What can a quarter buy?

A gumball.

A handful of Mike & Ike's or M&Ms from one of those Shriner's candy dispensers in the lobby of the bank.

A bleacher seat to the Yankees/Cubs first game at the new Yankee Stadium.

I wish I lived in New York.

Via ESPN.com

The price of a bleacher seat for the exhibition openers at the new Yankee Stadium will cost far less than a soda.

The Yankees said Tuesday that bleacher seats for the games against the Chicago Cubs on April 3 and 4 will sell for 25 cents and grandstand tickets will be $1.10. That matches the prices for the opener of the original Yankee Stadium against Boston on April 18, 1923.

Field level seats at the 52,325-seat ballpark will cost $45-$50, main level $20-$45 and terrace level $20-$35. Full season-ticket holders will get the seats for free, and those who bought partial season-tickets will be given a presale.
No way this is backlash from the bad economy/CC Sabathia/we-made-the-taxpayers-pay-for-OUR-stadium thing right?

For once the Yankees get some good PR. Mets, your move.

DeRosa on Team USA, and the new Cubs Club

Cubs.com reports Mark DeRosa has accepted an invitation to play for the United States in the upcoming World Baseball Classic in March. In the first WBC ('06), Team USA included Cubs Derrek Lee and Michael Barrett. The United States start pool play on March 7 against Team Canada. Italy and Venezuela are also in Pool C with USA/Canada. Pool C's double elimination games will be played in Toronto.

Team Venezuela may invite Carlos Zambrano to play on their team, which means Cubs teammates DeRo and Zambrano could face each other in pool play. Granted, there are no guarantees that Zambrano would accept the invite, much less make the start against Team USA, but it could happen nonetheless.

Fukudome also may play for Team Japan. Japan hosts Pool A games in Tokyo, their first-round opponents are China, Korea, and Chinese Taipei.

Pool B contains Australia, Cuba, Mexico and South Africa; their games will be played in Mexico City. The Dominican Republic, the Netherlands, Panama, and Puerto Rico make up Pool D, and the games will be played in San Juan.


Waxpaperbeercup links to a story about the new tiered Cubs Club membership levels. Long story short, if you pay for a tiered membership level, you get a chance to buy pre-sale tickets. Fact is, the park will always be packed, and Cubs fans will pay any price to get the best tickets to the best games. As long as there is demand, the Cubs will find new ways to squeeze their fanbase for more and more cash. I don't like it, but it's a business and I can't blame them for doing their job and exploring new revenue streams. As long as they keep putting quality product on the field, demand will stay high and the front office has done a reasonable job of raising ticket prices on the most desirable seats while keeping other ticket prices within reach of the common family. Only when the Cubs have a down season will the club and the brokers be stuck with extra tickets.

12/22/08 Mailbag


Pie on the Block

This is a couple days old, but whatever.

Via the Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer.

What's certain is this: Former Rays and Royals outfielder Joey Gathright is a left-handed hitter with more experience, at least as much defensive versatility and better baserunning ability and instincts than Pie, and he made a better impression on manager Lou Piniella with Tampa Bay than Pie has made in Chicago. With the Cubs pursuing free-agent outfielder Milton Bradley and with three other outfielders locked in, there's room for only one Gathright-Pie type. It's doubtful Pie -- who recently was considered the organization's top prospect -- will last the offseason without being traded, considering he's out of options and was a long shot to make the 25-man roster out of spring training even before Gathright was signed.
The article also says Pie has only attempted 12 steals and hit .223 in 130 games over 2 major-league seasons. Needless to say, like it or not we have Gathright, so getting ANYTHING for Pie would be a plus. Pie has rarely impressed me, and the Cubs need a base-stealing threat. If Pie isn't it, what is he here for?

Only at Wrigley...

NBC Chicago, via Deadspin.

This one is via NHL Online.



Killing the Curse with... a Comic Book? Also, Video of the Frozen Confines

[via the tribune]

Imagine Keanu Reeves battling a demon in the Billy Goat Tavern, to lift the curse of the Cubs.

