December 2010

The Cubs are a wasteland of news at the moment. Let's look at how Project .500 is doing...

Starting 8 (total guesses right now):

vs. righties: DeWitt, Castro, Pena, Ramirez, Colvin, Soriano, Byrd, Soto

Bench: Fukudome, Baker, Hill, Barney, Guyer or other outfielder

vs. lefties: Baker, Castro, Ramirez, Pena, Byrd, Soriano, Soto, Fukudome

Bench: Colvin, DeWitt, Hill, Barney, Guyer or other outfielder

Starting 5: Zambrano, Dempster, Wells, Gorzelanny, Cashner or Silva

Bullpen: Marmol, Wood, Marshall, Grabow, Cashner or Silva, Samardzija, 1 of Russell, Caridad, Berg, Maine, Rice, Diamond, Coleman or Chad Fox.

The hints from Levine are that Colvin will get the bulk of playing time over Fukudome who would sort of super-sub throughout the week. Personally Fukudome is about the only leadoff option the team has right now against righties, so we'll see if that changes over spring training. My guess at a lineup versus righties is just that, a guess. Managers tend to like alternating lefties and righties so I could see that as an option.

The better bet and what I'd try with the current personal is Fukudome, Castro, Pena, Ramirez, Soto, Soriano, Byrd, DeWitt and I think spots 3-7 could all be shifted depending on the hot hand. You could also try Fukudome, Castro, Ramirez, Soto, Pena, Soriano, Byrd, DeWitt to break up the righties in the middle of the order(and have Pena and Soriano leave a shit load of runners on base) and it does depend if Aramis rebounds this season (let's hope for a rebound contract year).

The bullpen actually looks pretty good at the moment, but those have a way of being unpredictable. The rotation, well guess it depends on which Z we get and if Wells bounces back a little. It's solld, but definitely behind the Cards, Brewers and most likely Reds at this point.

We've done this joke before (well Real Neal did), but Bruce Miles has written the 2010 sequel.

--As we wrote last week, the only prospects the Cubs won’t move are Brett Jackson and Chris Archer. All the others would be on the table in trade talks. That includes Josh Vitters and Jay Jackson.

Is being deemed untouchable by the Cubs brass pretty much the kiss of death for your baseball career? I wouldn't take any fishing trips out on the lake if I were them.

The Cubs lost two minor league pitchers in the AAA Phase of today's Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings in Florida.


22-year old RHP Ronny Morla was selected by the Mets in the 1st Round, and 24-year old LHP Casey Lambert was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2nd Round.

The MLB Rule 5 Draft is the last order of business at the MLB WINTER MEETINGS, and it is a mechanism that allows MLB clubs to select (draft) players off minor league Reserve Lists. There is a "Major League Phase" where MLB clubs can draft players off AAA Reserve Lists for $50,000, a "AAA Phase" where AAA Affiliates can draft players off AA rosters for $12,000, and finally a "AA Phase" where AA clubs can draft players off the reserve lists of Class "A" clubs for $4,000.

10:30 PM CST (Rob G.): A previous Levine post said Cubs are interested in acquiring Jason Frasor after missing out on him last season. Medical reports on Brandon Webb are in the Cubs doctors hands and Chris Davis for Robinson Chirinos is still on the table, but the Cubs want Darren O'Day included in a deal.

10:17 PM CST (Rob G.): Levine says the Rays and Cubs met for a second time since the meetings began, presumably to discuss Garza and that the Cubs "package" was the most attractive. (7th grade chuckle). Brewers and Rangers are also in the mix.

5:18 PM CST (Rob G.): Joel Sherman says the Rays are thus far unsinspired by offers for Garza and will likely wait until July to see if value goes up.

1:56 PM CST (Rob G.): Well at least the Cubs called to ask about Zack Greinke.

1:44 PM CST (Rob G.): There were some multi-year offers out there for Pena with Nats, Orioles, Mariners, Blue Jays and Braves showing interest. (O's seem to be at least one team that made a multi-year offer and the biggest competition according to Pena).

12:46 PM CST (Rob G.): There it is, $5M to Pena is deferred until January 2012.

12:26 PM CST (Rob G.): Pena press conference updates culled from Twitter.

- Grew up watching the Cubs, cites watching George Bell (~shrug~).

- "To play for the was my preference...I love the city, my family loves the city, and we have a good chance at winning."

- Boras cited Rudy as one of the reasons they liked the Cubs and confidence that he can help him improve on last season.

- Here's a pic

- Rumor that Yankees could be going after Mark Prior along with rumors that they'll try and bring back Kerry Wood once the Cliff Lee sweepstakes are over. Yes, Rothschild, Prior and Wood back together again is a looming possibility.

- Trib story says Cubs targets were Pena and Berkman and talk about LaRoche and Loney were overstated. Nats, Blue Jays, Mariners and Orioles made offers or were at least interested. No mention of deferred money from them, although Levine has already put it out there. Also says they're working on trades and still talking to Brandon Webb.

12:20 PM CST (Rob G.): Bruce Levine chat excerpts:

- Says Cubs like Garza and have young talent Rays are seeking, although Archer and B. Jackson seem safe from being moved.

- Chris Davis is still in the mix even with the Pena signing.

- Mentions deferred money in Pena deal again, but no specifics.

- Cubs still high on Vitters (as they should be).

 


To the rumor cave...

- With Pena about to be signed, look for the Cubs to intensify trying to move Fukudome and giving Colvin the everyday job.

- Speaking of Pena, radio report that there is deferred money in the deal as I suspected last night. Also, he suffered through plantar fasciitis most of last year.

- Same report from Levine suggests the Cubs are making a push for Matt Garza. (Claps hands like a cymbal playing monkey). Here's a more proper link to the story.

Carrie Muskat and just about everyone on twitter is saying the deal is done for Carlos Pena for a grand sum of...

(drumroll please)

1 yr/$10M

I'm sure we'll get more details on Wednesday, but looks like Cubs chose to pay a little more this year and a little less overall than the 2/$14M that Levine suggested earlier. If the numbers are true, it is $2M more than they offered Berkman and I'm wondering if Pena and Co. were willing to take deferred money that Berkman was not.

10:32 PM CST (Rob G.): Reader QuietMan does it again with this Bruce Levine radio report. Levine speculates that Pena is going to cost around 2/14 with either a 3rd year vesting option or a club option.

- He puts A. Galarragga for Gorzelanny out there.

- Says Chris Davis is a back-up plan if they don't get Pena..

- Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says the Cubs have interest in Chris Davis but aren't going to give up much.

7:32 PM CST (Rob G.): Bruce Miles pees all over the Davis/O'Day rumor.

6:05 PM CST (Rob G.): Joe Cowley tweeting some nonsense about Konerko to the Cubs.

6:00 PM CST (Rob G.): Ed Price tweets that a deal is in the works involving Chris Davis and Darren O'Day coming to the Cubs.

And fwiw, I don't believe getting Chris Davis would prevent the Cubs from going after Pena, LaRoche and the like. No way the Cubs are handing him Davis the 1b job. My guess is he's a utility option (as he can play 3b as well) and Rudy Jamarillo project for the future.

4:23 PM CST (Rob G.): Bruce Levine radio report thanks to one of our awesome readers.

- Detroit with interest in Gorzelanny (Link from Detroit papers here).

- Ignore the LaRoche talk, Cubs making push for Pena on a 2-year deal with a possible 3rd year option.

Link to ESPN Chicago saying Cubs will meet with Pena's agent again later today.

4:16 PM CST (Rob G.): It seems everyone expects Konerko to sign with the White Sox. Orioles will be "in on" Derrek Lee if the medicals check out.

- Kevin Gregg has more than one offer, possibly of the multi-year variety.

- Teams are showing interest in Rich Harden, possibly as a reliever.

- Matt Garza is another top starting pitcher that could be moved with the Brewers and Rangers mentioned at the moment.

4:14 PM CST(Rob G.): How I love Wrongway! His last tweet.

