Anticipation

Updated – 6:30am C.T. – Cubs Close to Meche and Lilly?

Every off-season has its different storylines and this year is no different than any other. Clubs are over spending this year like no other since 2000 and the latest $70 million dollar contract proves that point. Major League Baseball is thriving, at least for the larger market teams, but those making little to no noise this off-season could prove to be the biggest thorns in the sides of those teams that will consider themselves contenders on Opening Day.

Jim Hendry took large strides to improve his team when he signed Alfonso Soriano and resigned Aramis Ramirez but anyone that knows anything about the game realizes the Cubs are two quality-starting pitchers away from contending for the Central Division crown in 2007. But the $40 million dollar question is, can Hendry solve the Cubs needs with the pitchers that are available via free agency this off-season?

Here is the latest from around the league, a future Cub in the top 10 and of course the latest from the rumor mill….

Ted Lilly…. According to a report on Cubs.com the talks with Lilly “have accelerated” and Jim Hendry has gotten Lou Piniella involved in the talks. According to the report Piniella has called Gil Meche and was expected to call Ted Lilly as well. Hendry met with Lilly’s agent, Larry O’Brien, on Tuesday and there was not a deadline set for a decision from Lilly. The Cubs “tweaked” their offer to Lilly on Tuesday. According to a report by Paul Sullivan the Cubs are still the favorite to land Lilly. The rumored deal could be for 4 years in the $40 million dollar range.

Gil Meche…. According to the report on Cubs.com, Jim Hendry met with Meche’s reps on Tuesday. Hendry feels that Piniella could have a huge affect on them landing the pitching they feel best suits the Cubs. The report mentions Piniella having involvement in the Soriano negotiations.

Jason Schmidt…. According to the report on Cubs.com, Hendry did speak with Schmidt’s reps via the phone on Tuesday and apparently Schmidt is not looking for a long-term deal. According to a report by Phil Rogers and Paul Sullivan in the Chicago Tribune the Dodgers “have stepped up their efforts to sign Schmidt” and the reports stated that could result in a deal being done soon. A report on Rotoworld indicated the Cardinals have stepped up their efforts as well to sign Schmidt.

Kerry Wood…. According to a report by Paul Sullivan, the Cubs are counting on Wood being a part of the bullpen and one American League executive mentioned the best way to control his shoulder problems in to make Wood a closer….a good read and very interesting, also contains info on Mark Prior.

Cliff Floyd…. According to the report on Cubs.com they have requested medical information on Floyd. According to a report by Paul Sullivan in the Chicago Tribune:

[Chicago Tribune] “….the Cubs are likely to sign the free-agent outfielder by the end of the month.”

Jacque Jones…. The stories to surface the past couple of days about Jones wanting to be traded are a little disheartening. Jones had a good season for a bad team and the accusations being made after his shoulder problem was revealed is down right disturbing. According to a report by Paul Sullivan, Jones is looking for a fresh start and with the contract he has (2 years, $9 million) the Cubs should be able to get value for him and rid themselves of an unhappy player.

Carlos Marmol and the 3-team deal…. The Cubs and several other sources from the Pirates and Rockies denied on Tuesday that the rumored deal between the 3 teams was ever on the table. And according to Phil Rogers, the Cubs value Carlos Marmol as much as Rich Hill.

Alfonso Soriano…. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune the Cubs outbid the Angels by $21 million dollars.

Richard Hidalgo…. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs are considering signing Hidalgo to a Minor League deal.

Rodrigo Lopez…. The Cubs are rumored to be interested in Lopez according to Bruce Miles, but Miles also mentioned the “rumor doesn’t appear to have strong legs.”

Miguel Batista…. The Cubs have been rumored to be interested in Batista and he received a 3-year, $24 million dollar offer from the Kansas City Royals according to Ken Rosenthal….the Cardinals are also interested in the right hander.

Rule 5 Draft

The Rule 5 Draft will take place on Thursday as the Winter Meetings conclude and according to a report by Bryan Smith from SI.com, the Cubs have one of the ten Minor League prospects worth taking a chance on…. Randy Wells. This is a very good report and worth the read.

Rumors from Around the League….

The Yankees are believed to have offered a 1-year, $15 million dollar deal to Andy Pettitte according to a report by Tom Verducci from SI.com. If Pettitte resigns with the Yankees that could change the Astros off-season plans. Several reports have indicated that Phil Garner will talk to Pettitte soon and if he does not return to Houston, rumblings out of Orlando on XM Radio and a report in the Chicago Tribune have indicated the Astros could work a deal with the White Sox….who have more than enough pitching.

Not everyone in Major League Baseball is happy with the new CBA according to Jeff Passan from Yahoo Sports.

The Indians are close to signing former Cub, Joe Borowski, according to Ken Rosenthal. Borowski failed a physical earlier in the week for the Phillies.

News and Notes

Ryne Sandberg…. Sandberg was officially named the manager of the Peoria Chiefs on Tuesday and he was on XM Radio and discussed his new position. Unfortunately there was not an opportunity to take notes on the interview….but suffice it to say, Ryno was very impressive and spoke of baseball fundamentals. Sandberg took his first step to hopefully manage the Cubs one day.

Tim Wilken…. Wilken was named East Coast Scout of the Year on Monday

Adam Greenberg signed a Minor League contract with the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday.

Daily Transactions from CBS SportsLine

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

Update - According to a report in the Sun-Times from Chris De Luca, the Cubs are “are the brink of landing righty, lefty” for their rotation. The rumored amounts of the contacts are from $36-$44 million both in the 4 year range. The decision could come as early as Wednesday.

Quote of the Day

"Sometimes you have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting and just have faith that things will work out." - Steve Jobs
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