Cubs Off-Season Rumors – Chapter Two

More Cubs Rumors

The Gossip papers are in full swing and there are more names on the Cubs rumor list for 2006. The Chicago Tribune mentioned on Saturday the Cubs have talked to the Texas Rangers about the possibility of trading for outfielder Kevin Mench and I was listening to XM Radio on Saturday to MLB Live and they brought up Kevin Millwood and Barry Zito as possible additions to the Cubs pitching staff.

Also, the agent for Rafael Furcal has said his client will not sign a contract for less than 5 years and $50 million dollars. Both XM Radio and the Chicago Tribune have said the Cubs, New York Mets and the New York Yankees (Furcal would play center for the Yankees) are the teams most interested in acquiring Furcal.

I have problems with Furcal ‘demanding a contract’. Why would the Cubs want to lock up that amount of money for 5 years? Furcal will be 32 by the time that contract ends. I will say it again…. a team is best built by trades and players within the organization, NOT FREE AGENCY. Furcal would look good in Cubbie blue, but at what price? Aramis Ramirez just signed a four-year extension with an option for the fifth-year; do not look for Jim Hendry to tie up that long of a contract again.

According to the Chicago Tribune article, Hendry has spoken to the Rangers about a trade for Kevin Mench that would include the Cubs sending Corey Patterson and a pitching prospect to the Rangers. Mench seems to be a good everyday player and all of the experts and the Rangers say he is full of potential. Last year (2005) was Mench’s first year at playing everyday (150 games) and he will be 28 when the season starts. Mench can play both right and left field, which is a big positive, but he is right handed. Depending on the route they go with centerfield (Pierre is a lefty, Lofton is a lefty and Pie is a lefty) the Cubs all ready have a right handed left fielder in Murton and with Lee and Ramirez both being right handed, I question this move. Mench’s numbers are fine (.264/ 25 HR/ 73 RBI/ .328 OBP/ .469 SLG) and he has a big upside….but the Cubs do need some left-handed power in the lineup. I still like Aubrey Huff (see my post on November 7th about Aubrey Huff) and according to XM, he is on the trading block….somebody email Jim Hendry.

I am not going to spend much time on Kevin Millwood. He has never impressed me, but all of the experts love this guy. Holden Kushner on XM did bring up a good point, all pitchers coming from the American League to the National League has averaged 1 run per inning less on their ERA. Millwood did lead the AL with a 2.86 ERA….but I am not sold on him. A lot of injuries over the years.

Barry Zito is very intriguing. The last of the big three (Hudson, Mulder and Zito) left in Oakland. 2006 will be the last year on Zito’s current contract and there are doubts if the A’s can afford to keep him. Zito’s numbers have declined since 2002 and will turn 28 in May. He started 35 games and threw over 220 innings for the A’s last year. Zito was 14-13 with a 3.86 ERA, 171 strikeouts and only 89 walks. Zito is a good pitcher, but I wonder if all of the innings (over 200 innings every season since 2001) and all of the starts (over 30 per year since 2001) are starting to take its toll on his arm. If the Cubs could trade Corey Patterson and Sergio Mitre for Zito, it might be worth the risk. Wouldn’t it be fun to watch a Mulder / Zito dual 3-4 times a year?

Well, that’s the news (Cubs rumors) and I’m sticking to it!!

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne