A Little Game of Catch-up

The off-season on the North Side has begun and while the organizational meetings are not until October 19th in Mesa, the Cubs made a little news this week….and the mainstream media lit the fire on the Hot Stove.

The Cubs’ payroll is expected to increase in 2009 from the $130 million dollars the organization spent to field the 2008 squad. While a specific number has not been reported, with the escalating salaries of the players under contract, an increase would be necessary in order to improve the Cubs this winter. The 2008 payroll was up $20 million dollars from 2007.

Here is more from the wire, including updates on Derrek Lee, Chad Gaudin, Rich Hill, Kosuke Fukudome and Ronny Cedeno. Plus Lou Piniella’s coaching staff was asked to return, but could there still be a change? And the latest from the rumor mill with an addition and a very familiar theme….

From the Rumor Mill

Brian Roberts

Another winter full of Roberts? Several reports over the past week mentioned the Cubs will likely try to pry away the Orioles’ leadoff hitter once again….after spending most of last off-season and all of Spring Training attempting to meet Andy MacPhail’s outlandish asking price. Brian Roberts would be a good fit, but the Cubs might not have enough left after dealing away some of last year’s rumored names in the deal for Rich Harden.

The Sun-Times stated that the Cubs do not have any left-handed hitters that other teams respect and Brian Roberts might have been able to help once the calendar turned to October.

Other names mentioned this past week by the mainstream media:

  • Raul Ibanez
  • CC Sabathia
  • Bobby Abreu
  • David DeJesus
  • Milton Bradley
  • Rafael Furcal

Orlando Hudson

Buster Olney mentioned the Cubs as one of the possible destinations of free agent Orlando Hudson this winter. Other teams that could be in the hunt for the ‘O-Dog‘ according to Olney….Mets, White Sox, Indians, Reds, Angels, Cardinals, Yankees and Diamondbacks.

Derrek Lee

Could the Cubs’ first baseman waive his no-trade clause so he could be traded to a West Coast team? The Tribune mentioned the possibility. Lee is owed $13 million dollars over the next two seasons on his current contract ($26 million total, eligible for free agency following the 2010 season).

Carlos Marmol

As discussed earlier in the week, Carlos Marmol was involved in a car accident in the Dominican Republic on Tuesday. Marmol received seven stitches and “inflammation” to his forehead. All reports suggested Marmol did not suffer any serious injuries.

Chad Gaudin

More and more information has begun to surface surrounding what actually happened to Chad Gaudin’s back. Several reports after he was sent to Arizona mentioned him ‘falling late at night‘, then the Sun-Times stated again this week (while discussing possible moves the Cubs could make over the winter):

“And is the frustration over Chad Gaudin’s late-night dumpster injury that hamstrung the middle of the bullpen over the final month worth jettisoning him before giving him a chance to do next season what he did during his first two months with the Cubs this summer?”

The Cubs have not officially stated what happened to Gaudin’s back.

The Coaching Staff

According to a report in the Daily Herald, Lou Piniella’s entire coaching staff has been asked back for next season and “Jim Hendry will meet with them this week.” Speculation is if any of the coaches do not return, the only likely candidate to not be in the dugout next season is Larry Rothschild.

Kosuke Fukudome

The second half slump of the Cubs biggest off-season acquisition from a year ago has created competition in right field when Spring Training gets underway in February. Kosuke Fukudome will have to earn a starting spot according to multiple reports.

A report by Phil Rogers had the following statement:

“Scouts with other teams speculate he has played his last game for Piniella.”

Fukudome is owed $38 million dollars on the 4-year contract he signed last winter and should be given a second year with the Cubs before deciding his future with the team. Some are suggesting time at Iowa could help Fukudome become an effective big league player but Fukudome would have to approve the move to the minors.

Rich Hill

According to a report from the Tribune, Rich Hill will pitch in winter ball and “it doesn’t seem as though Hill can pitch for Piniella.” The Tribune did not speculate on what the Cubs will do with Hill, but if that is true, the Cubs should deal Hill this winter….unfortunately, his value is at an all-time low.

Ronny Cedeno

According to a report from the Tribune, Ronny Cedeno will likely spend the winter on the trading block “after yelling at Mark O’Neal during a nasty exchange in Milwaukee on the final weekend of the regular season.” Cedeno has all of the tools to be a successful Major League shortstop but has never put it all together….despite all of the chances he has been given. Cedeno is out of options and has likely played his last game in a Cubs’ uniform.

There’s a Hole in the Pipe Dear Piniella

The Cubs front office had a ‘little mess‘ to pay for after the Cubs’ game three loss at Dodger Stadium. Apparently one or more of Lou Piniella’s crew “took a bat to the plumbing near the visiting dugout” and created a flood in the clubhouse according to several reports. Jim Hendry reportedly did not know which of his player or players are responsible and “doesn’t careaccording to the Tribune.

From the ‘What Were You Thinking Department

Cubs’ Chairman Crane Kenney blindsided the team and Lou Piniella when he had a Greek priest spread holy water in the dugout before Game One of the NLDS. The team, manager and organization spent the season downplaying the media-driven curse talk and ‘the anniversary’, so the ‘stunt‘ must have caught everyone involved by surprise.

That’s the news (and rumors)….and I’m stickin’ to it!

Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver