Cubs Off-Season Rumors – The Winter Meetings – Day Two

Winter Meetings – Day Two
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Tuesday in Dallas was very active throughout Major League Baseball. The rumors were flying; the deals were being signed….everywhere but in Chicago. The Cubs Rumor Mill was quiet until late in the day when reports (or should I say rumors) started circulating that Jim Hendry had moved back his afternoon press conference due to trade negotiations. These reports were false and the CCO was right there waiting for the story. I did not realize at the time but Cal Ripken, Jr., for whom I have tremendous respect for, was on XM Radio on Tuesday and he talked about being a responsible journalist. He said, “journalism must be credible and not based on rumors and gossip”….and Jay Levy from ESPN was on (XM) and he said, “our job (as journalists) is to report rumors whether they are true or not….and baseball is the only sport that is talked about 365 days a year”. I will try to find a responsible medium between the two, so I can provide the most accurate, credible Cubs information possible.

I do have updates on Kevin Millwood, Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon, Nomar Garciaparra, Milton Bradley, Bill Mueller, LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Grudzielanek, Julio Lugo, Aubrey Huff, Austin Kearns, Juan Pierre and my notes from an interview with Dusty Baker on XM Radio Tuesday afternoon plus my concerns about John Mabry.

More reports came out about Kevin Millwood. With the Cardinals losing the A.J. Burnett sweepstakes, a report came out on Tuesday the Cardinals have now turned their attention to Kevin Millwood and Matt Morris. An update on XM Radio on Tuesday confirmed the report from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about the Mariners offering Millwood a 4-year, $44 million dollar contract. The Cleveland Indians are still interested, but they might lose out on Millwood if Trevor Hoffman accepts their proposal (3 years, $21 million as reported on XM on Tuesday night).

Bobby Abreu is this week’s Nomar Garciaparra. A report came out of Philadelphia on Tuesday morning mentioning a trade between the Phils and the Cubs for Mark Prior. Who in the world came up with this one? WOW!! Holden Kushner said, “this is the most ridiculous rumor of the Winter Meetings”. Another report mentioned the possibility of the Cubs acquiring Abreu for Jerome Williams, Rich Hill and a prospect. That one is a little more like it, I think that trade would make sense. (discuss)

Speaking of Mark Prior….Buck Martinez had some interesting things to say about Mark Prior on Tuesday morning. Martinez said Prior is on the verge of becoming a pitcher, he has had some freaky injuries but all he (Prior) needs is a consistent off speed pitch.

Tuesday night the San Francisco Giants traded LaTroy Hawkins to the Baltimore Orioles for Steve Kline.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have made a formal offer to Bill Mueller. Mueller is reported to be deciding between the Dodgers and the Pirates. With the trade late Tuesday night that will bring ‘Cub Killer’ Sean Casey to Pittsburgh….the Pirates could be very dangerous in 2006. What can I say, every time I hear a trade (or a signing) I always think; ‘How will this affect the Cubs?’

With the trade of Sean Casey on Tuesday night, how will this affect the Reds moving one of their outfielders? There were several reports on Tuesday floating about a trade that would send Jerome Williams and a prospect to the Reds for Austin Kearns. With Casey gone, Adam Dunn should move to first base and the outfield problems would be solved. Where does this leave Austin Kearns?

Every newspaper, Internet report and radio station reported John Mabry had agreed to a 1-year, $1 million dollar (guaranteed) deal with the Cubs. Why has he not signed yet? This is starting to concern me. Mabry could really help the Cubs and I hope they make this deal official very soon.

Omar Minaya denied the report on Tuesday about the Mets signing Mark Grudzielanek.

All of the Chicago newspapers were a buzz about the Cubs trading for Julio Lugo, Aubrey Huff and Juan Pierre. Different reports on Tuesday said all of these are possible. These trades were even mentioned on the WGN News on Tuesday. A report from the Boston Globe said the Red Sox have expressed interest in Julio Lugo as well.

The more I read about Milton Bradley, the more I am starting to think he could become a Cub shortly. We have all read about Dusty’s meeting with him, but it seems like his name is the one I am hearing most of all. I will reserve my opinion about this until it happens.

Tom Verducci from on Tuesday said the Cubs have to get in the mix for Johnny Damon. He said he feels Nomar is under valued and a club could get him for a 1 or a 2-year contract. Verducci said he could play third base or left field and he is a good enough athlete to do so. Verducci thinks Nomar could land with the Dodgers or the Twins.

Speaking of Johnny Damon, a report late on Tuesday night (XM) said Larry Lucchino told Ian Brown of “there have been major developments between the Red Sox and Johnny Damon”. Stay tuned.

Dusty Baker was on XM Radio with Rob Dibble and Kevin Kennedy on Tuesday. Dusty sounded very upbeat and informative.

– When asked about Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry, Baker said they answer the righty/lefty matchups and they replace the younger guys in the bullpen. They (Eyre and Howry) would move Ohman, Novoa and Wuertz to earlier in the game and leave Eyre and Howry to setup for Dempster.

– Dusty was asked about the White Sox Winning the World Series and Chicago being a Cubs’ town. Dusty said there is room for both teams and compared Chicago to Los Angeles or the Bay Area. He said a cross town World Series would be great and he (Dusty) came to town to win a world championship.

– Dibble asked him about the scrutiny of being the Cubs manager and Dusty said the Cubs fans got spoiled after the first season (2003) and reminded Dibble about winning more games in 2004.

– Dusty said the Winter Meetings is a time for the GMs (trades or signings) to shine and people trying to get jobs in baseball. Dusty said a majority of the deals would be done after December 7th and December 20th. When asked about free agents, Dusty said there are tough decisions to be made and it (free agency) can become a bidding war. Sometimes you wait until after December 7th to see if a team offers the player you are looking for arbitration or if they become a free agent. Dusty mentioned the Cubs signed Eyre and Howry because you cannot let players sit that you know you want. When asked what the Cubs need in 2006, Dusty’s response was better fundamental baseball, timely hitting, and better defense. Dusty said a decent start and a healthy pitching staff will go a long way.

– Dusty said lead off hitters are hard to find and the Cubs are looking for one. Dusty said the Cubs are not sure about Corey Patterson and this is a very difficult situation. He confirmed Patterson did not go to winter ball and he is not sure of Patterson’s value on the open market. Dusty said he was happy with Dempster being the closer and Howry and Eyre will be the setup guys. Dusty said the Cubs are not close to being done making deals this off-season. It was a very good interview.

Non-Cubs News: Ricky Henderson Announced His Retirement on Tuesday

The Rule 5 draft is Wednesday and December 7th is the deadline for teams to decide if they will offer salary arbitration to players. 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 up to the minute Winter Meeting updates in ‘Cubs News from the Wire’….as the deals happen you will be able to read about them here.

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

Quote of the Day

"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." - Albert Einstein