Monday Night News From Around the Wire

Juan Pierre and Nomar Garciaparra Signed with the Dodgers, Moises Alou Signed with the Mets, the Cubs Added Two to the 40-man Roster, Fallout from Around the League on the Alfonso Soriano Deal, Jason Schmidt in the Mix?, Carrie Muskat and Jim Hendry on XM Radio and Additions to the Rumor Mill

Updated – 9:07pm C.T. and 11:01pm C.T.
Updated – 11:32pm C.T. with Information on Julio Lugo from Ken Rosenthal

Baseball is now a year ’round sport….in case no one has noticed. A day after signing Alfonso Soriano, the Cubs were the hot topic on radio stations from coast to coast.

According to a report on ESPN.com, the Dodgers have agreed in principle to 5-year deal believed to be worth between $44-$45 million dollars. Pierre reportedly turned down a deal from the Giants believed to be worth $32-$34 million dollars. The Cubs never seemed very interested in bringing back Pierre and now that door is closed. The Dodgers also resigned Nomar Garciaparra to a 2-year, $18.5 million dollar contract that includes a no trade clause and the Mets signed Moises Alou to a 1-year deal worth a reported $8.5 million dollars, which includes a $7.5 million dollar club option for 2008 with a $1 million dollar buyout.

40-Man Roster Moves…. The Cubs added Clay Rapada and Rocky Cherry to the 40-man roster on Monday.

The Day After…. The signing of Alfonso Soriano came with mixed reviews on Monday. Some thought the Cubs made a good signing but was concerned about the length of the deal and were willing to say the Cubs will “cross that bridge when they come to it”. The other reports, including one from Buster Olney, ripped the Cubs for signing Soriano for that long of a contract worth that amount of money…. Reports are saying the deal is 5 years guaranteed and after the 5th year the no trade clause is removed from the contract in years 6-8 but the terms of the contract have not been released yet….Cardinals’ fans hate the deal. The Cubs signing Soriano changed the landscape of the league and many are saying Carlos Lee will sign for more than $100 million dollars now and Scott Boras will want more for the services of J.D. Drew.

Jason Schmidt…. Bruce Levine on ESPN 1000 in Chicago reported on Monday the Cubs have offered Schmidt a 3-year, $45 million dollar contract. Levine said the Cubs are not interested in signing Barry Zito. And mentioned the fact free agents will want to come to Chicago after the signing of Soriano.

Jim Hendry on XM Radio…. Hendry was on The Show with Kevin Kennedy and Billy Ripken and most of the interview was singing Soriano’s praises. The other parts of the interview were Hendry saying “we’re not done yet” and he said he would make 4 or 5 more moves before the start of Spring Training. He mentioned the fact he has to address the pitching staff and said Prior is progressing well. Hendry sounded very happy.

Update – 11:01pm C.T. – With Additional Info from Jim Hendry on XM Radio

Hendry said that 4 or 5 other clubs were bidding for Soriano and most thought the deal would be for 7 years. Hendry and Piniella met with Soriano last week in Naples for about 2 hours and Piniella and Soriano hit it off and talked about National League baseball. Soriano loved playing in New York and is convinced the Cubs are going in the right direction. They also spoke about Mark DeRosa and Billy Ripken called him “A Baseball Player”. Hendry went on to talk about Aramis Ramirez and thinks he is “getting ready to take off”. When the conversation switched to pitching, Hendry’s response was “yeah, we need some.” He went on to say the Cubs are taking nothing for granted and said Sean Marshall and Wade Miller could be factors if healthy. Hendry mentioned free agent pitchers should not mind coming to Chicago to pitch behind the lineup that will be on the field.

Hendry closed the interview saying that he and John McDonough will meet on Tuesday to discuss where the team is and discuss plans to move forward this off-season.

Carrie Muskat…. The Cubs.com beat writer was on Baseball Beat with Chuck Wilson and she was very surprised with the Soriano signing and said the signing goes against everything the Cubs have done in the past. Muskat mentioned the Cubs are tired of losing and they do not want to hit the 100-year mark between championships. She mentioned Soriano will likely play right field (Bruce Miles reported the same on Monday morning) and could play left depending on who else the Cubs add. Jacque Jones could be the answer in center according to Muskat but they might add another centerfielder and she has her doubts if Soriano can play up the middle. The Mark DeRosa signing came as another surprise and apparently the Cubs do not want to wait on Ryan Theriot to develop but he might be a big player off of the bench. Piniella is wanting to build a strong bench and Theriot could be a very good candidate according to Muskat.

Chuck Wilson brought up the fact the balance of power could have shifted in the Central if not the entire National League (Wilson is an Astros’ fan). They talked about the starting rotation and the fact that if the Cubs do not add a few quality pitchers then the Soriano signing does not matter. Muskat does not think the Cubs will go after either Zito or Schmidt but will sign a Ted Lilly, Gil Meche or Vicente Padilla type or could make a trade for Jake Westbrook. Prior is making progress and she reiterated the Cubs will not depend on him for next season. Neal Cotts will be used the same way as Glendon Rusch and Ryan Dempster will go into Spring Training as the closer. If Dempster slips again, Bobby Howry could slip into that role. She mentioned the fact the Cubs have a lot of hard throwing right handers out of the pen and that is what made David Aardsma expendable.

Kerry Wood was discussed and they talked about the fact Wood will be used out of the pen and could slide into the closers’ role but not right away….she reminded Wilson how good he was out of the pen in 2005 but Wood’s durability is the concern. Sean Marshall was discussed in length and Muskat believes he has no way to go but up….they discussed Marshall’s upside in detail. She spoke of a time last year at Spring Training when Greg Maddux and Dick Pole stopped what they were doing and watched him pitch. Maddux sung his praises all year. Marshall has moved to Arizona and according to Greg Maddux, Marshall has great potential if he can stay healthy.

Rumor Mill…. According to multiple reports from the Chicago Tribune and other outlets out of Chicago, talks between the Cubs and Cliff Floyd have “heated up”. Floyd is an old favorite of Jim Hendry according to the Tribune.

Update – 11:25pm C.T. – According to a report from Ken Rosenthal on FoxSports.com, the Cubs are still pursuing Julio Lugo. According to Rosenthal, Lugo could play centerfield while the Cubs wait for Felix Pie or could play shortstop if the Cubs move Cesar Izturis. Rosenthal mentions the fact the Cubs could “field an electrifying lineup” with Lugo….he also points out the lineup would be full of right handed batters with the exception of Jacque Jones but mentioned that could change with a trade. Rosenthal also mentions because of the emergence of Felix Pie in 2007 or 2008, the Cubs have backed off of Gary Matthews, Jr. who is seeking a deal larger than the deal Pierre signed earlier on Monday.

Well, those are the updates from Monday and I’m sticking to them!!!!

Quote of the Day

"What scares me is what scares you. We're all afraid of the same things." - John Carpenter

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