Look out for the . They're rekindling Matt Garza talks with Rays. Possible deal could include supposedly "untouchable'' Matt Cain.

Whoops.

3:55 PM CST (Rob G.): Bruce Miles though doubts the Cubs interest in LaRoche.

3:46 PM CST (Rob G.): Scott Miller takes it a step further and says the Cubs would like to close a deal soon with LaRoche.

2:48 PM CST (Rob G.): I guess Carlos Pena is going to be too expensive. Morosi says Cubs are going after Adam LaRoche.

12:31 PM CST (Rob G.): The Cubs and Webb's representatives have a meeting scheduled this afternoon according to Jerry Crasnick.

12:21 PM CST (Rob G.): Some nuggets from Bruce Levine's chat.

- Colvin is Plan B if the Cubs don't find a first basemen they like. Even if they do, Colvin will work on the position to give Quade some flexibility during the season.

- Fukudome is on the block, but only if Hendry knows he's getting another left-handed bat, either in the trade or ready to sign.

- The Cubs have talked relievers with Toronto and Texas with Jason Frasor's name coming up. There seems to be a Chris Davis for Robinson Chirinos deal that would work for both teams but the Cubs want to expand it and get a major league reliever in exchange for adding a  starting pitcher to the deal.

- Gorzelanny can be had, but only if the Cubs have a deal in place for another starting pitcher.

11:30AM CT (Cubnut): Rosenthal mentions "Kerry Wood" and "White Sox" together. Yeechhh! KR says Yankees also still interested in Kid K but won't deal with it until after Cliff Lee lands.

6:17 PM CST (Rob G.): Count on Sean Marshall as Marmol's set-up man next year as well as an echo that Cashner could be moved to the rotation.

4:13 PM CST (Rob G.): Damn. Loney and Broxton for Prince Fielder? Apparently they're talking.

Or Not.

2:15 PM CST (Rob G.): Rosenthal also says that Loney is very unlikely to be moved.

YESTERDAY (Rob G.): Some important stuff (as important as baseball rumors can be) from Levine yesterday that I haven't seen mentioned.

- Cubs offered Berkman the same $8M as the Cardinals but with deferred payments.

- Lyle Overbay is also on the Cubs 1b radar.

- If the Cubs can't sign a starting pitcher, expect Andrew Cashner to move to the rotation.

- Kerry Wood is a possibility if he's willing to accept the dollars($5M or less) and set-up role.

- Fukudome will be shopped.

2:15 PM CST (Rob G.): Gorden Edes says the Blue Jays are making a push for Carlos Pena.

2:10 PM CT (Cubnut): Steve Henson of Yahoo Sports (@stevehenson333) says a Dodgers source told him Loney will not be traded "because he'd be too expensive to replace on free agent market."

1:05 PM CST (Rob G.): As Arizona Phil predicted, Mark Riggins will be named the new Cubs pitching coach. Expect an official announcement tonight.

 12:20 PM CST (Rob G.): Steve Philips (stop laughing), says Cubs are one of four teams interested in Dan Wheeler.

- The asking price for Loney? Nats say Colletti wanted SS Ian Desmond and RHP Jordan Zimmerman. Apparently the moon isn't available in trades this year.

Since I know you beasts are dying to gossip...

- ESPN Boston reported that the Red Sox made some progress in acquiring Adrian Gonzalez. Ken Rosenthal countered that the Cubs are very much in the mix (tease). Buster Olney one upped them both this morning and is reporting a deal is in place for Gonzalez to go to the Red Sox pending a physical and the team has been granted a window to try and negotiate an extension.

- Zack Greinke is another big name the Cubs should be in on, but will fall short landing. The latest rumor there is the Rangers are trying to get him and Cliff Lee this offseason. The Cubs instead are focused on...

- Jerry Crasnick tweeted yesterday that the Nats & Cubs are gonna duke it out for Brandon Webb. The Cubs lost the first round battle against the Nats last year over Matt Capps. And in case you forgot, the last time Webb pitched for anyone to watch he was hitting 84 mph on the gun. Now Fangraphs says his average was 88mph back in the heyday, so I guess he can find 4 mph as he progresses, but that's what most of us guessed about Mark Prior all those years too.

