Nobody Rides for Free

With just under a week left before the free agent signing period begins, 169 players have now filed for free agency and among the latest to file are Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Brad Radke. All of the Cubs that were eligible for free agency have now filed….Juan Pierre, Kerry Wood, Aramis Ramirez, Henry Blanco, John Mabry and Wade Miller and on November 12th they can negotiate with any team they so desire.

Merriam-Webster Online lists several definitions for the word free but in relation to baseball the most appropriate might be….Enjoying personal freedom: not subject to the control or domination of another and having no trade restrictions. So on the day that the Cubs’ organizational meetings start in Arizona here is the latest from around the league, an updated off-season calendar….and of course the CCO’s daily dose of rumors.

Money, that’s what I want…. John Donovan from ran a very good report worth a mention. Donovan took a look at how much money that General Managers will spend this off-season on “upgrades” to their respective teams….he actually used the phrase, “how stupid will they (general managers) get.” Donovan, of course, mentioned the big 5 of Carlos Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Barry Zito, Jason Schmidt and Alfonso Soriano and 5 other players that could make an impact….Ted Lilly, Vicente Padilla, Greg Maddux, Nomar Garciaparra and Gary Matthews, Jr. Donovan feels that Zito will receive a 5-year, $70 million dollar deal; Jason Schmidt, 4 years at $53 million dollars (Pedro Martinez money); Aramis Ramirez, 6 years worth between $90-$100 million; Alfonso Soriano the same as Ramirez and he feels the two will “go neck and neck” to the $100 million dollar mark; Carlos Lee, 5 years at $70 million and Donovan brought up Lee’s “ever growing size” and thinks he would be better off with an AL team; Nomar, 3 years at $33 million; Matthews, Jr., 4 years at $40 million; Ted Lilly, 3 years at $24 million; Vicente Padilla, 3 years at $24-$27 million and Greg Maddux a 2-year deal in the $18-$20 million dollar range.

Alex S. Gonzalez…. Yes, that Alex Gonzalez, was reinstated by the Phillies from the voluntary retired list on Monday.

The Washington Nationals…. The Nationals signed 21 free agents on Monday…. 4 were Major League contracts and the other 17 were Minor League contracts. Michael Restovich and Jermaine Van Buren were among the former Cubs that were signed by the Nationals….Restovich’s contract was one of the 4 Major League contracts.

Gary Matthews, Jr. …. The Giants are very interested in Matthews according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle. New Giants manager, Bruce Bochy, was Matthews’ manager in San Diego….not to mention the fact that Matthews, Jr. was born in San Francisco in 1974 when Gary Matthews, Sr. played for the Giants.

Daisuke Matsuzaka…. The questions about how much Matsuzaka is worth continue to mount. Most baseball experts are starting to think (and voice their opinion) that spending near $100 million dollars for an unproven talent is absurd. Gregg Doyel from CBS SportsLine had a very good article about the possible pitfalls of Matsuzaka. Doyel brings up comparisons to Hideki Irabu and Kaz Ishii and mentions the failure of Kaz Matsui. His report ends with the following quote: “Odd are, whoever wins Matsuzaka has already lost. They’re playing poker with Scott Boras, who’s not only the slickest guy at the table, but the guy dealing the cards.”

Matsuzaka is everywhere and soon it will be known who has won the right to negotiate with the talented right-hander….about a month from now, unless it is leaked. The MLB front office is going to be paying close attention to the posting process. They are concerned about possible tampering by teams that have no desire to actually sign him. The interest in Matsuzaka actually describes the state of today’s game in relation to quality pitching. Some writers are beginning to speculate that Boras could make it hard for the “winning” team to sign his client. One of Boras’ strengths is to play one team against another in order to raise the price….Matsuzaka becomes a free agent after next season.

Akinori Iwamura…. Iwamura was posted on Monday by the Yakult Swallow. MLB teams have until Friday to submit bids to obtain the rights to negotiate with the 27-year old 3rd baseman. Iwamura won 5 gold gloves during his career in Japan. Last season he hit .311 with 32 homers and 77 RBI’s. He hit 44 home runs in 2004 and had consecutive 100 RBI seasons in 2004 and 2005.

Gary Sheffield…. David Letterman has his Top 10 List and apparently so does Gary Sheffield. Sheffield’s lawyer, Rufus Williams, gave the Yankees a list of teams that Sheffield would be willing to be traded to according to a report from Newsday. On that list, according to the Chicago Tribune, are the Cubs and White Sox along with the Padres and Tigers. Newsday is still reporting of the $13 million dollars that is owed to Sheffield, $4.5 million of it will be deferred at a small interest rate.

Did you know? Gary Sheffield is the only player in MLB history to make the All-Star team while a member of 5 different teams.

XM Radio…. Mark Patrick brought up an interesting fact that he found on Baseball Prospectus. They did a study that proved that players’ numbers (pitchers and position players) were up 20% the year before they were ready to test the free agent market.

Nomar Garciaparra…. XM Radio reported during one of their Home Plate updates that Nomar is an option for the Cubs if Aramis Ramirez takes his services elsewhere.

Did you know? The average salary for a MLB player will be over $3 million dollars in 2007.

Updated Off-Season Calendar….

November 2 – 21 – 2006 Baseball Award Announcements

– November 13 – National and American League Rookie of the Year Awards
– November 14 – National League Cy Young Award
– November 15 – National and American League Manager of the Year
– November 16 – American League Cy Young Award
– November 20 – National League Most Valuable Player
– November 21 – American League Most Valuable Player

November 7 – 10 – Cubs Organizational Meetings
November 8 – 2006 MLB Players Choice Awards
November 8 – At 4:00pm C.T. the bidding for the rights to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka ends
November 10 – Bidding for the rights to negotiate with Akinori Iwamura ends
November 12 – Free Agent Signing Period Begins
November 13 – 17 – General Managers Meeting in Naples, Florida
December 1 – Last Day to Offer Arbitration to Players who became Free Agents
December 4 – 7 – Baseball’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida
December 7 – Rule 5 Draft
December 7 – Last Day for Free Agents Offered Arbitration to Accept or Decline
December 12 – Last Day to Tender Contracts to Players

January 5 – 15 – Salary Arbitration Filing Period
January 18 – Salary Arbitration Figures Exchanged
January 19 – 21 – 22nd Annual Cubs Convention
February 1 – 21 – Salary Arbitration Hearings
February 15 – Pitchers and Catchers Report to Spring Training
February 27 – Hall of Fame Veterans Committee Results Announced
February 27 – Mandatory Spring Training reporting date for all players
March 1 – Spring Training Opening Day in Mesa against the Giants
April 1 – MLB Opening Day
April 2 – Opening Day for Chicago Cubs in Cincinnati

MLB Daily Transactions…. As a part of the additions to the CCO, at the end of news/rumors daily articles there will be a link to the MLB Daily Transactions Wire from CBS SportsLine.

Daily Transactions from CBS SportsLine

CCO Forum…. Just a reminder, the CCO’s new message board launched over the weekend. Feel free to discuss the Cubs here or there….it does not matter. All you have to do is register and you can discuss articles here or news you have read from other sites. The sky is the limit.

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

Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth