A Day of Meetings, Prospects and Rumors

Baseball’s off-season kicked into gear on Tuesday … and there was plenty of Cubs news, and of course rumors to go around.

The Cubs organizational meetings are underway in Arizona and the team received both good and bad news concerning three of their top prospects.

According to a report from Cubs.com, Brett Jackson’s season is over after being hospitalized because of cellulitis with an abscess in his shin, which is similar to a staph infection.

The rosters were announced for the AFL’s Rising Stars game … Chris Carpenter and Josh Vitters will participate in the event this Saturday, which will be televised on the MLB Network.

As for the big league team … while the official announcement has not been made, Pat Listach, the Cubs new bench coach, spent time on XM Radio talking about his new team and admitting he would love to have Adam Dunn join him in Chicago.

On the day the tickets for the 26th annual Cubs Convention go on sale, here is the latest from the North Side, with rumors from Bruce Levine … plus, could the Cubs actually take a shot at trading for Adrian Gonzalez?

Brett Jackson
According to multiple reports from Arizona, Brett Jackson’s season is over. Jackson was playing in the Arizona Fall League but has been shutdown after being hospitalized “with a bacterial infection in his right shin.”

Jackson missed time in the Pan Am Qualifying Tournament and in the AFL because of a minor ankle injury.

From Cubs.com:

“Oneri Fleita said Tuesday that Jackson had to be hospitalized in Mesa, Ariz., because of cellulitis with an abscess in his shin, which is similar to a staph infection. Jackson was expected to be released Wednesday. Fleita said Jackson will go home later this week but come back to Mesa, Ariz., in January to workout with other Cubs players in preparation for the 2011 season.”

AFL Rising Stars
Chris Carpenter and Josh Vitters are among the game’s top prospects that will participate in the AFL Rising Stars game this Saturday. Carpenter and Vitters were named to the East Division squad and will represent the Chicago Cubs in the annual event that will air Saturday on the MLB Network.

Aramis Ramirez
While Xavier Nady’s days with the Cubs appear to be over, Aramis Ramirez has three days (midnight Thursday) “to decide whether to exercise his $14.6 player option for 2011 and return to the Cubs.”

Ramirez indicated several times toward the end of the season that he would exercise his option and stay with the Cubs.

The Big League Coaching Staff
An interesting tidbit worth passing along from Bruce Miles:

“For the first time in a long time, they will have a manager that’s interested in and invested in the minor league system. Ditto for bench coach Pat Listach, who worked in the Cubs system before taking over as Washington’s third base coach in 2009.”

Miles explained, “Lou Piniella, Dusty Baker and Don Baylor didn’t know a whole lot about the system or the people in it.”

Pat Listach made a similar statement during his time on XM Radio.

Pat Listach on XM Radio
The Cubs new bench coach joined Jeff Joyce and Jim Bowden on Tuesday afternoon to discuss his new job … as well as the Washington Nationals.

Even though the official announcement has not been made, Pat Listach is the Cubs’ new bench coach and is in Arizona this week participating in the organizational meetings.

Jim Bowden wasted no time asking about Adam Dunn.

Listach said he has a good relationship with Adam Dunn and would love to have him in Chicago. Listach explained that he knows what Dunn brings to the table and mentioned he has spoken with Dunn a couple of times already since the season ended.

Listach admitted the Cubs have questioned him about Dunn … especially about his defense. Listach said he has room for improvement in the field. Dunn knows this and so does the Cubs. The offense Dunn brings to the table is not the problem. Listach thinks Dunn’s defense has improved the last two seasons.

Listach described Dunn’s defense as “adequate” and said he’s no Adrian Gonzalez or Derrek Lee at first base. Listach added Dunn has to want to get better defensively.

Mike Quade is a teacher and a grinder according to Listach and will be a lot more hands on than Lou Piniella, Dusty Baker or Don Baylor. Listach is really looking forward to working with Quade and sounded very excited about the opportunity.

Listach is also looking forward to working with the Cubs’ prospects. He likes what he’s seen from Starlin Castro and pointed out he has a good relationship with Josh Vitters. Listach described Castro as a special player and it will be his job to help him cut down on his errors in the field … both the physical and mental ones.

The Cubs’ new bench coach knows several players on the Cubs current big league roster, including Blake DeWitt and Aramis Ramirez.

Pat Listach, like Mike Quade, sounds like he is ready to get to work.

Chatting with Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat on ESPN Chicago.com on Tuesday afternoon. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • The Cubs will do their best to trade Kosuke Fukudome this winter.
  • The Cubs will listen to offers for Carlos Zambrano … despite the fact he’s said he will not waive his no-trade clause.
  • Tyler Colvin would be the “easy solution” at first base if the Cubs don’t have enough money to sign Adam Dunn. There will be six to seven other free agent first basemen that will be more cost effective than Dunn this winter.
  • The “other wild card” at first base, according to Levine, is Adrian Gonzalez. The Cubs “would certainly have interest” in trading for Gonzalez despite the fact he is one-year from free agency.
  • Money is “going to be the key to the Cubs” this winter. According to Levine, “it appears for the third year in a row, Hendry will not have much flexibility in his payroll unless he makes some trades and dumps a big salary.”
  • The Cubs would be interested in bringing Kerry Wood back if the Yankees do not “make him a great offer.” Levine thinks the Yankees could pay him between $3 and $5 million to be a setup man, which would be out of the Cubs’ price range. Levine pointed out to not underestimate Wood’s desire to return to the Cubs … plus the leadership he would provide in the clubhouse would be valuable, something the Cubs have missed since Hendry decided to let him walk.
  • The Cubs have interest in a lot of players but what Hendry can add depends on the payroll figure he has to work with … Levine reiterated that the Cubs already have $120 – $125 million committed for next season (with arbitration raises) and that “won’t leave too much to add players.”
  • With Davey Lopes resigning, Philadelphia could be a possibility for Ryne Sandberg.
  • The Cubs will have to eat $6 – $7 million of Kosuke Fukudome’s $13 million salary in order to move him (Fukudome is owed $13.5 million in the final year of his contract).
  • A starting pitcher is on the Cubs wish list.
  • Aramis Ramirez “almost bit” Levine’s head off in September when he asked Ramirez about moving to first base.

One final rumor from Tuesday … XM Radio’s Mike Ferrin, a lifelong Cubs’ fan, thinks the Cubs might have enough to trade for Adrian Gonzalez this winter. Ferrin brought up the fact the Cubs were very close at acquiring Jake Peavy two winters ago and while the Padres have a new GM in place (Jed Hoyer replaced Kevin Towers), the Padres are very familiar with the Cubs’ system due to all of the homework from two years ago.

While Ferrin is correct in his assessment, the Cubs’ system has improved over the last two years and many of the chips that could go in a deal for Adrian Gonzalez were not in the system then.

The Padres will without a doubt receive a large package for Gonzalez but could receive more during the season once he proves he has fully recovered from his recent shoulder surgery.

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Well, that’s the latest … and I’m sticking to it.

Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt