Cubs Rumors from A to Big Z

The Cubs rumor mill received a jolt on Monday morning. The report in the New York Post that indicated Brian Cashman inquired about the availability of Carlos Zambrano sent the Cubs and Zambrano’s agent into denial mode. Both sides said there was nothing to the rumors … and Barry Praver, Carlos Zambrano’s agent, said the Cubs have not approached Zambrano about waiving his no-trade clause.

Barry Praver told multiple outlets that Carlos Zambrano is not interested in waiving his no-trade clause … and would basically invoke his no-trade rights if approached.

The Cubs are looking to add a centerfielder that much is known, as well as an arm to the backend of their pen. Matt Capps is expected to make his decision in the next few days and could follow former Cub, Jason Marquis, to the Washington Nationals.

Here’s the latest from A to Z … Rick Ankiel

Rick Ankiel is still in the mix to fill the Cubs’ need for a centerfielder. A report on Monday night from Ken Rosenthal indicated Ankiel might be a fit due to the fact he is left-handed.

Apparently the Cubs are back on the need to have a more balanced lineup (or get more left-handed).

Ronnie Belliard

ESPN mentioned Ronnie Belliard as one of three free agent second basemen the Cubs could sign this winter. The report did not say the Cubs are interested in Belliard or have contacted his representatives.

Marlon Byrd

Reports suggested on Friday that the Cubs were close to signing Marlon Byrd … and one rumor indicated it could happen within 24 hours. Three days later, Byrd is still on the open market. Could this be a good non-move by Jim Hendry?

Byrd is the better defensive centerfielder of the three free agents the Cubs are rumored to be interested in. But he is 32 (will turn 33 on August 30) and would have to hit in the middle of the lineup.

Byrd is coming off basically a career-year in a hitter’s park … and a team that should be looking to get younger must stop handing out multi-year contracts to players over 30 years of age.

Ken Rosenthal reported the Cubs might be cooling a little on Marlon Byrd. Byrd hits right-handed pitching better than southpaws and would have to hit in the middle of the lineup … adding Byrd would give the Cubs a middle of the order (three through seven) that hits from the right side of the plate.

Marlon Byrd’s Page on Baseball Reference

Melky Cabrera

The Cubs are interested in Melky Cabrera … but no one knows if he is available. The Yankees have an extra centerfielder (or two) and could be looking to move either Cabrera or Brett Gardner.

The rumor surrounding Carlos Zambrano on Monday speculated Cabrera could be part of the discussion.

Melky Cabrera’s Page on Baseball Reference

Matt Capps

Matt Capps was hoping to sign with a team before the Christmas holidays begin according to a report from Bruce Levine.

The Nationals and Cubs have pursued Capps very aggressively. The Nationals can offer Capps a closing job while the Cubs are looking at Capps to be the primary right-handed setup man to Carlos Marmol.

Levine reported Matt Capps could cost between $7 and $8 million on a two-year deal.

Matt Capps spoke with Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood during Talkin’ Baseball on Saturday morning. Capps’ wife is pushing him to sign with the Cubs (click here for a report of Capps’ interview on ESPN 1000).

According to a report from Ken Rosenthal, it is going to be a tough decision for Matt Capps … and his decision could come in the next few days.

Kiko Calero

The Tribune first mentioned the Cubs possible interest in Kiko Calero two weekends ago. Ken Rosenthal threw out Calero’s name and the Cubs possible interest on Saturday. Could Calero be the Cubs back-up plan if they lose out on Matt Capps?

Brett Gardner

Brett Gardner wants to stay with the Yankees … at least that is what he told Holden Kushner and Jim Bowden on Monday morning (Baseball This Morning – XM Radio) but he indicated he would like to play everyday as well … notching around 500 to 600 at bats. He said he understands baseball is a business and if he remains in the game long enough he will likely be traded.

Kushner asked him about the rumors surrounding the Cubs. Gardner said it would be fun to play with another team, like the Cubs.

Jim Hendry is apparently exploring other options for to play centerfield … which is a nice departure from just opening the checkbook, back loading the contract and signing whoever is the best option of that particular winter.

Brett Gardner’s Page on Baseball Reference

Orlando Hudson

Orlando Hudson’s name ended up in the rumor mill once again on Monday. A report from ESPN mentioned Hudson in a list of middle infielders the Cubs could be looking at this winter.

The Cubs are looking to upgrade their offensive production from the second base position.

Mike Fontenot is penciled in as the Cubs’ starting second baseman next season … with Jeff Baker serving as his platoon partner and back-up both Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee (as well as provide depth in the corner spots in the outfield).

Felipe Lopez

Felipe Lopez was mentioned by ESPN as one of three free agent second basemen the Cubs could sign this winter. The report did not say the Cubs are interested or have contacted his representatives.

Scott Podsednik

Scott Podsednik is still on the Cubs’ radar. He produced at the top of the White Sox lineup but his defense is, well less than desirable. The Sox used him in left due to his Juan-Pierre-type-arm. While Podsednik would give the Cubs a leadoff hitter, their defense in center would take a step back.

In the post-steroid era, teams have begun realizing the defense a player can provide is just as important as what they can do with the bat.

The Tigers are interested in Podsednik … but only on a one-year deal. Rumors have suggested Podsednik is looking for a three-year deal in the $12 million range.

Carlos Zambrano

Bruce Levine described Monday’s rumor in the New York Daily Post as “premature.” The Post speculated the discussion with the Yankees included such names as Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner. Levine pointed out that any deal for Zambrano would “have to include young pitching coming back.

Levine said if the Cubs were to deal Zambrano to the Yankees, Phil Hughes and/or Joba Chamberlainwould have to be included.

Bruce Miles mentioned in his blog that he spoke to a Cubs’ guy and he told Miles “something to the effect of the price is too high for the Yankees even though we’ve never talked.

Ken Davidoff of Newsday tweeted the Yankees did ask the Cubs about Carlos Zambrano a few weeks ago. The deal would have only worked, according to Davidoff, if the Cubs sent money along with Zambrano to the Yankees. The two teams are not currently discussing a deal that would include Carlos Zambrano.

Other Notes and Rumors

Four-Team Trade

How does the old saying go? Hindsight is better than …

Would the Cubs have been better off with Luis Castillo and Pat Burrell than Carlos Silva? According to a report from the Tribune citing a Jayson Stark as the source, the Cubs were almost involved in a four-team trade with the Mets, Angels and Rays during the Winter Meetings.

The Cubs would have sent Milton Bradley to the Rays. The Cubs would have received Luis Castillo from the Mets and Pat Burrell from the Rays. Gary Matthews, Jr. would have been sent to the Mets and it is unknown what the Angels would have received in the deal … except unloading Matthews, Jr.

The Milton Bradley-Carlos Silva Swap

Fangraphs took a look at the Milton Bradley for Carlos Silva trade on Sunday.

Click here for the reportWhat are the Cubs doing?

And for what it’s worth, Keith Law thinks the Cubs would have been better off just releasing Milton Bradley.

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