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Prior, Wood Start Season on DL

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Mar 31, 2006 2:03AM

Man, we hate it when, on rare occasions, we actually agree with Jay Mariotti. But he's right about the Cubs -- they're in big trouble this year. With the season starting in just a few days and their two supposed studs on the DL (what's this, the third straight year?) the Cubs don't look like legitimate playoff contenders.

All spring, Cubs management continued to claim that there was nothing wrong with Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, yet we never happened to see them make it into spring training games. Oh, we heard about long toss and simulated games and that they were on pace to be ready for the season. Finally, when it was clear to all the Cubs admitted what we all know was the sad truth -- neither will be available on Opening Day.

Like the Bears ineptness with their quarterback situation, until the recent Brian Griese signing, the Cubs plan for the best case scenario rather than adequately insuring themselves. And it's likely to cost the Cubs a shot at the playoffs.

The enter the year with a rotation of Carlos Zambrano, Greg Maddux, Glendon Rusch and some kids bringing up the rear. While Zambrano is an All Star and workhorse, the others are question marks at best. Sean Marshall? Sure, he's looked good this spring. But he's only had 10 starts at the Double-A level. The White Sox's Brandon McCarthy followed a similar trajectory to the majors last season and struggled early on. Then there's Rich Hill, Jerome Williams ... not exactly the rotation of champions. Were the Cubs serious about competing in the National League race, they'd have done what the Sox did and stockpiled pitchers -- especially given the histories of Prior and Wood.

On the other hand, the Cubs certainly did a much better job than the Sox in solidifying their bullpen, when they added Bobby Howry and Scott Eyre over the winter. With Dustin Hermanson possible facing surgery and Bobby Jenks seemingly having turned back into a pumpkin, the Sox are a couple of arms short in the 'pen. While it probably won't derail their chances of returning to the World Series -- especially given Kenny Williams's ability to work trades -- it's the one chink in the White Sox armor.