- Aaron Harang is going to try and resurrect his career at pitcher-friendly Petco Park.

- Bleacher Nation has its own source saying the Cubs could be landing Chris Davis soon. Ace over there is on the up and up, so I'm sure he indeed was told that, but like so many rumors, that doesn't mean it will end up happening.

Rumors will be flying with Winter Meetings ready to start, so stay tuned to this bat channel.

Thoughts and tears.

#10. Third Base-MAN. Love of Wrigley Field. Putting his favorite charity, JDRF and Juvenile Diabetes on the map to show that athletes can deal with the disease. Ron's partner, Pat Hughes (Ron's been in the booth since 1990). Brant Brown, that gut wrenching, "oh-no" overlapping Pat's "he dropped the ball".  Aw, Jeez.  Entrepreneur and Restauranteur. Ron Santo Pizza. Acapulco Taco Pie. Williams-Santo-Banks. Rebel pal Randy and the real highlight of fantasy camps. Roomie Glen Beckert. Flaming Gamer, Pat: "there's smoke billowing out of the top of his head" (audio link). The classic Jack Brickhouse call was music to my ears: "back, back, back, Hey-Hey, a homer by Santo."  Harry Caray asking Ron, "when you go to bed at night with your lovely wife do you wear your toupee?" Cub captain.  Leo Durocher. Don Young. Belly flop slides into second base. Clicking Heels. Pat Hughes broadcast introduction: "Along with nine time All-Star, five time Gold Glove winner and Cub Legend..."

Ronnie's gone. He slipped into a coma Wednesday and passed away in the early hours of the morning on Friday reportedly due to complications of bladder cancer.

Paul Sullivan has one of the earlier confirmations online but I've listened to WGN radio interviews with David Kaplan and Spike O'Dell reminiscing. Overnight host on WSCR, Les Grobstein clearly struggled with his sadness when he heard the news.

In one of the greatest tributes a son can give his dad, Jeff Santo's movie "This Old Cub" gave us the insight as to just what made Ron tick. Ron Santo was what loving the Cubs is all about.

Thank you to Ron. We are honored that you shared so much of yourself with us.

UPDATE: Rob's thoughts after the jump, just trying to keep all this in one place.

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Chicago Cubs great Ron Santo died last night here in Arizona.

A native of Washington, Santo signed with the Cubs prior to the 1959 season, was brought up to the big leagues as a 20-year old in mid-season 1960 after only one full season in the minor leagues, was immediately installed at the hot corner (replacing Don Zimmer), and never looked back. He hit 277/362/464 with 342 HR over a 15 year career spanning 2243 games. He won five Gold Gloves at 3B (1964-68), and was a nine-time All-Star. He did all this while battling diabetes. He was traded to the White Sox (for Steve Stone and three others) after the 1974 season when the "Durocher Cubs" were dismantled, and spent his final MLB season on the South Side. But his heart always belonged to the Cubs. 

Santo joined WGN Radio as a Cubs broadcaster in 1990, and just recently completed his 21st year behind the mike. While his emotional style of broadcasting irritated some Cubs fans, there is no denying his sincerity. He lived and died with each Cub win and loss. 

Santo had battled numerous physical prioblems over the past few years, including cardiac by-pass surgery, bladder cancer, and complications from his diabetes that resulted in amputation of both legs. He also had to deal with the continual disappointment of not getting elected to the Hall of Fame.

Despite the medical problems and other disappointments in his life (not the least of which was the Cubs failing to get to the World Series), Ronnie always was upbeat and as physically active as he could be under the circumstances. 

I became a Cub fan in 1960 when I was six years old. So Ron Santo and I go back a long way.

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Bruce Miles writes that the Cubs are planning to offer arbitration to all six of their arbitration eligible players, Geovany Soto, Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Baker and Koyie Hill. As Miles notes, Hendry must be confident that Baker and Hill will accept whatever the Cubs are proposing.

AZ Phil guesses on the right sidebar are:

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