Rich Hill a flop in Venezuela

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Winter ball hasn't proven a cure for Rich Hill's wildness. The Cubs lefty appears on the verge of a release from Aragua (Venezuela) after walking 19 in 191/3 innings, resulting in a 7.45 ERA. ... If the Dodgers opt out of signing Manny Ramirez, it will be very interesting to see what market agent Scott Boras can build for the eccentric run producer. He would fit on the Cubs only if Alfonso Soriano somehow were traded. The White Sox seem interested in dealing Jermaine Dye, which would clear a hole, if not payroll. ... Cricket players Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, whom the Pirates signed as pitchers after they appeared on reality TV in India, were recommended by scout Ray Poitevint, whose stay with the Sox delivered few strong prospects. ...

The Cubs' Ryan Theriot was the only major-leaguer to reach double figures in errors (14), grounded into double plays (19) and caught stealing (13) last season. ... While the Cubs' Derrek Lee grounded into the second-most double plays in the majors with 27, it's worth noting that no hitter had more chances. He came up in 180 potential double-play situations. Justin Morneau (177) and Albert Pujols (173) were the only other hitters to get more than 166 such chances. ...

Left-hander Tyler Lumsden, the key to the 2006 deal that sent Mike MacDougal from Kansas City to the White Sox, was traded by the Royals to Houston last week, clearing roster space. Unfortunately for the Sox, right-hander Dan Cortes, a lesser piece of the deal, has evolved into one of the Royals' top prospects. ... Chone Figgins might be the most overrated big-leaguer. He and the Angels' other third basemen combined for three homers and 34 RBIs, the fewest homers from a group of third basemen since the 1992 Twins and fewest RBIs since the 1988 Orioles. Figgins' best tool is his speed, but Bill James rates him as only a plus-7 baserunner, the same as Aramis Ramirez and J.D. Drew.

From the Chicago Tribune