The Hazy Shade of Winter

Updated – 7:38am C.T. with more Information on Kerry Wood, Kaz Matsui and the Cubs’ Payroll

With the resignation of John McDonough on Tuesday the Faithful have plenty of questions. How the team will move forward this off-season and most importantly, how will the team improve this winter? Crane Kenney, Senior Vice-President/General Counsel and Secretary of the Tribune Company, said the Cubs will not name an interim president “because of the ownership transition.” Kenny will oversee the day-to-day operations of the team and Jim Hendry will lead the baseball side, according to multiple reports. Another development was Kenny’s admission that the team might not be sold until the middle of next year.

Hendry stated in a report on, “We don’t have a lot of moves, but we feel the moves we need to make are just as important as the moves we made last year.Kenny reportedly spoke with Lou Piniella and he is “already discussing potential lineups for 2008.” Hendry stated on Tuesday he hopes to have a new deal with Kerry Wood before the Winter Meetings and he is “looking for a quality left-handed hitting outfielder, and he would like to add some left-handed hitting for the bench in a versatile utility player.” Hendry also mentioned adding depth to the pitching staff.

Bruce Miles thinks the Cubs could be closing in on a deal with Kaz Matsui after reports out of Houston on Monday had the infielder close to signing with the Astros. Hendry was on the road according to Miles “doing what we would normally be doing this time of year, trying to work hard at gathering a few good men for the 2008 season.

Jimmy Rollins was named the NL MVP on Tuesday with Matt Holliday finishing a close second and Prince Fielder third. Alfonso Soriano finished 12th, Aramis Ramirez finished 13th and Carlos Marmol received a vote. Tuesday was also the last day for teams to file reserve lists for all Minor League levels and Major Leagues.

Here is the rest from the mill, including an addition, and the latest from around the league….

The Cubs….

Bruce Miles said the Cubs are not close to resigning Kerry Wood. Apparently Wood is looking for a 2-year deal in the $10 million dollar range and the Cubs are offering a 1-year incentive laden deal with a club option. Hendry said Wood is “getting a lot of attention in the industry.

Miles mentioned Ryan Church is on the Cubs radar as a possibility for next season, along with Carl Crawford. Miles also confirmed a report from last week out of Japan that Kosuke Fukudome might not decide whether he will remain in Japan or play in the Major Leagues “before the year ends.

Ryan Church hit .272 last season with the Nationals with a .349 OBP, a .464 SLG and a .813 OPS….15 home runs and 70 RBI’s in 144 games. Church’s lefty-righty splits are a little concerning. Church hit .229 with a .316 OPB with only 1 home run and 19 RBI’s in 118 at bats against southpaws. Against righties…. .287 with a .360 OBP, a .506 SLG and a .866 OPS in 352 at bats. Church has played 7 career games at Wrigley…. .250 (5-for-20)/.348/.400/.748 without a home run and 3 doubles.

From Around the League….

The Mets and Brewers worked a deal on Tuesday. The Brewers sent catcher Johnny Estrada to New York for relief pitcher Guillermo Mota. Many feel this deal clears the way for the Brewers to sign Jason Kendall in the near future.

Scott Boras said on Tuesday that free agent Andruw Jones will not sign a 1-year deal this winter to improve on his free agent standing after a subpar 2007 season.

The Astros officially signed Geoff Blum on Tuesday. There was speculation that with the signing of Blum the Astros would no longer be interested in Kaz Matsui. Blum was on XM Radio Tuesday night and told Chris Russell that he knows Ed Wade is looking for a second baseman. Blum said the Astros were looking at Luis Castillo and they are continuing to look at signing Matsui. The Houston Chronicle reported Wade was in Los Angeles on Tuesday talking with Kaz Matsui and Randy Wolf.

The Indians signed the first Japanese free agent of the off-season. Masahide Kobayashi agreed to a 2-year, $6.25 million dollar deal with a $3.25 million dollar club option for the 2010 season.

The Pirates named their coaching staff on Tuesday. Former Cub, Gary Varsho was named John Russell’s bench coach….Tony Beasley will coach 3rd and Luis Dorante will be the bullpen coach.

The White Sox designated Scott Podsednik for assignment on Tuesday. Many are speculating the Cubs could be interested in signing Podsednik after claiming him off of waivers last season.

UpdateAccording to a report in the Tribune by Paul Sullivan, Jim Hendry is looking to sign Kaz Matsui to a 3-year deal. Sullivan said Matsui could play short in games that Mark DeRosa is at second and would be able to play second base on days when DeRosa is needed in either right field or third base. Gordon Wittenmyer said Hendry met with Matsui in Los Angeles on Tuesday….the two apparently had “lunch”. Wittenmyer said Hendry would not discuss the talks but that a “deal does not appear imminent.” Wittenmyer said both sides confirmed the meeting took place.

The Payroll…. Paul Sullivan said Crane Kenney “wouldn’t reveal the Cubs’ 2008 budget, but it will be significant larger than the $110 million payroll from the end of ’07.Gordon Wittenmyer said the Cubs will increase their payroll “enough to make improvements.

Paul Sullivan mentionedthe longer Kerry Wood remains on the free agent market, the less likely it appears he will return to the Cubs.” Wood has received a lot of attention from the Red Sox of late according to multiple reports.

Finally…. Was all the talk a couple of weeks back about the Cubs talking to Tampa Bay about Carl Crawford just rumors? According to Paul Sullivan, the Rays have yet to put Crawford on the trading block.

From everyone here at the CCO, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Quote of the Day

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