The Cubs Off-Season Report – 02/02/06

Cubs Arbitration Updates….Tony Graffanino?….Bengie Molina?….and Interesting Cubs Reports from the Wire

Welcome to Groundhog Day, 2006….I cannot believe it is February. Only 13 more days until those magical words….Pitchers and Catchers Report to Spring Training. I know the Super Bowl is Sunday, but March 2nd is the day I’m looking forward to. There have been a few Cubs related reports on the Internet and two names to discuss in the Cubs Rumor Mill, plus the three Cubs that are still left in arbitration limbo.

With the arbitration season in full swing and the numbers already submitted, I thought it was time to give a little update. The Cubs recently agreed to terms with Mark Prior and Jerry Hariston, Jr. to avoid arbitration. Prior was asking for $4 million in 2006, the Cubs offered $3.3 million and they agreed on $3.65 million. Hariston was asking for $2.6 million, the Cubs offered $1.95 million and they agreed on $2.3 million. But there are three players the Cubs have not agreed on a 2006 contract with and one might go to court according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times on January 31st. The arbitration date for Will Ohman is set for Friday, February 3rd in Tampa and the Cubs are willing to go for the first time since Andy MacPhail took over in 1995.

Carlos Zambrano is asking for $7.2 million and the Cubs offered $6 million. Will they meet in the middle? Will they go to arbitration? Or will they get a long-term contract done? Zambrano is a much better pitcher than A.J. Burnett and he just signed a 5-year, $55 million dollar contract.

Will Ohman, I have already mentioned. He is asking for $775,000. The Cubs have offered $500,000 and reportedly are willing to go to $575,000. Will they meet in the middle? Will they go to arbitration as scheduled? Or will they get a long-term contract done?

Juan Pierre is asking for $6.5 million and the Cubs offered $5 million. Will they meet in the middle? Will they go to arbitration? Or will they get a long-term contract done? Phil Rogers from the Chicago Tribune was on XM Radio on January 26th with Chuck Wilson and Rogers thinks the Cubs will sign Pierre to a long-term contract. Rogers thinks the Cubs have already invested a lot in Pierre by trading Sergio Mitre, Ricky Nolasco and Renyel Pinto….they must sign him to get something more that just one year. Wilson thinks now is the time to sign Pierre to a long-term contract because he is coming off a bad season and if they wait it could cost them more money.

How do you think they will settle these?

Speaking of Phil Rogers, he had an interesting report on ESPN.com. ‘Free Agent Dollars’ listed the Likely to Deliver and Likely to Disappoint of the free agent signings this off-season. Rogers said Kevin Millwood (5 years, $60 million) would likely deliver for the Rangers, but listed several players the Cubs had interest in this off-season as likely to disappoint. B.J. Ryan (5 years, $47 million) might have trouble in the spotlight this season. Rafael Furcal (3 years, $39 million) brings a lot of questions and baggage. Kyle Farnsworth (3 years, $17 million)….well we all know this one and Nomar Garciaparra (1 year, $6 million) has all of the questions surrounding his health.

Our favorite off-season grader, Dayn Perry from FoxSports.com, is at it again. He posted a report entitled ‘Dipping Into the Off-Season Mailbag’ and someone asked him why he does not like the Cubs. Perry’s response, “My personal feelings for the Cubs are immaterial-that doesn’t play a role in my analysis.” Check it out for yourself. Perry also posted two more prospects lists. ‘Top 100 MLB Prospects for ’06: 71-80′ and ‘Top 100 MLB Prospects for ’06: 61-70′ are very interesting, but does not mention a single Chicago Cub.

Ken Rosenthal from FoxSports.com did a report on the National League Central. ‘NL Central Should Be More of a Race in ’06′ compared the 2006 NL Central with the 2005 AL Central and Rosenthal mentions the health of the Cubs’ pitching staff is the key to their success in 2006. Rosenthal also mentioned, “Of the Cardinals rivals, the Cubs most resemble last year’s White Sox….”.

A report on Wednesday from the Denver Post mentioned the Cubs and Texas Rangers have shown interest in Tony Graffanino. The Red Sox utility man hit .309 with 7 home runs and 38 RBI’s for the Red Sox and Royals last season. Graffanino played 110 games last season, 73 at second base, 22 at first base, 17 at third base and 1 game at shortstop. Graffanino had a .366 OBP and a .425 SLG in 2005 and for his career he is a .268 hitter with a .336 OBP and a .394 SLG. He broke into the Majors in 1996 with the Atlanta Braves.

There were several XM Radio callers on Wednesday that mentioned the Cubs should go after free agent catcher Bengie Molina. I have not heard any rumblings to confirm any conversation Molina has had with the Cubs. I found this interesting and thought I would compare Molina’s numbers with Barrett’s numbers. Molina’s reputation is that of a defensive catcher, so maybe offense is not the best comparison. But here are the numbers:

Bengie Molina – 119 games/.295/15/69/.336/.446 – Career Stats
Michael Barrett – 133 games/.276/16/61/.345/.479 – Career Stats
I do not see much of a difference….please discuss….

I hope that little guy does not see his shadow….

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

Quote of the Day

"It's not that some people have willpower and some don't. It's that some people are ready to change and others are not." - James Gordon
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