The Cubs Call Berkman … and Other Rumors

Less than 36 hours prior to Turkey Day (insert Cubs jokes here), the rumors surrounding the Chicago Cubs picked up when Lance Berkman told Ken Rosenthal that the Cubs have called his agent. Berkman said the A’s have been the most aggressive but the “Cubs have checked in, informing him of their opening at first base.”

Berkman said the arthroscopic surgery to clean out loose cartilage in his left knee last March 12 limited him all season. Berkman feels he can play either left or right field, as well as first base, and he is drawing interest from eight teams. Berkman told Rosenthal he would prefer to stay in the National League.

Here is the latest from the mill, including updated Cubs Spring Training Schedule and Off-Season calendar … plus the results from the CCO’s annual predictions contest. Lance Berkman
Berkman had a decent 2010 season from the left side (.267/.393/.453/.847 with 19 doubles, a triple and 13 home runs in 120 games) but was horrible against left-handed pitching (.171/.261/.256/.517 with four doubles, and a home run in 50 games).

Berkman is looking to prove last season was a result of not being healthy.

Berkman hit .274/.399/.509/.907 with 31 doubles, a triple and 25 home runs in 136 games for the Astros in 2009 … but still struggled against left-handed pitching (.231/.293/.418/.710 with four doubles and seven home runs).

In 75 career games at Wrigley, Berkman is a .220/.355/.384/.739 hitter with 11 doubles and 11 home runs.

Lance Berkman’s Page on Baseball-Reference

The Latest from Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat Tuesday afternoon on ESPN Chicago.com … here are the highlights:

  • Carlos Pena is possibility for the Cubs. Hendry might choose to pursue Pena because of the defense he brings to the table. As Levine pointed out, “he’s an outstanding glove man and still hits home runs and RBI to go along with strikeouts and a horrendous 2010 batting average in.” (On a side note: Like Berkman, Pena points to a knee injury for the reason for his poor 2010 campaign)
  • There is a decent chance Kerry Wood could end up back with the Cubs.
  • The Cubs will offer Jeff Baker a contract for the 2011 season … and will not non-tender him. According to Levine, if Baker does not find it reasonable enough, they will move on without him.
  • Adam Dunn is still the primary target of the White Sox … Dunn is out of the picture for the Cubs … “unless Mr. Ricketts changes his mind tomorrow and gives Hendry another $10-$12 million.”
  • Hendry talked to the Rangers about Chris Davis during the GM Meetings. Texas is interested in either Welington Castillo or Robinson Chirinos in return.
  • Hendry has a good rapport with Javier Vazquez’s agent (same as Marlon Byrd and Milton Bradley). Levine said a “two-year deal would not be out of the question for Vazquez.”

Javier Vazquez
Javier Vazquez is on the Cubs radar but he appears on the verge of signing with the Florida Marlins. The Marlins are moving forward on a one-year deal with Vazquez according to a report from Jayson Stark.

Vazquez “told people” he’s looking for a one-year contract in the “right place.”

Hendry met with Javier Vazquez’s agent during the GM meetings, as well as the agents for Aaron Harang and Vicente Padilla, according to a report last week from the Sun-Times.

Carlos Pena
From talking to various people, Bruce Miles sees the “Cubs more interested in Carlos Pena at this point that they would be in Adam LaRoche to play first base.”

Miles does not “see any quick strikes by the Cubs as they let the market develop.”

Arbitration Offers and Other Signings
If the Cubs were interested in signing Aubrey Huff, they can scratch him off their list. Huff agreed to a two-year deal with Giants on Tuesday worth $22 million. Huff’s deal includes a club option for 2013 worth $10 million.

Several players the Cubs are rumored to be interested in received arbitration offers from their former clubs on Tuesday: Adam LaRoche (D’Backs – Type B), Javier Vazquez (Yankees – Type B), Grant Balfour (Rays – Type A), Jon Garland (Padres – Type B), Jason Frasor (Blue Jays – Type A), Kevin Millwood (Orioles – Type B) and Adam Dunn (Nationals – Type A).

Three players that have been tied to the Cubs in recent weeks, Kerry Wood, Carlos Pena and Lance Berkman, did not receive arbitration offers.

The Cubs have the #9 pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft and it is protected. If the Cubs were to sign a Type A free agent, they would surrender their second round pick in the 2011 draft as compensation. All Type-B players net their old team a sandwich pick (between first and second rounds) as compensation and does not cost their new team a draft pick.

From Cot’s Contracts:

Type A players

  • Those who rank in the top 20 percent at their position. (Before the 2007-08 off-season, the Type A pool consisted of players ranking in the top 30 percent at their position.)
  • Compensation for a Type A player is the signing club’s first-round draft pick and a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds.

Type B players

  • Those who rank between 21 and 40 percent. (Before the 2007-08 off-season, the Type B pool consisted of players ranking between the top 31 and 50 percent at their position.)
  • Compensation for a Type B player is a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds.

Exceptions

  • If the signing club’s first-round draft pick falls in the upper half of the first round, that choice is protected and the signing club loses its second-round selection instead.
  • If a club signs multiple free agents within the same category, its earlier pick goes to the team that lost the higher-rated player.

CCO Predictions Contest
The CCO’s third annual predictions contest was as big a bust as the Cubs season. No one correctly predicted the Cubs would finish the 2010 campaign with a 75-87 record.

Click here for the Faithful’s predictions for 2010

2010-2011 Off-Season Calendar

November

  • 23 – Last date for former club to offer salary arbitration to ranked free agents to be eligible for draft pick compensation
  • 30 – Last date for free agent to accept salary arbitration from his former club

December

  • 2 – Deadline for clubs to offer 2011 contracts to unsigned players (arbitration eligible, service years 3-6)
  • 2 – Last day to request outright waivers to assign player prior to the Rule 5 Draft
  • 6 – 9 Baseball’s Winter Meetings – Lake Buena Vista, FL
  • 9 – Rule 5 Draft

2011

January

  • 5 – 15 – Salary arbitration filing period
  • (6 – BBWAA Hall of Fame voting announced)
  • 14 – 16 – 26th Annual Cubs Convention
  • 18 – Exchange of salary arbitration figures

February

  • 1 – 21 – Salary arbitration hearings
  • 13 – Voluntary reporting date to Spring Training for pitchers, catchers and injured players
  • 15 – End of Waiver Period
  • 16 – Beginning of New Waiver Period
  • 18 – Voluntary reporting date to Spring Training for other players
  • 27 – Cubs vs. A’s at HoHoKam Park, Mesa

March

  • 1 – Mandatory reporting date to Spring Training for all players
  • 2 – 11 – Teams may renew contracts of unsigned players
  • 14 – Last day to place a player on unconditional release waivers and pay 30 days termination pay instead of 45 days
  • 28 – Last day to request unconditional release waivers on a player without having to pay his full 2010 salary
  • 30 – All clubs must reduce their active roster to 25 players
  • 31 – Opening Day for 2011 Baseball Season

April

  • 1 – Opening Day for Chicago Cubs – Cubs vs. Pirates at Wrigley Field

Will Update Off-Season Calendar throughout winter

Cubs 2011 Spring Training Schedule
The Cubs 2011 Cactus League schedule is slated to be released next week, but several teams have already released their spring schedules. Here is what has been pieced together to this point:

February 27 – vs. A’s – Mesa
February 28 – vs. Brewers (ss) – Mesa
March 2 – at Brewers – Maryvale
March 5 – vs. Padres – Mesa
March 6 (ss) – at Reds – Goodyear
March 6 (ss) – vs. Dodgers – Mesa
March 7 – vs. Angels – Mesa
March 10 – vs. Indians – Mesa
March 11 – at White Sox – Goodyear
March 12 – vs. Reds – Mesa
March 14 – at Mariners – Peoria
March 15 – at A’s (ss) – Phoenix
March 17 – at A’s – Phoenix
March 18 – vs. Reds – Mesa
March 19 – at Padres – Peoria
March 20 – vs. Giants – Mesa
March 21 – at Angels – Tempe
March 22 – at Dodgers – Goodyear
March 23 – vs. A’s – Mesa
March 24 – vs. White Sox – Mesa
March 25 – vs. Mariners (ss) – Mesa
March 28 – at Indians – Goodyear

March 6 is one of the Cubs split squad days. Half of Q’s crew will stay behind and face the Dodgers in Mesa while the other half travels to Goodyear. The Cubs will play a night game on March 19 against the Padres in Peoria.

The Cubs have participated in the Big League Weekend at Cashman Field in Las Vegas every year since 2005 … but there has not been an announcement yet if the Cubs will make the trip to Sin City for the seventh spring in a row.

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Well, there’s the update … and Happy Thanksgiving!