All Roads (and Trade Rumors) Lead to Chicago

The GM Meetings began on Monday with a flurry of rumors … and little to no action as predicted. The GMs spent Monday night at dinner and in private one-on-one meetings. Tuesday will be filled with talks centering around the game and instant replay at the O’Hare Hilton … the annual gathering concludes around noon on Wednesday.

The games might be over for the winter, but baseball’s busy season is gearing up. Here is the latest from the mill including updates on Milton Bradley, Rich Harden, Carlos Zambrano and Elias Rankings …

So which area should Jim Hendry be focused on? A bullpen arm, a starting pitcher, a leadoff man, a centerfielder or a veteran middle infielder …

Milton Bradley

Until Jim Hendry is able to move Milton Bradley he will dominate the headlines and the rumor mill. In bullet point format, the newest episode from ‘Moving Milton

  • Lee Hamilton (XM Radio) reported on Saturday that the Cubs have talked to the Rangers about a Brandon McCarthy for Milton Bradley swap.
  • According to a report from Bruce Miles, Jim Hendry has had “talks with three or four other teams about Milton Bradley in this last 12 or 13 days, but nothing is close yet.
  • The Cubs will not be releasing Milton Bradley according to Bruce Miles
  • Bruce Levine reported, “The Cubs’ main objective in the offseason is to improve the talent on the field and the character in the clubhouse. Both moves could be accomplished with a trade of Milton Bradley.
  • The Cubs have talked to the Blue Jays, the Angels, the Rangers and the Mets about Bradley according to Bruce Levine.
  • Bruce Levine reported on Saturday that Hendry is hoping to move Bradley in the next 30-45 days; on Monday Levine altered his timeline significantly. Levine thinks Hendry is hoping to move Milton during the GM Meetings …
  • Jim Hendry has spoken with Milton Bradley’s agent since he suspended Bradley … but not Milton.
  • Jerry Crasnick from ESPN asked eight questions to baseball executives. Number eight, which player would be more difficult to trade, Milton Bradley or Vernon Wells … Wells “won” by a 20-0 mark. Wells’ contract could be the worst in the history of baseball.
  • ESPN tossed out an idea on Mondaya Bobby Jenks for Milton Bradley swap. Jenks would help the Cubs pen and Bradley could play a little right field and DH on other days. What would the Crosstown Classic be like next season?

The biggest noise made on Monday from the Bradley rumor front was the report about a possible three-way deal involving the Mets and Blue Jays from Ken Rosenthal.

Jim Bowden joined Joe Castellano (XM Radio) and briefly discussed the possibility of the three-team trade. Bowden reiterated what Rosenthal reported that Alex Anthropolous would not want Milton Bradley to be the first trade he made as the Blue Jays new GM.

The most interesting tidbit from Rosenthal’s report:

“The Cubs intend to move Bradley, and are willing to assume a chunk of the $21 million remaining on his contract. But they believe that there is enough interest in Bradley for them to avoid paying the vast sum that many outsiders project will be necessary to complete a deal.”

Bruce Levine confirmed the Cubs have spoken with the Mets about a trade that would send Bradley to the Mets for Luis Castillo … and Mr. Talkin’ Baseball said the proposed three-team trade has “some validity to it.

Paul Sullivan reported the Blue Jays “want no part of Bradley” and shot down Ken Rosenthal’s report.

Billy Williams said he’s not ready to “give up on Milton Bradley”

Carlos Zambrano

Some have speculated the Cubs will listen to offers for Carlos Zambrano this winter. Bruce Miles ran into Zambrano’s agent, Barry Praver, at the GM meetings on Monday and asked about Zambrano. Praver told Miles, “The Cubs and Big Z have not discussed Big Z waiving his no-trade clause.” Praver described the Zambrano trade rumors as a “non-story.From Miles, “In other words, the Cubs are not trading Zambrano this winter.

Chone Figgins

According to a report from Bruce Miles, Chone Figgins doesn’t look like “a monetary fit for either team in Chicago.”

Other Rumors

From Bruce Levine

  • The agent for John Grabowwill talk to the Cubs about hammering out a two-year deal.”
  • The Cubs are looking to add a veteran middle infielder on a short-term basis with Starlin Castro in the wings.
  • Rich Harden and Kevin Gregg will not be back.
  • The Cubs would like Reed Johnson back but he is seeking a multi-year deal (in the two-year, $6 million range) and it appears the Cubs will let him walk.
  • Rich Harden is one of the ten riskiest free agents this winter according to
  • Jim Hendry and Randy Bush hopeto meet with five or six teams and figure to look more to trades than free agents this winter.
  • The Cubs are close to a two-year deal with John Grabow worth more than $3 million a year according to the Sun-Times
  • According to a report from the Tribune, Rich Harden is hoping to return to the Cubs and his agent (Arn Tellem) is in Chicago and plans to meet with Jim Hendry soon.

Elias Rankings

The annual Elias Rankings were officially released on Monday. The rankings determine what type of compensation teams could receive for losing players in free agency.

Link to complete list from Fanhouse

Cubs’ Free Agent Rankings:

  • John Grabow – Type A
  • Kevin Gregg – Type A
  • Rich Harden – Type B
  • Reed Johnson – Not Ranked
  • Chad Fox – Not Ranked

If a team loses a ‘Type A’ free agent they receive a first round pick, unless that pick is in the top 15, then it goes from a first round to a second round pick and a sandwich pick (round in between the first and second rounds).

If a team loses a ‘Type B’ free agent they receive a sandwich pick, as compensation but the current team must offer arbitration to the player by the December 1 deadline.

Jim Hendry on Milton Bradley

From on Monday:

“He’s still with us. He’s on our roster, and that’s how you have to go into the offseason.”

“A lot of people have had worse exits at the end of the year than that and they return. There will be a lot of things that change personnel-wise over the winter, I’m sure, and the goal is to do the best we can to put a good club on the field by Spring Training. Until people aren’t here, as a general manager, I approach it like they are here.”

Parting Words from the Cubs’ GM:

“We were very pleased with the way the organization meetings went. We had a chance to meet the Ricketts family, and we feel they are going to be tremendous owners for the city of Chicago. Randy and I are working to make the club better, and maybe we can start some of that dialogue this week.”

Starlin Castro’s Batting Practice and Warm-up from the Rising Stars Game Saturday

Random Cub of the Day

Today’s random Cub comes courtesy of Joe S in San Diego … Porfi Altamirano

This sidearm throwing reliever was involved in the trade that set the table for the Cubs magical 1984 season. On March 26, 1984 Altamirano, along with Bobby Dernier and Gary Matthews came to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Bill Campbell and Mike Diaz.

Altamirano pitched the 1982 and 1983 seasons with the Phillies and appeared in a combined 60 games. With the Cubs in 1984 he appeard in just 5 games and was traded at the end of the season to the New York Yankees along with Rich Bordi, Henry Cotto and Ron Hassey for Ray Fontenot and Brian Dayett.

Porfi Altamirano’s Page from The Baseball Cube

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

Quote of the Day

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein