I haven't heard a word tying the Cubs to either player, but it seems like the Cubs could still use some help in the bullpen. As I mentioned Friday, Carlos Marmol's walk rate north of 8 per nine innings is historic....but not in a good way. Kevin Gregg is a perfectly capable and perfectly hittable closer. He'll get the job done more times than not, but so did Ryan Dempster, and I wouldn't want either closing out the 9th inning in a playoff game. I can't think of too many World Series champs that didn't have a shut-down closer, I know there are some (2001 Diamondbacks for example), but it seems far more often than not, that a team needs a relief ace back there. Even BP put it into their "Secret Sauce" recipe for predicting playoff success. That's not to say the Cubs can't win it all with Marmol and Gregg in the 8th and 9th, but those two don't particularly make me confident.
The rumor talk hasn't grown much louder than a whisper so far for the Cubs, a few names sprinkled here or there, but it doesn't appear they'll make any big impact moves.
It's everyone's favorite time of the year, so gather the kids around the fire and let's speculate away to our heart's content.
Cardinals - Like those annoying folks that get their Christmas shopping done early, the Cards are probably done wheeling and dealing picking up Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa. They missed out on the Christmas sales and paid a steep price in prospects, but they should help a team that has basically been riding a 16-7 April to justify the spending spree.
Brewers - They found an early deal getting Felipe Lopez to play second base for them and you know they're searching far and wide for a starting pitcher. They seemed to scoff at adding Doug Davis into that Lopez deal, but looks like they have their sites set on Wisconsin native, Jarrod Washburn. Considering they have the third worst ERA in the league, and second worst among starters, I'm not sure adding Washburn and his Safeco-aided ERA is really gonna be much of a boost.
What are you gonna say about last night's game? Rich Harden looked dominating for a second straight game and the offense looked maddening for the about the 60th time this year. There's not a lot of strategy to complain about when the Cubs couldn't even muster a hit. The Cubs need to try to punch through tonight with Carlos Zambrano on the mound versus Father Time to avoid the sweep.
The Boston Globe is reporting that the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs seem to have the most interest in Pedro Martinez. Both teams have sent scouts down to the Dominican to see him pitch (hitting 94 mph with his fastball) and are beginning to explore just how much it might cost to sign the future HOF'er (I would hope). It's said he's looking for $5 million.
Those Jake Peavy talks will probably heat up again once the Ricketts take over the team or Rich Harden hits the disabled list, but just how close were they to completing the trade over the winter?
They were so close, in fact, that Peavy's side had begun the process of negotiating how much of his salary would be deferred. I's were being dotted, t's were being crossed.
Buster Olney makes it sounds like they were in the middle of the press conference before the red phone rang from Sam Zell to put a stop to the deal. I guess we may never know, but Padres general manager Kevin Towers certainly thought a deal was just about in place, so there's probably more truth than fiction to that story.
The other newsworthy item is that USA Today pegs the Cubs total payroll at $134,809,000. That's the third highest in baseball behind the Mets and Yankees and well ahead of the fourth place Boston Red Sox ($121,745,999).
Troy Renck at The Denver Post says the Rockies might have some interest in Chad Gaudin. And to fill my word quota, here's some excerpts:
The Angels show up in Mesa today sending prospect Nick Adenhart to the mound - Sean Marshall will go for the Cubs. Here is the lineup according to Muskat:
LF Alfonso Soriano, CF Kosuke Fukudome, 1B Lee, RF Micah Hoffpauir, 3B
Aramis Ramirez, 2B Mike Fontenot, C Geovany Soto, SS Ryan Theriot, P
Other than Hoffpauir in there for Bradley, it's pretty much what we should expect to see on Opening Day.
On the rumor mill, Paul Sullivan says that Chad Fox will head down to Iowa after the Cubs vs. Yankees series which leaves Patton, Gaudin, Guzman and Samardzija for the final two spots in the bullpen. Sullivan says a trade would have to go down by Wednesday and it looks like the Cubs are trying to move Gaudin or Guzman. Also, Lou said, "There will either be a trade, an option.... anything but (putting one of them through) waivers."