From everything I hear, the Cubs view Felix Pie as a potential replacement for Juan Pierre, not someone they can play along side Pierre. Why couldn't Pie play alongside Pierre and give the Cubs a dynamic 1-2 punch at the top of the order? --Jeff Manges, Logansport, Ind.

They didn't want to gamble that Pie was ready and then be accused of rushing him if he wasn't. I think you can blame Corey Patterson's fall for that. It'd be great to see the two play alongside each other, and perhaps in the future this could happen.

Paul, I think historically the Cubs have had terrible plate discipline even before Dusty. From what I've observed, this weakness has shown good improvement this spring. Except for Jones, hitters seem to show good patience. Will it last? Isn't it a key so all the speedsters on the club can steal and run? --Tom Luton, Bettendorf, Iowa.

Well, the Cubs come into Thursday's game ranked last in walks, and seventh in on-base percentage, so they still have a ways to go. But I do agree it's better than it once was and the added speed should make this a more unpredictable offense than in the past.

Can you handicap the youngsters (Murton, Cedeno, Pie, Pagan, Guzman) on their likelihood to produce for the Cubs this year? I'm sincerely interested in your opinion. --Matt Matone, Charlotte, N.C.

Felix Pie is probably not going to be here for a while, though he has the best chance to be a superstar. Cedeno and Murton are already producing and Guzman could be in the rotation soon if he pitches as well at Iowa as he's started out. Pagan seems like a perfect utility man and should get some at-bats with Jones' hamstring an issue. I sincerely hope I answered your question.

With the Cubs now selling naming rights to the bleachers, and putting more and more stuff up to suck up to corporations such as the centerfield suite and the electronic sign below the scoreboard, and electronic signs down the lines and so on; how long until they take down the ivy and put up ads on the wall? Is it ever going to stop? --Christopher Barboa, Springfield, Mo.

I'm thinking simulated ivy on a green screen background is the wave of the future. Speaking of which, a section of fans in the left-field bleachers were spotted doing the Wave during the eighth inning of Wednesday's game. Disgusting, but true. I have no problem with naming rights for the bleachers, but I draw the line at the furniture company's slogan written across the dugouts. That's just tacky.

Paul, are there any plans of the Cubs getting a new uniform design by chance? Not for home- those are classic- but maybe the alternate blues need a makeover. I'm thinking that might break this curse! --Johnny Maliziola, Indianapolis

I think the Cubs players actually like the blue uniform tops, though to me they look like softball jerseys. I prefer the classic gray jerseys with CHICAGO spelled across the chest in all caps, like in the Rockwell paining called "The Dugout." But I'm just a sentimental fool.

So they have you doing this again. I for one like the sarcastic responses rather than the dull remarks. Looking forward to the season. --Mike Podesta, Columbus, Ohio

Excuse me?

Paul, do you agree or disagree that Jerry Hairston belongs in the second base slot ahead of Todd Walker? Hairston's BA is higher, and he is speedier. But Walker doubled up Hairston in doubles, and nearly tripled him in RBI's. His slugging percentaqe is .447 to Hairston's .373, not a huge difference, and so it appears Walker has a better grasp of situational hitting. He also coaxed more walks than Hairston and played error-free in the field. Your thoughts? --Alex Blatt, South Bend, Ind.

My head is spinning from all your great arguments. For now I'd go with Neifi for his defense when Maddux pitches, Walker for his offense when a right-hander faces the Cubs and Maddux is not starting, and Hairston for his speed when a lefthander is facing the Cubs and Maddux is not starting. That way all three can play and may the best man win.

Mr. Sullivan, how do you see Jacque Jones panning out in Chicago. Personally with the fact that the load on his shoulders in Chicago is not going to be as heavy as it was in Minnesota as far as producing, which should make him more relaxed at the plate, I look for an increase across the boards for him. --Ryan Collins, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

He's not hitting so well so far, but I do believe the booing at Wrigley will soon become an issue if he doesn't show some consistency. Unlike the old days at Wrigley, fans are willing to boo anyone, not just someone who dogs it. It's a new world, and very un-Cub like.

My (expletives) hurt when I watch the Cubs. They really, really hurt. Is this normal? --Jeff Garlin, Los Angeles

Not this early in the season. I'd go see someone about that, Jeff. And thanks again for filling in for Ask Paul last year.

I heard Len and Bob say something about the opportunity to buy a brick outside of Wrigley Field, and I'm looking for more information. Do you know anything about this? --Ashley Werner, Long Grove, Ill.