Nothing in Life is Guaranteed

The Cubs made their fare share of headlines over the weekend. First it appeared Aramis Ramirez would be leaving Chicago and then to everyone’s surprise, he stayed and left a lot of money on the table. The other signing….Kerry Wood was less of a surprise but again he left money on the table to stay in Chicago. Jim Hendry pulled off two signings that on Saturday night….did not look like they would happen. The Cubs made headlines on Monday and for all of the right reasons, Jim Hendry changed the course of this off-season for the rest of the MLB with the Ramirez signing and several sources are reporting he has now turned his attention to Alfonso Soriano.

The Cubs have the money; a look at next year’s payroll as it stands right now (without raises for Carlos Zambrano, Mark Prior and Will Ohman) shows they have around $50 million to spend (around $71 million is on the books right now for 2007). So while the Red Sox have apparently landed the rights to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka, (some reports have stated $42 million, Orestes Destrade on XM Radio is reporting in excess of $50 million), what Jim Hendry does from this point forward will shape the 2007 season and beyond for the Chicago Cubs.

Here is the latest from around the league, the newest Rookies of the Year, the first day of the General Manager meetings and of course the daily dose of rumors….

And the Winner Is…. The 2006 Rookie of the Year Awards were handed out on Monday. Hanley Ramirez from the Florida Marlins took home the NL award and Justin Verlander took home the AL award. Six different Florida Marlins received a vote for Rookie of the Year. The National League Cy Young Award will be announced on Tuesday.

Day One of the General Manager Meetings…. Basically nothing went on at day one of the meetings….just a bunch of handshakes and hellos. The formal meetings begin on Tuesday.

Daisuke Matsuzaka…. Official word on the posting fee the Red Sox are willing to pay will come on Tuesday night at 8:00pm E.T. (7:00pm C.T.) according to several reports. The Red Sox appear to have won the bid with the dollar figures ranging from $35 million to $50 million plus. The amount of pressure that will be put on this kid will not be able to be measured.

Aramis Ramirez…. How will Aramis’ new contract affect the rest of the league? The Angels are scrambling to fill the hole in their offense that they had targeted for Aramis Ramirez. The Phillies are rumored to have already made an offer in the 5-year, $80 million dollar range and many outlets, including XM Radio, feel they are the front-runner to land Alfonso Soriano. The Angels will run up the price tag on Soriano and according to a report in the L.A. Times, they have also added Gary Mathews, Jr. to their list. Aramis’ decision to stay in Chicago came to the surprise (and shock) of most.

Details on Aramis’ new contract…. Ken Rosenthal reported on Monday that Ramirez deal is worth $75 million and not $73 million as reported on Sunday. The extra $2 million is because of a buyout clause in the contract. Also, Ramirez did receive another opt out clause but this time after the 4th year. There is a no-trade clause for the first 4 years and if he is traded in the 5th year then his new team will automatically pickup his option for the 6th year.

Ted Lilly…. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs have contacted the agent for Ted Lilly, Larry O’Brien. According to a report by Phil Rogers in the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs are planning on pursuing Lilly and Miguel Batista even if Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt are still available.

Kei Igawa…. According to a report by Phil Rogers, the Cubs are keeping track of the Japanese left-hander but Igawa signing with the Cubs seems to depend on whether or not they land Ted Lilly and Miguel Batista.

Nomar Garciaparra…. Nomar’s name will be heard around the mill more now after Ramirez signing with the Cubs. Orestes Destrade, from XM Radio, thinks Nomar will land with the Cubs and has heard a lot talk surrounding Nomar’s return to Chicago. Destrade did not mention where he would fit into the Cubs plans but he thinks Nomar is looking for a multi-year deal. Several teams are looking at Nomar, those teams include: the Padres, Dodgers, Orioles, Yankees, Indians, Twins and Mariners. Nomar’s younger brother, Michael, is in the Mariners’ organization.

Carlos Lee…. Like most teams the Astros have Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Lee, Gary Matthews, Jr., Jeff Suppan, Woody Williams and Kip Wells on their list of possible free agent signings this off-season according to a report in the Houston Chronicle. Most think Carlos Lee will sign with the Astros and many experts feel that if a National League team signs Carlos Lee for a long contract they will regret it before the contract ends. Lee is getting “bigger and bigger” by most accounts and because of his horrible defense will be a better fit for a AL team that can make him a DH in a couple of years. The Mariners are also rumored to be interested in Lee and would move Raul Ibanez to right if they can sign Lee according to a report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

J.D. Drew…. While there are a few rumors about the possibility of Drew landing in Chicago, most of the talk about J.D. Drew seems to be coming out of Beantown. Michael Silverman had a report in the Boston Herald and was on the Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner and he feels that Drew would be a perfect fit in right field for the Sox. Drew will get interest from other teams but Drew would fit in just fine in Boston not having to be the superstar he is not cut out to be. According to report in the Washington Post, the Orioles are very interested in Drew as well.

Dave Roberts…. According to a report in the Denver Post, the Rockies will have to over pay if they are interested in landing Roberts to play centerfield next season at Coors’ Field.

Gil Meche and Jason Schmidt…. Meche’s name entered the Cubs’ rumor mill over the weekend. While the Mariners still want him back, Meche has decided to test the market. The Mariners are very interested in signing Jason Schmidt according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Dontrelle Willis…. According to a report in the Miami Herald, the Marlins will listen to offers for Willis and Miguel Cabrera but the Marlins have increased their payroll and can afford to keep both Willis and Cabrera….both contracts combined could exceed $12 million dollars in arbitration.

Wes Helms…. Piniella said he wanted to build his bench and Wes Helms could help him accomplish that feat. The Phillies are very interested in Helms according to the Miami Herald.

Opening Day…. Cubs’ fans everywhere will be able to watch the Cardinals and Mets play the first game of the 2007 season….GREAT!!!

Cubs Sale Update…. The Gannett Company has surfaced as a potential buyer for the Tribune Company. Gannett executives visited Chicago last week. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Gannett is interested in more than just the newspaper operations of the Tribune. They are also interested in WGN TV, the Chicago Cubs and several other media outlets.

Daily Transactions from CBS SportsLine

Well, that’s the latest and greatest and I’m sticking to it!!!!

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax