The Latest Buzz on the Cubs

Pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park in 28 days and Jim Hendry still has work to do. The Cubs would like to add a right-handed fourth outfielder and a right-handed relief pitcher before camp.

The Cubs have been connected to several players in recent days by the mainstream media to fill those holes. On the outfield front, Jermaine Dye appears to be the front-runner but Xavier Nady, Rocco Baldelli and Ryan Spilborghs remain on their radar. Plus, Bruce Levine mentioned the Cubs could still be interested in Rick Ankiel.

On the reliever front, Jason Frasor and Luke Gregerson are the latest. The Cubs have also been linked to Ben Sheets, Mark Mulder and Jose Contreras to fill a spot in the rotation.

Here’s the latest from the mill, with a reminder. Don’t fall for a big name as the off-season comes to an end. Take off the “fan goggles” and look at the peripheral numbers …

Chatting with Bruce Levine

The always-informative Bruce Levine held his weekly chat on Tuesday afternoon … here are the highlights:

  • Randy Wells told Bruce Levine during the convention that he is “working hard to make sure there’s no such thing as a sophomore jinx for him.”
  • Ryan Theriot told Levine he is “all good” if the Cubs ask him to switch to second base. The “only caveat” is the Cubs must make sure Starlin Castro can be the every day second baseman. As Levine pointed out, Theriot at second would make the Cubs better defensively.
  • If Rick Ankiel’s stock continues to fall, Levine is sure the Cubs would consider signing him.
  • The Cubs are looking at Jason Frasor and Luke Gregerson.
  • Contracts signed by arbitration eligible players are not guaranteed until April 1
  • Reed Johnson is more of a small-ball type-player and Jermaine Dye is a RBI guy that could step in for Alfonso Soriano if he spends time on the DL again.
  • Xavier Nady is coming off his second Tommy John surgery “and no one knows if he’ll be able to throw decently again.”
  • The Cubs are interested in Rocco Baldelli.
  • Jermaine Dye’s options are limited according to Levine and “it doesn’t appear many teams have money to offer him.”
  • There is concern with Angel Guzman’s health, based on history. Other teams “really like him, the Cubs have fielded offers.”
  • Ryan Spilborghs is a fourth or fifth outfielder and would not give the Cubs the offense that Jermaine Dye could.
  • Levine does not think the Cubs are expecting much out of Carlos Silva.
  • Jose Contreras is still on the Cubs’ radar.
  • Jeff Samardzija will receive a “legitimate shot at the fifth starters role.”
  • Levine believes Tom Ricketts will give Jim Hendry “more money around the trade deadline if the team needs to make a move or two to compete.”
  • Hendry will have a better idea how much money he has left for the upcoming season once they sign Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall and Ryan Theriot.

Jermaine Dye

The Cubs and Jermaine Dye have discussed a deal … and the Cubs priority “at the moment is Dye.” Apparently the proverbial ball is in his court.

According to Bruce Levine, Dye must decide if he can handle reduced playing time and a pay cut before the talks with the Cubs can proceed. The Cubs do not want him to sign if he will not be happy with an unfamiliar role.

Dye earned $11 million last year and Levine figures there would be a 66% pay cut for him to sign with the Cubs … that is just under $5 million dollars. Levine thinks Dye could end up playing around 125 games for the Cubs due to Alfonso Soriano’s injury history in his first three years and Kosuke Fukudome’s inconsistent offense.

Jermaine Dye lives in Scottsdale during the off-season, which could play a part in his decision. The Cubs train in Mesa and Dye would be able to spend more time with his family.

Bruce Levine thinks Jermaine Dye is the best fit (of all the rumored names) for the Cubs … despite how bad the Cubs’ defense in the outfield will be with Alfonso Soriano in left and Dye in right. Dye is a “terrific clubhouse guy” and would be “an excellent addition to the Cubs.”

Levine thinks the Cubs will know Jermaine Dye’s decision “rather quickly.”

Ben Sheets

The Cubs were one of eight to twelve teams at Ben Sheets’ workout at the University of Louisiana at Monroe on Tuesday. The Cubs sent Ken Kravec and Jim Crawford to take a look at Sheets and report back to Jim Hendry. Reports on XM and MLB Network indicated there were 20 to 25 scouts on hand to watch Sheets’ workout.

According to a report by Jim Bowden on XM Radio, Sheets was very impressive during his workout. He hit the low 90s on his fastball, showed off a good breaking ball and appeared to throw “nice and easy.” Bowden said he spoke with a scout that was in attendance Tuesday and he came away impressed.

Jon Paul Morosi joined Scott Graham and Billy Ripken during Baseball This Morning (XM Radio) on Tuesday. He feels the Cubs are the contender that needs Sheets the most … and Morosi said if healthy, Sheets best fits with the Cubs due to his past success and familiarity with the NL Central.

Morosi said one of the biggest stories of the off-season not making headlines was Ted Lilly’s shoulder surgery (on a side note, the CCO more than agrees). The Cubs will miss Lilly more than anyone realizes, which makes Sheets a necessity for the Cubs according to Morosi.

When asked about Ben Sheets during the convention, the Cubs stated time and time again that they are looking to add a fourth outfielder and a right-handed reliever. Jim Hendry said during the convention he is not looking to add a free agent starter before camp.

Jim Bowden discussed Ben Sheets off and on during MLB Live with Joe Castellano on Tuesday night. Bowden knows Casey Close (Sheets’ agent) will take time to evaluate all of the offers Sheets’ receives. The offers should start rolling in within 72 hours.

Bowden does not think Ben Sheets will sign a contract (he is thinking a one-year deal) before the end of next week. Bowden spoke to a second talent evaluator that indicated Sheets “certainly increased his value with Tuesday’s workout.”

The Cubs thought Ben Sheets looked good on Tuesday according to Bruce Miles … but “they’re still nowhere down the line on offering a contract to Sheets.”

Other Rumors

As Carrie Muskat tweeted, Jeff Gray will wear number 34 this spring.

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

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Quote of the Day

"Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow." - Plato
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