An Agreement, Free Agents and Other Rumblings

Updated 6:23am C.T. with News on Aramis Ramirez, Kerry Wood and Wade Miller

While Major League Baseball does not like major announcements during the World Series apparently that memo stayed away from the front office. MLB is expected to announce a new collective bargaining agreement on Tuesday according to several sources. The tentative deal was apparently reached on Friday for a new 5-year contract. The current deal was set to expire on December 19th and this will be the first time the two sides have agreed on a new contract before the current one had expired. Lawyers are finalizing the deal and are hoping to make the announcement official on Tuesday. The new deal would guarantee no work stoppages through the 2011 season. Major League Baseball teams set a new attendance record in 2006 with 76 million fans attending games.
Here is a timeline from ESPN on the past work stoppages and strikes that have scared baseball over the years.

On the Northside of Chicago there were other rumors on Monday, 21 members of the Cubs Minor League system declared free agency, a former Cub signed a lucrative extension, more info on Alan Trammell, Matsuzaka will not participate in tour of Japan, an update on Don Zimmer and falling ratings for the World Series.

Minor League Free Agents….

The Cubs had 21 members of their Minor League system opt for free agency. There were a couple of big names that were eligible to declare themselves 6-year free agents, among them are Brandon Sing, Nic Jackson and former first round pick Luis Montanez. Montanez was the 3rd pick in the 2000 draft and moved to the outfield after not being able to progress through the system as a shortstop. Montanez made it to Iowa last season after starting the year in West Tenn but decided last week to test the free-agent market. Brandon Sing struggled with Iowa and was demoted to West Tenn and continued to struggle at both levels throughout the season. Nic Jackson was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2000 draft but due to several injuries he has not been able to fulfill the promise that he once had. Here are the other players that declared themselves eligible:

Jon Sprowl, Catcher
Brandon Sing, 1B
Andrew Lane, 2B
Pedro Lopez, SS
Augie Ojeda, SS
Jeff Deardorff, OF
Nic Jackson, OF
Luis Montanez, OF
Michael Restovich, OF
Gordon Weston, OF
Jake Whitesides, OF
Hugo Castellanos, RHP
Wilton Chavez, RHP
Brandon Emanuel, RHP
Mike Garcia, RHP
William Gwaltney, RHP
Kerry Ligtenberg, RHP
Brian Reith, RHP
Mac Suzuki, RHP
Cliff Bartosh, LHP
Carlos Perez, LHP

All players have the option of signing a free-agent deal with the Cubs.

Jamie Moyer….

Jamie Moyer’s name can be removed from the rumor mill and a possible reunion with Lou Piniella. Moyer signed a 2-year extension with the Phillies on Monday worth a reported $10.5 million dollars.

The Rumor Mill….

Elliott Harris mentioned in his report in Monday’s Chicago Sun-Times that the Cubs should go after Jeff Weaver and Jeff Suppan, who are soon to be free-agents. Harris thinks the signings would do two things….one help the Cubs and two removing Suppan and Weaver from the Cardinals rotation would make it harder for the Cardinals to repeat as Central Division Champions. Harris went on to mention that the Cubs will likely end up with Jason Marquis who was left off of the Cardinals World Series and Championship Series rosters.

Oh yeah, and he also reminded the Faithful that the White Sox beat the Cubs in the TV ratings for the season….rub it in why don’t you.

Update - According to a report from Bruce Miles the negotiations between Ramirez and the Cubs are going “a little slow” but the Cubs still think they will be able to get the new deal done. They also hope to resign Wade Miller and Kerry Wood before the end of the month.

Alan Trammell….

The hiring of Alan Trammell is a positive step forward. While he struggled as a manager, he knows the game of baseball. Trammell was a very good player, especially defensively, which has been a sore spot in Chicago for a number of years. Trammell should be able to “reach” whoever is playing up the middle for the Cubs in 2007. According to the Denver Post and the San Francisco Chronicle, several teams approached Trammell about taking a job on their coaching staff. Clint Hurdle wanted him to be the hitting coach in Colorado. The Padres were looking at him to take over for Bruce Bochy and the Phillies were looking at him as well.

Don Zimmer….

Zimmer had been rumored to be a part of Piniella’s staff, but it looks like he will stay in Tampa and is expected to receive a new contract soon.

Daisuke Matsuzaka….

The Cubs are one of the teams expected to bid for the rights to the Japanese pitcher but the Yankees, as usual, appear to be the front-runner….or are they? According to Seattle Post-Intelligencer Matsuzaka could land with the Mariners because of Ichiro and Kenji Johjima. Matsuzka has apparently always wanted to play with Ichiro and did last year in the WBC and he was a teammate of Johjima at the 2004 Olympic Games. The Seibu Lions will post Matsuzka and he is expected to get a $20 million dollar bid from the “winning team”, when Ichiro posted in 2000 the Mariners bid $13.1 million for the rights to negotiate with him. The Red Sox, Rangers, Dodgers, Angels and Mets are the other teams rumored to be interested.

Matsuzaka was expected to participate on the Japanese select squad in the upcoming MLB exhibition tour of Japan next month. The scouts from the interested teams were hoping to get another look at him. The report from Seattle indicated that he withdrew because of “lingering pain from a hit off his right elbow” back in September….others are saying that he withdrew to be ready to pitch in the Majors this coming season.

Finally….

While MLB is apparently ready to announce their new deal on Tuesday and Bud Selig continues to tell everyone that baseball is in the height of its popularity….the TV ratings for the first two games of the World Series are down and Fox said they will move the start of next season’s Series to Tuesday. Turner Broadcasting has already announced they will start televising the Championship games and now this….maybe Fox should concern themselves more with the game and less about the players favorite color when they were 8 years old….just a thought.

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

Quote of the Day

"We cannot discover new oceans until we have the courage to lose sight of the shore." - Muriel Chen
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