Back from Vegas no richer or poorer than when I left last Sunday. Almost didn’t make it until today, and in this age when the airlines take a well-deserved beating on a regular basis, here’s a doff of the chapeau to a United desk attendant in Vegas who got me on a direct flight home after my original flight to Denver was delayed and would have forced me to miss my connector home. “We’re going to find a way to get you home,” she said. Much appreciated.
The Cubs didn’t come home with Jake Peavy or a hitter, but they could be inching closer toward signing Milton Bradley to a free-agent contract. Bradley has been the Cubs’ No. 1 choice for some time, ahead of Raul Ibanez, who just signed a three-year, $30 mil deal with the Phillies, and Bobby Abreu, who made $16 million from the Yankees this year and is on the slow-moving free-agent market. Bradley is a switch hitter, who could afford the Cubs some flexibility. Abreu could be out there for a while if he’s seeking to make anywhere near what he made this year.
One rumor was that the Mets were interested in Jason Marquis for lefty reliever Scott Schoeneweis. In that case, where do the Cubs sign up? Schoeneweis, who pitched for the White Sox in 2003-04, has one more year left on his three-year, $10.8 million deal while Marquis has one year and $9.875 left on his three-year, $21 million deal, which as you can see, was, ahem, heavily back-loaded. Schoeneweis would make nice competition for Neal Cotts in the pen, and if the Cubs moved Marquis, that would leave a spot for Marshall, whom GM Jim Hendry praised to the hilt yesterday after he nixed the Peavy deal. Hendry certainly didn’t seem happy that Padres GM Kevin Towers kept throwing names of other teams’ players out to the media. Hendry put up with it for a chance to get Peavy, but it galled him nonetheless. Maybe that’s a lesson learned for “Tampering Towers,” as he’s called by some in the baseball industry. Towers really has no one to blame but himself for painting himself into such a corner.
Back to point, moving Marquis and at least most of his money is an essential for the Cubs, who must shed payroll before they can add. (The Peavy thing was an exception that would have forced Hendry to do some fancy footwork.)
Moving on, I see the Cubs tendering contracts to all their arb-eligible players by tonight’s deadline. Some of these players would make for nice trade bait, including infielder Ronny Cedeno and my old pal, reliever Michael Wuertz. Wuertz, who’s slider is as good as it gets when he’s on, will make under $1 million next year, making him attractive to somebody. “Wuertzy” is a real success story despite some tough times this year. You can’t help but pulling for a kid like that.
No, I don’t see the Cubs interested in Willy Taveras if the Astros, er, Rockies, non-tender him today. He bats right-handed, and his OBP this year was a sickly .308. Hendry loves Reed Johnson, whom the Cubs will tender a contract to and whose OBP was .358 this year.