December 2009

Cubs Give Fans the Byrd

UPDATE #2: Rob Neyer linked up to us and didn't cut my article to shreds. Neat.

UPDATE: Wittenmyer tweets that it's $3M for 2010, then $5.5 in 2011 and $6.5M in 2012...not terribly unreasonable and similar to DeRosa's deal from the Cubs (2.75, 4.75, 5.5M). Now only if Byrd could play as well as DeRosa did his two years with the Cubs.

When the Baseball World Slows to a Halt

Who do you turn to?


It's been really slow in the Cub universe of news. The baseball winter meetings were a horror show as far as this Cub fan could tell.

I'm incredibly news starved when you consider that I took running notes on BL's "Talking Baseball" show on ESPN-1000 radio. This week, his 2 hour baseball gab session with sidekick Jonathan Hood covered three main Cub topics: CF, 2B and the bullpen.

So here's an IV dose of baseball, Bruce Levine "Talking Baseball" style. What follows are my notes and occasional commentary from the Saturday post-Christmas program. After the jump...

Will 'The Hawk' Land in Cooperstown?

Andre Dawson was born the same year I was - 1954. His birthday is the same as my eldest child’s - July 10. But neither of those trivial bits have anything at all to do with his candidacy for election to baseball’s hall of fame.

There’s a strong numerical case to be made on behalf of The Hawk. I’ll leave it to others to keep making it. But once it’s been laid out I’d add a couple of intangible, immeasurable flourishes as finishing touches.

Cubs Decade In Review: 2002 Season

Previous Reviews: 2001, 2000

Although the season ended in disappointment, the Cubs seemed to have something to build on after a mostly successful 2001 and a farm system rated as one of the best in the leagues with up and coming prospects like Corey Patterson, Carlos Zambrano, Juan Cruz, Hee Seop Choi, Mark Prior, Ben Christensen, Dave Kelton and Bobby Hill.

It's Matt Capps Signing Day

The anticipation has reached a fever pitch as Pirates closer Matt Capps is expected to make his final decision today. Take the main set-up role and back-up closing duties in Chicago for a team that shouldn't completely suck...on the sale floor they like to say they're a team in contention.


Cubs Rumor Round-Up: Zambrano, Chapman, Capps

- The Yankees called the Cubs about Carlos Zambrano according to NY's finest and most respectable newspaper, the NY Post. The article says the Cubs' asking price was high...too high for the Yankees apparently. Bruce Levine says there's nothing to it and adds that Z has been living in Chicago this offseason and seems to dedicated to getting in shape.

Nightmare Fuel: Bradley to be Traded for Carlos Silva

This hasn't been confirmed yet, but Larry Stone of the Seattle Times is reporting that Carlos Silva will be traded to the Cubs for Milton Bradley. Earlier in the morning, "Monsters of the Midway" (I believe that's Mike North and Dan Jiggetts) said a trade of Bradley to the Mariners was going to happen as well.

Cubs Decade in Review: 2000 Season

The New Year is fast approaching which means it's time for everyone's year in review articles. This year we get the added bonus of the end of decade. Due to the baseball schedule and offseason, I'll be looking at each individual season from the end of the previous season to the end of that season. Let's travel through the looking glass together and remember simpler times.

My All-Time Favorite Players

While Jim Hendry and the front office continue doing absolutely nothing, I try to come up with blog material. Here's one just for fun, a list of my all-time and current favorite players to watch. This has little to do with my generally numbers obsessed way of analyzing the game, rather just the guys I like to watch play. Now my all-time list was heavily influenced when I was a child and the players that had cool batting stances or pitching motions that we would then try and emulate during recess and after school and of course the Cubs. As I get older, I tend to have a finer appreciation for the more talented players that just make the game look easy.


Non-Tender is the Night

As expected, the Cubs opted not to tender a 2010 Major League contract to LHP Neal Cotts, making Cotts a free-agenct. Cotts would have been eligible for salary arbitration if he had been tendered a contract, and could not have had his $1.1M 2009 salary cut by more than 20%. So Non-tendering Cotts will save the Cubs about $1M in 2010 payroll, and reduces the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) to 37 players.


Cubs Select Parisi in Rule 5 Draft, Lose Sierra

The Cubs selected RHP Mike Parisi from the St Loiuis Cardinals AAA Memphis club in the Major League Phase of today's Rule 5 Draft. 

The Cubs lost no players in the Major League Phase, but RHP Miguel Sierra was selected off the AA Tennessee Smokies Reserve List by the Tampa Bay Rays in the AAA Phase. 

Winter Meetings 2009 Day Four

8:27 AM

Cubs select RHP Mike Parisi from the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the Rule 5 draft.

Looks like all the major league teams passed on Round 2 and no Cubs were taken in the major league phase.

The rumor news should be pretty light today as teams head back home.

Winter Meetings 2009 Day Three

12:31 AM

More from Levine saying that Cubs and White Sox lead the chase for J.J. Putz who will throw again Friday. Putz expects around a $2.5M base salary with incentives that could take it into the $6-7M range. The White Sox apparently have already made an offer.

Levine also says if the Red Sox trade for Bradley, they would immediately flip him possibly to Texas or Tampa. ~shrug~

12:15 AM

NPSport Canada tweets that Hendry does have one firm offer for Bradley and the deal will happen by Friday (rolls eyes), but does not involve the Blue Jays (thanks to navigator for the find).

11:14 PM

 - Phil Rogers believes the Cubs have already made their mind up about moving spring training to Naples for the simple reason that he believes the Ricketts want their base of operation out of Florida.

- Lowell to Rangers for catcher Max Ramirez looks like a done deal.

10:52 PM

Harden's contract details from Ed Price; $6.5M in 2010 with $3.5M in escalating incentives up to 195 IP, $11M mutual option for 2011 with a $1M buyout if either side declines.

10:48 PM

Levine says Hendry had meetings with Mike Cameron's agent Wednesday night and agent Casey Close who reps Ben Sheets, Derrek Lee and Mike Fontenot among others.

10:22 PM

Astros sign Brandon Lyon to complete their bullpen whitening process(3/15M according to Rosenthal).

NL Central tally so far:

Cardinals - Added Brad Penny & Hitting Coach that Knows How to Get things, probably losing DeRosa, Holliday and Smoltz.

Brewers - Added LaTroy Hawkins, Randy Wolf and swapped J.J. Hardy for Carlos Gomez.

Astros - Essentially swapped Valverde and Hawkins for Lindstrom and Lyon.

Pirates - Added Bobby Crosby and Akinori Iwamura.

Reds - Still employing Dusty Baker.

Cubs - Resigned John Grabow and traded Jake Fox, Aaron Heilman and Aaron Miles for 5 minor leaguers.

9:23 PM

Another Rule 5 draft preview (h/t to MLBTR) from Jonathon Mayo, he thinks Steve Clevenger is the most likely Cub to get selected but adds that the Cubs could get "hit a few times".

9:17 PM

From Gorden Edes twitter:

Cubs chutzpah: They really did ask Sox about Bradley for Lowell...under the heading: Can't hurt to ask. Got the response you'd expect.

Damn those unintelligent Red Sox.

8:29 PM

Levine's latest:

The Red Sox have been kicking the tires on free agents. They have had talks with the agent for free agents third baseman Adrian Beltre, formerly of the Mariners. If you look at the trade and free agent market, Bradley may be the most attractive power hitting player available, besides free agents Matt Holliday and Jason Bay.

If a team like the Red Sox were intelligent, which they are, they could bring in Beltre to play third base, trade Lowell to the Cubs for Bradley and then end up with two players for next season for the same price or less that they'd have to pay for the big ticket free-agents Holliday and Bay.

Oh did I say Levine's latest? I meant here's the verbatim story handed to Levine by the Cubs to try and float some ideas out there and generate a false market. If a team like the Red Sox were intelligent? I think they've showed their intelligence a few times over by this point. 

Anyway, Cubs like Melky Cabrera (although I still have doubts the Yankees will move him) and have talked to Cameron's agent and two other center field free agents, possibly Byrd or Podsednik.

8:14 PM

Hendry held court and...nothing. The best we have is a non-denial about Boston and Mike Lowell.

7:21 PM

Hendry says they're considering a few names in tomorrow's Rule 5 draft. Muskat lists Thomas Diamond, Steve Clevenger, Chris Robinson and Matt Camp as possible Cubs that could be drafted (Chirinos was mentioned earlier by Phil Rogers). Hendry says Marshall, Gorzelanny and Samardzija will compete for the 5th starter spot with all being able to move to the bullpen if needed.

7:17 PM

Via MLBTR, Ben Sheets wants something close to the $12M he was paid in 2008 (Searches for delusions of grandeur tag).

Winter Meetings 2009 Day Two

6:23 PM

Cross the Angels off the list...that leaves Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Indians, White Sox, Twins, Athletics if it's an AL team. I'd go ahead and cross Indians and Twins immediately off that list and probably the Orioles as I can't think of a bad contract they'd want to move. Yanks, Red Sox, White Sox, Tigers or A's?

6:13 PM

Cross the Blue Jays off the list...mystery team indeed.

5:33 PM

Both Muskat and Wittenmyer shoot down the Mariners rumor...something is brewing though.

5:20 PM

The beat writers now chime in...Wittenmyer states:

It involves a three-team deal in which the Cubs would receive a player who would then need to be flipped to another team, but it's doesn't involve the long-rumored Tampa Bay Rays (ed note: or the Rangers).

Bruce Miles is a little more subdued:

The Cubs stated flatly this afternoon that no deal was imminent for right fielder Milton Bradley. There has been speculation that something could get done as early as tonight, but one Cubs person said Wednesday is a more likely date.

Sullivan agrees that Wednesday is more likely but still has the Rays and Rangers very much in the mix.

5:18 PM

More Tim Brown saying the M's and Cubs are talking Bradley for Silva..."nothing imminent".

Winter Meetings 2009 Day One

The rumor mongering Olympics begin today and instead of a Jake Peavy trade or trying to sign Kosuke Fukudome or Ted Lilly, it'll be about moving Milton Bradley and how much the Cubs are willing to pay for the privilege. Unfortunately I won't be around until later this afternoon, so I'm going to miss most of the morning rumors. Updates will go up top....

10:05 PM

Sullivan says it's basically Rays or bust although the Cubs talked to 5 or 6 teams today about trades. The Mets seem to be out of the mix as a third team and that means Luis Castillo is out of the mix as well. The Blue Jays have emerged as the possible third team with some interest in Burrell as a DH. Sullivan also echoes that Cubs may have interest in Melky Cabrera if Yankees land Granderson with the Cubs on the outside of the Granderson sweepstakes due to their refusal to move Starlin Castro.

Money quote:

One major league manager said Monday he would gladly take Bradley, though he added his general manager wasn't interested because of possible negative reaction by the team's fan base. Another manager asked why the Cubs don't just bite the bullet and bring Bradley back rather than giving him away.

Can the "another manager" come and run the Cubs?

9:22 PM

Whoever Ed Price is, he's tweeting that Brewers are closing in on a 3-year deal for Randy Wolf. I think that's good for the Cubs. I kind of like Randy Wolf, but he's not the 3.23 ERA pitcher he was last year and although he's been pretty healthy the last two years, he's had quite a few injury issues in the past.

8:34 PM

Jayson Stark echoes that 2-3 teams have asked the Cubs about Bradley since Winter Meetings have begun and the money gap continues to hold up Bradley moving to the Rays.

7:24 PM

Braden Looper would love to pitch for the Cubs. Hopefully the feeling isn't mutual.

6:04 PM

A few notes from Bruce Miles...

The Cubs and Hendry like Heath Bell but "laughed off" rumors of trying to acquire him using Geovany Soto, Ryan Theriot or just about anyone else.

The Cubs will give Jeff Baker some reps in the outfield this spring to continue their creepy molding of him into Mark DeRosa. I wonder how much Baker feels like Kim Novak in Vertigo at this point.