That's apparently the subject of DC Comics' "Hellblazer" #250 -- or at least the part featuring John Constantine, the character played on the silver screen by Keanu in "Constantine."

Buy the comic today, or it's your fault if the Cubs don't win in 2009!

Also, here's a link to video of the Wrigley Field ice rink going up.


Who is Joey Gathright? UPDATE: He's a Cub, that's who.

UPDATE: Cubs have signed Gathright. As the always-insightful waxpaperbeercup points out, this probably means Felix Pie is not coming back, and I personally can't imagine the Cubs letting him go via free agency, without any return on their investment. Look for him to be major trade bait in the upcoming weeks and months.


Cubs.com is reporting that the Cubs have another left-handed outfielder on their radar.

Joey Gathright.


Joey Gathright.

Gathright could be added to the roster this week and compete for a spot on the Cubs' bench. He was non-tendered by the Kansas City Royals on Friday after batting .254 in 105 games this past season with no homers and 22 RBIs. The left-handed-hitting outfielder was 4-for-14 (.286) as a pinch-hitter.

Mmm. Nothing like a 25% hitter with no home runs to spice up the playoff lineup. Granted I'm not saying the Cubs would sign him as the answer to their everyday lefty problem, but still, do we have room on the roster for this guy?

Upside? He's 27, so on the young-ish side, and can steal bases. He's also played with Pinella before in Tampa.

And apparently, according to youtube, he's got ups. For what that's worth.


Cubs Weekend Roundup

The Cubs signed Reed Johnson, Chad Gaudin and Neal Cotts to one-year deals ($3, $2, and $1.1 million, respectively), and offered contracts to Kevin Gregg, Michael Wuertz and Ronny Cedeno as well.

Tickets to the Jan. 4 Public Skate at Wrigley Field are already sold out. (Sun-Times, citing a Cubs spokesman). No surprise there.

Peavy's agent is persistent.


Ibanez signs with Phillies, Cubs focus on Bradley

Raul Ibanez has signed with the Phillies; ESPN reports the contract is worth a reported $30 million over 3 years pending a physical. Ibanez was one of the left-handed free agent options the Cubs were considering, along with Milton Bradley. The Phillies plan to play Ibanez in left field, and are reportedly planning to let their current free-agent left fielder, Pat Burrell, go. Burrell is right-handed.

If the Cubs want a top-tier left-handed outfielder via free agency, their options are dwindling considerably, so advantage Bradley. It has never been a secret that this offseason the Cubs were looking for a left-handed bat that can play the outfield, and now that Bradley is basically the only option left, he can leverage that against the Cubs and make us overpay for him. Imagine if the Cubs enter spring training with no Peavy and no left-handed bat.

Bradley's contract last year was $5.25 million for the Rangers. He hit .321 with a .436 OBP in 126 games and 414 at-bats.


Cubs acquire David Patton

(via Bleed Cubbie Blue)

The Cubs paid cash to the Reds for right-handed reliever David Patton, selected in the first round of the Rule 5 draft from the Rockies organization. The Cubs also lost Donnie Veal in the first round of the draft to Pittsburgh, and later lost outfielder Yusuf Carter to Oakland, and right-handed pitcher Mark Holliman to the Brewers.

No Deal!

From MLB.com:

San Diego general manager Kevin Towers told reporters Thursday that Cubs general manager Jim Hendry informed him they were not going to make a deal for the 2007 Cy Young winner.
The Cubs are reportedly still looking to add Bradley or Ibanez.

Update: As GROTA is reporting (via Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal), 8-10 teams have asked about acquiring Mark DeRosa. The teams include the Twins and A's. Rosenthal goes on to say:

The idea of trading DeRosa would be for the Cubs to clear his salary and create a spot for Mike Fontenot at second base.

The Cubs then would sign a left-handed hitting outfielder, in effect using DeRosa's money to help create openings for two left-handed hitters.

