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With the 2007 World Series history, today marks the beginning of the 15-day MLB Free-Agency Filing Period, where MLB players with at least six years of MLB service time who are not signed to a contract for 2008 are eligible to file for free-agency under Article XX of the CBA.
The Baltimore Orioles have claimed RHP Roberto Novoa off waivers from the Cubs. Acquired along with 3B Scott Moore and OF Bo Flowers from the Tigers in February 2005 in exchange for RHP Kyle Farnsworth, the 26-year old Novoa spent the entire 2007 on the DL after suffering a fractured shoulder in an off-season car crash. In his two previous seasons with the Cubs (2005 and 2006), Novoa went 6-6 with a 4.33 ERA in 115 games (all in relief), allowing 124 hits and 19 HR in 120.2 IP, with 57 BB and 100 K and a 1.50 WHIP. Because Novoa, Mark Prior, and Angel Guzman were on the DL going into the post-season, the Cubs were able to add three players to their post-season roster who were not on their 25-man roster as of 8/31 (Ronny Cedeno, Kevin Hart, and Geovany Soto), but once the Cubs were eliminated, there was no further need to keep Novoa on the DL. Players on the 60-day DL do not have to be placed back onto the 40-man roster until rosters are frozen on 11-20, but wth 2+169 of accumulated MLB service time, Novoa will almost certainly qualify as a "Super Two" for salary arbitration purposes, and so he probably would have been non-tendered by the Cubs on 12/12. And because he is eligible to be a Six-Year Minor League FA, even if he had cleared waivers today, he probably would have refused his outright assignment to the minors and would have opted for free-agency instead. So this way, the Cubs get $20,000 instead of nothing. Novoa joins a host of other "refugees" from the Cubs who are now in the Orioles organization, including (among others) RHPs Francis Beltran, Chadd Blasko, Rocky Cherry, and Jon Leicester, IF-OF Freddie Bynum, OFs Jason Dubois, Jason Fransz, Luis Montanez, and Corey Patterson, 3B Scott Moore, and 1B Brandon Sing, former Cubs President Andy McPhail, and ex-Cubs Scouting Director John Stockstill. Also, Orioles manager Dave Trembley and bullpen coach Alan Dunn are former coaches in the Cubs minor league system, and ex-Cubs RHP Kennie Steenstra is pitching coach at the Orioles Delmarva club in the South Atlantic League.
The contracts of 18 Cubs minor league players expire on October 15th, and so each of the 18 is eligible to be a free-agent. The Cubs have until the day after the conclusion of the World Series to decide whether to add a potential minor league free-agent to their 40-man roster (which the player cannot refuse), offer the player a minor league contract for the following season (which the player can refuse), or just allow the player to walk away.
Paul Sullivan at the Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Cubs and the Seattle Mariners are the two MLB clubs who have expressed the most interest in Hiroshima Toyo Carp RHP Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda is 32-years old and an 11-year veteran of Japanese major league baseball. Because he is an unrestricted FA, no posting fee would be required. Sully also mentions that the Cubs had tried to sign Kuroda a year ago, but Kuroda decided to return to the Carp for one more season. Cubs Pacific Rim Scouting Coordinator Steve Wilson has been busy the past few months, signing amateur free-agents from Australia, Korea, and Taiwan. By being present and active around Asian and Australian baseball circles, Wilson gives the Cubs a leg-up over where they were just a year ago. The "Big Fish" among Japanese FA this off-season should be Chunichi Dragons OF Kosuke Fukudome. A 30-year old left-handed hitting RF, Kosuke (like Ichiro, he wants to be known by his first name) had right elbow surgery in L. A. in August, and is presently said to be rehabbing in the U. S. As is the case with Kuroda, Kosuke (pronounced "Ko-Skay") is an unrestricted FA and so no posting fee would be required.
Today was "getaway day" for the Cubs Arizona Instructional League team, and when I say "getaway" day," I don't mean an overnight trip to Tucson. I mean the end of the line, far as we go, everybody off the train.
The Brewers Arizona Instructional League team took advantage of five errors, two passed balls, and three wild pitches, en route to a 7-4 victory over the Cubs AZ Instructional League team at Maryvale Sports Complex Field #7 (AKA "Paul Molitor Field") in Phoenix this afternoon. (The "Big Stadium" at Maryvale was pre-booked for the championship game of some national senior league baseball tournament, so the Brewers and Cubs had to play their game down on the "Lower 40").
For some, it's Christmas. For others, it's Thanksgiving or the 4th of July. Or Arbor Day, maybe. But for a certain "special" few, it's the home opener for the AFL's Mesa Solar Sox. And for us, tonight was the night.
Tyler Colvin drove in three runs with a single and a triple, as the Cubs Arizona Instructional League team defeated the White Sox AZ Instructional league team this afternoon at Maryvale Sports Complex in Phoenix.
Cliff Andersen slammed a three-run homer and Brandon Guyer drove in three runs with two-out RBI singles in the first and third innings, as the Cubs Arizona Instructional League team drubbed the Oakland A's AZ Instructional League team 8-2 this afternoon at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.
OK. So it was the Arizona Instructional League Cubs. But, hey, they ARE Cubs, and they DID win 8-1 today at Fitch Park Field #3, defeating the Giants with a 15-hit attack that featured the professional debut of Korean RHP Dae-Eun Rhee.

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