It is 18 days until pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park and Jim Hendry is not done tweaking his roster. Hendry said during the Cubs Convention that there could be more deals like the one Reed Johnson signed just before the fan fest … a minor league contract with a non-roster invitation to Spring Training.
Hendry reportedly agreed to a non-guaranteed minor league contract with Todd Wellemeyer on Tuesday … and more could be on the horizon.
According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs could be looking to add a veteran to their infield mix with Orlando Cabrera, Cristian Guzman and Julio Lugo on their list.
Here is the update, including notes from an interview with Jim Hendry on XM Radio … Before jumping into the update, Brett Jackson was named the 46th best prospect in the game by MLB.com. During Tuesday night’s one-hour telecast on the MLB Network, the Cubs’ top prospect came in one spot ahead of his former teammate Chris Archer.
During his weekly chat on ESPN Chicago, Bruce Levine stated, “Look for the Cubs to look at Orlando Cabrera, Cristian Guzman or Julio Lugo.” Levine was asked about the Cubs possible interest in Felipe Lopez and he does not feel the Cubs will go in that direction but Cabrera, Guzman and Lugo could be possibilities. Levine thinks Cabrera and Guzman “make the most sense.”
Both Cabrera and Lugo have been on Jim Hendry’s radar in the past.
Orlando Cabrera is coming off a decent season with the Reds (.263/.303/.354/.657 in 123 games) and many feel he had a lot to do with the young Reds’ success early in the season. The Reds declined the option on Cabrera and moved on.
Cristian Guzman was horrible in 15 games with the Rangers after the Nationals sent him to Texas on July 30.
Julio Lugo played in just 93 games for the Orioles last season after spending time in Boston and St. Louis in the 2009 season. Lugo was just as effective as Guzman last season but played second base (59 games), shortstop (26 games), third base (seven games) and left field (one game) in Baltimore.
At this point, a deal involving Cabrera, Lugo or Guzman should be a minor league contract with a non-roster invite to big league camp. Very little risk involved for the Cubs … but if one of the three vets are on the team at the end of camp, Darwin Barney will likely be the odd man out.
Chattin’ with Bruce Levine
Here are the highlights from Mr. Talkin’ Baseball’s weekly chat …
- Levine thinks the Cubs will look to get three-year deals done with Carlos Marmol and Matt Garza.
- Levine does not see the Cubs dealing any outfielders before the season. Reed Johnson and Fernando Perez will compete for the fifth outfielder’s job.
- Levine thinks the Cubs and Cardinals will battle the Brewers for the Central Division crown. Levine is not convinced the Reds’ young pitching will hold up.
- Koyie Hill “is firmly entrenched as the backup catcher.” Welington Castillo will begin the year in Iowa. The Cubs management likes Hill and trusts him with the staff.
- The Cubs feel Jay Jackson and Brett Jackson have a shot at making their Major League debut this season.
- Darwin Barney and Jeff Baker are both considered backups and could be involved in platoons when the season begins. Barney is the only backup for shortstop right now, unless they add a veteran like Orlando Cabrera. If the Cubs add a vet, Barney will begin the year at Iowa.
- It is still a four horse race for the job of Pat Hughes’ new partner … Doug Glanville, Gary Matthews, Sr., Dave Otto and Keith Moreland are still in the running.
Jim Hendry on XM Radio
The Cubs’ GM joined Jim Memolo and Rob Dibble during First Pitch on Tuesday morning. Jim Hendry discussed the Matt Garza deal and his hopes for the upcoming season.
Hendry explained that he and Andrew Friedman began talking about the Garza trade during the Winter Meetings. Hendry said Friedman and his staff did a good job learning the Cubs’ system and the Rays received a lot of good players for Garza.
The Cubs received a pitcher they feel can pitch toward, or at the top of the rotation in Garza.
Hendry said he feels the team has gotten better with the moves they made in the off-season. They are hoping the young guys (Andrew Cashner, Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin) will continue to improve and take the next step in their development.
The Cubs spent a lot of money in previous off-seasons before the sale of the team was finalized. Now the Cubs try to determine early in the off-season how much value a free agent has to them … and they assign a dollar figure to the player. Hendry explained if the money becomes too much, they will just walk away.
There were three reasons behind the decision to trade Tom Gorzelanny … payroll flexibility, depth in the pitching staff and replenishing the farm system.
The Cubs have seven to nine guys that will begin camp competing for the final two spots in the rotation. Hendry feels the Cubs have enough pitching depth to be able to afford to deal Gorzelanny. Plus, with adding Carlos Pena and Matt Garza’s salaries, the Cubs needed the payroll relief.
Hendry was very complimentary towards Gorzelanny and in the long run, Hendry feels the trade will probably work out better for Gorzelanny and his family.
Jim Memolo asked about the Cubs payroll maybe limiting what Hendry was able to do this winter. Hendry said the payroll was not a negative and will not be down the road. He explained that Tom Ricketts is putting more money into scouting and development. Hendry reiterated there was a lot of money spent on the big league team for two years. He feels they added good players this winter without spending crazy money and adding long-term commitments.
The Cubs have a reputation of converting position players into pitchers. According to Hendry, they will put a position player on a mound to make sure he cannot pitch before they release a player. The Cubs have had two notable conversions … Carlos Marmol and Randy Wells. The Cubs are working on converting Chris Huseby (11th round pick in the 2006 draft) from a pitcher to an outfielder.
The conversation switched back to Garza and the rotation at this point.
Mike Quade will decide the order of the Cubs rotation. Garza will pitch at or near the top along with Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano. But where they slot to begin the year will be up to Quade and his staff.
The Cubs are not expecting Garza to be anything he’s not. Hendry said, “We want Matt to be Matt.” The exciting part for the Cubs when they acquired Garza was they would have a pitcher of Garza’s caliber under control for three seasons.
Hendry once again spoke highly of Andrew Friedman. The trade ended up being a month long process. Hendry and Friedman either spoke or texted back and forth every day over that span, except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. There was consistent dialogue between the two sides … and Hendry said he became a texter in the process.
The deal got really close the week between Christmas and New Year, then the Cubs thought they had lost out on Garza. A couple of other teams came on strong at the end and almost pulled off the trade.
Jim Hendry feels the Cubs will be able to compete in the division and play better than they did a year ago.
According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs have until February 1 to come up with a long-term deal with Carlos Marmol or settle on a one-year deal. Levine made it sound like Marmol’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for February 1 (Note: Levine did not specifically say Marmol’s arbitration hearing is set February 1. Arbitration hearings are scheduled between February 1 and February 21).
During Talkin’ Baseball last Saturday, Levine mentioned the Cubs could be working on a long-term contract with Matt Garza as well. Levine feels the Cubs are working on at least three-year contracts with Garza and Carlos Marmol.
Carlos Marmol will be a free agent after the 2012 season and the Cubs would like to buy out at least his first year of free agency.
The contract Rafael Soriano signed with the Yankees will have an impact on Marmol’s negotiations with the Cubs.
According to Mark Riggins (the Cubs new pitching coach), Jeff Samardzija wants to do whatever is best for the club but he will go into camp as a reliever, not a starter. Riggins feels Samardzija’s stuff translates better to the pen.
Happy Birthday to Edward Van Halen!
Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.