We'll get a couple minor matters and some possible news about spring training out of the way here as we squeeze some Cubs stuff into our one-room apartment here. My Daily Herald colleague Scot Gregor (the longest-running Sox beat writer) is seeking fan questions for this weekend's SoxFest. Check out his blog:
So send 'em in, Sox fans (and Cubs fans, too).
There's a report from a local Fox TV station in Phoenix that the Cubs are "99 percent sure" to stay in Mesa for spring training and that Commissioner Bud Selig wants them to stay there. Waiting for any word from the Cubs on this:
The East Valley Tribune, based in Mesa, has a story plus a pdf file on the memorandum of understanding on the proposed deal. Read it all here:
I can see Bud wanting the Cubs in Arizona. They're the biggest draws out there, and the Cactus League needs them while Naples, Fla., wants them. The Cubs are kings of the Cactus League. In Florida, they'd share the spotlight with the Yankees and Red Sox.
A fan at last Saturday's Cubs convention asked team president Crane Kenney if he could be "fair" about the decision, considering he has a home on Marco Island, not far from Naples. I pointed that out in this past Monday's Cubs column and said it would be hard to imagine an entity as big as the Cubs making a decision like that based on one employee. Crane handled the potentially awkward situation well when asked the question. As he said, the decision rests with the Ricketts family.
We shall see.
The Cubs have signed a couple of familiar faces to minor-league deals and invited them to spring training but without invites to big-league camp. Catcher Mark Johnson was in big-league camp last year as nonroster guy, and he played 22 games at Class AAA Iowa.
Third baseman Scott McClain is back, too, after spending last year with Hiroshima in Japan. McClain was a spring-training sensation a couple times earlier in the decade, and it seemed like he might damn near make the club one year out of camp. He did get into 13 games with the Cubs in 2005. He went to Japan last year after opening the season with the Giants' Class AAA club. A nicer guy you won't meet, and it's possible both McClain and Johnson will be starting their "second careers" (read coaches) in the Cubs system. Good luck to both.
The rumor du jour is the Cubs are "negoiating" with former Cards releiver Kiko Colero. His name has come up before, but teams around baseball have been skittish about how healthy Colero is. There's a chance he still might come to the Cubs, but I'd look for more of a chance of a minor-league deal with no guaranteed dough.
Since we've got a couple of links already going, check out Jerry Crasnick's assessment of the remaining free agents. He shares my sentiment that the Cubs and Ben Sheets coming to a deal is a long shot:
I spotted that one on mlb trade rumors, Tim Dierkes' fine site.