Cubs Off-Season Rumors – The Last Day of the Winter Meetings

Winter Meetings – The Final Day
More Cubs Rumors

The Major League Hot Stove saw a tremendous last day in Dallas. There were several major deals, including Edgar Renteria being traded to the Braves for Andy Marte and the Red Sox will pay $4 million dollars a year for the last 3 years of his contract (how do the Braves keep doing this). The Pirates, Brewers and Reds all got better and the Cubs held strong and got out of Dallas with their new leadoff hitter. I have heard a lot of Cubs fans being concerned about the lack of deals at the Winter Meetings….just remember this….the next Cubs game is April 3rd in Cincinnati. No one, including the Mets, will make the playoffs or win the World Series in December.

I think the deals and moves the Cubs have made to this point have addressed their weaknesses in 2005. The Cubs needed bullpen help; they signed Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry. The Cubs needed a left-handed utility player; they signed John Mabry and dfa’d Jose Macias and in my opinion a MAJOR upgrade. The Cubs needed a leadoff hitter; they traded for Juan Pierre and just reading what Derrek Lee had to say about Pierre….I am sold. I think they still need a starter and another bat. Notice I said another bat, not a right fielder….I will get back to this….

I have updates on Julio Lugo, Kevin Millwood, Barry Zito, Milton Bradley, Aubrey Huff, Bobby Abreu, Brad Wilkerson, Adam Dunn, Juan Pierre, Felix Pie, Bill Mueller, Mark Grudzielanek, an interesting quote about Kyle Farnsworth and the Cubs Rule 5 draft, plus an addition to the Cubs Rumor Mill: Cliff Floyd.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays dropped the ball on Thursday. The Edgar Renteria trade was supposed to be a 3 team deal that would have sent Julio Lugo to the Red Sox, in fact XM announced the 3 team trade, I was getting the post ready and they corrected the report, all within 5 minutes. Here is what Jayson Stark from ESPN had to say, “The Rays thought they had a deal they just needed to say yes to – Julio Lugo for Atlanta third-base prospect Andy Marte, in either a two-team or three-team incarnation (with Boston). Instead, they asked for a little too much beyond that and took a little too much time to say yes. And by the time the new baseball decision-maker, Andrew Friedman, was ready to deal, the Braves and Red Sox had moved on to their own deal. Tampa Bay still has a far more efficient and energetic approach than it has had in its history. And it has plenty of time to salvage this off-season. But this was not a good first step.” If the Cubs are interested in Julio Lugo and Aubrey Huff this could work to their advantage.

Speaking of Aubrey Huff, he was on XM’s morning show. Mark and Buck asked him about the Cubs. Huff said he likes Wrigley and would like to play there. An article in the Chicago Tribune said Huff is still in the mix for the Cubbies. I heard several reports that said Huff is expecting to be traded and has his bags packed. Buck Martinez said Huff would not be a good fit in right field at Wrigley because he is not athletic enough. Martinez compared him to Burnitz….I could handle a younger Burnitz, who about you?

As the rumors continued to fly about Milton Bradley, Buck Martinez said he doubted Bradley would end up in Chicago with the Cubs just signing Juan Pierre. Martinez went on to say that Bradley has said he wants to play centerfield. According to the Chicago Tribune, “The Cubs could offer second baseman Todd Walker in a deal, although they could wait until Dec. 20 when Bradley would come for free because the Dodgers will not tender him a contract. Plus, they would be trading a good clubhouse influence for one considered a risk.”

Scott Boras was shopping Kevin Millwood on Thursday and mentioned Millwood has proven he can win in both leagues. Millwood said the Mariners have not offered him a contract and several reports on Thursday said the Cardinals are ‘hot’ after Millwood. I wonder if the Cardinals will pay the 4-year, $40 million dollar contract that is rumored Millwood is seeking. Another report late on Thursday night, said Boras is now looking for A.J. Burnett money for Millwood.

Billy Beane said he is not trading Barry Zito and other GM’s confirmed the statement on Thursday, according to a report on XM Radio. Later in the day, a report on XM Radio said the A’s and the Phillies are talking about a trade that would send Barry Zito and Jason Kendall to the Phillies for Bobby Abreu, Gavin Floyd and Mike Lieberthal. This is what makes Billy Beane fun….

An article in the Baltimore Sun on December 7th said the Orioles are talking to the Reds about a deal that would send Adam Dunn to Baltimore for “a package of pitchers that would include Erik Bedard.” I really do not see this happening with Sean Casey being traded on Wednesday. Adam Dunn will be at first base for the Reds on Opening Day against the Cubbies.

The Cardinals did not offer Mark Grudzielanek salary arbitration on Wednesday and the Cardinals are now showing interest in Bill Mueller.

According to several reports on Thursday, Brad Wilkerson better not unpack in Texas. Several reports said the Rangers are shopping Wilkerson to the Blue Jays and the package from the Blue Jays could include Orlando Hudson. Reports from Toronto Newspapers said the Blue Jays could be using Miguel Batista as one of the pitchers mentioned in the possible deal.

An article in the Daily Southdown on Thursday mentioned Felix Pie could play right field for the Cubs in 2006. In the article Jim Hendry said that is a possibility.

Rob Dibble and Orestes Destrade were discussing the trade of Juan Pierre on Thursday. Destrade said Pierre is a great teammate and is very underrated. He went on to say Pierre is one of the 3 best leadoff hitters in the Majors and is very quiet and he is one of the players you will never hear a sound bite of. I have never heard one….have any of you? Until I am proved wrong, this was a very good pickup for the Cubs.

Jayson Stark from ESPN had an interesting comment on Kyle Farnsworth signing with the New York Yankees. Stark said Farnsworth is in a dangerous place and he cannot pitch under pressure. The two times he had to pitch under pressure in his career, he blew both games (2003 in the playoffs with the Cubs, 2005 in the playoffs with the Braves). I agree….bad move for the Farns!!!

The Rule 5 draft was held on Thursday in Dallas. The Cubs lost a total of five players, including right-hander Juan Mateo. Mateo was selected by the Cardinals and will have to remain on the 25-man roster the entire year or the Cardinals can lose him. From what I have heard, Mateo is a very good young pitcher and this was one the Cubs did not want to lose. The Cubs lost left-handed pitcher Yorkin Ferreras to the Devil Rays, Victor Ramos, a former catcher, now pitcher, to the Pirates, left-handed pitcher Andy Santana to the Padres, and infielder Aaron Sisk to the Giants.

The Cubs took 3 players but none in the Major League phase, left-handed pitcher Carlos Jan from the Orioles, right-handed pitcher Geivy Garcia from the Padres and first baseman Aaron Rifkin from the Mariners.

XM was telecasting the draft live on Thursday, I tried to listen to it….but WOW I have never heard a draft this fast. It was unbelievable. I do not think the XM guys knew what they were in for either. Here is some useless information for you about the Rule 5 draft: Roberto Clemente is the only Hall of Famer ever taken in the Rule 5 draft.

Bob Nightengale from USA Today/Sports Weekly said the Cubs have shown interest in Cliff Floyd from the New York Mets. This is very interesting. Floyd is a left fielder and I am unsure if he could play right. Floyd is on the last year of his contract, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, and will make $6.5 million in 2006. Floyd easily had his best season in 2005, one of only two years in his Major League career he has played 150 games or more. Floyd hit .273 with 34 home runs and 98 RBI’s for the Mets and had a .358 SLG and a .505 SLG. With the Mets interest in Manny Ramirez, they could be asking around to clear room in left field. Floyd is a good player, when healthy and with the Mets giving a lot of their farm system to the Marlins, I think Floyd could be traded for bench players and prospects. Stay tuned….

Well as everybody heard, late Thursday night Miguel Tejada said he wants to be traded out of Baltimore. Does anyone actually blame him? Every team in the league could use a player like Tejada. I would imagine all of the message boards around the county have come up with what the think their team should give up for Tejada. A caller on XM on Thursday, mentioned 10 players the Cubs should give up for him (Prior, Murton, Hill, Cedeno, Walker, Williams, Guzman, etc.) As everyone is dreaming of Tejada in Cubbie blue think of this….he has 4 years left on a $72 million dollar contract. Tejada is owed $10 million (2006), $12 million (2007), $13 million (2008) and $13 million (2009) plus payments left on his signing bonus of $2 million (2006) and $2 million (2010, 2011). So besides 1/2 of the Cubs current roster (according to the message boards), he would cost the Cubs $54 million dollars. Discuss….

On December 8, 1980 the world was changed forever. Thursday was the 25th Anniversary of the death of John Lennon. I remember finding out the morning after and I cannot believe it has been 25 years.

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.

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

Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt