A Little Game of Catch(up)

The sale of the Chicago Cubs to the Ricketts Family has taken two steps forward in a short time and could be finalized before the end of the month … that by far is the most important bits of information to come out of the offices at Clark and Addison over the past week. And the off-season is about to kick into high gear …

Jim Hendry is set to meet with “some of the top scouts” in the organization this week in Arizona to prepare for the off-season. The team’s organizational meetings are not until the first week in November and by that time the Ricketts Family is expected to have full control of the organization. At that time Jim Hendry will know what his budget will be for the 2010 season … some think the Cubs’ payroll will increase slightly from the near $140 million spent on the second place club in 2009. Tom Ricketts is expected to attend the organizational meetings in Mesa.

A report in the Daily Herald after the final day of the season indicated it could be a long winter for Jim Hendry with the 2010 Chicago Cubs not being fully set until Spring Training.

With the ALCS and the NLCS ready to begin at the end of the week, it’s time to catch up from the last week with some old news, some old rumors … but some new ones as well.

Adding a Bat?

According to multiple reports, Jim Hendry will have enough room in his budget to add at least one hitter via the free agent route. Chone Figgins’ name continues to pop-up. The Sun-Times mentioned his name once again on October 5 … then on October 8; the Sun-Times reported trading Milton Bradley is the key to adding a bat like Chone Figgins to the mix next season.

Chone Figgins

Continuing the discussion (rumors) of the Angels’ leadoff hitter … Baseball Prospectus reported with the White Sox looking to re-sign Scott Podsednik, that leaves “the Cubs and Yankees as the likely favorites to signChone Figgins.

Is Chone Figgins worth 4 years and $40 million? Bruce Levine thinks that’s what Figgins could be looking for this off-season.

John Lackey

Phil Rogers is at it again. Rogers mentioned John Lackey would “be a perfect addition to the Cubs, but there may be too many bad contracts on the books for them to bid for him.

Remember this is a report from Phil Rogers … take it for what it’s worth.

Reed Johnson

The Cubs apparently would like Reed Johnson back next season … and it has noting to do with the t-shirt worn by Ted Lilly following his last outing of the season. The Sun-Times reported Johnson would like to return and could do so “unless he prices himself out of the Cubs’ range.

According to a report from the Tribune, Johnson’s “return is up in the air because of his back issues.

From the Sun-Times:

”I’m sure they’ve got some things to take care of before me, and if it’s something that happens in the 15-day [exclusive negotiating] window we have, great. If not, I’m sure talks will continue beyond that.”

Kevin Gregg

While many feel Kevin Gregg’s days as a Cub are over … according to a report from the Sun-Times, Kevin Gregg sees himself as a closer and as a Cub.

Milton Bradley

The Milton Bradley rumors have more than flown since his suspension … they have soared. Just about everyday there is something new on Bradley. From all indications trading Milton Bradley is the Cubs’ first priority this winter … and some have even deemed ‘Trading Bradley‘ the key to the Cubs off-season.

In no particular order, here is what’s been up with ‘Dealing Milton‘:

According to a report from the Star-Telegram, Bradley rubbed his former teammates the wrong way with his comments last March, which in turn could have put the kibosh on Bradley returning to Texas, no mater how much Ron Washington would like him back.

“Bradley got along well with his teammates, and Washington still wishes he had a hitter with the plate discipline Bradley showed last year. But opinions cooled some in March, when he told Gil LeBreton that he could have played at times last year but opted to sit out to make his stats look better for potential suitors. That didn’t sit well some players and management, especially when Young was playing with broken fingers on each hand. Bradley pushed himself way down the wish list with those comments, and probably pushed himself off it completely.”

According to a report from TR Sullivan, “The Rangers are not interested in Milton Bradley. Sources have made that clear. He is not coming back. So stop it.

According to a report from the Sun Times, “the team has attracted enough interest in Bradley” even with Kevin Towers no longer in the picture in San Diego, “to feel optimistic he can be traded without eating the often-speculated 80 percent of the more than $21 million left on his contract.

Pat Burrell for Milton Bradley … those rumors will not go away. An outfield of Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome and Pat Burrell? WOW, they better handout two-page scorecards to those games. Extra base hit after error after extra base hit … As Rob Neyer put it, Jim Hendry must learn the NL does not play by AL rules.

