MESA, Ariz. _ Mega-morning here in Mesa. Everybody is present and accounted for, including Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and Starlin Castro. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts met with us outside as pitchers got their work in early because of the impending rain.
Of course, the topic of Albert Pujols came up, roundabout and directly. I asked Tom if the team has either the wherewithal or the appetite to do a “mega-contract.”
“All that stuff’s in Jim’s court,” he said of GM Hendry. “There’s going to be little more financial flexibility at the end of the season than we’ve had in years past. We’ll have to assess the situation when we get there and see what’s available.”
Actually, it’s not all in Jim’s court. With any of these big deals, ownership is heavily involved, as should be the case. I pressed Tom on that.
“Clearly, any large contract needs to be approved by ownership,” he said. “It’s particularly important when you look at the length of some of the contracts that are being offered to some of the bigger stars in the game because those are big, big, big commitments. We’ll definitely just assess that when we get to it. Right now, we’re just focused on having a great start to 2011 because I think we’ve got the right guys.”
When asked directly about Pujols, Tom said this: “I don’t have any insights or thoughts on any of that situation. All I know is what I need in the paper.”
He was then asked his opinion of the A-Rod type contracts and the one Pujols is likely to get from somebody.
“I think that any owner, anyone in baseball would say that the length of the deal is often a bigger problem than the amount of dollars,” he said. “You have to be very careful if you’re going to sign one of those longer deals, if you’re going to take a guy on for 7-8-9 years. You better make sure that’s the guy you want.”
On to other stuff:
--Ramirez said he’s 100 percent healthy and that he’s put on “6-7-8 pounds.”
--Soriano said he did a lot of work on his legs this off-season in the Dominican Republic and that he still wants to play every day. That won't happen, of course, as I expect manager Mike Quade to judiciously parcel out playing time.
--Rain is in the forecast, but there’s nothing yet. The sun peeks in and out. Maybe they’ll get the whole thing in.