As the baseball world turns the page from the 2008 season teams have already begun taking steps to prepare for 2009….and in some cases, beyond. Baseball’s general managers are making the trek to the West Coast this weekend for the annual GM meetings, this year’s destination, Dana Point, California. This gathering is the first of baseball’s two big meetings that put all of the decision makers throughout the league in the same location…..Baseball’s Winter Meetings are not until December 8th – 11th in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The GM Meetings have been used in the past to start the talks that lead to off-season trades, basically to gauge in what areas other teams are looking to improve and which players might be available. There are some deals that are finalized during these meetings….last year, the Brad Lidge to the Phillies trade was finalized, so this upcoming week could feature a deal or two that helps a team raise a flag a year from now.
The Jake Peavy to the Cubs rumors gained a little momentum on Friday with a report from Ken Rosenthal that stated, “After failing to strike a deal with the Braves, at least for the moment, the Padres intend to explore deals with two other clubs on Peavy’s list, the Cubs and the Dodgers.” Rosenthal does not think the Cubs have enough young pitching to land Peavy….but Bruce Levine does.
Here is the latest from Levine and the mill on Jake Peavy, Raul Ibanez, Milton Bradley, Rafael Furcal, Ryan Dempster, Jim Edmonds and Ryan Theriot….
Ken Rosenthal mentioned in his report on Friday that the Cubs “have long had interest in Peavy, but do not have the quality young pitching to send the Padres. However, their interest could grow if they fear losing Ryan Dempster, who filed for free agency on Thursday but is still expected to re-sign with the club.”
Rosenthal is correct that the Dodgers could offer more ‘names‘ than the Cubs but Jim Hendry’s package will include talent that has Major League experience according to Bruce Levine.
Levine said on Saturday morning that he confirmed earlier in the week that the Cubs and Padres have had conversations concerning a possible deal for Jake Peavy, but the teams have not exchanged names. Levine said Sean Marshall would be number one on the Padres list. Levine feels Marshall could win 12 to 13 games a year for the Padres playing half his schedule at PETCO Park. Ronny Cedeno would be number two, because the Padres want to move Khalil Greene and Felix Pie would be number three.
Levine said Marshall, Cedeno and Pie would be a good start but still not enough and would have to add at least one other good, young player….possibly two.
The feeling on Pie is that he could patrol the spacious centerfield in San Diego and the Cubs have failed to develop him in their system. Marshall, on the other hand, is an important player to the Cubs, especially with Rich Harden’s injury history.
Levine added that Jim Hendry’s top priority this off-season is to solidify the pitching staff and trading for Jake Peavy and re-signing Ryan Dempster would more than accomplish that goal.
The Padres would like to get the Peavy deal done sooner rather than later according to Levine. Kevin Towers is looking for 4 to 5 players for Peavy that will help them build toward 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Ryan Theriot, Rafael Furcal and the Middle Infield
Bruce Levine talked about the Cubs’ biggest needs this off-season. Levine stated the Cubs are looking to add left-handed bats to the lineup (no surprise there, the Cubs’ desire to added left handed bats have been all over most outlets since the end of the season) but he added the Cubs could look to make changes up the middle at second base and shortstop. Levine said he heard that Ryan Theriot was not guaranteed a starting spot at short next season….Carmen DeFalco added that Theriot was the worst defensive shortstop in the league last year.
Rafael Furcal was brought up as a possible solution for the Cubs at short as well as in the leadoff spot. DeFalco brought up the fact they had Paul Kinzer, Furcal’s agent, on Talkin’ Baseball last Saturday. Kinzer apparently told the guys they have no idea how close Furcal was to signing with the Cubs before the 2006 season….Levine brought up the 3-year, $39 million dollar contract Furcal inked with the Dodgers compared to the 5-year, $50 million dollar offer from the Cubs. Furcal’s injury history is questionable to say the least (because of his injuries the past two seasons, Furcal is not a Type A or a Type B free agent and will not cost the Cubs anything in compensation if the Dodgers offer him arbitration and Furcal ends up as a Cub) and many have questioned how much his skills have diminished because of age and so many injuries.
DeFalco finished with how big of an impact player that Furcal is when he is on the field.
The Cubs want Ryan Dempster back and from all indications, Dempster would like to return to the North Side. Bruce Levine reported that Dempster had conversations with the Cubs last week but that Dempster’s agent is looking for a 5-year deal….and according to Levine, the Cubs are interested in only a 3-year deal, four tops. Levine does not feel a deal beyond four years for Dempster would be a smart move for the Cubs. He also feels if the Cubs are going to re-sign Dempster it would need to happen before November 13th.
On the Radar
The Cubs are looking to add a left-handed bat into the mix that can play right field….and hopefully one with a little pop. Bruce Levine brought up the names of Raul Ibanez and Milton Bradley. The Cubs are interested in Bradley but are not sure of his defensive skills in the outfield.
According to a report by Buster Olney, Jim Edmonds “fully intends to play next year.” Olney talked with Edmonds’ agent, Paul Cohen, and was told by Cohen, “he’s definitely coming back. The way he finished up, why wouldn’t he?”
With a Reed Johnson/Kosuke Fukudome platoon in centerfield planned for next season. it is unclear where Edmonds could fit in on the club….and if the Cubs could catch the proverbial lightning in the bottle, twice.
Well, that’s the latest from the mill and I’m sticking to it!