I like DeRosa a lot, so my feeling is not to trade him unless you get great value. But if Hendry can play all these suitors off each other, the leverage is definitely in the Cubs' favor.

Quick Hits: Winter Meetings Thursday

Sun-Times reports (via twitter) the Cubs have talked to Randy Johnson in case the Peavy trade falls through. They also report Milton Bradley is at the top of their list for a left-handed batter and "interest is mutual," and have asked the Angels about leadoff man Chone Figgins.

MLB.com reports Hendry has talked to Raul Ibanez, in addition to Bradley, and both "are very interested in playing in Chicago."

Kerry Wood has signed with the Cleveland Indians (other teams rumored in the running were the Tigers, and the Mets--before they signed Francisco Rodriguez). The Tribune reports the contract is a two year deal, with option for a third, at an undisclosed amount.

The Trib also reports
Jacque Jones is playing in Mexico, and "isn't expected to return to the majors."


Peavy deal not close, Cubs free to add payroll, and the obligatory Blagojevich post

Sources say the Peavy deal is not "close" to being done. Whatever, I'll wait. Give me my Peavy and a lefthanded bat by spring training, and color me satisfied.

Hendry also is not a fan of multi-team deals.

Since he became the Cubs' general manager, Hendry has been involved in one deal involving more than one team, and that was when he acquired Nomar Garciaparra at the Trade Deadline in July 2004.

"We've only made one [multi-team deal] in my GM career, and that was a four-way, and to this day, I'm not quite sure how it happened," Hendry said. "It was a two-way all week, and all of a sudden it became a four. I'm much better served one on one. I'm not quite as efficient as Theo [Epstein] or Billy Beane in multi-tasking, so I keep it as simple as I can."

I'm no GM, but you can hire someone to help you multi-task. Now if you can't wrap your brain around the deal... can't help you with that. Just sayin'.

Team Chairman Crane Kenney says the Cubs ownership situation does not handcuff the Cubs from adding payroll (i.e. signing Peavy).

There have been reports that Cubs general manager Jim Hendry's hands are tied and he cannot add salary, such as the money owed to Jake Peavy, whom the Padres are trying to deal. Peavy will make $11 million in 2009 and is owed $63 million over the next four seasons.

But Kenney said the Cubs don't have to wait for a new owner to make a move.

"All of our efforts here are about improving the team," Kenney said. "If it means a longer-term contract that fits within the budget, then that's what it will be. If it means, as Jim has talked about, multi-team deals, we'll do that. [Hendry and staff] have a very good game plan, and they're executing it. My role here is to make sure that we get as much as we can within the parameters of our budget."

Finally, it's amazing to me that Blagojevich would have used his influence in the sale of Wrigley Field as a bargaining chip to get the Tribune Co. to fire members of the editorial board. I knew the guy was delusional with a ginormous ego, but this is ridiculous. Good riddance.


Peavy closer than ever, and Surprise! Santo wants the Hall to change

From Phil Rogers of the Trib-ankrupt: (italics mine)

The Jake Peavy-Cubs trade talks have reached a point where it will be a stunner if the Cubs don’t acquire Peavy, who immediately would become the best pitcher on a staff that already boasts Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden.

That’s because two general managers -– the Padres’ Kevin Towers and the Cubs’ Jim Hendry -- are working hard to make it happen. If it doesn’t happen, it’ll become one of the few trades -– maybe the first -- that couldn’t be made when BOTH general managers were motivated to get it done.

Towers told reporters on Monday that the Cubs were the only team he is continuing to talk to about Peavy and that making a Peavy trade was his full focus at the winter meetings. He then went out and proved it by working to facilitate a potentially four-team trade that would send Mark DeRosa to Philadelphia and Felix Pie to Baltimore and bring back pitchers Garrett Olson, J.A. Happ (the Northwestern product) and Sean Marshall for the Padres.

The key for that deal to work is for the Phillies or Orioles to take Jason Marquis, with the Cubs agreeing to eat some of his salary.

