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Only one day until the Cubs Convention…. Jim Hendry made news on Wednesday with the signing of Jon Lieber and at the same time increased the speculation on what else he may or may not have up his sleeve. Most reported the Cubs signing of Lieber as “you can never have enough pitching” and thought it was “a low-risk signing.” Lieber’s deal is worth $3.5 million dollars with incentives based on starts and innings pitched that could bring the total value to around $7 million dollars.

Ryan Dempster could end up back in the bullpen or according to Bruce Miles, the Cubs could trade Jason Marquis to make room in the rotation for Lieber. Marquis has $16.25 million left on the last two years of the deal he signed last winter. The Mets were rumored to be interested in Marquis at one point this off-season.

When Hendry was asked about a few of the latest rumors, he responded with….

“I don’t get into other team’s players. We’re trying to get as much volume as we can, depth-wise, into the rotation. We’re going to try and be real aggressive in the next three or four weeks before camp and try to come up with somebody else that can help us.”

Here is the latest from the rumor mill, the newest Cubs prospect rankings and notes from around the league….

The Cubs

Carol Slezak wrote a very thought provoking report on the pros and cons of the Cubs trading for Brian Roberts.

According to the Heckler, Andy MacPhail wants the Cubs entire minor league system for Brian Roberts and would like them to take back Corey Patterson.

Jim Hendry declined to comment on the Brian Roberts rumors on Wednesday, but the way the mainstream media is talking….this is far from dead.

Jeff Samardzija is ready for Spring Training according to Fred Mitchell in the Tribune.

Lou Piniella is trying to figure out where to hit Kosuke Fukudome in his lineup according to a report on Cubs.com. Will it be second or fifth?

Andy MacPhail

Andy MacPhail was on XM Radio Wednesday morning with Mark Patrick and Buck Martinez. They talked about the Orioles off-season and the organization. MacPhail said he is “batting a thousand” so far this winter with deals he has proposed to Peter Angelos. Apparently the only deal that has gone before Angelos was the trade that sent Miguel Tejada to the Astros. He said he has not gotten far enough on any other deals to go to Angelos. MacPhail does not feel Angelos will reject any offers he proposes.

Martinez, who is Baltimore’s color-analyst, asked if the Orioles will go to Spring Training with Erik Bedard and Brian Roberts. MacPhail responded with, “I do not know.” He said he is only half of the equation. MacPhail knows he must get what he termed “fair value” for both Bedard and Roberts.

The Orioles were 19-9 when Bedard started last year and his emphasis is on pitching. Martinez asked him about the vacated spot at shortstop. MacPhail responded with they have options within the organization but are still looking outside of the organization for help at shortstop….he mentioned Freddie Bynum as a possible option.

Buck Martinez feels Bedard would be a great fit with the Reds and could lead the National League in strikeouts next season….if he is traded.

Cubs Top Prospects

Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus released his Cubs Top 11 Prospect list on Wednesday. Goldstein breaks the list down in 4 sections….

Five-Star Prospects

  • Geovany Soto
  • Josh Vitters

Four-Star Prospects

  • None

Three-Star Prospects

  • Donald Veal
  • Jose Ceda
  • Josh Donaldson
  • Sean Gallagher
  • Tyler Colvin
  • Eric Patterson
  • Welington Castillo
  • Tony Thomas

Two-Star Prospects

  • Jeff Samardzija

Just missed the list…. Kevin Hart, Chris Huseby and Larry Suarez

Most of the names might be the same, but Goldstein puts them in a better prospective.

Project Prospect released their Top 5 Cubs Prospects on Monday (hat tip to ProSports Daily), like most they view Josh Vitters as the Cubs best prospect but they added a name not on most lists.

  1. Josh Vitters
  2. Geovany Soto
  3. Kosuke Fukudome
  4. Sean Gallagher
  5. Josh Donaldson

Honorary mention…. Tony Thomas, Jeff Samardzija, Donald Veal, Tyler Colvin and Eric Patterson.

Baseball America, John Sickels , Mound Talk and Top Prospect Alert each have slightly different views on the Cubs bigger names down on the farm.

From Around the League

Marlon Byrd agreed to a 1-year deal with the Texas Rangers worth $1.8 million dollars and avoided arbitration.

Former Cub and current Cub killer, Juan Cruz, avoided arbitration on Wednesday. Cruz signed a 1-year, $1,937,500 deal with the Diamondbacks.

Here is a current list of players still arbitration eligible for the upcoming season….the only Cub is Michael Wuertz.

Juan Encarnacion will likely miss the upcoming season and his future in baseball is uncertain according to a report on ESPN. Encarnacion was hit in the eye by a foul ball while standing in the on-deck circle last season.

Finally….The St. Louis media is the latest to remind everyone of the Cubs’ dubious anniversary.

Quote of the Day

"A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course of victory." - Arthur Golden
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