Weekend Update … Heath Bell Back in the Cubs’ Rumor Mill

The next seven days should be anything but boring for, and around, the Chicago Cubs. First is the quarterly Owner’s Meetings in Arizona, that for the first time will have the General Managers from all 30 teams in attendance … speculation is the gathering of all the decision makers in the game could up serving as a mini-version of the Winter Meetings.

Second is the Cubs Caravan, which begins on Wednesday. The two-day event consists of two tours visiting seven cities.

The week will conclude with the 25th Annual Cubs Convention that kicks off on Friday afternoon at the Chicago Hilton. The three-day fan fest consists of Cubs’ players past and present, Cubs’ management and will be the first under the Ricketts family. The extremely popular ‘Meet Cubs Management‘ on Saturday morning has all of the makings of being the best session of the weekend.

Here’s the latest from the mill, including a report from Phil Rogers that indicated Heath Bell is back on the Cubs’ radar …

The Latest from Levine

Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood spent a majority of their weekly show on ESPN 1000 (Talkin’ Baseball) discussing the Hall of Fame … and the election of Andre Dawson.

The always-informative Mr. Levine dropped a couple of tidbits worth passing along.

The Cubs are looking at possible trades to make additions to the bullpen. Bruce Levine did not mention any names … but did indicate that Jim Hendry is not done with adding to his pen.

The Cubs are interested in Ben Sheets. They spoke with his agent, Casey Close, during the Winter Meetings but are obviously concerned about his injury history.

Many feel the asking price of a lot of players will drop in the coming weeks … and the first of those deals may have happened last week. Scott Podsednik signed for a lot less than his asking price of three years and $9 to $10 million.

The Cubs showed interest in Podsednik, who ended up signing a one-year contract with the Royals worth $1.75 million. The deal included an option for 2011 worth $2 million and incentives. Podsednik called the deal humbling” and said it “hit home.”

The contract signed by Scott Podsednik could end up benefiting the Cubs.

The Cubs are still interested in bringing back Reed Johnson according to Bruce Levine. Johnson was rumored to be looking for a one-year deal in the $3 million range. Levine thinks the Podsednik contract might have lowered Johnson’s price to a more realistic $1 million.

Bruce Levine mentioned toward the end of his show that the Cubs are still interested in Jose Contreras and John Smoltz.

Heath Bell

According to a report from Phil Rogers, the Cubs “are kicking the tires again” on Heath Bell.

The Cubs were rumored to be interested in trading for the Padres’ closer last year. Heath Bell is one of the best closers in the league and would more than help the backend of the Cubs’ pen.

Rogers questioned what Lou Piniella would do with two closers.

Carlos Marmol struggled with his control as the setup man to Kevin Gregg. Marmol issued free pass after free pass before Gregg blew too many games and lost his job. Once Marmol took over he was a lot more effective and remembered how to throw strikes … for the most part.

If there is any truth to the Rogers rumor, adding Heath Bell could give the Cubs one of the better one-two punches at the end of the game in the National League.

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

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Quote of the Day

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