On Saturday, Chicago Cubs fans are able to say the five sweetest words an MLB fan can ever utter in the month of February: "pitchers and catchers report today." The 2012 season has a much different feel that anything in the past five years, and much of that has to do with the turnover at the top of the organization. President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein is pushing the team in a new direction, while Jed Hoyer has replaced Jim Hendry as GM, and Davle Sveum has taken over for Mike Quade as manager.
There are plenty of changer is on the field as well. The project starting rotation includes some familiar faces like Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, but the back end is all new. Travis Wood, Chris Volstad and Paul Maholm figure to round out the quintet of starters, while Randy Wells might be the next in line should anyone falter.
Carlos Marmol and Jeff Samardzija are the two relief pitchers who have been around since the Cubs last one a division title in 2008, while Manuel Corpas and Trever Miller are several non-roster invitees that could make the roster as a bullpen arm.
Related: Cubs 2012 Spring Training: Brett Jackson, Trey McNutt And Jay Jackson Among Non-Roster Invites
The full reporting schedule for the Cubs looks like this:
2012 Chicago Cubs Reporting Dates
|Organization||Pitchers & Catchers||First Workout||Position Players||First full workout|
|Chicago Cubs||Feb. 18||Feb. 19||Feb. 23||Feb. 24|
Al Yellon from SB Nation's Chicago Cubs blog, Bleed Cubbie Blue, has modest expectations heading into the 2012 MLB season.
What I would like to see is improvement, and I think we're going to get that. When I say that, I'm not even necessarily talking about wins, although I think we'll get that too. What I want is to see better fundamental baseball, tighter defense, better situational hitting, better bullpen management, accountability when players don't hustle.
And I think we'll get that from Dale Sveum and the new management team. Yes, I know. I thought we'd get that from Mike Quade a year ago, and it didn't take too long to show that Quade and his minor-league coaching staff was way over its collective head.
That shouldn't happen here. Sveum has coaching experience on playoff teams, and took over a Brewers team in 2008 under weird circumstances and guided them to a wild-card berth. Jamie Quirk has been a bench coach on a World Series team. Dave McKay has many years coaching under Tony La Russa. It's a far more experienced staff.
Baseball is finally back, so enjoy.
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