Lots of stuff to cover today at the Cubs convention:
--Attended the morning Q. and A. session. Lou, who hasn't been feeling good, didn't make it, but Jim Hendry, Crane Kenney and Randy Bush were there. It's a good session, but my only beef is with WGN radio. This session is supposed to be for the fans, but every year, the WGN radio hosts take over and eat into the precious time fans have to ask their questions of Cubs management. They should take a cue from TV voice Len Kasper, who let the fans have their say later in the morning when it was time to grill Kenney on the larger issues. Speaking as a media member, we have everyday access to the Cubs. The fans don't. Let them have the whole hour alloted to them.
--Talked with Lou later in the day. He said the Cubs probably will go with 12 pitchers and 13 position players again this year.
"With our pitching, it seems to me like we've got to carry 12 pitchers," Lou said. "I don't see how we can get by with 11, I really don't."
Lou said that he'd be happy with a rotation of ace Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Rich Harden and Sean Marshall. However, Harden's shoulder still figures to be an issue, and the Cubs want to use Marshall as a swing man.
"This is why it's important we develop a sixth pitcher," Lou said, talking about perhaps Jeff Samardzija, Chad Gaudin or minor-league prospect Mitch Atkins. "Last year, we had a real nice situation with the five that we had and Marshall. We had our sixth starting pitcher right there with us. But that's not going to be the case now. We've got to develop a sixth pitcher in the spring. I don't know who that will be."
That's, of course, if the Cubs don't trade for Jake Peavy.
--Speaking of numbers, Lou says there are 14 players battling for 13 spots. Really, it's more like 15. In the battle for the final spots are the backup catcher (whoever that is), Ronny Cedeno, Micah Hoffpauir and Felix Pie.
--Lou says Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg will battle for the closer's job, but that the bigger issue is to develop a seventh-inning pitcher. That could be Samardzija, if he doesn't start, or it could be Luis Vizcaino. Marmol would seem to be the heir apparent at closer to Kerry Wood.
"He's earned it, but the other kid has done well," Lou said of Gregg. "I think it worked very well last year when we brought (Bob) Howry into camp, we brought Marmol into camp, we brought Kerry Wood into camp and we let them all compete. I feel comforable with Marmol, there's no question. But remember, we traded for this other young man (Gregg), and he was a closer (with Florida), so give him a chance, too. But we need to develop a seventh-inning pitcher somewhere out of one of our young kids. We need to get somebody that we can rely on in the seventh inning to pitch. And that's going to be a bigger job this year."
--Kenney said it sounds like excuse-making because the Cubs were swept in a pair of three-game playoff series the past two years, but that he'd like to see a seven-game division series.
"I'm for a seven-game series, so is Jim, and I think so is Lou," Kenney said. "The league is looking at a number of things. A lot of the discussion _ I just came back from the owners meetings in Arizona _ was about trying to create day playoff games because that's another thing that's been lost. That's dictated by the TV schedule."
Baseball should look at playing at least one World Series during the day. As it is, MLB is scared to death of football, so it puts as many of its postseason games in prime time, and they've been ratings disasters anyway.
--Kenney called giving the homefield advantage in the World Series to the league that wins the All-Star game "nuts." That drew applause from the crowd.
--Kenney also said an ideal number of home night games would be around 40. The Cubs would like to be able to play some Friday and Saturday home night games. They contend Wrigleyville is going to be crowded anyway.
--Hendry once again dispelled the notion that the Cubs could have come to a one-year deal with Wood. During a teleconference to announce Wood's signing with the Indians, I asked him directly if a one-year was doable, and he said no. Apparently, some people don't want to believe that.
"Their interest was to stay with a three-year deal," Hendry said. "I told Woody we wouldn't be able to do that. Woody understood. I gave him some reasons why.
"The reality of it is, in the last four years, Woody has been on the DL 62 percent of the games. He has a long history of injury situations. I just didn't think that length of a commitment was in our best interests. We never discussed a one-year deal."
Hendry said he was the one who fought to bring Wood back in previous years after Wood had suffered injuries but that he just couldn't do it this year with a three-year deal. The Indians gave Wood two guaranteed years with an option year.