Is the Cubs Hot Stove Heating Up?

The countdown to the winter meetings has begun … and the Cubs made a few waves on Tuesday. Rich Harden, Kevin Gregg and Reed Johnson were not offered salary arbitration and will likely be with another team in 2010. The Cubs could re-sign Reed Johnson but that depends on the moves they are able to make after unloading Milton Bradley.

Some think the upcoming winter meetings will be filled with signings and trades … will Jim Hendry and company be able to accomplish their biggest goal of the off-season and improve the 2010 squad at the same time? Here’s the latest from the mill …

Chatting with Bruce Levine

The always informative Bruce Levine conducted his weekly chat on Tuesday afternoon … here are a few of the highlights:

  • According to Bruce Levine, there “is zero chance” that Milton Bradley will be with the Cubs next season.
  • Jim Hendry is attempting to make a deal with the Rays or Mets … or a combination of the two for Milton Bradley. (Note: could this be the Burrell to the Mets, Castillo to the Cubs connection?)
  • There is no money for the Cubs to offer free-agent Chone Figgins
  • Curtis Granderson will cost the Cubs at least two solid young players
  • Andrew Cashner is not far away from helping the Cubs (Note: some think Cashner could be with the big league team as early as 2010) and James Russell figures in the Cubs plans after the 2010 season.
  • Levine does not see how Mark DeRosa could help the 2010 Chicago Cubs.
  • The Cubs need to address their bench for next season
  • On Orlando Hudson or Orlando Cabrera … “Right now Hendry could discuss parameters of those types of signings but he really doesn’t have the money to make that happen at this point.
  • Derrek Lee said he would not waive his no-trade clause last November … Levine mentioned once again a likely scenario for Lee is to sign a one-year extension with an option some time before the end of spring training.”
  • On Ben Sheets … “Sheets probably would be somebody they would look at due to the fact they have payroll constraints.” The Cubs like Sheets’ “competitive nature” but his injury history is questionable … or as Levine called it “a giant red flag.”
  • Rick Ankiel would be a “nice platoon-type player” for the Cubs. No one knows if Ankiel can be a productive, everyday player.
  • On the Cubs payroll for 2010 … “Due to the fact that veteran player salaries continue to escalate, the payroll is already at $140 million. Mr. Ricketts has decided not to spend any more money than that at this point. Until Bradley is traded, there is no real reason to ask the owner for any more money. After that, I’m sure the Cubs GM will feel like he has more of an organized look at what he would like to do for next season.

Rich Harden

The Cubs raised a lot of eyebrows on Tuesday when they did not offer salary arbitration to Rich Harden. Harden is a Type-B free agent and the Cubs would have received a sandwich pick (between the first and second rounds) if Harden signed with another team.

The Cubs reportedly had a chance to deal Harden to the Twins last August. Minnesota claimed Harden off waivers but the Cubs pulled them back because they felt the season was not over yet. According to Bruce Miles, the Cubs would not have received much in return from the Twins … and they were not ready to pack-it in for the season when they had a chance to deal him to Minnesota.

Many feel Harden would have earned around $10 million in salary arbitration for the 2010 season … a risk the Cubs could not take on basically a five-inning pitcher at this point. The speculation is there could be “trouble ahead” for Rich Harden and the Cubs did not want to take the chance with that much money.

Bruce Levine pointed out $10 million is a lot to pay for one-year to a pitcher with a tremendous arm and shoulder issues.

According to a report from the Sun-Times, it is a matter of when, not if, when Harden’s troublesome shoulder blows out.

Milton Bradley

According to a report from Bruce Miles, “things could be heating up ever so slightly” on Milton Bradley. Miles is not expecting Bradley to be traded before the beginning of the winter meetings on Monday … but maybe at the winter meetings.

According to a report from the Daily Herald, “there appears to be some optimism a deal could get done – perhaps with Texas or Tampa Bay – at the meetings.” Once Bradley is traded, the Cubs can turn their attention to either Marlon Byrd or Mike Cameron for centerfield according to the Daily Herald.

From the Hot Stove

Florida or Bust?

Tom Ricketts and Crane Kenney were in Tallahassee on Tuesday. Mr. Ricketts and Mr. Kenney met with Florida Governor Charlie Crist and other state officials about relocating the Cubs to Florida.

Dusty Baker

Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times sent the CCO an email about a link to an excerpt from a book he has coming out next month. “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers” is the name of the book and the excerpt is about Dusty Baker.

Click Here for the Excerpt: “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers, 1876-2008” Dusty Baker

This is an excellent look at Dusty Baker and well worth the time.

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

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney