My colleague Al Yellon, from Bleed Cubbie Blue, and I have shared five questions for each other regarding both the Sox and the Cubs, and the series coming up.
Here are my five questions and his answers.
1) Are you optimistic going into the Red Sox series? How do you think it will play out?
2) How has the injury to former Red Sox, and current Cub, Nomar Garciaparra effected the team as a whole?
Nomar's veteran leadership, the Cubs miss. I saw him play in spring training and he seemed like a man possessed -- to come back and have a big year. It's really a shame what happened to him.
3) Which Sox hitters do you fear the most? Which Sox pitchers do you fear facing?
You're going to be surprised when I tell you which Red Sox hitter I fear the most. Believe it or not, it's Kevin Millar. He used to absolutely kill the Cubs when he was a member of the Marlins. I know he's not off to a very good start, but he's probably licking his chops thinking about hitting in Wrigley Field. David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez -- of course. Every team fears them.
You should know that Cub fans have warm memories of Bill Mueller, who is a class guy in every way. I'm sure he'll get a nice round of applause when he's announced.
4) Where do you think the Cubs will finish in the standings when the season is all said and done?
Well, the Cubs still do have fourteen games left with the Cardinals (don't face them again till after the All-Star break), so don't discount the possibility that the Cubs could get hot and win the division.
I still believe they are well-positioned to win at least the Wild Card. Mark Prior and Kerry Wood will be back soon, they have gotten good production out of people who have replaced injured players, Nomar may also return around August 1, and at last they have solved the closer problem -- Ryan Dempster has been terrific. No one has stood out from the pack yet -- so why not the Cubs?
5) If you could take any player from the Red Sox system and put them on the Cubs, who would it be?