DeLuca from the non-bankrupt Sun-Times: (again, italics mine)

Cubs and Baltimore Orioles sources confirmed that one element of the deal is virtually set, with the Cubs sending outfield prospect Felix Pie to the Orioles for pitcher Garrett Olson, who would be shipped to San Diego in the Peavy swap. A second team, believed to be the Philadelphia Phillies, also could help beef up the package of prospects. The Phils reportedly have interest in Cubs utilityman Mark DeRosa.

Hendry has not been as willing to discuss the negotiations as Towers -- and the Padres GM's frankness has irked the Cubs -- but sources say the Cubs would first like to land the left-handed bat they need and clear salary space by dealing right-hander Jason Marquis before closing the Peavy deal. Marquis is set to earn $9.875 million in 2009, but a source said the Cubs might eat $4 million or more of that salary.

Peavy talks hit a recent speed bump because there hasn't been much of a market for Marquis, a source said. Look for the talks to heat up over the next 24 hours -- and possibly include Marquis landing in San Diego as part of the package.

One report Monday night had right-hander Angel Guzman also included in the discussions.

So it looks like Pie and Marquis are definitely gone from the Cubs, DeRosa and Marshall most likely out, possibly Guzman as well.

If we get the left-handed bat and Peavy? I'm loving it. We may have to eat salary, but still.

Here's another article from MLB.com (Barry M. Bloom and Marty Noble) about how the Phils are looking to get DeRosa as a replacement for Utley. Utley is expected to be out for about 2 months of the season after offseason hip surgery.

Ron Santo doesn't make the hall, because people don't understand diabetes.

''Getting in or not getting in is not going to change my life at all. I'm going to be me, and that's it," Santo said, according to the Sun-Times. "But I feel I deserve this. I put up Hall of Fame numbers during the greatest era of baseball for pitchers, and I played with diabetes. Only diabetics can know what I went through. It would have just been satisfying [to be elected].''
It's obvious to me that, despite what he may say publicly, the two things Santo wants most in this world are a Cubs World Series and a place in Cooperstown. To come so close to the Hall so often and still be left out would take an emotional toll on anyone. This was supposedly his year, when they reformed the Veterans Committee.

Again from Rogers at the Trib.

Trying to understand the Hall

After three consecutive ballots in which the living Hall of Famers rejected all the candidates before them, the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors revised the voting procedures, seemingly in an attempt to get someone elected.

Logic would dictate that the person who would benefit the most would be the guy who had been the closest –- Ron Santo. But when the new procedures were put to work, Santo went backward -- he finished nine votes short this time after missing by five votes two years ago – and someone else got elected. That was second baseman Joe Gordon, who had finished 19th on the previous Veterans Committee ballot.

Nineteenth? That’s amazing.

Gordon leap-frogged the other candidates because the Hall instituted a second ballot for players who played before World War II. It established a 12-member historical review committee –- similar to the old 15-member Veterans Committee, which was abolished a decade ago – to evaluate those candidate. Gordon not only was elected but Allie Reynolds (182 career victories) missed being elected by only one vote.

What do Gordon and Reynolds have in common? They played the majority of their careers in New York.

I think I understand the frustration he must feel. But giving out soundbites like calling the Hall of Fame voting "ridiculous" and saying "[o]nly diabetics can know what I went through" is not the way to earn votes. Santo's always been Santo, wearing his emotion on his sleeve, and that may rub voters the wrong way in what is essentially a popularity contest.

But, Santo, don't go calling for the voting process to be changed every year you don't get in. Don't tell the voters they don't understand what you had to go through. Just be the bigger man and take it in stride. You had a great career, Hall of Fame or not. But your career is over, your stats now are your stats 50 years from now. The only major changes in the number of votes you receive will be voter turnover, or a major overhaul of the voting system. You have control over neither. Sure you can lobby for change, but do you really expect the Hall of Fame committee to adapt the system to obviously benefit you? You had a great career playing, you have a new job as radio broadcaster, be content with that. But don't expect the call. Buck O'Neil took it in stride, and he STILL wasn't elected. Save yourself the disappointment, and reflect on what you have. Maybe you'll even get a pleasant surprise one day.


