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

Winter Meetings – Day Three
More Cubs Rumors

Day three of the Winter Meetings brought the much-needed leadoff hitter, Juan Pierre, to the Northside of Chicago. Was Juan Pierre a good trade?….no one knows or will know until the season starts. I have seen and heard SO many reports that knocked the trade for Pierre. (I remember the same when the Cubs got Derrek Lee) I do not understand….the man does not even have a number yet and people are knocking this guy. Who does the Cubs Faithful want? Is he a one-year experiment? Possibly and what did it cost the Cubs? Unproven talent and Sergio Mitre. I will get further into this in just a moment. The other big news from Day Three of the Winter Meetings was the Astros refused to offer salary arbitration to Roger Clemens. From one Cubs fan….either retire or go back to the American League….

I have updates on Milton Bradley, Barry Zito, Bobby Abreu, Nomar Garciaparra, Johnny Damon, Kerry Wood, John Mabry, Jose Macias and my take on the Juan Pierre trade, plus my notes from an interview on XM Radio with Jim Hendry on Wednesday afternoon.

John Mabry finally became a Chicago Cub on Wednesday. The Cubs formally announced the one-year deal worth $1.075 million. Like I have said, I feel this is a great sign for the Cubbies.

Jose Macias is no longer a member of the Chicago Cubs. According to, “The Cubs had designated utility player Jose Macias for assignment when they acquired reliever Bob Howry.” I know this will make a lot of Cubs fans VERY HAPPY (and I am one). Macias is a decent player, but not the number one option off the bench. I mentioned in my 2005 review ‘The 2005 Cubs Infield and Catchers’ my opinions on Macias. I wish him the best.

There were so many reports on the Internet, radio and newspapers on Wednesday about Milton Bradley. I am hearing so many things and a rumor, that I will not repeat, said a deal had already been done to bring Bradley to the Cubs. Could this happen? Sure it could. Where would he play? I would say right field at this time. With Pierre a Cub, Bradley will not play center and move Pierre to a corner spot. There was a long discussion on Wednesday morning with Barry Bloom from about Milton Bradley. Bloom told Mark Patrick and Buck Martinez that the Cubs (or his next team) could be Bradley’s last chance. Bloom said if anybody could handle Bradley it would be Dusty Baker and he went onto say Bradley will not play another minute for the Dodgers. Bloom compared Milton Bradley to Barry Bonds. Martinez commented how great a manager Dusty is and he feels Dusty could handle Bradley. I have not heard this….but I would not be surprised if a Patterson for Bradley trade is done….and I hope I am wrong.

Peter Gammons was on Dan Patrick’s show on Wednesday and the rumors surrounding Barry Zito, Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon and Nomar came up. Gammons response was Zito, Abreu and Damon will all stay with their current teams and he sees Nomar ending up in Baltimore. I also heard several reports about the Padres interest in Nomar and with Mark Loretta being traded on Wednesday, that scenario seems very likely to me. Nomar has not been offered salary arbitration and would not be able to sign with the Cubs until May 1st. Nomar’s stint with the Cubs is officially over. Thanks Nomar!!!!

According to Rob Dibble the Red Sox are close to agreeing to a 4-year contract with Johnny Damon.

A report on ESPN Radio on Wednesday mentioned Dusty Baker said (in Dallas) that Kerry Wood will not be ready to start the season. Hello….Mr. Hendry….go get Barry Zito!!!

Juan Pierre. I think this is a good pickup for the Cubs. Pierre gives the Cubs a true leadoff hitter that PLAYS EVERYDAY. Pierre has played all 162 games the last 3 years. He plays hurt and is a team player. The Cubs need a team player to make this team win. Will he push them over the top? Who knows….but he is the best option the Cubs have had since Lance Johnson and (for the last third of the season) Kenny Lofton. When the Cubs have a good leadoff hitter, they win PERIOD. I wonder if the Cubs could have gotten him for less but with losing out on Furcal and the demand for Pierre being so high, that was the price the Cubs had to pay.

Jim Hendry was on the Show with Rob Dibble and Kevin Kennedy on Wednesday. Hendry still sounded VERY up beat after his trade for Pierre.

– Rob and Kevin asked him about Juan Pierre and Hendry went on to say Pierre is young, only 28, and the Cubs are not concerned with the ‘slow-down’ he showed during the 2005 season. Hendry said he was playing hurt and tried to play through it. Hendry reminded Dibble that Pierre had played all 162 games for the last 3 years. Dibble and Kennedy said they loved the trade and Dibble brought up Pierre having a .305 career average and is always near 200 hits a season. Dibble likes Pierre’s defense and said he will fit in great at Wrigley. (4 errors in 2005, 3 errors in 2004) Hendry said Pierre will help Matt Murton and Ronny Cedeno become better base runners.
– Dibble asked about the trade negotiations and Hendry said it got very intense on Tuesday night and there were 5 or 6 teams the Cubs were bidding against. Hendry said the Marlins did a great job on knowing the Cubs farm system and what they wanted for Pierre. Hendry also said they let go of one more pitcher that they planned to. Hendry thinks Ricky Nolasco will be a good pitcher, he is 23 years old and is a 4-pitch pitcher. Hendry said Renyel Pinto is a good pitcher but the command is not there yet. Hendry said the Cubs farm system got hurt but they got their man in Pierre.
– Dibble asked Hendry if the Cubs were done this off-season and Hendry said ‘he has things in the hopper (at work)’ and that the Cubs had just signed John Mabry. Hendry said he is looking to add a right fielder and to augment the bench. Hendry said ‘the Cubs will be better in a month.’
– When asked about Corey Patterson, Hendry said Corey is a wonderful kid and he has the whole package. He went on to say Patterson is a first class individual and in a perfect world he would bring Corey back. Hendry said if he could find Corey a change of scenery and it could help Corey, he would move him. Hendry is convinced Patterson will be a very good Major League player someday.
– Hendry said he is very happy with Ryan Dempster being the closer and is very glad he locked him up before the off-season and all the HUGE contracts going around for closers (Ryan and Wagner).

It was a good interview and with Hendry losing the option of Alfonso Soriano and Brad Wilkerson on Wednesday night, I hope he has something else up his sleeve.

Thanks again Nomar and Burnie….

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

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