The CCO’s first weekend update of 2011 … it might be a New Year but Jim Hendry remains focused on making improvements to his pitching staff. Matt Garza is still at the top of the GM’s wish list and according to Bruce Levine, Hendry is “trying like heck” to trade for Garza.
Here is the update including more on Garza, plus notes and rumors from Talkin’ Baseball …
The always-informative Bruce Levine provided some insight on the Cubs’ off-season New Year’s Day. Along side Fred Huebner, the talk ranged from the players Jim Hendry is still working to acquire and keys for the Cubs in 2011.
The keys to the Cubs’ upcoming season is Carlos Zambrano … along with Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez, plus the continued development of Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin.
Here are the highlights …
Jason Frasor is probably still available and Levine thinks the Cubs are still interested. Frasor is coming off a down year (3-4 with a 3.68 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP in 69 games) compared to a strong 2009 campaign (7-3 with a 2.50 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP in 61 games). Levine did not mention what the Cubs would have to give the Blue Jays for the Oak Forest native.
The Blue Jays offered Frasor salary arbitration and he accepted it instead of opting for free agency. Frasor earned $2.65 million last year.
The Cubs are still very much interested in Matt Garza … along with several other teams. According to Levine, the Rangers are now out of the mix for Garza. With the signing of Brandon Webb, coupled with their desire to develop their young pitchers, Texas has decided to move on.
The Nationals could be one of the other teams in the mix for Garza. The Rays continue to ask for three or four top prospects (again, top prospects not the top four prospects in the Cubs organization).
The Cubs have to address their starting pitching according to Levine. While they want to build a strong organization they still must compete in 2011.
Levine thinks Ryan Dempster will get the ball on Opening Day.
Carlos Silva is being viewed as a “non entity” by most and is being skipped over when many in the industry discuss what the Cubs’ rotation might look like out of Spring Training. Levine pointed out that Silva was one of the top pitchers in the NL in the first half last season and should have been an All-Star. But with the heart problem and nagging injuries in the second half, no one knows what Silva can bring to the table next season, if anything at all.
The Cubs would like to have Andrew Cashner in the rotation next season. Levine asked the question if the Cubs are able to acquire a strong starter, like Matt Garza, would they leave Cashner in the bullpen? Levine thinks a bullpen with Cashner, Kerry Wood, Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall in the backend, the Cubs could have a pen in 2011 similar to the Padres’ bullpen last year.
The Cubs and Giants did briefly discuss a Kosuke Fukudome-for-Aaron Rowand swap. The talks really did not go far. Not only does the money not match (Fukudome, one-year at $13.5 million remaining on four-year contract – Rowand, two years and $24 million remaining, $12 million in 2011 and 2012, on five-year contract) but Rowand does not fit with what the Cubs need. They are not looking to add another right-handed hitting outfielder … Hendry is looking to add a lefty on the bench.
According to Levine, right now there are no takers for Kosuke Fukudome.
As mentioned, Jim Hendry is “trying like heck” to trade for Matt Garza.
The Cubs talked to the Indians about Fausto Carmona but Cleveland is looking for more for Carmona than Tampa is for Matt Garza. The Indians are “probably” asking for Brett Jackson and Chris Archer (who came over from Cleveland in the Mark DeRosa trade) and the Cubs are not going to do that according to Levine.
The Cubs could end up taking a flyer on one of the rehab guys. Levine did not mention any names. The Cubs are not sure what they will get out of certain guys that could be in the mix for a rotation spot. Jeff Samardzija will make the team out of camp, either as a starter or as a reliever, because he is out of options. Casey Coleman is short on stuff but makes up with his baseball smarts. And the Cubs are hoping Randy Wells will step up.
Well, there is the update … and Happy New Year!