Another Day Closer?

The reports out of Baltimore concerning the future of Erik Bedard and Brian Roberts seemingly change by the minute. Several news sources stated on Wednesday morning the Orioles and Mariners were once again talking about sending Bedard to Seattle and the deal was close to being completed. Then reports began to surface that Andy MacPhail indicated other teams were back in the mix to land Bedard.

A third different story surfaced on Wednesday night when MLB.com reported the Orioles were attempting to sign Erik Bedard to a multiyear contract, the talks were described as a “last-minute attempt.” Peter Angelos has not made it a secret he would like to keep Bedard and Roberts in Baltimore. Bedard’s agent, Mark Pieper, recently suggested it would take a 7-year, $100 million dollar deal to sign Bedard long-term….will someone please make a decision and stick to it?

Here is the latest from around the league, notes from the North Side and a look at the best of the Cubs Farm System….

The Cubs – Down on the Farm

Over the next several weeks leading up to the Cubs Cactus League opener, the CCO will take a look at all of the non-roster invitees to big league camp and a couple of the lesser known names on the 40-man roster. The latest edition of The Vine Line featured their annual look at the Top 50 names in the Cubs’ farm system.

The Vine Line annually sends out a questionnaire to coaches and coordinators in the Cubs’ minor league system to find out what they think about the top prospects. Below is a list of “who does what the best“….

Pitching

  • Best Command: Mark Holliman; runner-ups: Billy Petrick and Mitch Atkins
  • Best Poise/Makeup: Jeff Samardzija; runner-up: Billy Petrick
  • Best Athleticism: Jeff Samardzija; runner-up: Scott Koerber
  • Best Mechanics: Mark Holliman; runner-up: Jeff Samardzija

Hitting

  • Best Contact: Sam Fuld; runner-up: Eric Patterson
  • Best Power: Micah Hoffpauir; runner-up: Kyle Reynolds
  • Best Plate Discipline: Sam Fuld; runner-up: Matt Craig
  • Best Clutch Hitter: Tyler Colvin; runner-up: Geovany Soto
  • Best Situational Hitter: Casey McGehee; runner-up: Ty Wright

Fielding

Best Range

  • First Base: Micah Hoffpauir
  • Second Base: Robinson Chirinos
  • Shortstop: Darwin Barney
  • Third Base: Josh Lansford
  • Outfield: Sam Fuld and Tyler Colvin
  • Catcher: Welington Castillo

Best Arm

  • First Base: Russ Canzler
  • Second Base: Robinson Chirinos and Nate Samson
  • Shortstop: Dylan Johnston
  • Third Base: Josh Lansford
  • Outfield: Kyler Burke
  • Catcher: Jake Muyco

Best Footwork

  • First Base: Micah Hoffpauir
  • Second Base: Robinson Chirinos
  • Shortstop: Darwin Barney and Carlos Rojas
  • Third Base: Josh Lansford
  • Outfield: Sam Fuld
  • Catcher: Jake Muyco

Running

  • Best Raw Speed: Chris Walker; runner-up: Eric Patterson
  • Best Base-Stealing Ability: Chris Walker; runner-up: Eric Patterson
  • Best Home-to-First Time: Chris Walker; runner-up: Eric Patterson
  • Best Baserunning Instincts: Tony Thomas; runner-up: Eric Patterson

The Cubs

Lou Piniella told the USA Today….the Cubs are the team to beat in the NL Central this year. Piniella talked about a variety of topics with Bob Nightengale, including Felix Pie and the nine pitchers they will have competing for five starting spots in the rotation. Piniella said he does not feel the centerfield job is Pie’s to lose, but would like him to come in to camp and take control of the position. But according to Piniella, he has to hit.

Kosuke Fukudome

A report on MLB.com talked about the Cubs new right fielder and mentioned he named his new son “Hayato” which is a “blend of Windy City and uniform number 1” according to Japanese linguists. The report mentioned how the Cubs pursued Fukudome but the best news centered around Fukudome’s elbow surgery….”the condition of the elbow is no longer an issue.

From Around the League

According to a report in the Boston Globe, the Red Sox “will listen to offers for Coco Crisp” now that Johan Santana appears to be off the market. The Globe said Crisp could be retained as a 4th outfielder or a platoon partner for Jacoby Ellsbury. The Sox wanted to sign Brad Wilkerson, but he appears close to signing with the Mariners. Sean Casey appears to be on the defending World Champions radar.

Crisp’s agent recently said his client does not want to be a fourth outfielder according to reports on XM Radio.

Here is a complete list of the 143-man free agent class of 2008 from Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports. Each player is still ranked and Passan has updated his article from November with each player’s new team for the upcoming season.

A report from Steve Henson at Yahoo Sports brought up all the “big names” left on the free agent market….with just two weeks before pitchers and catchers report. Such players as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Luis Gonzalez, Shawn Green and Reggie Sanders remain unsigned, not to mention Kenny Lofton. 10 years ago those players were on All-Star teams…. Henson titled his report, “It’s a Shopper’s Paradise for GMs” and used the phrases, “Inventory Blowout” and “January Clearance Event“. It is a very good read.

Paul Bako could be playing at Wrigley once again this season….in a Pirates’ uniform. The former Cub is in negotiations with the Pirates on a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In more news from 2003, Ramon Martinez signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers on Wednesday with an invitation to Spring Training.

Finally…. Happy Birthday to Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. Mr. Banks is 77 years young today.

Quote of the Day

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else." - Charles Dickens
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