Weekend Update … More on Movin’ Milton and Other Cubs Rumors

It is the last Sunday in November and Milton Bradley is still on the Cubs’ roster. Several of the ‘experts‘ and most of the talking heads figured Jim Hendry would have traded Bradley away by now … but the process of dealing Bradley is not an easy one.

Expect the rumors to heat up across the league and especially surrounding the Chicago Cubs. There are only eight days remaining until the Winter Meetings and many think the Cubs will do more wheelin’ and dealin’ than opening up the checkbook this winter.

Here’s the latest from the mill …

Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood discussed the latest rumors and news surrounding the Cubs and White Sox during their weekly show Saturday morning. As always, Bruce Levine had a plethora of information during Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000) …

Milton Bradley

According to Bruce Levine during Talkin’ Baseball on Saturday morning, the new story is the old story surrounding the Chicago Cubs. They must deal Milton Bradley before they can make any significant changes. Levine said the most likely destination for Bradley remains the Tampa Bay Rays (the same as one-hundred previous reports).

Right now it is a slow market for all of the Major League teams and it will continue to take time to trade Bradley … they are hoping other situations may develop.

Trading Bradley to the Rays will be a very difficult process for Jim Hendry according to Bruce Levine. First, the Cubs must decide on how much of his contract they are willing to eat. Second, Hendry pretty much has to have two deals in place … the one with the Rays and then a deal with another team for Pat Burrell.

Pat Burrell cannot play in the outfield for the Cubs, much less right field. Alfonso Soriano and his contract are not movable and the Cubs cannot have two left fielders on the team … as well as Pat Burrell’s more than $9 million sitting on the bench on a daily basis.

According to Bruce Levine, the Rangers are no longer a possibility for Milton Bradley. Due to the ownership situation, the Rangers must receive approval from Major League Baseball to spend money … Texas is in receivership. They cannot even hire a coach without receiving permission.

The Cubs do not have a match with the Toronto Blue Jays for Milton according to Bruce Levine.

Levine mentioned a match with the New York Mets for Luis Castillo but the Mets have no money. According to Levine, Castillo is still owed $12 million over the next two seasons ($6 million in 2010 and 2011) and Bradley is owed more than $21 million over the next two years … and the Mets cannot add the difference in payroll.

The Cubs are not going to focus their entire off-season on trading Milton Bradley according to Bruce Levine … but they are not going to give him away either. The Cubs have to move Bradley, save a little money on the projected payroll for 2010, pickup a player and move that player … all while cutting money already on the books for the upcoming season.

Bruce Levine said Luis Castillo is the better match (over Pat Burrell) and it would give the Cubs something they need … a top of the order bat that can play second base.

Stay Tuned … this has only just begun.

Coco Crisp

Coco Crisp was bought out of the option year of his contract by the Kansas City Royals (three year extension signed in April of 2006 with the Red Sox for $15.5 million that included a club option in 2010 for $8 million with a $500,000 buyout) and became a free agent. The Cubs have shown interest in Crisp in the past … and Jim Hendry is interested again this winter according to Bruce Levine.

Crisp would give the Cubs a leadoff hitter that can play centerfield but he would not be their first choice … and may be one of the many backup options for the Cubs this winter.

The Cubs would prefer Chone Figgins according to Levine but there is not money for the free agent. According to Bruce Levine, “The Cubs are maxed out. They have no payroll flexibility.

Crisp is coming of an injury-shortened season in which he played in just 49 games … and hit .228 with a .336 OBP. Crisp’s best seasons came in 2004 and 2005 with the Indians and he’s shown a decline in every year since.

While Coco Crisp would help the Cubs defensively, it is questionable what he could add to the offense. The Cubs have better options in the system that are unproven … but will not cost them several millions of dollars.

Adding Coco Crisp to the Chicago Cubs would be a similar move to the one Jim Hendry made a year ago when he chose Joey Gathright over Felix Pie.

Rick Ankiel

According to Bruce Levine, if the Cubs can free up the money Rick Ankiel could be an option for centerfield that would fit. Ankiel has the tools to be a middle of the lineup run producer, if he can remain healthy. Ankiel could also be a part of the Cubs future … and not another temporary fix that most veterans provide for the Cubs.

Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija joined Levine and Hood during one of the final segments of Talkin’ Baseball Saturday morning. Before the conversation turned to Charlie Weis and Notre Dame football, the Shark talked a little baseball .. and about his time in winter ball.

Samardzija thought his four weeks in Mexico went great. It was a lot of fun and he thinks he made progress in his development.

Samardzija worked on his fastball. He stressed he wanted to dominate a “junk-ball league” with his fastball. Samardzija said he spent time David Rosario (Samardzija referred to him as ‘Rosie’) working on his curveball. Samardzija wants his curveball to look like his fastball and he feels the pitch really came around toward the end of his time in Mexico.

The Shark sees himself as a starter in the big leagues. He appreciated the experience at the Major League level in 2008 and 2009. Samardzija feels he really learned a lot but he has always been a starter and envisions the same in the future.

From the Hot Stove

  • Bruce Levine is hearing Chone Figgins will either sign for three years and $33 million or four years and $44 million … he sounds confident that Figgins will make at least $11 million per season.
  • Neal Cotts could be non-tendered according to Bruce Levine … many reports have suggested the same in recent weeks.
  • Jeff Samardzija will compete for the fifth spot in the Cubs’ rotation in 2010

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

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver