Weekend Update … Cubs Gearing Up for Quick Moves?

The days leading up to Christmas could be filled with at least two more additions to the Cubs roster for 2010. With the Cubs top priority of the off-season out of their way, the Cubs appear close to signing a centerfielder and a veteran arm for the bullpen … Marlon Byrd and Matt Capps.

Here is the latest from the mill … including Matt Capps on ESPN 1000.

Notes from Talkin’ Baseball

Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood discussed the latest for both Chicago teams on Saturday morning …

  • Rick Ankiel is on the Cubs radar.
  • Matt Capps is high on the Cubs list … and could be signed soon.
  • Jim Hendry had conversations with Brian Cashman during the Winter Meetings about Melky Cabrera.
  • The Cubs are looking to add a centerfielder, a right-handed reliever and possibly a second baseman. Levine indicated the Cubs would like to add a second baseman this winter if enough room is left in the payroll.
  • Melky Cabrera would be a good addition to the Chicago Cubs … but Levine is not sure what it would take to make him the Cubs’ centerfielder.
  • The Cubs’ bench is a concern according to Levine. It is not a championship bench. It is very depleted.
  • Jeff Baker will be a backup at second and third as well as in the outfield in 2010. Levine was told Jeff Baker is an outstanding outfielder.
  • Mike Fontenot is the Cubs starting second baseman right now.
  • Jim Hendry has a lot of work to do … but it is only December 19, 2009
  • Tyler Colvin is not projected to be the Cubs’ starting centerfielder in 2010.
  • The Cubs unwillingness to trade their good young talent makes signing a free agent an easier process.
  • Jim Hendry wants to win in 2010 but wants to keep the good talent in the system.
  • The Cubs have discussed Xavier Nady. They think he would fit in right but Kosuke Fukudome struggled in center and will be back in right next year. The Cubs know the importance of defense and Fukudome in right gives them better defense in the outfield.
  • All of the guys the Cubs are looking for to play center have “warts” according to Bruce Levine. Marlon Byrd is older, Scott Podsednik’s defense is horrible and Rick Ankiel is coming off a bad year.
  • Alfonso Soriano is working hard this off-season to get ready for 2010. He has a personal trainer and is working on strengthening his core muscles in hopes of making the bottom half of his body stronger.
  • Rudy Jaramillo told Bruce Levine he’s already found a couple of problems with Soriano’s swing.
  • Levine said if Rick Ankiel ends up in Chicago that Rudy Jaramillo could add 30 to 40 points to his batting average.

Milton Bradley Trade

Bruce Levine began his weekly talk show by explaining Friday’s trade was good news for Milton Bradley, the Chicago Cubs and the Cubs’ fans. The Bradley signing was a bad move from his first game at Wrigley. The deck was kinda stacked against Bradley before he ever played a game at Wrigley according to Levine … due to the Sun-Times article by Gordon Wittenmyer.

Levine explained that Wittenmyer’s story hurt Bradley. Levine was quick to point out that Wittenmyer is not prejudice and both white and black players receive hate mail throughout the league.

The bottom line was Milton Bradley was not ready to handle the big market and playing for the Chicago Cubs … big factors Jim Hendry should have taken into account.

Bradley is not a National League player. He is a designated hitter that can play in the outfield. It was a big mistake according to Levine by Hendry to try to turn Bradley into something he is not.

Levine said if the Cubs get anything out of Carlos Silva then the trade would be considered a wash.

The Mariners are very happy about the trade. The media in the area is calling Jack Zduriencik a miracle worker for unloading Carlos Silva and they are ecstatic that Milton Bradley is now on their team. Zduriencik took a complete disaster in Silva and turned him into a middle of the order RBI guy … as Levine pointed out, Bradley is not a middle of the order RBI guy. He does not change his approach in RBI situations.

The Cubs had eight guys that drove in more runs last year than Milton Bradley, including Jake Fox. Levine said this is a case where sabermetrics fail. Bradley only gives a team singles and walks with the exception of 2008.

Matt Capps on Talkin’ Baseball

Matt Capps spent a little time with Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood on Saturday morning. Levine mentioned Capps’ possible destinations at the beginning of the interview … the Cubs? The Nationals? Whichever team would not be known on Saturday.

Matt Capps said he has always loved Chicago, the atmosphere at Wrigley and the fans. Capps explained he likes several restaurants in the city and his wife likes shopping on Michigan Avenue.

Levine asked about the role he would prefer with his new team. Capps explained he’s had success as a set-up man and as a closer. He had a pretty good 2006 and 2007 seasons before taking over the closer’s role with the Pirates. Capps thinks he had a solid year in 2008 before struggling last year. Later in the interview, Capps admitted the line drive he took last year had an affect on him but it got better as the year progressed. He realizes the longer he plays the game there is a greater chance he will get hit again.

Capps said he wants to win and sign with a team that has a winning atmosphere. He said he could be a set-up man or a closer … basically whatever his new team wants as long as he has a chance to win. Capps jokingly said he would play left field or shortstop if it meant winning.

Levine mentioned the fact that the Cubs have become “Pittsburgh West” due to the fact several former Bucs play on the North Side … John Grabow, Aramis Ramirez and Tom Gorzelanny.

Capps said if the opportunity and fit is right it is a pretty good chance he will sign with the Cubs. He explained there are still things he has to work out on his end before signing with a new team. Capps stressed, once again, the fact he wants to be in a winning environment, but it also has to be a good fit for him.

The former Pirates’ closer indicated there is just as good a chance of him being a Cub as signing with another team … Capps said he’s gotta see what happens in the next day or so.

Bruce Levine asked Capps about his wife pushing for him to sign with the Cubs. Levine said a “source” had given him the tip. Capps repeated the statement so his wife could hear what he was saying.

Capps’ wife loves Chicago. He said there is a comfort zone there for her and explained she is very good friends with Lindsey Gorzelanny and Carrie Grabow.

Matt Capps finished the interview by saying, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I look forward to meeting you guys in person.

ESPN Chicago reported details of the interview during Talkin’ Baseball. The Orioles, Marlins and Cardinals are among the other teams interested in Matt Capps. Capps has had preliminary talks with the Cubs.

Click here for a link to the Podcast on ESPN 1000.

Gordon Wittenmyer on XM Radio

Gordon Wittenmyer joined Jeff Joyce on MLB Live Weekend (XM Radio) on Saturday afternoon.

Wittenmyer began the interview by saying he knew Milton Bradley would be traded. Jim Hendry could have gotten a deal done sooner but the Cubs did not like what they were getting in return. If it ended up taking until February the Cubs would have eaten more of the contract … but still unloaded him.

Jeff Joyce compared Bradley to Terrell Owens. Wittenmyer pointed out that Owens produced and Milton did not. He explained that Bradley had one good year (Texas) and that the OBP numbers he puts up is not all positive … Milton does not change his approach at the plate with runners in scoring position.

The Cubs thought highly of Mike Cameron but were not going to offer him a two-year deal like the Red Sox did.

Wittenmyer thinks the dominos will start to fall quickly and other moves could be made within a weekif not in the next couple of days. Wittenmyer is anticipating several moves to happen soon and mentioned Marlon Byrd and Matt Capps.

Wittenmyer spoke with people familiar with the Byrd situation on Saturday and said a deal could be made very soon with him. Wittenmyer mentioned a two or three year deal as a possibility.

Jim Hendry spoke to a lot of agents in order to make quick moves once Bradley was traded. The Cubs did not have to move Bradley in order to make additions but by waiting to move him they now know how much flexibility they have in their payroll. In other words if the Cubs need to add a little to get the player they want (with moving Bradley out of the way) Jim Hendry knows exactly how much he can spend.

One variable is the Cubs have eight players that are arbitration eligible. Wittenmyer knows negotiations have begun with a few of those players.

According to Wittenmyer the Cubs payroll will be in the $140 to $143 million range and with that number they have $8 to $10 million to make the additions they would like for 2010.

The Cubs are hoping Ted Lilly will be back on the mound and pitching by May. Wittenmyer described the Cubs hopes as optimistic. The Cubs have depth in their starting pitching and Carlos Silva adds to the depth. That was an important sticking point to trading Bradley, the Cubs wanted to add to their starting pitching inventory in any deal involving Bradley.

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

Quote of the Day

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." - John F. Kennedy

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