The Hot Stove season is all but complete. Teams have handed out their non-roster invitations and are ready to start Spring Training as players will soon start making their way to Florida and Arizona, respectively. Cubs’ pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park next Wednesday. For the first time in recent memory, the Cubs will start Spring Training with a healthy staff, and Lou Piniella figures to have strong competition for the last two spots in the rotation, in the bullpen and for the closer’s job.
The first three spots in the rotation appear to be locks with Jon Lieber, Jason Marquis, Ryan Dempster, Sean Marshall, Kevin Hart and Sean Gallagher in the running for the two remaining jobs in the rotation, barring a last-minute trade. Carlos Marmol had a tremendous winter in the Dominican. ‘Senor Nasty’ threw 12 scoreless innings, did not walk a batter, struck out 19 and allowed just 1 hit. Marmol told the USA Today on Tuesday, “I want to be the closer.” Bobby Howry issued a similar statement during the Cubs Convention and Kerry Wood figures to be in the mix once he can prove he can pitch in back-to-back games.
With Arizona on the mind, here is the latest on Brian Roberts, a declaration from Buster Olney and notes from around the league….
Buster Olney updated the latest from Baltimore in his blog on Tuesday. Olney became yet another member of the mainstream media to use the word “deliberate” to describe Andy MacPhail and the Baltimore Orioles. Olney expects the deal with the Mariners and Orioles for Erik Bedard to be completed soon (what is the definition of soon anyway?) and then MacPhail will focus on trading Brian Roberts.
Olney said, “Sources involved in Baltimore’s trade talks with Chicago have expressed confidence that at some point, the Orioles and Cubs will finish the proposed Brian Roberts deal.”
Olney reiterated the Orioles are not going to be a good team for the next couple of years and with Roberts eligible to be a free agent after the 2009 season, now would be the time to trade the second baseman. But with all of the time MacPhail has taken to deal Erik Bedard, how long will it take him to finally decide to deal Roberts?
Olney stated Sean Gallagher “would be the centerpiece of the package” for Roberts.
John Hickey reported in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Erik Bedard trade “is threatening to stretch out longer than the presidential primary season.”
The Baltimore Sun reported Bedard is expected in Seattle this week, possibly as early as Tuesday, to take his physical. The Sun thinks if the both teams are satisfied with the results of the physicals, the deal could be made official within 48 hours.
Carlos Marmol recently spoke with Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today. Ortiz was on XM Radio Tuesday night and talked about his recent report on Carlos Marmol and how dominating he was in the Dominican Winter League. Marmol did not mix words and said he wants to be the club’s closer…. “I definitely would like a shot at it. Being a closer is the kind of role that really brings out the passion in you. It’s my goal.”
Terry Kinney’s film, “Diminished Capacity“ used the Cubs contending for a playoff spot as a backstory in his new movie starring Matthew Broderick and Alan Alda.
From Around the League
Ken Rosenthal mentioned Derek Jeter might have a legitimate shot at Pete Rose’s record of 4,256 hits….Jeter is only 1900 hits behind Rose while Alex Rodriguez is 2,006 behind the Hit King. Jeter is 33 years old.
Tom Verducci listed seven young pitchers “who could be an injury risk” in the upcoming season. Ian Kennedy of the Yankees was number one, followed by Fausto Carmona of the Indians. Number seven on the list, the Brewers’ Yovani Gallardo. Many think Gallardo will rise to the top of the Brewers’ staff this year….depending on the health of Ben Sheets.
The Orioles are interested in Josh Fogg, with the Bedard trade close to being finalized, according to a report in the Denver Post.
The Pirates avoided arbitration with Freddy Sanchez on Tuesday and signed the former batting champ to a 2-year, $11 million dollar deal with a vesting option for 2010 worth $8 million dollars.
The Blue Jays agreed to a 1-year deal with Alex Rios worth $4.835 million and avoided arbitration.
Dave Bush avoided arbitration on Tuesday. He agreed to a 1-year deal but financial terms were not disclosed.
MLB.com introduced ‘The Dish’ on Tuesday.
Finally…. Buster Olney said on Tuesday after the news that Joe Nathan would like to sign a 5-year deal to remain in Minnesota, “He would be absolutely perfect for the Cubs, as some point.“