Cubs manager Lou Piniella likes the addition of Marlon Byrd to the 2010 lineup. Piniella will be attending the Cubs Convention this weekend in Chicago.
Associated Press file
Amid all the talk about spiffed-up bathrooms, Hall of Fame plaques and spring-training sites, it may have slipped some people's minds that the Cubs still have to field a baseball team for 2010.
It hasn't skipped the mind of Cubs manager Lou Piniella.
Along with his coaching staff and several players, Piniella kicked off the team's annual winter caravan Wednesday.
The Cubs convention begins Friday, and before you know it spring training will be here.
Maybe by then the focus can return to the field.
Coming off a disappointing 83-78 season and an off-season spent trying to undo last winter's disastrous off-season, Piniella seemed eager to get going on 2010 as he repeated a mantra of, "We start anew."
"I like our club," said a tanned and rested-looking Piniella. "We're here to win a division, and we're here to give ourselves a chance to win the World Series. Plain and simple. Nothing needs to be said."
A lot already has been said about missing the playoffs in 2009 after two straight postseason appearances. And there has been plenty of debate about how much, if any, better the 2010 Cubs will be with new owners who have not significantly opened their pocketbooks for player payroll.
General manager Jim Hendry has done plenty of personnel subtracting, ridding the Cubs of players procured last winter, such as Milton Bradley, Aaron Miles, Aaron Heilman and Kevin Gregg.
The biggest addition this winter was center fielder Marlon Byrd, who essentially replaces Bradley in the batting order.
"There's no substitute for having hard workers on the team and having good chemistry in the clubhouse," said Piniella, who also talked of starting "anew" when Bradley's name came up.
Piniella added that hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo highly recommends Byrd from their days with the Texas Rangers.
"He said, 'You're really going to like him. He's a hard worker,'" Piniella said. "I think Jim made a nice acquisition."
Piniella sounded a familiar theme when talking about his optimism for 2010: the injuries the Cubs suffered in 2009 and how he's confident better health will bring better results.
"If we can win 83 baseball games with all the problems that we had last year, all the injuries we had ... we lost 10 or 12 players for over 30 days," he said. "That's unbelievable.
"If we can win 83 ballgames with all these problems, all these injuries ... if we stay relatively healthy, we can add another 8-10 wins to this thing and give ourselves a chance at the postseason."