Strange Days Indeed….A Most Peculiar Start to the Off-Season

For the Faithful that are young enough to remember John Lennon’s work after the Beatles, the title might make a little more sense. The final month of 2008 began with the unexpected announcement on Monday night that the Cubs did not offer arbitration to Kerry Wood. Reportedly Bobby Howry and Daryle Ward’s days as Cubs have been over and the same could be said about Jim Edmonds but ‘Jimmy Ballgame‘ has not made an official announcement if he will play next season or not.

But with Kerry Wood the risk of him accepting a 1-year deal worth in the neighborhood of $10 million dollars would be worth the two picks the Cubs would receive if he ends up signing with another team. The Cubs could still bring Kerry Wood back and re-sign him to a contract less than what he would have received in arbitration but losing Jose Ceda, Wood and potentially two draft picks in the past month is not the way many thought Jim Hendry would begin the off-season.

Kevin Towers spoke very openly on Monday night to the San Diego Union-Tribune and stated the Padres have discussed a 5-for-1 deal with the Cubs for Jake Peavy that would bring them several pitchers, including an Orioles pitcher.

Here’s the latest on the Cubs’ front….

News and rumors out of the offices at 1060 West Addison seem to be changing on an hourly basis. For an organization that reportedly has a “two-year window to win” there appears to be several questions Jim Hendry must find an answer to over the next three months.

Jake Peavy

The Jake Peavy rumors seem to change by the minute but as of this writing these are the latest….

Kevin Towers, as mentioned, spoke with Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune on Monday night. He told Krasovic about the Braves policy that’s been in place” that they will not give a player no-trade clauses. Towers said the Braves are not willing to back of the policy for Peavy and a trade to the Braves does not seem to be an option because of their policy on no-trade protection.

Jake Peavy prefers to be dealt to the Cubs according to Krasovic.

Towers said it would be a 5-for-1 deal, as mentioned, for Peavy but “it might be difficult for them to afford Peavy” after re-signing Ryan Dempster. Towers alluded to the fact the Cubs will have to be creative financially in order to afford Peavy. He thinks a deal could still happen with the Cubs but he stated, “It’s probably going to be difficult with them as well.

Many of the regulars on XM Radio returned from vacation on Monday. Buck Martinez joined Jeff Joyce on XM Hot Stove and Charley Steiner manned his post on the Baseball Beat. The Cubs were topics of many conversations on Monday, and in a bullet point format, here’s what they all had to say.

Ken Rosenthal with Holden Kushner and Jim Duquette on Baseball This Morning

  • The Cubs are not in a position to add Jake Peavy because of the money
  • Jim Hendry must go to the prospective owners and get approval to add payroll
  • Rosenthal described trading for Peavy will not be easily accomplished
  • Jason Marquis is in the mix. If not to the Padres, then somewhere in order to get his near $10 million dollar salary of the books. Cubs could have to ‘eat‘ nearly $3 million of it. (Marquis is owed $9.875 million in 2009)
  • The Padres would receive Josh Vitters…he’s been in the talks since the beginning
  • Rosenthal said several other pieces would be dealt but did not mention any names

Jayson Stark joined Charley Steiner on the Baseball Beat and reiterated the Cubs pending ownership change and payroll could be the biggest reason they do not acquire Jake Peavy.

Bill Center from the San Diego Union Tribune on the Baseball Beat

  • The divorce of John Moores is related to the Padres dumping payroll to a certain degree
  • Center thinks the Cubs are the only active team in the Jake Peavy talks
  • The Padres want a shortstop in return for Peavy and the Cubs do not have one. Also the Cubs cannot offer enough pitching and that is the reason the Orioles are involved
  • Center said the Padres have to move Jake Peavy and Kahlil Greene to get under their budget for 2009