5:16 PM:

Bob Nightengale at USA Today says the Tigers would like to move Granderson by this week and then Wittenmyer says the Cubs have heard nothing of the sort from the Tigers.

Cubs Rumor Round-Up: Rafael Soriano, Mike Gonzalez, Cameron & More

- Assuming the package of Cubs prospects that Hendry is willing to offer isn't enough to pry Curtis Granderson from the Tigers, the Cubs may move on to signing Mike Cameron as their main focus. First, the Cubs will have to move Milton Bradley of course and then they could look to sign the 36, going on 37-year old center fielder. Lou raves about him and Cameron raves about Lou in the article, so chances are he won't end up in Lou's doghouse by April.

- He said, she said: Jon Heyman say the Cubs aren't close to dealing Bradley because they're only willing to eat up to $5M of his contract, but Will Carroll tweeted around 8pm CST last night that:

Cubs signing of Mike Cameron is waiting on deal of Milton Bradley, which has been "imminent" for about 72 hours.

- More on Cameron from the Tribune, and thoughts that Tampa Bay and Texas are the most likeliest landing spots for Bradley.

"For some guys it's a gift," Cameron, who played for Piniella in
Seattle from 2000 to '02, told the Tribune in '07 of playing for
Piniella. "And for some guys it's a curse. I've seen both sides of the
fence. For me, it was a blessing. It made me the player I am today. He
taught me a lot about the game, and he's one of the ultimate field
generals, probably the best manager I've ever had."

Cubs Rumor Round-Up: Granderson, Padilla & TCR Friday Notes

a lot of ground to cover here, let's get to it...

UPDATE: Muskat previews the Winter Meetings and says up to three teams are interested in Bradley. Talks have happened with the Tigers for Granderson but not looking good at the moment. Reed Johnson is welcome back and Mark DeRosa is out of the Cubs price range.

- has a pretty detailed report on the negotiations between the Cubs and Tigers so far for Curtis Granderson. The Tigers wanted Carlos Marmol or Starlin Castro as the headliner in a trade and they've been deemed untouchable (that always works out well for the Cubs). They did do some previous scouting on Jake Fox last season and he could of been of interest as part of the package, but they'll have to get him from the A's now.  Names like Josh Vitters, Jay Jackson, Andrew Cashner and Hak-Ju Lee are thrown around, but they don't quite bring the right mixture of major league readiness and prospectdom that the Tigers are craving.

- A very sketchy rumor of the Cubs having interest in Vicente Padilla.

- Chone Figgins to the Mariners for 4/36 according to Rosenthal. A bit pricey, but such is the cost of dabbling in free agency.

The Best News I've Heard All Day

New MLBPA union boss Michael Weiner during his introductory press conference.

“There is a lot of sentiment for a seven-game division series,” Weiner said. “I think a properly constructed postseason schedule could accommodate three seven-game series but still have it extend over a shorter period of time than what happened this year.”


Addition by Subtraction; The Sequel

After the Cubs disappointed in 2004, the offseason motto was addition by subtraction as the Cubs let Moises Alou and Matt Clement leave and desperately tried to move clubhouse cancer Sammy Sosa.

As we recall, the Cubs just got worse in 2005 and now baseball's worst organizational strategy is about to be revisited.

...Instead, the Cubs' biggest splash leading up to the 2009 season was signing switch-hitting outfielder Milton Bradley to a three-year, $30 million contract in January.

On Monday, when baseball executives gather in Indianapolis for the Winter Meetings, there will be much less neon. The Cubs' goals have changed, too. Now, it's addition by subtraction, as Hendry tries to
move Bradley.

Ten Moves I Wouldn't Mind the Cubs Pursuing

Before the first "the Cubs can't afford that" comment, let me preface all this by saying I wouldn't mind the Cubs making any of these moves, not necessarily all of them. And it's just a bunch conjecture and speculation and "damn, I'm bored, let's make up some stuff". I did attempt to be reasonable at least.

1. Sign Kelly Johnson if he's non-tendered and non-tender Mike Fontenot. There's not a big difference between the two, but I like Johnson better. I'm also not opposed to a trade for Johnson for some marginal low-level minor league talent.

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