Santo misses Hall again, Cubs to be sold before Spring Training, and the Professor retires

Ron Santo received the highest number of post-1942 votes from the Veteran's Committee, but still fell 9 votes short of the 75% needed for election. Out of the 64 votes, Santo received 39 (60.9 %), needing 48. Nine votes out of 64, or 14%, is a significant amount, and he doesn't have the ability to do anything to improve his chances of getting in. If Buck O'Neil couldn't get the sympathy vote, I'm sorry to say Ron Santo's not going to get the call in his lifetime.

The Cubs want to get the sale finalized by Spring Training, but the fact is Hendry is going to be handcuffed in free agency by not having the ability to add payroll.

The bidders are aware of the team's 2009 budget. If Hendry wants to add significant money to the payroll, he will have to make room by trading players currently on the roster.

Greg Maddux is expected to retire today, and there's no doubt he will be in the Hall. The only relevant questions are: is he a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, and whose team will he choose to represent himself?

Personally, I don't think there's anyone pitching more deserving of the first-ballot Hall honor, especially considering the disgraceful legacy of Roger Clemens. Maddux was never the biggest or overpowered anybody, but he pitched his entire career the right way, and will leave the game with 355 wins, 3,371 K's (against only 999 walks), 4 Cy Young awards and a lifetime ERA of 3.16.

I also think that, despite the fact he started his career as a Cub (1986-1992), and returned from 2004-2006 (winning #300 and pitching his 3,000th K during that span), there's little chance he goes into Cooperstown as anything but an Atlanta Brave. Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz pitched in Atlanta together for more than a decade, and he won a World Series there. He was always a class act and a true role model, and the game will miss him.


Len Kasper signs extension through 2011

Kasper/Brenly will be the voice of the Cubs on TV through 2011. Len received a three-year extension from the Cubs organization. He started his career with the Brewers 1999-2001, then moved south to cover the Marlins for three seasons from 2002-04, before moving to the Cubs for the 2005 season.

Bob Brenly is signed through 2012.

Len and Bob are easily likable and, though a little more biased towards the Cubs than straight-talk Steve Stone (good and bad), they obviously do their research, often offering insightful comments and engaging viewers through the blog and email. Despite all the uncertainty surrounding the Cubs sale, it's good to see Kasper rewarded and his job will be secure.

Howry signed by Giants

One-year, $2.75 million.

He made 4.5 mil in both 07 and 08 with the Cubs. The Giants were the first team to sign Howry to a major league contract after taking him in the fifth round in 1994 (he was drafted by Houston in 1992, round 29, and Florida in 1993, round 45--but did not sign).

SF later traded him to the White Sox (with Keith Foulke, among others) in the Wilson Alvarez deal in 1997.

My thoughts: It's never fun to take a pay cut, but expectations there can't be high. If he performs even moderately well this season, he'll be in line for an raise in 2010.


The End of an Era, Ownership Bids, and other offseason onsense

Last night the Cubs did not offer Kerry Wood arbitration. The arbitration process is complicated, but basically because of the saturated free agent market, the Cubs did not want to take the chance that Kerry Wood would choose to re-sign and have to pay him at least 80% of last years salary. It is obvious now that the Cubs would rather not get anything for losing him than take the chance of having to sign him to a contract. Kerry Wood's career as a Cub had many ups-and-downs (what else is new?), but he was the longest tenured Cub (now it's Big Z) and was on 4 teams that made the postseason. That 20-strikeout, one-hit game against the Astros (in only his 5th major league start) was the stuff of legend, and sadly he never really was able to live up to the hype surrounding him after that. Still, he was a class act, a good role model (better than his hero, Clemens), and it'll be weird to see him in another jersey this Spring. Can't wait to see him enter a game as an opponent in Wrigley.

The Trib says Dusty Baker would love to coach Kerry again in the Queen City.

The Sun-Times reports Dan Plesac is leaving Comcast for the new MLB network.

And MLB.com rates Jeff Samardzija the #50 best MLB prospect (all players with rookie eligibility).


I could tell you there's Cubs news today...

But I'd be lying.

Wood's probably getting arbitration tonight, and the Peavy rumors won't die.

I do believe some team will come after Kerry (despite there being a bunch of other relievers on the market) so the Cubs securing two compensation picks is a good move.

Probably the best thing I've seen all holiday weekend was this Mailbag question.
I saw a clip where Jeff Samardzija mentioned his interest in joining the starting rotation. What are the odds this could be a possibility in 2009? If he can pitch as well as a starter as he did as a reliever in '08, then that move would give the Cubs a solid rotation with Dempster, Zambrano, Samardzija and [Jason] Marquis or [Rich] Hill.
-- Bruce D., Columbia, S.C.

Rich Hill? What is this, 2006? Forget about Lilly, Harden, or Marshall... put Hill (a guy who can't throw strikes in WINTER BALL) back in the rotation with a guy who's pitched in 26 major league games, less than 28 innings, and ask them to be the back end of your rotation! Good job Bruce D. from South Carolina, you are the reason Cubs fans get a bad name.

You know nothing.


Over the (Rich) Hill, Theriot Talks Trade Talk, and Lou on a Bicycle

Cubs f/x points out... Rich Hill is not part of this week's rotation on his Venezuelan Winter League team (los Tigres de Aragua).

In 6 starts (10/17--11/18), Hill's 1-2 with a 7.45 ERA, and averaging less than 4 innings per start (19 1/3 IP).
19 walks against 15 Ks and a 2.12 WHIP.
19 runs allowed, 16 earned.
That's bad in any league. Put a fork in him, he's done.

Other Cubs in the Winter Leagues include Ronny Cedeno, Jake Fox, Sam Fuld, Felix Pie, Angel Guzman, and Jeremy Papelbon.


Theriot talks about trade speculation to the Sun-Times (not that the Cubs getting Rafael Furcal is likely to happen at all).

While the Cubs have talked to Furcal's agent, Oakland and San Francisco appear to be the clear front-runners for the former All-Star, with Atlanta also said to be making a strong push. According to various reports, Furcal has four-year offers ranging from $48 million to $52 million -- well beyond the Cubs' taste.

Lou talked to the Sun-Times one more time about the 2008 postseason.

As for critics who blame him for not having the team prepared enough for October:

''We went over the scouting reports thoroughly, and we let the guys play,'' he said. ''The first game, we walk eight people in four innings; it's hard to win. The second game we didn't catch the ball, and the third game we didn't hit. Now, if that's me not preparing them, then I'll take the responsibility.''

Who was that game one starter again?

Lou also said "[W]e're set" on starting pitching (so no Peavy as if there was any doubt), but looking for one more experienced arm in the bullpen.

Also, if anyone has pictures of Lou "rid[ing] his bicycle around his neighborhood," please, please I beg you... Email me. theseoldcubs@gmail.com


Free Agent Roundup

Cubs beat reporter says "several sources" have told her the Cubs are not looking to deal Kosuke Fukudome.

According to the Chicago Tribune, (via Cubs.com), the Royals are "focused" on Sean Marshall and Mike Fontenot in trade talks concerning left-handed outfielder Mark Teahen. Personally, I say give Kosuke one more shot in right in a full season (Japanese league seasons are only 140 games).

Finally, via Wrigleyville 23. Apparently when Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins isn't insulting his fans onstage, he's blaming Eddie Vedder for the Cubs' collapse this season. Seriously.


Playoffs? Playoffs? **Updated

UPDATE: Lou refutes Dempster (Chicago Tribune).

Ryan Dempster admits Cubs were not "prepared" for the playoffs (via Paul Sullivan with the Tribune).

