Weekend Update … Castillo, Halladay and Other Cubs Rumors

The Chicago Cubs made a little noise last week with the two-year, $7.5 million deal for John Grabow and send Aaron Heilman to Arizona for a pair of prospects. Then Friday afternoon, the Cubs added five players to their major league roster … three expected and two, well a little surprising. John Gaub, Welington Castillo and Blake Parker along with Rafael Dolis and James Adduci were protected from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft with both Gaub and Parker expected to be a part of the Cubs pen at some point in 2010. The Cubs 40-man roster stands at 38 players.

But what else does Jim Hendry have up his sleeve? Luis Castillo? Roy Halladay? Here is the latest from the mill on the Sunday before Thanksgiving …

Roy Halladay

By now it is well known the Cubs are one of the teams Toronto contacted about Roy Halladay. Bruce Levine reported the Cubs chances of landing Halladay, arguably the best pitcher in the AL, as not likely.

The Cubs and Blue Jays talked about several players three and a half weeks ago according to Levine … including Milton Bradley. The Cubs discussed Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay as well as Halladay with Toronto.

Levine explained on Saturday morning (during Talkin’ Baseball on ESPN 1000) the Cubs would have to move one of their high-priced starters (Carlos Zambrano or Ryan Dempster) before they were able to afford Halladay.

The Cubs would have to include Starlin Castro or Josh Vitters and possibly Carlos Marmol in any deal for Halladay then find a taker for one of the contracts (Zambrano or Dempster). As Levine pointed out, Carlos Zambrano has a no-trade clause and is owed a lot of money. Levine mentioned Saturday morning that he feels the Cubs could have a match with Toronto for Halladay if they had room in their payroll.

Levine explained it would be a lot to pay for one year of Roy Halladay (between the money owed and in prospects the Blue Jays would want in return). Levine added any team would need a 72-hour window to discuss and sign Halladay to contract extension … and Levine thinks Halladay will demand at least a five-year, $100 million contract.

If the Cubs are able to move Milton Bradley in the next couple of weeks, there could be a possibility to make a run at Halladay … but again, it is not likely.

Jim Hendry would have to go to Tom Ricketts and ask to increase the Cubs’ payroll for 2010 by $20 million and Levine does not think that is a conversation the Cubs’ GM wants to have with his new boss right now. Levine joked if Hendry could guarantee a World Series win then maybe before acknowledging that with Roy Halladay on the staff the Cubs would be closer to their goal.

Reports on MLB.com and on the MLB Network Saturday night indicated Roy Halladay is not inclined to re-sign with the Toronto Blue Jays once his contract expires. Halladay could have painted his team into a corner … that could end up costing them talent in return for the ace pitcher.

Milton Bradley

The rumor that was shot down … Phil Rogers was at it again on Friday and no sooner than his “report” made the rounds, it was shot down by two of the three teams involved … and Bruce Levine. Levine indicated the Cubs and Rangers have not spoken for a week.

The Rays for Pat Burrell remains the likely destination for Milton Bradley for several reasons.

According to Bruce Levine, the Rays wanted to sign Bradley last winter and offered him a two-year, $18 million contract. The Rays’ manager, Joe Maddon, believes he can handle Bradley. Milton would give the Rays a switch-hitting outfielder and DH … and finally it would rid the Rays of Pat Burrell.

Levine indicated on Saturday morning that the difficult part for the Cubs dealing Bradley to Tampa would be Pat Burrell. He does not fit with the Cubs in any way and would give them another left fielder that strikes out a lot. Burrell would have to be “flipped” to another team, which could create another problem for Jim Hendry.

Luis Castillo

According to the Tribune (and not Phil Rogers), the Cubs have no interest in re-signing Mark DeRosa and would “prefer a left-handed hitting second baseman, which is why they are interested in Luis Castillo.”

Luis Castillo would feel needs for the Cubs but would have to be part of a trade that would rid the Cubs of Milton Bradley.

John Grabow

Before John Grabow joined Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood Saturday morning. Levine reported Grabow signed with the Cubs for less than the Pirates offered him. According to Levine, the Bucs wanted him back and made a three-year, $12 million offer to Grabow. Levine called the signing of Grabow a “good deal” for the Cubs.

John Grabow explained that Chicago was the right place for him and his wife … and described the Cubs as “a good fit.” Grabow likes Lou Piniella and the entire coaching staff and explained he fit in right away after being acquired from the Pirates.

Grabow admitted it is more fun to pitch in a full house. Grabow explained the Pirates have sellouts from time-to-time, usually on fireworks night, but not everyday like it is at Wrigley Field.

Chemistry is a big key to winning according to John Grabow. The results on the field are better when everyone is on the same page … every player is not going to get along for an entire 162-game schedule, that is just the way it is.

Jonathan Hood asked Grabow what he would like to work on for 2010. Grabow said he wants to cut down on his walks. He plans to work on it during the winter and into spring training. Grabow explained he is not looking to work on just one pitch but to improve his command.

Bruce Levine asked Grabow if there was anything he could help Carlos Marmol with in order to improve for next season. Grabow said the key to Marmol is repeating his delivery and he must stay consistent with his pre-game work … whether it is on flat ground or with towel drills.

The Sun-Times brought up John Grabow’s history of bone chips in his elbow. Grabow is coming off a career high 75 appearances in 2009.

Curtis Granderson

Lee Hamilton (XM Radio) reported on Saturday afternoon that the Tigers are looking for Josh Vitters and Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs for Granderson. Like Phil Rogers, consider the source.

From the Hot Stove

  • According to Bruce Levine, Sean Marshall and his agent see the southpaw more as a starter than a reliever. Levine said a trade could be the best thing for Marshall’s career.
  • Henry Blanco to the White Sox? Not likely according to Bruce Levine. He thinks ‘Hank White‘ is looking for too much money.
  • Mike Fontenot could be traded or non-tendered before he makes it to arbitration according to Bruce Levine. Fontenot’s Super Two status puts his future with the Cubs in jeopardy. Fontenot will receive a raise in 2010 from the $700,000 to $900,000 range. Players seldom take a pay cut in arbitration regardless if they’ve had a down year the season before.
  • Marlon Byrd and Mike Cameron are still in the mix for the Cubs if they cannot acquire Curtis Granderson. The Tribune explained the Cubs could go after Byrd if they decide to not wait on the Tigers to deal Granderson.
  • The Fanhouse explained why Marlon Byrd could be one of the “land mines” of the winter. “Two reasons. First of all, he’s had three good (but not great) seasons in Texas, meaning he’s supported by a solid offense and hitter’s park. Secondly, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has coveted him in the trade market the past two seasons and now he loves him as a free agent, meaning he’s destined to sign with the Cubs and greatly disappoint. There’s no doubt in my mind.
  • Matt Holliday? The Cubs do not have room for him despite what Jon Heyman keeps reporting … and the Cubs could not afford him according to the Tribune.

Lou Piniella at Reds Fest

Lou Piniella will be on hand to celebrate the anniversary of the 1990 World Series Champion Cincinnati Reds team. The annual fan fest, modeled after the Cubs Convention, will be held on December 4.

Dusty Baker will be in attendance.

Finally, a quote from Jim Hendry:

“I’m looking forward to Indianapolis. I think it’ll be an exciting time for the game.” –Hendry, as he anticipates a flurry of trade activity at the winter meetings”

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

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon