The Cubs’ organizational meetings begin Tuesday in Mesa, Arizona and run through Friday with more than ninety members of the Cubs’ organization converging on Fitch Park … from scouts to minor league coaches and coordinators to Oneri Fleita to Jim Hendry to Lou Piniella and his coaching staff. Tom Ricketts and Crane Kenney will also be in attendance and are expected to meet with Mesa City officials as well as Governor Jan Brewer while they are in Arizona about the organization’s future in the area.
With baseball’s off-season officially being delayed at least a couple of more days with the Phillies forcing Game Six of the Series back in New York on Wednesday, here is the latest from the mill … including more on “Movin’ Milton” that may include Akinori Iwamura.
According to a report from the Tribune, the Cubs will try to re-sign John Grabow, as reported by Bruce Levine on Monday, during the two-week grace period following the completion of the World Series. Levine reported the Cubs are looking at a two-year deal, with incentives and a possible vesting option for a third year, worth between $6.5 and $7.5 million.
The Tribune also reported the Cubs will “try to find a leadoff hitter with speed and a corner outfielder with power.”
The Cubs are interested in Akinori Iwamura of the Rays.
Milton Bradley … Pat Burrell … Akinori Iwamura
According to the Tribune, if the Rays re-sign Akinori Iwamura “it would be only to trade him.” Tampa has to make a decision on the $4.85 million option a day after the end of the World Series. “If they packaged Iwamura with Pat Burrell in a deal for Milton Bradley, the Cubs might wind up paying only $3 million to $4 million to offset the differences in their contracts.”
The Tribune said the Cubs could then spin off Pat Burrell in another deal this winter.
Iwamura was a catalyst for the Rays run to the 2008 AL Pennant. He hit .274/.349/.380 from the left side with 30 doubles, nine triple and six home runs in 152 games. Iwamura spent a majority of the 2009 season on the DL and played in just 69 games. He hit .290 with a .355 OBP.
Iwamura was placed on the 15-day DL with a torn ACL in the left knee on May 25 and transferred to the 60-day DL on May 26. Iwamura was activated from the 60-day DL on August 28. He posted a .250/.310/.355 line in 25 games following his return from the disabled list.
T.R. Sullivan reported on Monday morning that a return to the Rangers for Milton Bradley might not be out of the question … as he reported earlier in the month the Rangers would not welcome Bradley back. Sullivan said if the Cubs “eat a sizeable portion of Bradley’s contract” not to rule out Bradley being traded to Texas.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN said the Rangers would expect the Cubs to eat “a big portion” of the two years and $21 million and not expect much talent in return.
Jim Hendry on the Clock?
Many have speculated Jim Hendry may only get a year to fix the problems he created last winter … and a report in the Tribune Monday night backed up many of those earlier statements.
“But asked if he felt like he was “on the clock,” the Cubs general manager said he’ll approach this offseason like any other.
“I don’t ever feel any different about that,” Hendry said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself. We’ve had real good years, and we’ve had not-good years. We had it going really good in the right direction and this year had a hiccup.
“I’m certainly capable of leading the baseball organization to where everyone wants it to go, and if there comes a day when I’m not the right guy, then I don’t think I should be here anyhow.”
AFL Rising Stars on MLB Network
As mentioned Monday, the MLB Network will air the Rising Stars game on Saturday. The rosters for the Rising Star Game were announced on Monday … and Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner and Josh Vitters will participate.
Daron Sutton and Tony Clark will call the game for the MLB Network, the first time the showcase of the top talent in the AFL has been broadcast live. The game will begin at 6:15 MT, 8:15 C.S.T.
The Cubs’ new owner continued to make the rounds on Monday before departing for Arizona. Mr. Ricketts spent time with Greg Jarrett Monday morning on WGN Radio.
Here are a few highlights in bullet point format:
- The Cubs will start making plans for the 2010 season this week
- Largest off-season project for the Ricketts Family will be improvements to Wrigley
- When asked how hands on he would be on the baseball side this winter, Mr. Ricketts responded with he feels at this point he would not have a lot of value to add
- Player development is the most important aspect of building a winning organization
- Mr. Ricketts wants to make sure this week they have the right staff and resources needed to improve player development
- No amount of money spent on a team can guarantee a world championship
- Mr. Ricketts said the Cubs were up toward the very top of the league in payroll last season, third in the league and there will be a slight increase for 2010
- In regards to high-dollar contracts, Mr. Ricketts added, “make sure those dollars are directed at players who produce up to the level that you are paying them.“
- The Red Sox are a very good model on the baseball side as well, just not as a business model … Mr. Ricketts also mentioned the Phillies
- Mr. Ricketts talked about a system that develops players with the same organizational philosophy that can be brought up to help a team win. That way you are not signing free agents to just fill holes left by the minor league system
Link to Complete Interview on WGN Radio
Tom Ricketts on ESPN 1000
Well, that’s the latest … and I’m sticking to it!