More Like Hibernation Season than the Hot Stove Season for the Cubs

Be very, very quiet … Jim Hendry and the Cubs are sleeping. While most of baseball is attempting to make their clubs better for 2010, the Cubs, so far, have not addressed their biggest needs or their number one priority this winter … dealing Milton Bradley.

It is only December 17 but at some point, Jim Hendry must begin scratching items off his to do list. Granted the Cubs re-signed John Grabow and hired Rudy Jaramillo but unless taking Mike Parisi in the Rule 5 Draft was one of the Cubs’ goals this winter … then two down and several more to go.

With all fairness, the Cubs traded away Aaron Heilman and Aaron Miles, which were steps in the right direction … but it cost them Jake Fox in the process. Jeff Gray is going to compete for a spot in the Cubs’ very young bullpen. They tendered contracts to all but one of their arbitration eligible players and added five players to their 40-man roster.

So moves have been made …

With fourteen days remaining in 2009, will Jim Hendry end a not-so-good year for the Cubs on a positive note?

At the end of the Winter Meetings, Jim Hendry said the following:

“I thought there would be more trading. I was hopeful there would, obviously for us. I talked to a few (GMs), and they felt like they were going to make a deal in the next couple of days. Maybe a lot of it was they’re getting closer and maybe they can tie it up.”

“For us, obviously we would have loved to make one here, but I don’t think it’s going to be a detriment. I think we’ll make a deal or two before the holidays.”

Bruce Levine mentioned the possibility of it being an interesting ten days for the Cubs leading up to Christmas.

While many feel the Cubs need to make several changes to their roster … a middle infielder, a starting pitcher, a bat off the bench and a late inning reliever. The Cubs apparently have no room left on the credit card for the upcoming year. Reportedly Jim Hendry would like to add a centerfielder and a right-handed reliever to his roster.

The Cubs have been connected to such players as Rick Ankiel, Marlon Byrd, Coco Crisp, Melky Cabrera and Scott Podsednik to play center, which would allow Lou Piniella to move Kosuke Fukudome back to right field. Byrd appears to be the priority of the bunch … and it is doubtful the Yankees will make Cabrera available.

With Kosuke back in right, there have been talks of signing a platoon partner for Fukudome … and Reed Johnson’s name has been brought up more than once.

As for relievers, the Cubs were rumored to be interested in Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano … both are off the market. Soriano ended up in Tampa and Gonzalez agreed to a two-year deal with the Orioles on Wednesday night.

Matt Capps and Kiko Calero entered the mill over the weekend. Not much has come out since on the Calero front … but every team in baseball is rumored to be interested in Matt Capps. Capps, a pitcher the Cubs have shown interest in over the years, could end up being too expensive for the Cubs’ budget.

Carrie Muskat reported the Cubs are keeping an eye on Kelvim Escobar … the Cubs were one of several teams that were on hand to watch Escobar throw. Escobar is recovering from a torn labrum in his shoulder, which resulted in surgery in 2008.

The former 18-game winner for the Angels has pitched in one game at the big league level since the end of the 2007 season.

The Mets are the frontrunner to sign Kelvim Escobar according to Baseball Prospectus. The former starter is looking for a bullpen job as he recovers from shoulder surgery.

Buster Olney mentioned the Cubs as a possible destination for Joel Pineiro but the fine folks at XM Radio feel he will end up with the Mets. Plus, Pineiro will cost the Cubs a lot of money and without Dave Duncan, Pineiro figures to revert back to his former self. Other possible starters in the rumor mill … Hendry spoke to Ben Sheets’ agent while he was in Indianapolis last week. But starting pitching is reportedly not high on the Cubs’ off-season priority list.

As for the latest on Milton BradleyBuster Olney reported on Wednesday that the Kansas City Royals are no longer a possibility for Bradley. There have been rumblings that the Cubs could send Bradley to Kansas City for Jose Guillen.

The Cubs and Royals have not spoken and it appears the rumors that linked Kansas City to the Cubs were just that … rumors.

Hendry ended one of the best years on the North Side in recent memory by signing Aaron Miles and trading away Mark DeRosa to make room for Milton Bradley. How will 2009 end?

“It’s the information age. Personally, I think it’s good for baseball. The more rumors, the better. I think it generates fan interest. People who follow baseball really care about that kind of stuff. I don’t see how it can be bad for the game in any way when it creates so much interest.”

Jim Hendry from Baseball Prospectus

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax