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Chicago sports nuggets - or clumps of cold mashed potatoes, depending on your perspective:

Ron Santo, the legendary 3rd baseman for the Cubs back in the 60's and 70's and radio analyst of dubious talent who passed away this winter, has been replaced by ex-Cub right fielder Keith Moreland, who was immortalized in the Steve Goodman song "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request":

"Watch Keith Moreland drop a routine fly ball..."

(I think that was the line in the song.)

Moreland was a catcher, third baseman and right fielder who was a better DH in a league that didn't have one than a position player. But he was a very solid hitter for the Cubs after coming over from the Phillies. I forget who they traded for him. Maybe Bill Campbell? It was the year that Dallas Green was raiding the Phils' system, getting Bowa, Sandberg, Matthews, Dickie Noles and Moreland for various Cubs' players.

Now he's part of the radio team. I was sorta pulling for Dave Otto, who isn't flashy but gives pretty good analysis.


Derrick Rose is establishing himself, in only his third year, as one of the top point guards, strike that...PLAYERS in the NBA. He may already be the top point guard; if he isn't, he's in the top three. And I don't think I'd take any of those other contenders (like Chris Paul or Deron Williams) over Rose at this time.

He's the main reason that the Bulls are 37-16 or something like that, at this point. Last year they only won 41 games all YEAR! They've lost to some weaker teams, like Philly, New Jersey, Charlotte (twice!) and Golden State, but they have beaten some of the best. Tonight they play San Antonio, who may be the best in the NBA. It will be a good test going into the All Star Break and then looking forward to 6'11" center Joakim Noah's return after the break.


Back to the Cubs. I have a feeling that they may surprise some people this year. Their rotation of Zambrano, Garza, Dempster, Wells and Silva or a young player should be solid. Their bullpen, anchored by closer Carlos Marmol, with Kerry Wood in the fold and many of the same names as last year, should be fairly solid, and their everday lineup is not devoid of talent. I like Soto, Castro, Colvin, Byrd, and Ramirez at their positions. Maybe none of them are the TOP guy in the league at a particular position, but they have the potential to be good. Second base is a question mark, but between Blake DeWitt, Darwin Barney and a few other young players, they should be able to find someone to give them adequate innings. I've heard some analysts say that DeWitt was never given much of a chance with the Dodgers but may just surprise some people and be better than anyone thinks.

Then there is Soriano in left - he's a poor defensive outfielder, but he can still hit at times, or at least he has been able to hit in the past. If Soriano's washed up, the Cubs have other options, including Brett Jackson, their 2009 number 1 pick. There is some talent in the Cubs' system. No one who's going to make you go WOW!, but some decent pitchers and a few position player prospects.


The White Sox look good on paper, but I'd be a little concerned about their pitching staff. It's possible that Chris Sale could be an answer either in the rotation or at the back of the bullpen, but whichever spot he takes, the other one becomes a bit of a question mark. Jake Peavy is still recovering from the injury he suffered last year, and may not be ready till May, and maybe later than that. And then, no one knows if he'll be effective or not.

The Sox's lineup looks good. I think there's a chance we may see a spring training trade.


That's all from Chicago Sports Central today...

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