The Cubs have not been quiet to this point in the off-season….they have resigned four of their own and added a good utility player to the mix. Jim Hendry and company made a bid to land Daisuke Matsuzaka and are rumored to be involved in the bidding war for Alfonso Soriano. But what is their next step? Several reports from the GM Meetings have stated Gil Meche will be the newest member of the Yankees very soon. That leaves the Cubs with the two big name pitchers and a bunch of middle-to-back end of the rotation guys that are asking for more money than they are worth. Buster Olney has mentioned many baseball execs are “scared” of those second tier players that are asking for a lot of money for too many years. Many think that middle relievers will be offered contracts similar to the ones Bobby Howry and Scott Eyre signed last season. The bottom line is….baseball has so much money right now but it lacks quality players to spend it on.
To build a championship team an organization must find the right pieces to the puzzle, just not sign a lot of big names and spend a ton of money….see the New York Yankees. What will Jim Hendry’s next move be?
Here is the latest from around the league, Lou Piniella on XM Radio and of course, the daily dose of rumors….
Piniella said Jim Hendry asked him to come down to the meeting and the two went to diner and discussed the direction of the Cubs. Hendry’s main reason for inviting Piniella to Naples was to meet with a couple of free agents the Cubs are looking to sign. Piniella was one of only two managers at the meetings on Wednesday (Charlie Manuel of the Phillies) and he plans on leaving on Thursday.
Kushner asked Piniella about the Mark DeRosa signing and Piniella responded with “he is penciled in at 2nd base next season.” Piniella likes the versatility that DeRosa can provide the team and he said DeRosa will play some at 3rd and the outfield next season but will be given every opportunity to earn the starting spot at 2nd. Piniella said the Cubs need versatility off of the bench with all of the day games and feels that DeRosa will help with that. Piniella is looking for a strong, young bench in order to be able to be successful with all of the day games they will play next season. He mentioned as he got older it was much harder to play day games and he is looking to have a bench that will allow a lot of different looks that will keep the team fresh….Piniella said the Cubs have around 50 day games at Wrigley next season. Piniella said, “you have to rest your players differently in Chicago than anywhere else.” When asked about the day games having an effect on winning at Wrigley and his response was, “you still have to pitch it and hit it.”
Alfonso Soriano was brought up during the conversation and, of course, Piniella likes the idea of Soriano but mentioned there are a lot of good players on the free agent market. Piniella said what is there not to like about a guy with speed and power that can steal 40 bags, hit 40 home runs and 40 doubles. Piniella did add that when the wind is blowing in at Wrigley, not even Babe Ruth could hit a home run.
Michael Barrett…. Could Barrett be on the market? A report in the Chicago Tribune from Phil Rogers mentioned the possibility. According to Rogers, the length of the Blanco contract “prompted an executive from another club to ask if the Cubs might shop Barrett.” The Cubs do have Geovany Soto waiting in the wings and his Minor League options are running out. Jose Reyes is on the Cubs’ 40-man roster and one of the bright prospects in the organization is Jake Fox. Rogers brought up the possibility of Barrett being packaged with a couple of the young pitchers and traded for a starting pitcher.
Juan Pierre…. According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Giants are very interested in signing Pierre. XM Radio reported that the Giants are very close to a deal with Pierre. According to the Chronicle the Giants are very interested in Gary Matthews, Jr., Dave Roberts and Jay Payton.
Carlos Lee…. Richard Justice from the Houston Chronicle was on with Charley Steiner and he said Carlos Lee will sign with the Astros. According to a report in the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles met with one of Carlos Lee’s agents….Paul Kinzer.
Barry Zito…. Many think Barry Zito will land in Texas to play for Ron Washington, it is not a secret how much Zito thinks of Washington. The Dallas Morning News was the latest to bring up the Rangers interest in Zito.
Seth Everett from MLB.com stated that the big name free agents and trades will not take place until the Winter Meetings in Florida from December 4th to December 7th.
Vicente Padilla and Gil Meche…. According to a report from the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles have contacted agents for both free agent pitchers.
Jason Marquis…. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune by Phil Rogers, the Cubs are apparently looking to add three starters behind Carlos Zambrano and Rich Hill and the newest addition to Gil Meche and Ted Lilly is Jason Marquis. According to Rogers the Cubs do not want to have a repeat performance, or lack thereof, of the 2006 season where they were dependant on rookie pitchers. The new goal is to have Mark Prior be in line to be the 6th starter. Rogers also mentions the Cubs payroll may now go beyond the $120 million that had been rumored.
J.D. Drew…. Phil Rogers also mentioned the Cubs are very interested in J.D. Drew along with the Boston Red Sox. Drew is seeking a new deal in the 4 to 5 year range worth $14 million a year.
The quote of the day from the Chicago Tribune…. Lou Piniella said, “He’s (Hendry) like Pac-man,” he said. “He’s just out there gobbling up players.”
News and Notes….
Joe Girardi and Jim Leyland were named NL and AL Managers of the Year on Wednesday. The former Cub, Girardi, will not manage in the big leagues next season, he has taken a job with the YES Network. The American League Cy Young Award will be handed out on Thursday.
Akinori Iwamura…. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays won the rights to negotiate with the left-handed 3rd baseman and have until December 15th to sign him. The cost of the posting fee was $4.5 million….less than a tenth of the posting fee for Matsuzaka.
Free-Agent Shopping Guide…. Jeff Gordon from Fox Sports.com ran a report on this year’s free agent class and broke them down into categories with a Christmas theme….the article is very long but Gordon brought up a lot of good points.
Winter Free-Agent Market…. Paul White from USA Today.com weighed in with his list and like Gordon has many good points and well worth the read.
Well, that’s the news and rumors and I’m sticking to them!!!!