ESPN: Wuertz to A's for 2 fielders

ESPN.com reports RHP Michael Wuertz has been traded to the Oakland Athletics for outfielder Richie Robnett and infielder Justin Sellers.

The A's selected Robnett, 25, in the first round (26th overall) of the 2004 draft. In five seasons in Oakland's minor league system, he has hit .256 with 14 doubles, 58 home runs and 252 RBIs in 449 games. He was limited to 82 games last season after surgery to remove a rumor from his stomach.

Sellers, 23, was taken in the sixth round of the 2005 draft. In four seasons in the A's minor league system, Sellers has hit .256 with 70 doubles, 15 triples, 15 home runs and 145 RBIs in 417 games. He has played 285 games at shortstop and 128 games at second base.

Robnett has been added to the Cubs' 40-man roster and will report to major league spring training. Sellers will report to the minor league camp.

Rich Hill to Baltimore, Bako's back

Lefty Rich Hill was traded to Baltimore today for a player to be named later.

On Friday, free agent Paul Bako returned to the Cubs with a one-year, $725,000 contract. Bako played for the Reds last year, he previously played for the Cubs from 2003-04.


Newest Cub: Aaron Heilman

The Cubs have received RHP Aaron Heilman from Seattle for Garrett Olson and Ronny Cedeno. The Mariners previously acquired Heilman from the Mets in the J.J. Putz 12-player trade. Heilman, 30, was the 18th Overall pick in the 2001 draft.

Will he battle Sean Marshall for the fifth rotation spot?

Will he join the bullpen?

Or is he a player the Padres would like in a trade for Peavy?

I don't profess to know anything about building a baseball team and GM-ing, but Cedeno's inclusion in the trade perplexes me... unless perhaps we're cutting payroll and clearing a roster spot for a blockbuster trade with the Padres. The Padres are trying to get younger and cut payroll, so maybe Heilman and a young prospect, for Peavy and an infielder (maybe a lefty/switchhitter, like Luis Rodriguez?).


The Umpteenth Peavy-to-Cubs post

Cubs.com says that, assuming the Cubs sale to the Ricketts family goes through, the oft-rumored Peavy deal could follow.

Such a deal likely would include newly-acquired Garrett Olson (via the Orioles in the Felix Pie trade), a player Padres GM Kevin Towers "likes". Olson was also a piece of the three-way trade the Cubs, Orioles and Padres attempted to get done during the Winter Meetings.

Here's more from the article.

A Peavy trade would address a priority for the Padres to acquire promising young prospects in return for expensive veteran players, as clubs such as the Athletics, Rays and Twins have done successfully in the recent past. Moores instructed management to decrease last season's $73.6 million player payroll to about $40 million in 2009.

With Peavy's $11 million still on the books for this season, the current projected payroll is at about $45 million. Beyond '09, Peavy is owed another $52 million in a deal that runs through 2012 and includes a club option for 2013. The option is for $22 million with a $4 million buyout.

Towers said he last spoke with Cubs GM Jim Hendry on the phone about a week ago, but he added that there had been no substantive trade talks since a four-way deal that included the Phillies and Orioles broke down in December as the Winter Meetings closed.

Towers did say on Monday that Olson was a player he likes and was "identified" as part of the deal that was considered last month.

Regarding the payroll, Towers said that he isn't yet at the appropriate total.

"But we're not forced to dump players," he said. "There are ways of getting where we need to be so John's comfortable by the end of the season. I didn't want to feel like I was being leveraged on Peavy. I didn't want that to happen."


Tribune selects Cubs buyer

UPDATE: Washington Post reports that Tom Ricketts has some serious ties to Wrigleyville... read on.

Tom Ricketts grew up watching the Cubs on WGN, once lived in an apartment above a bar across the street from Wrigley Field, and met his wife in the bleachers at a Cubs game.
Well-played, sir, well played. I bet he was completely sober at the time, too.

The Chicago Tribune reports that their parent company, Tribune Co., has selected Tom Ricketts as the winning bidder to buy the Chicago Cubs. The $900 million offered also includes Wrigley Field and a quarter of Comcast SportsNet.

The Ricketts family made their billion-plus fortune "building a discount brokerage brokerage in Omaha." The family's patriarch, J. Joe Ricketts, founded what later became Ameritrade Holding Corporation. The family has also independently confirmed that they have been selected to buy the team.

But the deal isn't sealed just yet.

The family will have to hammer out a final agreement with Tribune Co. and secure financing amid the worst credit markets since the Depression. Once a contract is inked, the deal must be approved by 23 of Major League Baseball's 30 owners. Cubs officials have said they hope to have the new owners in place by the start of the season in April.

Paul Sullivan talks about the future/upgrading of Wrigley Field

Rick Morrissey gives the Ricketts family some advice.

And a Tribune reporter gets the voice of the fans. Shockingly, they say don't tear down Wrigley Field and spend money getting better players.


Blanco, Harden, and a Closer Competition

Catcher Henry Blanco has signed with the Padres,

Rich Harden's shoulder will keep him from representing Team Canada in the WBC,

The Tribune Co. has picked a favorite to buy the Cubs - but no one knows who it is,

and Lou Pinella hasn't named Carlos Marmol the closer yet.

It would seem logical that Marmol would inherit the role.

Not so fast, Lou Piniella says.

The Cubs acquired Kevin Gregg from Florida this offseason, and Piniella doesn't want to declare Marmol the closer until he sees both pitchers this spring.

"Let them compete," Piniella said. "I feel comfortable with Marmol, there's no question. But we traded for this other young man, and he was a closer over there with success. Give him a chance, too."