And This Is Just the Beginning … of the Hot Stove Season

Take a moment and think about it, the 2009 season ended just eight days ago. Baseball’s off-season is in full swing and the winter is shaping up to be very interesting throughout the game … and especially on the North Side of Chicago.

The GM meetings concluded on Wednesday with Milton Bradley still a Cub and a lot of rumors to digest. While it would have been nice to see Jim Hendry scratch his top priority of the winter off his list (at least reported top priority), that was an unrealistic expectation. Hendry has a lot of work to do and said he felt he made progress over the last three days.

Here’s the latest from the mill and news of a departure from the Cubs’ front office …

Jim Hendry

The Cubs’ GM sounded upbeat about the progress he made in talks with other teams at the general managers’ meetings. From the Tribune:

“It’s kind of the way I anticipated. You feel like there’s some business that will be done in the next few weeks. Hopefully you can do something before you get to Indianapolis (for the Dec. 7-10 winter meetings).”

From the Daily Herald:

“Last night, in an environment here at the hotel, I probably talked to seven or eight clubs, just the normal things.”

“Like I’ve always said, we need a few moves. We don’t need mega-moves. We feel there will be some things that will help some other clubs, but you just have to grind it out. I’ve had really good meetings. It was really a good environment after all. A lot of people were in the same spots, and it was easy to find guys to talk to.”

According to a report from Bruce Levine, the Rangers, Rays, Mets and Tigers were among the teams Jim Hendry met with on Tuesday night. Hendry and his staff had “five hours of conversation with various teams.”

Marlon Byrd

The Tribune reported once again on Wednesday night that Marlon Byrd appears to be the Cubs primary centerfield target.The Tribune contradicted reports earlier in the week and stated “sources said Hendry will be able to sign another outfielder even if he hasn’t traded Milton Bradley yet.

John Grabow

The Cubs and John Grabow are closing in on a deal … and it appears to be just a matter of time at this point. Reports suggested Grabow could ink his new deal by early next week. Bruce Levine reported, “the parameters of an agreement began at two years and $7.5 million.” The Cubs are not expected to allow Grabow to hit free agency.

Grabow’s new contract could include an option for a third year.

Curtis Granderson

The Chicago native made headlines on Wednesday when a report from the New York Post indicated the Tigers could trade Curtis Granderson this winter. The Tribune indicated the Cubs are “likely to explore a deal that would obviously have to include Bradley because Granderson is owed $25.75 million over the next three years.

The Tribune brought up the Internet rumor started by Dave Kaplan and Steve Stone in the summer that had the Cubs trading Bradley to the Tigers … and Jim Leyland’s reaction to the rumor.

Curtis Granderson is a very good player but as Keith Law reported at this point he is a platoon player that is still perceived as an everyday player.” Granderson hits right-handed pitching without a problem, brings speed and above-average defense but the Cubs will need to have a platoon partner for him … and Kosuke Fukudome.

Last season Granderson hit just .249 with a .327/.453/.780 line in 160 games with 23 doubles, eight triples and 30 home runs. Here are his splits:

  • RHP – .275/.358/.539/.897 with 19 doubles, eight triples and 28 home runs
  • LHP – .183/.245/.239/.484 with four doubles, no triples and two home runs

For his career against southpaws, just a .210/.270/.344/.614 line.

Granderson has three years and a club option left on the contract he signed prior to the 2008 season.

  • 2010 – $5.5 million
  • 2011 – $8.25 million
  • 2012 – $10 million
  • 2013 – Club option for $13 million with a $2 million buyout

Club option in 2013 increases to $15 million if finishes in the top five in MVP voting in 2011 or 2012 … can increase to $14 million if an All-Star in 2011 or 2012 or to $13.5 million if All Star selection in 2011 or 2012.

Curtis Granderson is guaranteed at least $25.75 million over the next three seasons counting the $2 million buyout in 2013.

The Blue Island native will turn 29 on March 16 … and would solve two of the Cubs’ needs against right-handed pitching.

Bruce Levine reported, “Both the Cubs and the White Sox would appear to have the young players that could satisfy some of the Tigers’ needs, but it is unknown at this time what Dave Dombrowski wants back and whether he has talked to either team.

Phil Rogers is convinced the Cubs should go after Curtis Granderson … and said they should send Carlos Marmol and Starlin Castro to Detroit in return. Consider the source.

Milton Bradley

According to a report from Bruce Levine, Jim Hendry met with Bradley’s agent, Seth Levinson, Tuesday night “to update him on negotiations and let him know about possible future destinations for Bradley and his two-year, $21.5 million contract.

Jon Heyman, on the MLB Network Wednesday night, said the Rangers are the likely destination for Milton Bradley. Texas would pay around $5 million to Bradley over the next two seasons. Heyman said the Cubs would have to cut a check to Texas for around $15 – $16 million.

Heyman reported on SI.com that the Cubs would like to “recover as much as half of the money left” on Bradley’s contract.

Cubs Payroll for 2010 and Mike Fontenot

Speculation continued on Wednesday on the dollar amount Jim Hendry will have to work with in 2010. Reports have varied from $140 to $150 million and the Tribune tossed out $145 million Wednesday night.

The Cubs payroll took another hit on Wednesday when Mike Fontenot became a Super Two and is now arbitration eligible. Fontenot took the last spot for players between two and three years of service time.

Cubs Arbitration List for 2010

  • Carlos Marmol
  • Jeff Baker
  • Sean Marshall
  • Ryan Theriot
  • Koyie Hill
  • Angel Guzman
  • Tom Gorzelanny
  • Aaron Heilman
  • Neal Cotts
  • Mike Fontenot

Ed Lynch

The Cubs’ former GM, who has been in the organization serving as a special assistant to Jim Hendry, is no longer employed by the Cubs Ed Lynch left the Cubs for a job with Major League Baseball.

Other Rumors

According to a report from the Sun-Times, the Cubs are not looking at Dan Uggla.

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

Quote of the Day

"What scares me is what scares you. We're all afraid of the same things." - John Carpenter

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