Day three of the Winter Meetings was extremely quiet, compared to day two, especially for the Chicago Cubs. Lou Piniella met with the media on Wednesday and when asked about his team’s lack of activity at the meetings, Piniella said….
“I tell them to be patient. It takes a while. Jim’s been working hard here talking to quite a few GMs. At the same time, talking to some agents. Things have to fall in place for us. He promised me, though, by Christmas I’ll be very happy. So things take time to materialize, and we’ve got a fairly good game plan. At the same time, things that we would be interested in doing now, other teams, they want us to wait a little bit. I like our game plan. And just have some patience and it will come to fruition.”
There was a lot of speculation, or rumors, on Wednesday on what the Cubs next move could be but most centered around two players….a free agent outfielder and speedy middle infielder. Here is the latest from the mill…. On Wednesday morning most of the news centered on a radio report from Bruce Levine on ESPN 1000. Levine stated the Cubs were talking to the Royals about a trade that would send Matt Murton and Jake Fox to Kansas City for Mark Teahen. Teahan fits the Cubs description of an athletic outfielder but Bruce Miles reported the Royals “people” shot down those rumors.
That rumor quickly disappeared as reports began to surface about the Cubs interest in Brian Roberts and the possibility of Kosuke Fukudome announcing his decision.
Bruce Miles reported the Cubs are trying “to be respectful of customs in Japan” and they are trying to give him time to make his decision. Miles said once Fukudome decides to play in the majors, “the Cubs figure to come out with a blazing offer, much as they did last off-season when they landed Alfonso Soriano.”
The Denver Post reported Wednesday morning, the Cubs “are closing in on free-agent outfielder Kosuke Fukudome.”
Joel Sherman then reported the Cubs and the Royals are the finalists to land Fukudome….and so did Ken Davidoff of Newsday.
“I don’t see a deal being imminent by any means. This is a special player, and he’s going to receive a special contract.”
The Sun-Times reported Fukudome could end up receiving a contract worth more than $10-12 million a year if the Cubs and White Sox start trying to outbid one another. Plan B, according to the Sun-Times, is Raul Ibanez.
The Tribune also thinks there could be a bidding war between the Sox and the Cubs.
Trey Hillman, former manager of the Nippon Ham Fighters for the past five years and new manager of the Kansas City Royals, recently spoke about Fukudome playing in the majors. Hillman said Fukudome is the second best pure hitter, behind Michihiro Ogasawara, that he saw in his five years in Japan. Hillman was asked if Fukudome could play centerfield, Hillman responded with….
“I’ve been asked whether or not he could play centerfield if there was a need in the right ballpark. I have no reservation with that. I’m not sure it’s a long-term fix in center, but I wouldn’t have a reservation about putting him in a centerfield that wasn’t a huge gap-coverage outfield.”
During Wednesday night’s Baseball Tonight telecast, Buster Olney reported talks would take place after midnight, Nashville time, with Fukudome. Olney reported the Cubs have the largest offer out to Fukudome with the Padres not being far behind. Several are speculating an announcement could be made as earlier as Thursday concerning Fukudome’s decision.
Reports began to surface on Wednesday night about the Cubs putting a package together to trade to Baltimore for Brian Roberts. Bruce Levine first mentioned Roberts last weekend on ESPN 1000. Roberts would give the Cubs speed at the top of the lineup with a solid on-base percentage and according to Paul Sullivan could allow Piniella to move Alfonso Soriano down in the lineup….more on that in a bit. Click here for Roberts’ stats from Yahoo.com.
A repot on MLB.com stated the Cubs have turned their focus on trading for All-Star second baseman, Brian Roberts. The early speculation was the deal could involve either Sean Marshall or Rich Hill.
ESPN reported the Orioles would receive Rich Hill and Sean Marshall for Roberts. Then changed their story and said Rich Hill was not in the discussions. The names being discussed were Sean Marshall, Sean Gallagher, Felix Pie and Donnie Veal. ESPN also stated an Erik Beddard and/or Miguel Tejada trade might have to take place before MacPhail tries to trade Roberts.
ESPN then reported whenever teams ask Hendry about Rich Hill, he brings up Jason Marquis.
Cubs.com even reported the rumored trade.
Dave Kaplan joined friend of the CCO, Holden Kushner, on XM Radio and said he talked with Jim Hendry and Hendry told Kaplan to get on the radio in Chicago and tell them “Rich Hill is going nowhere.”
The Baltimore Sun then mentioned the “trade is not close yet, but the Orioles listen to significant offers.” The late report stated the “significant trade” could involve Sean Gallagher and possibly Matt Murton. According to the Baltimore Sun, the talks are serious enough that Andy MacPhail has talked with the agent for Tadahito Iguchi as a possible replacement for Roberts if he is moved.
Paul Sullivan said a trade for Roberts could cost the Cubs “a couple of top prospects in return.” Sullivan stated the Cubs are “adamant about their refusal” to trade either Felix Pie or Rich Hill. Sullivan said the trade could involve Sean Marshall or Sean Gallagher and a position player like either Eric Patterson or Ronny Cedeno. Piniella said on Wednesday that Ryan Theriot will be the Cubs shortstop next season, which could place Mark DeRosa in right field and Fukudome in center if they are able to sign him. Sullivan said the Cubs potential lineup for next season could be the following, again, if they sign Fukudome and trade for Roberts….
Dan Connolly thinks if the would-be-trade is significant, “it must get done.” Connolly said if not, the names might have changed but it will be the same old Orioles.
Ryan Dempster in the Cubs’ starting rotation next season is not “written in stone“, according to Lou Piniella. Piniella told the media that they are going to give Dempster a chance to start but he will compete for the final spot in the rotation with Kevin Hart, Sean Gallagher and Sean Marshall….the other four in his rotation: Zambrano, Lilly, Hill and Marquis.
Dave Kaplan reported on WGN Radio on Wednesday night that the Cubs have “great interest” in Chone Figgins playing centerfield next season. Stay tuned on this one. Remember the report on Tuesday night on ESPN said any talk with the Angels for Figgins would have to involve Aramis Ramirez.
Rule 5 Draft
The Rule 5 Draft takes place later today at the Winter Meetings. According to a report in the Tribune, Hendry is expected to take a player in the draft.
Hat tip to XM Radio for the title of this article….