Lighting the Fire on the Hot Stove

The final installment of By the Numbers, the CCO’s look at the ‘Big Three‘, will resume later in the week in order to give time to the latest from the rumor mill….and of course the News from the Wire.

The Sporting News named Geovany Soto the National League Rookie of the Year on Tuesday. Soto put together a tremendous year behind the plate for the Chicago Cubs and figures to be named the BBWAA Rookie of the Year next month. Evan Langoria of the Tampa Bay Rays was named the American League Rookie of Year by the Sporting News.

According to several reports, the Cubs might play in the first game at the new Yankee Stadium next April. “The Cubs and Yankees are talking about playing an exhibition game or games the weekend before most teams open the regular season on April 6th.” The official opener at the ‘House that Jeter Built‘ is on April 16th against the Indians.

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times joined Dave Kaplan on Tuesday night and discussed everything Cubs with Mr. Sports Central himself….and included a bunch of little tidbits on a variety of topics from Alfonso Soriano to Chone Figgins to Jeremy Hermida.

Alfonso Soriano

Dave Kaplan reported during his show on Tuesday night that he heard the Cubs have made calls around the league to see if there is any interest in trading for Alfonso Soriano. Kaplan and Wittenmyer talked about the fact that it would be almost impossible to move Soriano and his contract (6 years and $106 million remaining on the 8-year, $136 million dollar contract signed before the 2007 season). The Cubs would have to match up with other “bad contracts” and the two laughingly discussed an earlier caller suggesting a match with the Dodgers that would include Andruw Jones and Juan Pierre.

It was very interesting, to say the least, to learn the Cubs have made calls to other teams about Soriano.

Derrek Lee

Wittenmyer brought up the fact that Derrek Lee might have the easiest of the big contracts that could be moved this winter. Lee is owed 2-years and $26 million ($13 million per year) and if the Cubs could shed his contract it would free up a money to sign a free-agent and would give Micah Hoffpauir a chance to show he is ready to be a Major League first baseman in the spring.

The two discussed if Lee was moved it would create a little flexibility to sign or trade for an outfielder/first baseman or if the Cubs land a middle infielder, Mark DeRosa could even play first base for Lou Piniella next season.

The two agreed the Cubs would not pursue Mark Teixeira this winter.

Rafael Furcal

When asked about the possibility of the Cubs signing Rafael Furcal this winter, Wittenmyer stated how much he liked the idea but brought up the fact that Furcal has stated he would like to remain in Los Angeles and the Dodgers would like him to stay as well.

The addition of Furcal would move Ryan Theriot to second base and the two discussed the possibility of a Ryan Theriot-Mike Fontenot platoon. Wittenmyer said the Cubs would have to trade away a few of the bigger contracts to make room for Furcal.

Middle Infielders

The names floated a few weeks back by Bruce Levine made their way to the WGN airwaves on Tuesday night. Brian Roberts and Orlando Hudson were mentioned briefly and when Kaplan asked Wittenmyer who he thought would be at second base next spring for the Cubs, after a pause, Wittenmyer came back with Orlando Hudson. He stated Hudson was a ‘wild guess‘ and is not really what the Cubs want and would be option number three or four.

Jeremy Hermida

Ken Rosenthal reported on Sunday that “four teams have inquired about Jeremy Hermida” and according to Kaplan, one of those teams is the Chicago Cubs. Hermida had a decent year for the Marlins and hit right handed pitching much better that southpaws.

  • Against RHP – .252/.322/.407/.729 with 12 home runs and 21 doubles
  • Against LHP – .240/.324/.405/.728 with 5 home runs and a double

His home-road splits were pretty dramatic:

  • At Dolphin Stadium – .203/.273/.312/.584 with 4 home runs and 9 doubles
  • On the Road – .288/.364/.487/.851 with 13 home runs and 13 doubles

In 7 career games at Wrigley:

  • 9-for-27 with 2 doubles and 4 home runs (.333/.357/.852/1.209)

Hermida strikes out a lot, 138 times in 502 at bats (142 games) but could make a good platoon partner and according to Kaplan might only cost a couple of prospects.

Hermida’s stat page from Yahoo Sports

Ryan Dempster

Both Kaplan and Wittenmyer think Dempster will be back, especially after the comments made by Jim Hendry on Monday and the tone he used when discussing Dempster on a conference call.

“Ryan knows we want him to stay here, and he’s never expressed a desire that he wants to leave. Certainly, the year he had and type of clubhouse presence he is and total team guy, we certainly have every intention of trying to keep Ryan.”

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Kerry Wood

Wittenmyer and Kaplan were taken back by Hendry’s comments on Monday concerning Kerry Wood and both feel Wood could not return. Wood would be easier to replace than Dempster according to Wittenmyer….and Kaplan brought up a good point, who will replace Carlos Marmol’s innings if Wood does not return and Marmol is the Cubs closer next season? Wittenmyer brought up the point that the commitment to Wood might be too much for the Cubs right now both in length and in the amount of the contract. Plus the Cubs could use the money to obtain a player that could not only help them get to the post-season but to win in October as well.

Hendry’s statement concerning Wood’s future with the Cubs on Monday led both to their conclusions, as well as the tone used by Hendry during his conference call on Monday.

“We’re going to get our plan together, and we’ll try to move forward with what we think is best for the organization. Kerry has done a terrific job in the closing role. But at the same time, there’s a lot of conversations that have to happen with his representatives and him as to what his desires are and what type of contract he’s looking for.”

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Chone Figgins and Raul Ibanez

Chone Figgins name was brought up and Wittenmyer reminded Kaplan how much Lou Piniella likes Figgins. He is entering his sixth big league season and will be a free agent following 2009.

Raul Ibanez could be an option in right field and would add a left-handed bat to the lineup….plus Piniella likes Ibanez according to Wittenmyer.

Wittenmyer stated during his talk with Kaplan that the Cubs are not looking at the future, they are looking short-term and are focused on 2009….not only because of the failures of the past two Octobers but because of the impending sale of the team.

Finally…. A big tip of the cap to Joe S. from San Diego and Jim K.

Jim found an error in an article from a member of the mainstream media about Jake Peavy(see even the ones that get paid make a mistake now and then), pointed it out to Joe and he emailed the writer. Joe forwarded the response to the CCO….

Dear Joe:

Thanks for your message. We caught that error too late to fix it in the paper. I’m hoping it has been fixed in the online version. Thanks for the reminder.

Best wishes.
Tim Sullivan

Keep up the good work guys.

Well, that’s the latest from the mill and the wire….and I’m sticking to it!

Quote of the Day

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