"I think sometimes we almost expected it, go out there and play hard and we're good enough and just expect it to happen, and we'll win this series and then the next one and all the excitement will happen once we get to the World Series," he said. "Maybe L.A. was just a little more prepared for us than we were for them."

Is this Lou's fault? Weren't the Cubs in the playoffs the previous year? Weren't they swept then too? Weren't you on that team, Dempster? This isn't rocket science, it's playoff baseball... why does everyone else get it but the Cubs?

"Maybe we underestimated how prepared you have to be, how ready you have to be, especially in a five-game series," Dempster said. "It's like a short heavyweight bout. Ding, the bell is ringing, you've got to go."

Have you got it figured out now, Dempster? Good to go next year? You were the Game 1 starter; who else was supposed to be "ready at the bell" to be prepared?

What I think Dempster's really saying... Lou shouldn't have rested the bats the final games of the season, and the bats weren't "prepared" for the playoffs. Who gave up SEVEN walks to the Dodgers? THAT WAS YOU, Ryan, no one else. You had a bad game, everyone has them, but don't go blaming the manager. Lou has a ring, you don't. All the bats were quiet, all the pitching was brutal, and --in my opinion-- playing the Brewers hard the last couple games of the season wouldn't have changed all that.

Dempster started Game 1 in Chicago against the Dodgers and got the loss, pitching 4 2/3 innings, giving up 4 earned runs (on a Grand Slam to James Loney), 4 hits and 7 walks against 2 K's for a 7.71 ERA.

Free Agency: Peavy, The Big Old Unit, and Furcal

Though in the wake of the Dempster signing the Padres have said the Braves are back in the Peavy race, the North Side is still widely regarded as the most likely place for the 27-year old righthander to go.

via Chicago Tribune

If the Cubs can't get Peavy, they will turn to Plan B—45-year-old free agent Randy Johnson, who would be a one-year fix. That obviously would push Jason Marquis to the bullpen, where he hasn't fared well. Marquis is owed nearly $10 million in '09, the final year of a three-year, $21 million deal, making him difficult to trade.
Zambrano, Dempster, Peavy, Hardin, Lilly... or Zambrano, Dempster, Hardin, R. Johnson, Lilly? In my opinion, both look much better in October than one with do-nothing Marquis.

Note: Peavy's agent also works with Rick Sutcliffe and Mark Grace; Sutcliffe has been actively pitching Chicago to Peavy through said agent.

"Rick Sutcliffe is not officially recruiting, because he is not in an official capacity with the Cubs," Axelrod said. "But he has certainly extolled the virtues of being a starting pitcher with the Cubs."
Back to free agency...
same link

The Cubs also are interested in free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal, who is seeking $10 million per year for three or four years after hitting .357 in 36 games for the Dodgers in 2008. Furcal's agent said they have spoken to the Cubs, but it's "nothing serious" yet.

Furcal's addition would solve the leadoff dilemma and allow them to move shortstop Ryan Theriot to second base, or be part of a trade package.


The Dempster Contract

ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick

Four years, $52 million.
Player option for 2012.

$4 million signing bonus.
$8 million in 2009.
$12.5 million in 2010.
$13.5 million in 2011.
$14 million in 2012 (Dempster's option).

Dempster is currently 31

With this signing, he'll probably have the fifth or sixth highest salary on the team next year. Last year, Lilly was fifth (or so) with $8 million, Dempster made $7 1/3 million.

By comparison, Zambrano is 27 and made $16 million last year alone. He signed a five year, $91.5 million contract mid-season in 2007.

Sporting News.com: "Cubs now the only suitors for Jake Peavy"

via the sporting news.

"It's really come down to one club now -- the Cubs," Towers told the newspaper. "It's going to take awhile. They have a couple of players to pick from that we are interested in, but anything with them is going to potentially involve a third team or fourth team. We're focusing only on them."

Who's on the block? Fukudome? Wood in a sign-and-trade (we know Hoffman isn't going back to SD, see below Kerry Wood post)? A pitcher like Marquis or Lilly? Samardzija?

