A Little News … and A Few Cubs’ Rumors

The Cubs’ organizational meetings are in full swing in Mesa. Tom Ricketts reportedly addressed his baseball staff for the first time and will meet with Mesa officials on Wednesday to discuss possible sites for the Cubs new facilities.

A majority of the news (and rumors) around the Cubs is focused on Milton Bradley. The Cubs were rumored to be interested in a move that would have sent Bradley to the Rays for Pat Burrell and Akinori Iwamura … but the Rays traded Iwamura on Tuesday to the Pirates for Jesse Chavez.

Here is the latest from the mill, including a tidbit from Bruce Levine that the Cubs have discussed centerfielder Rick Ankiel …

Rumors from Bruce Levine

Mr. Talkin’ Baseball is in Arizona this week covering the Cubs and White Sox and catching a few Arizona Fall League games. Bruce Levine dropped some “news” during his Tuesday chat

  • Reed Johnson – The Cubs are having trouble deciding if they want Johnson back. They “love his heart and the way he plays the game, but they hate the fact he has a degenerative back problem that continues to haunt him.
  • Levine is sticking by his story that Bradley for Pat Burrell is still the most likely trade to happen that would end the Milton Bradley era in Chicago … it just depends on how much of Bradley’s $21 million the Cubs want to send with him to Tampa. Levine thinks the Cubs will try to move Pat Burrell soon after they acquire him to an AL team who could use a 30-homer potential bat in their lineup.
  • Orlando Cabrera could be a one-year fix at short for the Cubs, which would move Ryan Theriot to second … or the Cubs could sign Orlando Hudson to solve their need for speed an improved defense. Theriot would remain at short for another year.
  • Derrek Lee is a free agent after 2010 and Bruce Levine feels the Cubs will approach Lee about an extension before the beginning of the 2010 season.
  • Ted Lilly has one more year left on his deal and Levine thinks the Cubs will try to extend his deal but will wait until later in the 2010 campaign.
  • This is not the first time Levine has reported possible extensions for Derrek Lee and Ted Lilly.
  • Micah Hoffpauir – According to Levine, his future role “is probably limited to a part-time pinch-hitter for another team next season.
  • Kosuke Fukudome and his no-trade clause will be with the Cubs next season.
  • Mike Cameron might be a back-up plan for the Cubs if their other plans do not work out.

Rick Ankiel

The former Cardinal is a free agent and with the emergence of Colby Rasmus no one is expecting St. Louis to re-sign the centerfielder. According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs have discussed Rick Ankiel.

“His defense is pretty good. Durability is a question mark. It has been discussed.”

Ankiel hit .231/.285/.387 in 122 games for the Cardinals last season with 21 doubles, two triples and 11 home runs.

Ankiel dealt with injuries after crashing into a wall early in the year. He started the season on a positive note (.264/.341/.431 in April) and it went downhill from there … 99 strikeouts and just 26 walks in 372 at bats.

Vernon Wells

Bruce Levine thinks any team willing to take on that contract “would have to be out of its mind, unless Toronto eats more than half“.

Multiple reports on Tuesday indicated Wells will soon have surgery on his left wrist. The Cubs should run, not walk, if they have been talking to the Blue Jays about a Bradley-Wells swap.

Milton Bradley

Speaking of Milton Bradley, most of the focus on Bradley centered on the report out of Texas that indicated the Rangers would consider bringing him back.

Bob Brenly joined Joe Castellano and Jim Bowden on MLB Late Night (XM Radio) Tuesday night to discuss the World Series. The conversation switched to the Cubs just before the end of the segment.

Brenly said Milton Bradley does not have to be traded … but he thinks the Cubs will deal Milton. Chicago was not a fit for Bradley and he was not a fit for the Cubs. Brenly finished by saying, “The worst nightmare Cubs’ fans and the Cubs’ organization could imagine would be Milton still with the Cubs on Opening Day.

Jon Heyman on Sports Central

Jon Heyman from Sports Illustrated spent time with Dave Kaplan on Tuesday night. Kaplan and Heyman discussed the World Series for a short time and what Heyman thought about Joe Girardi coming back to the North Side after 2010 … if the Yankees let him leave. Girardi is a free agent following next year.

Heyman thinks Girardi makes sense for the Cubs but pointed out that Jim Hendry did not want Girardi three years ago … Hendry wanted Lou Piniella.

Heyman agreed with Kaplan that Piniella looked spent last year and he wondered if Lou really wanted to return to the Cubs in 2010. Heyman said from everything he has heard Piniella does want to return … and has not heard he wants out of Chicago.

Heyman believes the Cubs have enough to be a good team next year, with a couple of moves. Heyman thought the Cubs had enough in 2009 (on paper) to make it to the series.

Heyman did not endorse getting rid of Mark DeRosa for Milton Bradley. He feels it was an overreaction to three bad games against the Dodgers in the 2008 NLDS.

Heyman really thinks the Cubs still have a good team, at least on paper, for next season. He explained there was incredible underachievement from several areas and Derrek Lee was the only player to have a good year.

Starlin Castro

A quick reminder that Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner, Blake Parker and Josh Vitters will participate in the Rising Stars Game on Saturday night. The MLB Network will carry the game live from Arizona. For those that have not seen the Cubs top two position prospects, here’s your chance … Blake Parker was added to the roster on Tuesday.

Starlin Castro is really turning heads in the AFL. He is leading the league in hitting and knocked his first home run on Tuesday. Bruce Levine was impressed with what he saw from Castro … and many of the scouts he spoke with feel Castro will be ready for the big leagues as early as the midway point of the 2010 season.

From Levine:

“If you talk to the scouts I talked to here, some of them feel he might be ready at some point in 2010. But having only played a short period in Double-A, he definitely needs a little more seasoning. The projections are he can be a .300 hitter and an All-Star type player. There’s nobody who doesn’t like his ability who has seen him in Arizona.”

Random Cub of the Day

With the Cubs’ organizational meetings underway, it seemed fitting that Carmelo Martinez would be the CCO’s Random Cub of the Day. Martinez is currently the Cubs Latin American Field Coordinator.

The Cubs signed Carmelo Martinez as an undrafted free agent in 1978. He made his big league debut on August 22, 1983 and played just 29 games for the Cubs in 1983. Martinez was dealt to the San Diego Padres along with Fritzie Connally and Craig Lefferts for Scott Sanderson on December 7, 1983.

carmelomartinez84.jpg

Carmelo Martinez’s Page from the Baseball Cube

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A quick reminder to check the CCO’s Community Blog … excellent posts and different opinions from the Faithful.

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

Quote of the Day

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind." - William James
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