Before I left for a week’s vacation, I told a few of you guys to get a few things done with the Cubs. Lo and behold, they trade for Kevin Gregg, bid goodbye (for now) to Kerry Wood and re-sign Ryan Dempster. Good work, guys.
Now we look forward to the winter meetings, which begin in two and a half weeks in Vegas. I suspect the Cubs will be active out there, and not just at the blackjack tables. GM Jim Hendry is busy now, and his priorities may have shifted.
While Hendry still is interested in prying Jake Peavy from the Padres, the re-signing of Dempster may have allowed Hendry to put that on the back burner and turn his attention more to obtaining a left-handed hitter that manager Lou Piniella so desperately wants.
Let’s take a look at a few of the names in the news and also address the Kerry Wood situation:
Wood: There still is a chance Wood could return to the Cubs. Let’s say he doesn’t get that three-year deal from another team that everybody seems to think he’ll get. The Cubs no doubt will offer him salary arbitration, if for no other reason than to get draft-pick compensation if they do lose him. If Wood accepts, he’s automatically back for at least a one-year deal. That would give the Cubs Wood, Gregg and Carlos Marmol at the back end of the bullpen, with Jeff Samardzija seemingly in the middle. That’s not bad.
Now on to the other names:
Mark Teahen: Reports, coming initially out of KC, had the Cubs interested in trading for the left-handed hitting Teahen, who can play both outfield corners as well as first and third base, where he could spell Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez from time to time. The Cubs do like Teahen, but I’m told his name isn’t as hot as has been played. (Let’s remember that we hear about trade rumors all the time, and then one comes out of nowhere, such as the Gregg trade.) I’d be worried about Teahen’s OBP, which went from .353 in 2007 to .313 this year. Teahen did hit 15 homers for the Royals, so he does have some pop.
Rafael Furcal: Contrary to popular belief, the Cubs do have a budget, and they’re coming close to reaching it. I don’t see how Furcal fits, money-wise. Besides, the Cubs have a shortstop in Ryan Theriot, who had a .387 OBP this year. Furcal would solve the Cubs’ leadoff situation, and he’s a better fielder than is Theriot, but I wouldn’t bet on the Cubs signing him.
Brian Roberts: This took up everybody’s time last off-season. The Cubs can sign him as a free agent next fall, so they seemingly wouldn’t have to offer old friend Andy MacPhail and the Orioles as much as they did last year. If Andy comes calling, Jim will listen, but I don’t see the Cubs initiating a hot pursuit.
This and that: The Cubs added three minor-league pitchers to their 40-man yesterday: Mitch Atkins, Justin Berg and Marcos Mateo. One surprising name left off the list was lefty Donnie Veal, who now is eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 draft. That may well happen, but it’s hard to see the erratic Veal sticking with a big-league club all year. I still remember the hue and cry a few years ago when the Cubs lost lefty Andy Sisco to the Royals in the Rule 5. As it turned out, that didn’t hurt the Cubs at all. Atkins was the minor-league pitcher of the year. Mateo passed Jose Ceda by, allowing the Cubs to trade Ceda for Gregg. Speaking again of trades, the Cubs almost have to trade righty Jason Marquis, especially with lefty Sean Marshall pushing for a full-time job and with the Peavy talks not dead yet. No doubt the Cubs will have to eat some of Marquis’ $9-plus million salary for 2009.