Bruce Levine reported during Talkin’ Baseball last Saturday that Tampa is the likely destination for Bradley in exchange for Pat Burrell. Levine said it depends how much the Cubs are willing to eat. According to Levine it would take the Cubs paying the third year of Bradley’s contract (which the Cubs allowed to vest) in order to acquire Burrell for Bradley.

Rob Neyer brought up a scenario that would send Milton Bradley to the Tigers for Jeremy Bonderman. Bonderman has one-year remaining on the 4-year, $38 million deal he signed in December of 2006 … he will earn $12.5 million in 2010.

Bonderman was 3-4 in 12 games in 2008 with a 4.29 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP before being shutdown due to a blood clot of the axillary’s vein on June 7. Bonderman had surgery at the end of June to correct thoracic outlet compression syndrome. Thoracic outlet syndrome is a pinching of the vein responsible for returning blood from the arm to the heart.

Jeremy Bonderman was activated from the DL a year later on June 7, 2009. He started and lost to the White Sox on June 8 then was placed back on the DL on June 12 with the same injury (thoracic outlet syndrome). Bonderman was activated from the DL on September 1 … he had no record in seven appearances out of the Tigers’ pen with a 5.68 ERA and a 2.05 WHIP.

For the record, according to Cot’s Contracts (the most reliable source on the web for baseball contracts), Milton Bradley is owed $9 million in 2010 and $12 million in 2011.

Ramon Castro

According to a report from the Sun-Times, the White Sox back-up catcher could end up on the North Side in 2010. The Cubs are looking to “bolster their catching depth.Castro was horrible in 31 games for the Sox. He hit just .184 with a .308 OBP in 31 games after posting a .253/.322/.430 line for the New York Mets in 26 games. Castro was a part of history while on the South Side. Castro caught Mark Buehrle’s perfect game.

Hitting Coaches

Jim Hendry announced soon after the final out of the 2009 season that Lou Piniella’s coaching staff would return in 2010 with the exception of Von Joshua.

Dave Keller, the Cubs minor league hitting instructor, is the only “in house candidateaccording to the Sun-Times.

According to the Sun-Times, Rudy Jaramillo (of the Texas Rangers) could be available … and the Tampa Bay Rays recently dismissed Steve Henderson despite a great year with a very young team.

Draft Pick Compensation

With the off-season approaching the initial draft order for next year was released last week by Baseball America. The Cubs will have the 16th pick in the 2010 draft, which is extremely important.

The first 16 picks in the MLB draft are protected from free-agent compensation. So if the Cubs sign a Type-A free agent they will lose their second round pick … not their first, as long as the draft order remains the same.

John Grabow

John Grabow wants to stay in Chicago and the two-sides are discussing a deal. The reports have indicated Grabow could sign either a two or three year contract to stay on the North Side. The Tribune reported Grabow has bone-chips in his elbow … if that is the case anything more than a two-year deal would be another bad contract handed out by Jim Hendry over the past three off-seasons.

Bruce Levine reported the Cubs have discussed a new deal with Grabow … and the Cubs are looking to sign the lefty reliever to a two-year contract.

Ryne Sandberg

According to a report from the Daily Herald, Ryne Sandberg will manage in the Cubs’ system next season, and not be a part of Lou Piniella’s staff. Bruce Miles thinks Sandberg will be back at his post in Tennessee with the Smokies.

Marlon Byrd

Marlon Byrd’s name was thrown out by Bruce Levine last Saturday. Levine did not indicate the Cubs have renewed interest in Byrd; he just reminded everyone that Jim Hendry tried to trade for Byrd two winters ago … before Reed Johnson fell into their laps.

Marlon Byrd is a free agent and hit .283 with a .329 OBP and a .479 SLG in 146 games for the Rangers with 20 home runs and 43 doubles … on the road, .285/.322/.419 with 18 doubles and six home runs.

Dis ‘N Dat

We’re Not Saying … Just Saying

Brad Hawpemight be the odd man out” of the Rockies lineup according to a report in the Denver Post. The Cubs and Hawpe have not been linked together by the mainstream media … and he struggled in the second half for Colorado. Could he be a fit on the North Side of Chicago?

Brad Hawpe’s Player Page from Yahoo Sports

Stay Tuned …

Quote of the Day

"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." - Albert Einstein