Dempster Deal Done?

ESPN reports the Cubs are close to re-signing free agent pitcher Ryan Dempster, to a four-year, $52 million contract.

Ken Rosenthal of foxsports.com first broke the story.

UPDATE: The Sun-Times reports the deal is done. (via Another Cubs Blog)

The 2009 Schedule

Online 2009 Schedule

Opening Day(s)

Game 1: Monday, Apr 6 @ Houston (Minute Maid opening day)
Game 4: Friday, Apr 10 @ Milwaukee (Miller Field opening day)
Game 7: Monday, Apr 13 (Wrigley Opening Day v. Colorado)

Interleague series:
H: Minnesota Jun 12-14
H: Sox Jun 16-18
H: Cleveland Jun 19-21
A: Detroit Jun 23-25
A: Sox Jun 26-28

Stretch Run (Mid Sept/Oct):
Cincinnati Sept 11-13
Milwaukee Sept 14-17
@St Louis Sept 18-20
@Milwaukee Sept 21-23
@San Francisco Sept 24-27
Off Sept 28
Pittsburgh Sept 29-Oct1
Arizona Oct 2-4

First thoughts... the interleague opponents are no pushovers, and I'm a little thrown off by ending with the D'Backs, a non-division opponent (as opposed to this year, ending on the road against the Brewers).

The 2008 season ended on September 28 (with a cancelled makeup game with the Astros on the 29th); this year the Cubs (and everyone else) will have two more full series after that date. There are some "easier" opponents near the end of the schedule (Giants/Pirates) in case we need some extra wins to lock up the division.

Sorry for all the parentheses.


Postseason Awards and Kevin Gregg vs. Kerry Wood

Geovany Soto wins NL Rookie of the Year with 31 of 32 first-place votes. The Reds' Joey Votto received the other top vote. Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays won the AL ROY award.

Lou wins NL Manager of the Year and donates his bonus to a Chicago charity. He previously won AL Manager of the Year in 1995 and 2001 while in Seattle. Charlie Manuel from the World Champion Phillies is second, Florida's Fredi Gonzalez finishes third. Joe Madden of the Rays won the AL counterpart.

Carlos Zambrano wins... a batting award. He batted .337 with four home runs and won his second Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger award at the National League Pitching position, winning previously in '06.


The Cubs also acquired reliever Kevin Gregg this week from the Florida Marlins in a trade for Minor Leaguer P Jose Ceda. Before the deal was made, Cubs GM Jim Hendry reportedly told last year's closer, perennial Cub Kerry Wood, that the Cubs would not be re-signing him (unlike the unprofessional way the Padres treated their closer).

There was no question, even before Wood's famous 20K game, that he always had the talent to be an elite pitcher, which made his often inconsistent play all the more befuddling. I never knew "which Kerry" would show up in the ninth inning, and "routine" saves felt few and far between. One or two run leads at home became nail-biters until the end. I feel sad to see him go-- he always seemed like a nice guy-- but from a purely business perspective, the Cubs weren't getting the value for what they were spending and needed to move on.

I'm not exactly sure where Gregg fits in the Gaudin/Samardzija/Marmol picture, but the Cubs still seem relatively deep at reliever, and got younger to boot.

Wood was the 13th highest paid Cub last year, earning $4.2 million. In contrast, Gregg was the 2nd highest paid Marlin, but at only $2.5 mil. Gregg is younger and performed almost as well with less talent around him, and was acquired for less money (even if Wood signed a one-year with a pay-cut).

Kevin Gregg entered the majors in 2003 and spent four years with the Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels before being traded to the Marlins for the '07 season. Last year in 68 2/3 innings and 72 appearances, he went 7-8 with 29 saves, 58 K and a 3.41 ERA/ 1.28 WHIP .

Kerry Wood last year pitched 66 1/3 innings in 65 appearances, posting a 5-4 record, 34 saves, 84 K and 3.26 ERA/1.09 WHIP.

Both Gregg and Wood are righties.