Countdown to Mesa

With the convention in the rear view mirror, do the Cubs have any moves left before pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park in just 23 days. This year’s camp should be more competitive than in seasons past with an apparent abundance of healthy ballplayers competing for the last few spots on the big league roster.

Several reports on Sunday and Monday mentioned the Cubs are very close to signing Cliff Floyd to a 1-year deal with a player option for 2008 citing the talk from the convention about Alfonso Soriano’s willingness to play center field. Here is the rest from around the league, a quick check in the rumor mill and a few quotes that stuck from this past weekend….

Cliff Floyd….

For what seems like the past few months the biweekly rumor of the Cubs on the verge of signing Cliff Floyd has resurfaced. If the Cubs are interested, as all reports say they are, then what is the hold-up? Floyd would be a good addition to the bench, if healthy, as long as Matt Murton does not lose regular playing time with the signing. Floyd has been an All-Star and could provide tremendous power from the left side off of the bench and spell Derrek Lee from time to time at first base….hold on, didn’t they just sign Daryle Ward?

Rank Jim Hendry….

With Dayn Perry ranking Jim Hendry the 25th best general manager in all of baseball….ESPN has a poll of their own. So if you do not agree with Perry, voice your opinion here or vote on Dayn Perry stated John Schuerholz of the Braves is the best in the league with Walt Jocketty of the Cardinals in the 2-hole. Perry stated, “Hendry was brilliant as a scouting director, but he’s woefully overmatched as a GM.” Perry brought up the fact (he mentioned here at the CCO) about Hendry being unable to evaluate pitchers that could be successful at Wrigley.

Darin Erstad….

According to a report on, the Cubs are out of the mix to sign Erstad and have turned their focus to signing Cliff Floyd. The Marlins and White Sox appear to be among the finalists to land Erstad. Ken Rosenthal on stated the Cubs are still interested but reiterated the Cubs are on the verge of signing Floyd instead.

Top Prospects….

Donald Veal and Felix Pie made’s list of the 75 best prospects of the game. Veal has a bright future ahead of him and Felix Pie….well its just a matter of time. Pie needs to start hitting the ball on a consistent basis and once he does he will be patrolling center in Wrigley for many years to come. Veal on the other hand should make his major league debut in the next few seasons. Pie was ranked 34th by citing Nate Silver from Baseball Prospectus. Veal was ranked 47th by and mentioned his 83.7 LOB (left on base) percentage is either very good or very lucky but Veal did state on Sunday at the convention he knows he has to cut down on the number of walks he allows and throw strikes on a regular basis.

Quotes from the Convention….

Lou Piniella let a few zingers fly from time to time and kept everyone on their toes. Piniella seemed to be reminding everyone, in a joking matter, that he is the boss. There were several times during the convention that he piped up at just the right time. Here are a few “Lou-isms” and other statements that stuck out during the convention….

  • “We’re going to be good and stay good.” – Jim Hendry from the opening ceremonies
  • “Never felt not given enough to build a winner.” – Jim Hendry when asked about the Cubs lack of free agent moves in previous off-seasons
  • “Jim, this is a tough crowd.” – Lou Piniella after a few rounds of questions during Meet the Cubs Management session
  • “In order to have a good offense you must have at least a .345 team OBP.” – Lou Piniella on the Cubs OBP woes in 2006
  • “You are going to have a fundamentally sound club, believe me.” – Lou Piniella
  • “We will not know about Prior until the grass turns green.” – Larry Rothschild
  • “Larry, when does the grass turn green?” – Lou Piniella on Rothschild’s comment about Mark Prior
  • “All good teams have a swagger. The Cubs will have a swagger.” – Lou Piniella
  • “You will see a ball club that will hustle its ass off on the field.” – Lou Piniella
  • “We are going to win baseball games, period. We are not going to blame anything (on losing).” – Lou Piniella
  • “Wood threw 50 pitches 2 days ago. Wood will pitch in Spring Training as long as there are not any other setbacks.” – Larry Rothschild when asked about the health of Kerry Wood
  • “Prior is a phenomenal conditioned guy, he’s kinda like Jack LaLanne.” – Jim Hendry
  • “I tell the press and the fans exactly what the medical staff tells me. What am I supposed to say, who the hell knows, they’ll pitch when they pitch, right?” – Jim Hendry when asked about disclosing injuries to the media and fans
  • “These kind of guys change the game before it even starts.” – Lou Piniella on Alfonso Soriano comparing him to Ricky Henderson

This and that….

The old Durham Athletic Park, used in the movie Bull Durham, could be turned into a museum according to….no more free steaks when someone hits the bull?

Vern Ruhle, former major league pitcher and pitching coach of the Cincinnati Reds, passed away Saturday night in Houston after complications from a donor stem cell transplant. Ruhle was 55 years old.

Daily Transactions from CBS SportsLine

Daily Transactions from ESPN

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

Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt