Weekend Update – 01/26/08

The last weekend in January….only 18 days until pitchers and catchers report. The next couple of weeks could be very interesting around baseball. There are still a lot of big name free agents on the market and trades that could still happen. This off-season has been centered around Johan Santana and some of the experts still feel once he is dealt and sets the market, other teams will be able to fill their holes on their roster.

Speculation continued on Friday about the future of Matt Murton. Is he headed to San Diego or Texas? Oneri Fleita discussed Jeff Samardzija, Tyler Colvin, Donnie Veal, Jose Ceda and Rocky Roquet among others….and there was a good prediction for Felix Pie’s upcoming season.

Here is the latest from the mill, plus news and notes from around the league….

Cubs Rumors

Jim Hendry mentioned at the beginning of the off-season that he would try to find a new home for Matt Murton. Rumors began to circulate at the beginning of the week that Hendry was indeed shopping Murton…and apparently the fan favorite has been targeted by the San Diego Padres.

Kevin Towers mentioned his interest in Murton on Friday in the San Diego Union Tribune. A report on ESPN by Jerry Crasnick said there are “several trade scenarios” involving Murton.

Crasnick stated the Cubs are still talking to Baltimore about Brian Roberts and Erik Bedard and Murton could be involved in those talks. Also, Texas could be a destination for Marlon Byrd.

The Cubs

Oneri Fleita spoke at a luncheon in East Tennessee this week. Fleita met with local media, advertisers and Tennessee Smokies season ticket holders. Fleita announced during the function both Jeff Samardzija and Tyler Colvin will likely start the season in Double-A. Both players will be in big league camp when Spring Training starts next month.

Donnie Veal will likely start the season in Double-A as well, but not as a reliever. Rumors circulated at the end of last season Veal could be headed to the bullpen after he struggled last year in the starting rotation. Fleita told the media on Wednesday that Veal would return to the starting rotation for the upcoming season.

Fleita also mentioned the Smokies bullpen could feature both Jose Ceda and Rocky Roquet. Ceda and Roquet could figure into the Cubs plans this year and Cede will have a chance to show Lou Piniella what he can do in Mesa this year….the flame thrower duo received a non-roster invitation to Spring Training. Ceda can hit 100 MPH on the gun.

Ryan Harvey, Josh Lansford, Jeremy Papelbon, Corey Coles and Brian Dopirak are a few of the names that could be wearing the new Smokies uniforms this year.

Fleita did say that assignments have not been determined. Injuries and player performances will influence where a number of the Cubs’ prospects will start the season.

Another announcement was made during the meeting. The Smokies will serve as the Cubs Double-A affiliate until 2012 according to the report on Inside The Ivy.

Dayn Perry mentioned 10 players he thinks are “ready to shine” in the upcoming season….number 6 on his list, Felix Pie. Perry finished his paragraph on Pie by saying, “Pie put up a batting line of .362/.410/.563 in Triple-A Iowa. Those are just the kind of bridge numbers he needed. As such, don’t be surprised if Pie shows drastic improvement in 2008.” Perry acknowledged Pie struggled last season at the big league level.

Geovany Soto, Ryan Theriot, Felix Pie, Sam Fuld, Sean Gallagher, Carlos Marmol and Angel Guzman made the Sun-Times list of young guns in Chicago.

Donnie Veal is counting down the days to Spring Training according to a report on Cubs.com. A very good read about an impressive person dealing with the loss of both parents.

According to a report on OurSportsCentral.com, the Joliet Jackhammers sold the contract of left-handed pitcher Derrick Ellison to the Chicago Cubs on January 23rd. Here is Ellison’s page from the Baseball Cube.

Rumors out of Baltimore

Of course, no update would be complete without mentioning the latest from the Roberts/Bedard rumor mill. The Baltimore Sun accused Andy MacPhail of failing “dramatically” this winter to “overhaul their roster“. MacPhail insisted, once again, he would make a decision on both players future with the club by the end of the month.

Seattle appears to be the front-runner to land Bedard, while most still think Roberts will end up with the Cubs by the start of Spring Training. Dave Kaplan mentioned the same on Friday night, but reminded his listeners of the questionable medical records on Bedard.

Bruce Miles was 100% correct…. How do you spell deliberate? M-A-C-P-H-A-I-L.

From Around the League

According to a report in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Albert Pujols cannot straighten out his right arm.

Jason Bay voiced his displeasure with the Pirates and their lack of moves this off-season.

Former Cub, Damian Miller is contemplating retirement according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“40” is the new “30”, if you are a Major League pitcher.

Baseball on the Radio

Long-time readers of the CCO should know the fondness that exists here for radio and television announcers. Good radio announcers, ones that can paint a picture of the game, are priceless and close to non-existent in the game today. There are a handful of legends that have been celebrated by Pat Hughes, one announcer that is very over-looked in this writer’s humble opinion.

One of the true legends of the game of baseball celebrated his 90th birthday on Friday…. Mr. Ernie Harwell. Harwell was the only announcer ever traded for a player and received the Ford C. Frick Award in 1981 for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Six Degrees of the Chicago Cubs

Happy Birthday to Edward Van Halen. He turns 53 today.

Finally…. During last week’s Convention, Lou Piniella told a group of reporters, “You guys better hurry up and ask me quick, because one more Bloody Mary and you’re not going to understand anything I say.

Quote of the Day

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