The first two days of the off-season have seen quite a bit of movement across the league … except for on the North Side of Chicago. The Cubs completed their organizational meetings on Friday in Arizona and other than Reed Johnson and Rich Harden declaring free agency, not much out of the Cubs’ camp. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Jim Hendry has little payroll flexibility and will likely rely on making trades to improve (or fix) the big league team for next season. It is only the first Saturday in November and the Cubs have a lot of big contracts with no-trade clauses attached to them. Hendry has a lot of work to do … and Ted Lilly having his shoulder scoped last Tuesday should have changed the direction and/or plans the Cubs had for the winter at the beginning of the week.
With the GM meetings getting underway on Monday in Chicago, here is the latest from the mill … and a little news too.
Bruce Levine spoke briefly about the former Brewers’ centerfielder on Saturday morning. A caller mentioned radio stations in Milwaukee reporting Mike Cameron would sign with the Cubs after the Brewers acquired Carlos Gomez for J.J. Hardy on Friday.
Granted the connection is there with Lou Piniella but Levine stuck to his report from earlier in the week that Cameron would be a back-up plan for the Cubs. Levine explained if Cameron does sign with the Cubs he thinks it would not be until January or February. Apparently the Cubs are looking for a younger, left-handed centerfielder that would allow them to move Kosuke Fukudome back to right field.
Where will Milton Bradley be traded? At this point it is anyone’s guess. There is a lot of banter between the ‘Talking Heads‘ but it is all speculation at this point. Bruce Levine thinks Bradley will be moved in the next 30-45 days.
Derek Lowe-for-Milton Bradley garnered a little more air time earlier in the week, but the notion was ‘shot down‘ several times stating the fact Bobby Cox likely would not deal with Milton Bradley in his clubhouse. As for the Lowe for Bradley angle, the Braves have pitching and need offense while the Cubs need pitching after Ted Lilly going under the knife. There might be a match there, but a long shot at best.
Lowe is owed $15 million in 2010 and has three years and $45 million left on the contract he signed last winter ($15 million annually over the final three years).
Even Blue Jays.com thinks the Vernon Wells-for-Milton Bradley rumors make little-to-no-sense.
Bruce Levine said to not count the White Sox out of the mix for Chone Figgins. Levine added if the Sox are able to clear the payroll (likely dealing Bobby Jenks) they could sign Figgins, put him at third and make Mark Teahen a ‘super-sub.’
Jim Bowden mentioned during his show with Joe Castellano (XM Radio) Thursday night that he feels Chone Figgins will sign with the Cubs … and play second base.
While the Cubs may want Reed Johnson back in the fold, he could be pricing himself out of a Cubs’ uniform. Bruce Levine is hearing Johnson is looking for a two-year, $6 million contract … and that might be out of the Cubs’ price range.
Too bad Jim Hendry signed Aaron Miles for roughly the same amount last winter (two years, $4.9 million … $2.7 million in 2010). Johnson is a fourth outfielder but for the same money, which player would help the Cubs win more games in 2010?
Starlin Castro and John Gaub
Bruce Levine was very impressed with Starlin Castro when he saw Castro play in the AFL last week. Castro will be one of two Cubs’ prospects (Blake Parker) in the Rising Stars Game on Saturday night (MLB Network, 7:00 pm CST).
Levine thinks Castro will be the Cubs’ shortstop as early as the second half of 2010 … but not much later than 2011. Castro is still too “green” according to Levine and needs a couple of more months in the minors. Levine mentioned the age comparison of Castro (19 years old) to Alcides Escobar of the Brewers (22 years old) and Elvis Andrus of the Rangers (21 years old). Castro would give the Cubs a big upgrade defensively up the middle and allow Ryan Theriot to move to second, which would be a better fit for Theriot and the Cubs.
Levine thinks the Cubs should look at Orlando Cabrera as a one-year option at short in order to improve the Cubs’ defense next season.
John Gaub could be a factor in the Cubs’ pen in 2010 and should be added to the 40-man roster in the next two weeks (November 20). Gaub is 1-1 in seven games in the AFL with a 10.29 ERA with a blown save … but four of those runs came in a single game on October 22. Gaub has struck out 11 batters and walked just one in seven innings of work.
Gaub’s fastball has been clocked in the low to mid 90’s in the AFL with a very good breaking ball according to Levine.
The Cubs’ top pitching prospect has continued to impress in the AFL. Andrew Cashner was named to the Rising Stars Game but will not participate. From Baseball Prospectus …
“After giving up three runs over two innings in his first start for the Solar Sox, Cashner has given up just one in his last three–a span of 11 2/3 innings. The 2008 first-round pick has been sitting at 93-97 mph with his fastball, to go with his plus to plus-plus slider and, arguably more importantly, he’s been throwing a ton of strikes, including 35 of 49 pitches on Thursday. The debates as to his future being a reliever or starter still goes on, but more and more are ending up on the side of the latter.”
Some are thinking Cashner could contribute to the Cubs at some point in 2010. He received a non-roster invitation to Spring Training last year and should be with the big league club once again in February.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch continued to stick with the notion on Friday that the Cubs will offer Mark DeRosa a contract this winter.
While the former Cincinnati Red has not been connected to the Cubs by the mainstream media, anyone that has followed the Cubs for the last several years knows of Jim Hendry’s infatuation with Austin Kearns.
- The Cubs are expected to announce their new marketing director by the end of next week. According to Bruce Levine, it will be a “well-known” Chicagoan. The Cubs have not had a marketing director since John McDonough and Jay Blunk left for the Blackhawks a couple of years ago.
- Wrigley Field Improvements – The Ricketts Family will expand the women’s restrooms on the first base side and upgrade the lighting and fixtures in the men’s restrooms. The umpire’s room will also be moved from the third base side to the first base side of Wrigley in 2010. The current umpire’s room will be turned into the Cubs’ new weight room … which will be a big upgrade and improvement for the players.
- The Ricketts Family will hire a chief hospitality officer for Wrigley Field.
Finally … 15-1, that is the odds the Cubs are getting in Las Vegas to win the 2010 World Series.
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Well, that’s the latest … and I’m sticking to it!