The talk on Friday was the sale of the Tribune Company to Sam Zell. The sale was expected but Zell also announced the Cubs would be sold by Opening Day, as well as possibly the naming rights to Wrigley Field. While the deal could mean millions to the Cubs annually, the old ballpark at 1060 West Addison will always be known as Wrigley Field….no matter what it says on the marquee. Ryan Dempster was on XM Radio Friday and discussed the subject with Holden Kushner and Bill Ripken. Dempster said, “ If you take away the name, you might as well take away the ivy.”
The City of Mesa terminated their contract on Friday with the HoHoKam group in order “to negotiate a new agreement that would give the city a bigger cut of revenues from concessions and sponsorships” according to a report in the Arizona Republic. The city and the Mesa Sports Association “agreed to move toward a new contract regarding the Cubs spring training facilities in Mesa” according to the Phoenix Business Journal.
On a lighter note this holiday season…. “Dome-san” or “Kosuke” are the two names Fukudome was called by the fans in Japan. Now the next question is, will he be at the Cubs Convention? Remember Lou Piniella was overwhelmed last year.
Here is the rest from the mill, including more on Brian Roberts….
Well, Brian Roberts is still an Oriole, despite the rumors that circulated late Wednesday afternoon and night. The mainstream media is shooting down the rumors but the deal still appears to be on the horizon.
Dave Kaplan reported on Friday night that the Cubs have a very competitive offer on the table for Roberts and the Cubs would like the deal done by Christmas. Kaplan said Baltimore would like to trade Erik Bedard before moving Roberts.
Brian Roberts was on Kaplan’s show Thursday night (the interview was replayed on Friday). Kaplan asked Roberts about the Cubs, his background and the obvious steroid questions.
Roberts was in very good spirits and chuckled when Kaplan asked him about the Cubs. Roberts said it is hard to address the Cubs when he is still a member of the Orioles. Roberts said he has enjoyed his time with the Orioles and will continue to do so as long as he is in Baltimore.
Roberts said he has never stepped foot on the field at Wrigley but did attend one game at the Friendly Confines….Game 7 of the 2003 NLCS. Jeff Conine, his close friend, invited him to the game. Roberts attended the game as a fan and said it was the most incredible atmosphere he had ever witnessed. He brought up Kerry Wood’s home run and the reception Woody received when he took the mound the following inning. Roberts said it was the kind of atmosphere anyone would want to play in. He mentioned he and some friends arrived early and hung out in Wrigleyville.
Kaplan asked Roberts for a self-scouting report. Roberts grew up in a baseball family. His father was a coach for North Carolina and because of his size taught him the fundamentals of the game. Roberts learned how to switch hit at an early age and was taught how to steal bases and utilize his speed. Roberts said he feels like he has become a better player over the years.
Roberts grew up watching the Cubs on WGN in North Carolina.
According to report from MLB.com, Andy MacPhail commented on the rumors of the trade with the Cubs….MacPhail’s response, “The likelihood of us doing anything between now and the new year is remote.” Stay tuned….
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune shot down the Nathan to the Cubs rumor on Thursday. According to the report, Joe Nathan is not on the trading block.
The former Cub continues to make headlines. The Padres are the frontrunner to land Prior according to Buster Olney. A quick question, if Prior does sign with the Padres could the conversations Kevin Towers reportedly had with Prior while he was still a member of the Cubs be considered as tampering? The Padres have apparently offered a “modest salary” plus incentives. The Astros reportedly offered Prior a contract on Monday.
The Houston Chronicle thinks the Astros made a good offer but their biggest competition to land Prior is the Padres. Reportedly Prior was close to making his decision on Thursday and the official word could come sometime this weekend.
From Around the League
Josh Hamilton was traded on Friday afternoon to the Texas Rangers for two young pitchers….Edinson Volquez and Danny Herrera. Volquez is a hard throwing right-hander and will compete for the 5th spot in the Reds’ rotation.
Also on Friday afternoon, the White Sox agreed to a 4-year deal with Alexei Ramirez. Terms of the deal were not reported but this Ramirez is very good and could play center for Ozzie Guillen.
Geoff Jenkins signed a 2-year, $13 million dollar deal with the Phillies on Thursday. The contract includes a vesting option for 2009 worth $7.5 million if Jenkins reaches 925 plate appearances in 2008 and 2009 or 525 plate appearances in 2009. If the option vests, it would turn into a mutual option for the third year.
Dontrelle Willis signed a 3-year, $29 million dollar extension with the Tigers on Thursday.
The Rockies have been busy. On Thursday, Colorado inked Kip Wells and Mark Redman on Thursday, Luis Vizcaino on Friday and then signed 5 players to Minor League deals on Friday as well….two being former Cubs, John Koronka and Micah Bowie.
Gabe Kapler signed a 1-year deal with the Brewers on Thursday. Kapler was a manager in the Red Sox organization last year.