Oneri Fleita on XM Hot Stove with Jeff Joyce and Buck Martinez

  • Oneri Fleita talked about the re-signing of Ryan Dempster and called it a ‘good one
  • Jim Hendry and Randy Bush are hard at work trying to improve the team, although there is not that much to do
  • When asked about the Cubs’ struggles in the post-season, Fleita responded with ‘you gotta play the games‘ he said their goal is to get into the playoffs and keep trying. He brought up the Braves’ run of 14 years with one championship
  • The players feel there is unfinished business
  • Jeff Samardzija was discussed briefly and their plans for him next season. Fleita said whether he is in the pen or in the rotation will be determined in the spring. The decision will be up to Larry and Lou. The needs of the big league team will figure highly into the decision
  • Jeff Joyce asked about Donald Veal. Fleita said Veal has had difficulties with his delivery and throwing strikes. Good stuff when he is on and it is hard to predict when the light will turn on for players like that.
  • The Cubs thought Felix Pie would be a 5-tool player and still think he can but has a long way to go. They still hope Pie will turn it around.
  • Fleita compared Kosuke Fukudome’s struggles in his first season with the Cubs to the struggles that Moises Alou and Derrek Lee went through in their first years. Fleita compared Fukudome’s defense to Andre Dawson.
  • Rich Hill is down in Venezuela this winter and Fleita did not mention he lost his spot in the starting rotation. Fleita discussed Hill’s struggles with his command and mentioned this is the first time Hill has been out of the country. The Cubs are still hoping that Hill can work through his problems.
  • Micah Hoffpauir did a nice job in right field last season. He has an accurate arm but not much range. If the Cubs can get the offense out of him then they may be able to work around his lack of defense.

Kerry Wood

Could Kerry Wood be reunited with Dusty Baker? According to Fred Mitchell, the Reds manager is planning on giving Wood a call. Mitchell reported there is “speculation that Cubs manager Lou Piniella became exasperated with Wood last season when he missed about a month with a blister on his right hand.

The Brewers are also interested in signing Wood according to the Tribune.

Raul Ibanez

The Mariners offered arbitration to Raul Ibanez on Monday. If the Cubs sign Ibanez this winter it will cost them a first round and a sandwich pick in next year’s draft….Ibanez is a Type-A free agent.

Bobby Abreu

The Yankees did not offer arbitration on Monday to Bobby Abreu. Abreu made $16 million dollars in 2008. Abreu was a Type-A free agent and will not cost his new team any picks in next year’s draft….if the Yankees do not re-sign him at a lower cost.

Milton Bradley

According to a report on MLB.com, the Rangers offered arbitration to Milton Bradley. Bradley is a Type-B free agent and would cost his new team a pick in the sandwich round of next year’s draft.

Adam Dunn and Randy Johnson

The Diamondbacks did not offer arbitration to Adam Dunn or Randy Johnson according to a report on MLB.com.

Rafael Furcal

Ken Rosenthal mentioned on XM Radio Monday morning that he thinks Rafael Furcal could be the first ‘big name‘ signing of the off-season. The A’s and Giants are the frontrunners along with a ‘mystery third team‘ than he tried for a couple of days to find out who the unnamed club is. Rosenthal said it could be the Reds and they should not be ruled out. The A’s have been very aggressive and so have the Giants to an extent and Rosenthal thinks a deal could happen this week.

Paul Kinzer told ESPN on Monday that because of scheduled business out of the United States this week, he did not see a deal for Rafael Furcal happening before the Winter Meetings. Kinzer reportedly said last week that he and Furcal would narrow down the teams from four to two this week….so stay tuned.

The Quote of the Off-Season?

Finally…. Courtesy of Murray Chas and hat tip to XM Radio for reporting the link. Kevin Towers on the Cubs and Jake Peavy:

“I would say the Cubs are still in it. Lou Piniella said they’re not in it, but their general manager says they’re in it.”

Well…that’s the latest and I’m sticking to it!

Quote of the Day

"And if I have my choice between a pennant and a triple crown, I'll take the pennant every time." - Carl Yastrzemski
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