Any Deals for Jim Hendry on Black Friday?

On the day after Thanksgiving, will Jim Hendry make any progress on “Movin’ Milton“? Reports before the holiday indicated the Cubs remain focused on unloading Milton Bradley, which could clear a little necessary room on the payroll. Rumors have suggested the Cubs’ payroll for 2010 will be anywhere from $140 million to $150 million. With all of the high-priced contracts (that includes multiple no-trade clauses) and arbitration eligible players, if the rumors are correct that does not leave much wiggle room in the budget to make changes

Teams throughout the league have begun making “minor deals” that can sometimes pay huge dividends during the season. From Alex Gonzalez in Toronto to DeWayne Wise in Philadelphia to Andruw Jones and Omar Vizquel on the South Side deals are getting done … will the Cubs find any bargains before the winter meetings get underway in ten days?

Here’s a little catch-up on the mill …

Chatting with Bruce Levine

Bruce Levine had his weekly chat on Tuesday and reminded all that the Cubs “may be looking at trades before free agency.” Levine, as always, had some news to pass on …

  • PSLs are still a possibility for Wrigley Field. The Ricketts family is looking for ways to increase revenue and personal seat licenses may be an option down the road. Additional signage in the outfield is a possibility as well.
  • Randy Wells will be the Cubs’ fourth starter in 2010 with Sean Marshall and Jeff Samardzija competing for the fifth spot in the rotation.
  • Jim Hendry has to move Milton Bradley, as well as the player he could receive for Bradley before he can make changes.
  • Hendry will be able to make “lateral moves“, in other words dollar-for-dollar deals. According to Bruce Levine, “Hendry’s payroll is maxed out because he must deal with 7-8 arbitration cases.
  • It is not likely the Cubs will make a run at Chone Figgins. Tom Ricketts would have to approve a $10 million increase to next year’s budget in order to add Figgins. Levine thinks Figgins will sign a new deal in the three-year, $35 million range.
  • Levine reiterated Milton Bradley would likely be traded to the Rays for Pat Burrell. Levine mentioned a possibility of Hendry trading Burrell to San Francisco for another player (is this where Aaron Rowand could fit into the picture?)
  • The Cubs “would love” to have Orlando Hudson at second base next year.
  • Levine does not think Curtis Granderson has been taken off the block, despite the fact Miguel Cabrera is apparently being shopped. Levine indicated Dave Dombrowski “will be shopping his players extensively between now and the Winter Meetings.
  • Derrek Lee could have another year added to his contract before spring training. Levine added Lee is a “favorite of the Ricketts family.
  • If the Cubs have another down year, 2010 could be Jim Hendry’s last as the Cubs’ GM.
  • The Tigers are “looking for quality young players who can step in and play soon but aren’t making much money at this point” in return for Curtis Granderson.
  • The Cubs are looking for another starting pitcher.
  • Levine thinks the Cubs will go into 2010 with the projected young bullpen. Hendry might take a look at adding a few players from the list of non-tenders after December 12.
  • Hendry has been “working hard” to trade Milton Bradley for eight weeks.

Kevin Goldstein on Sports Central

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus joined Dave Kaplan on Tuesday night … and talked a little about the Cubs and White Sox prospects.

While Starlin Castrois the jewel” of the Cubs’ system right now, he will not be number one on Goldstein’s list of the Cubs’ top prospects. Castro was recently named the top prospect of the Cubs’ system by Jim Callis at Baseball America, but Goldstein said Josh Vitters is still the best prospect in the Cubs’ organization.

Goldstein is not sure why Starlin Castro is being “blown up” the way he is this winter. Goldstein explained Castro is a very good prospect but is not the elite-level prospect that many are making him out to be. Goldstein said Castro’s range is below average; he is slow on the bases and has no power. Goldstein thinks Castro is a very good prospect, as mentioned, and will be an above average big leaguer.

The Cubs got a steal in Brett Jackson according to Kevin Goldstein. He explained that Jackson is way better than where he was drafted. Jackson has all of the tools to be a very special player with plus to plus-plus speed.

After Josh Vitters, Hak-Ju Lee, Andrew Cashner, Starlin Castro and Brett Jackson there is a big fall off in the Cubs system.

Josh Vitters has a special bat and the prettiest swing Goldstein saw all year. Andrew Cashner has plus to plus-plus stuff but no one knows for sure how he projects … as a starter or a reliever. Goldstein indicated Cashner would have more value as a starter but could be an excellent closer.

Hak-Ju Lee is “eons away” from the big leagues according to Goldstein … at least three to four years. Lee’s raw tools are better than Castro’s. For every compliment Kevin Goldstein gave Hak-Ju Lee, he reminded Kaplan how far away he is from the major leagues.

Ryan Theriot and Starlin Castro

According to a report in the Tribune, the Cubs are not going to rush Starlin Castro to the big leagues. Castro will receive a non-roster invitation to Spring Training and will be given “an opportunity to break camp with the Cubs if he has an exceptional spring.

Jim Hendry spoke with Ryan Theriot about moving to second base. Theriot does not feel like the move would be a problem.

Milton Bradley

According to a report from Bruce Miles, “Jim Hendry appears to be working steadily on trading right fielder Milton Bradley. Cubs people still express confidence Hendry will get a deal done as he continues to haggle over the price.

CCO News

The CCO Radio will return on Wednesday, December 2 to preview the Winter Meetings and discuss all of the hot stove rumors. Mark December 2nd down on your calendar … as well as Tuesday, December 15. The CCO will take your calls and discuss the latest on the Chicago Cubs for an hour beginning at 7:00pm C.S.T.

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

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney