the Cubs will do this year and I truly believe, barring major injuries this is a 90 win ballclub. Could they win more, maybe 100, sure they could, but they are the Cubs so they could also win 75. I love the concept of "the Cubbie swagger", hopefully it's more than just an idea. The Cubs now have 162 games to prove to us what that exactly means.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

It's a Spring Thing

The Cubs had a productive spring in Arizona, and had a bit of fun along the way. I believe Lou Piniella has created some good team energy and chemistry already. Hopefully the Cubs can start the season off with a big W with Big Z on the mound in Cincinnati. It's a long season, and the Cubs have already put in a month and a half of work. I took some of the video we shot and put together a Cubs music video from this spring to get you into the right frame of mind for tomorrow's opener. Warning, side effects from viewing may include increased optimism and chronic enthusiastic delusions.
Click here to watch my Cubs Spring 07 Music Video.
When you go to the page, click the word "download" above the TV media player and select WMV(original)to download and view for the best video quality, or just press play(Video quality not as good). This video is only 5 minutes, 24 seconds so it should download pretty quickly.