The Cubs Off-Season Report – 12/10/05

More Cubs Rumors

Friday was a slow, cold day around baseball, the Cubs and most of the United States. Most of the noise on Friday concerned Alfonso Soriano and his new team. According to several reports and articles the newly acquired Soriano is already making waves on his new team. Jim Bowden (the Nationals GM) said he wants Soriano to play the outfield, Soriano said he is a second baseman. Soriano is already making waves and I know many of you wanted him in Chicago, but this is the reason the Cubs needed to pass on him. For the past two seasons the Cubs have had too many players that do not put what is best for the team before what is best for the player. The Cubs have picked up a very good team guy in Pierre and hopefully that trend will continue.

I have updates on Kevin Millwood, Nomar Garciaparra, Kevin Mench, Milton Bradley, Alex Gonzalez, Cliff Floyd, Jacque Jones, Corey Patterson, Aubrey Huff, Julio Lugo and a new addition to the Cubs Rumor Mill: Raul Ibanez.

Let’s start with Kevin Millwood. He is drawing a lot of attention right now. With Burnett in Toronto, Millwood is the best free-agent pitcher on the market and Scott Boras is making sure everyone knows it. The Cardinals appear to be dropping out with several reports on Friday saying the Cardinals have to stay within a budget set by ownership. The Dodgers have made contact with Millwood according to several reports on Friday. On the Cubs front, a caller asked Buck Martinez about the possibility of Millwood becoming a Cubbie and Martinez said he had not heard anything and does not think the Cubs would be a good fit. He did go on to say with Millwood being a ground ball pitcher he could be successful in Wrigley.

The Cleveland Indians have expressed interest in Nomar according to ESPN. The Indians would want Nomar to be a utility player and the report said “Nomar is willing to play anywhere but pitcher and catcher.”

The Toronto Blue Jays have expressed interest in Milton Bradley; let him go north of the border….please!!

According to Buster Olney from ESPN, the Boston Red Sox are going after Alex Gonzalez (not that one, the other one). That is music to my ears. There were several reports a few weeks back that said if the Cubs lost out on Furcal then Gonzalez could be their back-up plan….this could clear the path for Julio Lugo to come to the Cubs.

The Minnesota Twins offered Jacque Jones salary arbitration. This speaks volumes to me. I have always wondered this: Why should a team pay so much money for a free-agent? If the player is worth the money, then why would their current team not want to keep them? According to the morning show on XM, Jones would be a good fit for the Cardinals and I have read reports they offered him a contract.

Aubrey Huff was on with Ronnie Lane on XM Radio. Lane asked him about playing at Wrigley Field. Huff said that would be fun and it would be great to play in front of a sold out crowd everyday. Lane said Huff’s face lit up when he mentioned Wrigley Field and the Cubs.

There was a great article in Friday’s Chicago Sun Times. The article mentioned several players and what the Cubs may or may not do. The article mentioned Kevin Mench, Cliff Floyd, Jacque Jones and Raul Ibanez. And a good one in the Tribune that had a lot to say about Julio Lugo and Aubrey Huff.

According to the article, the Cubs asked the Mariners about Raul Ibanez. The Mariners told the Cubs he is ‘untouchable’. Whether or not he is….I do not know….but I like the way the Cubs are thinking. I mentioned Raul Ibanez in a post I did: The Off-Season Rumors Part 2 of 2 – What I am Saying. Here is what I said about Ibanez:

Last off-season the Seattle Mariners went out and signed Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre. Sexson had a good season and Beltre a very disappointing season. Like other sub .500 teams the Mariners need pitching and with the Cubs needing offense, could the two work a trade? Raul Ibanez had a good season, but not great in 2005, and he could add a solid left-handed bat to Dusty Baker’s team. Ibanez hit .280 with 20 homers and 89 RBI’s. He is a career .283 hitter with his best season coming in 2004 when he hit .304. Ibanez had a .355 OBP and a .436 SLG with 71 walks (that would rank him 2nd on the Cubs behind Derrek Lee – 85, Patterson only walked 23 times). He played in all 162 games for the Mariners and could add a quality backup for Derrek Lee (a position the Cubs must find a back-up for, other than Todd Walker). Ibanez had a .982 fielding percentage at first base last season.

The article mentioned Cliff Floyd and apparently the Mets told the Cubs he is not available. The reason I bring up Floyd and Ibanez is the Cubs are thinking outside the box and that is the first place they need to start.

The Sun Times also brought up Kevin Mench and said the Rangers are looking for a #2 starter for Mench. That is too much for Mench. The article also mentions maybe Jerome Williams and Corey Patterson for Mench. Here is what the Sun-Times had to say about Patterson: “The Cubs have received more interest in the last day from teams willing to consider a trade for center fielder Corey Patterson. They expected that might happen after Pierre was no longer available.”

The Cubs are still showing interest in both Aubrey Huff and Julio Lugo. The Cubs think they could add Lugo, bat him second behind Pierre and play him at second base, leaving Ronny Cedeno at shortstop according to an article in the Chicago Tribune. And with the abundance of outfielders in Tampa, Huff should be traded. I would like to see the Cubs add both of these guys and I will explain why in the next few days….check back.

Friday was VERY slow for the Cubbies, but with the December 20th deadline looming, we should have some new Cubs to root for very soon. Message to Jim Hendry: Tampa is your one-stop shopping place. December 20th is the last day for teams to tender 2006 contracts to unsigned players. Those not tendered become free agents.

Remember to check back for your Cubs Off-Season reports. If anything happens it will be in ‘Cubs News from the Wire’ and you will be able to read about the Cubbies here.

Keep an eye out for the ‘CCO Fantasy Baseball Insider’ coming soon….

Well, that’s the news and I’m sticking to it!!

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax