With spring training just two weeks away (that sounds good), the Cubs are adding a couple of late-winter touches. I expect them to sign free agent catcher Gabor Paul Bako, who goes by Paul Bako, any time now. Gabor, er Paul, has played for about as many teams as Zsa Zsa Gabor has had husbands: Tigers, Astros (twice), Braves (twice), Marlins, Brewers, Cubs (2003-04), Dodgers, Royals, Orioles and Reds.
Also a report out of Baltimore has the Cubs sending lefty Rich Hill to the Orioles for a player to be named later:
Apparently, the O's are trying to create space on the 40-man for Hill. In the meantime, word leaked to the Baltimore press. That's not O's boss Andy MacPhail's style, or at least it wasn't when he was with the Cubs, but the shooting-star-like quality of Rich Hill's career with the Cubs looks as good as over. Hill walked nary a batter in spring training 2007 and then went 11-8 with a 3.92 ERA during the season, walking 63 and striking out 183 in 195 innings. But the plate moved around on Hill all last spring _ in fact, you could see from the opening days of spring training, before the games started, that he wasn't the same. He lasted until early May before getting sent to the minors and never returning. He walked 18 in 19 and two-thirds innings during the regular season before going to Iowa, where he struggled. Nice kid. I'll miss him.
As for Bako, the Cubs have been looking for a left-handed hitting catcher to compete with switch hitter Koyie Hill for the backup spot behind Geovany Soto. Bako has never been much of a hitter. Last season with the Reds, he batted .217 with 6 homers, 35 RBI, an OBP of .299 and a slugging percentage of .328. No doubt the Cubs feel he can still catch-and-throw and handle pitchers.
I expect Bako to be signed to a major-league deal that may or may not be guaranteed.
No, the Cubs and O's have not discussed Brian Roberts, and I don't see much in the way of a Jake Peavy deal for a while.
More later and in the paper tomorrow.