Who, What, Where, When and How?

Open ended questions….anyone that is a salesman knows that is the best way to start a conversation with a perspective client. Let’s hope Jim Hendry knows those five little words. Hendry has a tall task ahead of him as the free agent signing period approaches. He has to convince a top tier free agent in the prime of his career to play for a team that has not won on a consistent basis in over 70 years….not to mention a team that is approaching the century mark since their last World Championship. But Hendry does not have a choice, he has to build a winner and it is up to him to turn the entire landscape of the organization around. Hopefully Hendry will not only sign free agents that his new manager desires but the right free agents that will help build a winner….not a one-year wonder.

Here is the latest from around the league, a check in on the mill, a very good organizational report and the latest on Aramis Ramirez….

Cubs Organizational Report…. Bob Nightengale ran a very good report on the state of the Cubs on USAToday.com. Nightengale mentions what the Cubs need this off-season and gives a little insight from Lou Piniella on what he thinks the Cubs need to add to build a winner. The quote that stood out from the article was:

“Just get me two starting pitchers, two position players, and, I’m telling you, we’ll win”

That should be plastered all over Jim Hendry’s office walls and should be a custom, scrolling screen saver. Nothing earth shattering in that statement but it was still good to read. Nightengale mentions Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt being on top of the Cubs wish list and also mentions the likes of Ted Lilly, Miguel Batista, Jeff Weaver and Vicente Padilla. The Cubs are also pushing to resign Wade Miller. Nightengale reiterates that Alfonso Soriano is the Cubs’ number one target this off-season and mentions Carlos Lee and Gary Sheffield….by the way Sheffield’s wife is from Chicago.

Their most pressing concern according to Nightengale’s report is resigning Aramis Ramirez before he hits the streets on Sunday. Piniella mentions the fact that he is not sure if Juan Pierre will return. This is a very good read and well worth the time.

Daisuke Matsuzaka…. The silent auction ended on Wednesday and the yet to be named team should be known at some point on Thursday….gotta love those unnamed sources and leaks. Worse case scenario is Tuesday and then the winning team has 30 days to sign him or he goes back to Japan for another year.

Aramis Ramirez…. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune by Paul Sullivan, Jim Hendry is working hard to sign Ramirez before Sunday. Ramirez new contract could reach $75 million dollars, less than the $100 million earlier rumored and more than the $70 million that was reported earlier on Wednesday.

Time to let it go…. O.K., the Chicago media really needs to move on from the fact that the White Sox are the most popular team in Chicago. It would not take a rocket scientist or another (blankin’) survey to figure that one out. Hmmm, they just won a World Championship….let’s see where they rank a couple of years….

Steve Stone to the Nationals…. Certain things in life just go together and the Chicago Cubs and Steve Stone is one of them….Stone should be in the Cubs’ broadcast booth….enough said.

Miguel Batista…. According to reports in the Chicago Tribune and East Valley Tribune, the former Diamondback and Cub is on the list of possibilities to fill the 5th spot in the Cubs’ rotation.

One BILLION Dollars…. The Cubs are for sale….does anyone have any good investing tips? According to a report from the Associated Press on FoxSports.com, Eli Broad and Ron Burkle have teamed up to submit a bid for the Tribune Company.

The First of the Season…. The first real trade of the off-season took place on Wednesday when the Padres sent Josh Barfield to the Indians for Kevin Kouzmanoff and Andrew Brown. With Barfield gone, look for Marcus Giles to be pursued by the Padres to fill the vacancy. Several reports have indicated that the Braves have been very interested in Scott Linebrink for a long time.

Jason Schmidt…. According to Paul Sullivan the Cubs are going to be in the bidding for Schmidt, but Sullivan said the contract would be no longer than 4 years because of Schmidt’s injury history.

Luis Montanez…. The Cubs former first round pick has all but signed a free agent deal with the Baltimore Orioles’ organization.

Alfonso Soriano…. Davey Lopes, the new first base coach of the Phillies, is the latest to push for the superstar to be signed by the Phillies according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Dave Roberts…. Several rumors have indicated the Cubs are interested in Roberts if they loose out on resigning Juan Pierre or landing Gary Matthews, Jr.

More on the Market…. John Heyman from SI.com is the latest to give his view of this off-season’s free agent crop. Heyman’s report is a good read and, again, worth the time. He mentions names that others have left out and points out who will be bargains and busts this year.

Five out of Six Experts Recommend…. Jorge Ortiz released another good report on USA Today.com with his take on the free agent class. But the most interesting part is at the end of the report where six baseball writers gave their predictions on where some of the big names will end up and for how long. The consensus (5 of 6) on Alfonso Soriano is the L.A. Angels with a 6-year deal in the $100 million dollar range. Barry Zito was all over the board. Jorge Ortiz thinks that Carlos Lee will be a Cub for the next 5 years for $70 million. Four of the six thinks that Aramis Ramirez will stay in Chicago for 5 years and around $70 million….and Bob Nightengale thinks Jason Schmidt will pitch for the Cubs for the next 4 years for $52 million.

Daily Transactions from CBS SportsLine

Well, that’s the latest from around the league….and I’m sticking to it!!!!

Quote of the Day

"Baseball, just a game as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes." - Ernie Harwell
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