Greetings, Cubs fans. As of yesterday, I thought this might be a slow news day. But I’ve actually come across a number of items, so let’s get right to today’s top stories*:
Jim Hendry busy trying to avoid arbitration hearings with Ryan Theriot and Carlos Marmol. As you may or may not have heard, the Cubs came to terms with five arbitration-eligible players on Tuesday: Jeff Baker (who will earn $975,000 in ’10), Tom Gorzelanny ($800,000 in ’10), Angel Guzman ($825,000 in ’10), Mike Fontenot ($1,000,000 in ’10) and Koyie Hill ($700,000 in ’10).
The latest blogpost by Bruce Miles details the challenge now faced by the team’s GM: Staying out of awkward arbitration hearings with shortstop Ryan Theriot, who’s asking for $3.4 million (Cubs’ counteroffer: $2.6 million), closer Carlos Marmol, who’s asking for $2.5 million (Cubs’ counteroffer: $1.75 million), and swingman Sean Marshall, who’s asking for $1.175 million (Cub’s counteroffer: $800,000). Bruce thinks Theriot could be the first player since Mark Grace to go to a hearing.
Kickin’ it with Kiko Calero. Jim Hendry made it fairly clear during the Cubs Convention that he’s looking for a right-handed, veteran arm to add to the bullpen. That arm could be attached to Kiko Calero, who made 67 appearances with a sparkling 1.95 ERA for the Florida Marlins last season. Jeff Morosi reports negotiations are under way.
Update: Bruce Levine reports the Cubs have had talks with Calero’s agent but, and I quote, “have no interest in [Calero].” Bruce precedes this remark by letting us know that Calero’s agent also represents Jose Contreras. Hm, call me crazy, Bruce, but isn’t it more likely that the Cubs are talking to said agent about Calero, not Contreras? Levine also says the Cubs are looking at trades with the Padres (for RHP Luke Gregorson or possibly even Heath Bell) and Blue Jays (for RHP Jason Frasor) to bulk up the bullpen.
Jake Peavy wanted to be a Cub. No, really. Maybe we shouldn’t dwell on this, but Barry Rozner has some choice quotes from the, ahem, Chicago White Sox No. 1 starter that make it clear he was quite amenable to accepting a first-class ticket to the Friendly Confines. Jake says the Cubs ownership uncertainties caused the deal to fall through. Interestingly, at the Cubs Convention, Jim Hendry seemed to scoff at the idea that he let Peavy “slip through his fingers.” Ah, well. C’est la vie.
Jimmy Ballgame wants back in the game. As Mark mentioned in his post yesterday, former Cubs centerfielder Jim Edmonds is looking to get back onto a major league roster in 2010. (I think Jim used to be a Cardinal, too. Let me check Baseball-Reference on that and get back to you.) I don’t think Edmonds really fits the Cubs needs, as he’s not an ideal candidate to play right field and face left-handed pitching in place of Kosuke. But perhaps Lou could put Jeff Baker out there in those instances and sign Edmonds to back up first base and left field as well as pinch hit. It doesn’t hurt to take a look, I guess.
Eric Byrnes released by the Diamondbacks. Another name to scribble at the bottom of the fourth outfielder list is now former D’Back Eric Byrnes, who the AZ snakes released from his rather sizeable contract yesterday. Byrnes has been injured and otherwise awful for the last couple of years. But he’s now quite cheap (could be signed for league minimum) and can, theoretically at least, play all three outfield spots and slug a little. Hendry could sign him to a minor league deal to see what he’s got.
Bad news out of Milwaukee. That’s right, the Brew Crew have signed slow-tossing southpaw Doug Davis to a one-year deal. Ugh! Davis doesn’t strike many batters out and he gives up a ton of hits. But he always seems to own the Cubs, who quickly succumb to his sleep-inducing pitching style. And his ERA+ has been above league average for three years running. With Gallardo, Wolf and Davis atop their rotation, the Brewers now look at least a little more intimidating.
Free-swingin’ Randall Simon is back! No, not with the Cubs – with the rip-roarin’ Rockford Riverhawks. (Or at least he’ll probably be playing there. The deal isn’t finalized yet). Do the Riverhawks have a mascot that Simon could put the smack down on?
Are you ready to rock? Then stay away from Wrigley again this summer. Sorry, folks, don’t mean to editorialize with my own musical tastes. But it looks like the Cubs are in talks with the usual assortment of yawn-inducing artists/bands to tear up the outfield and annoy the neighbors. I know, I know…I shouldn’t complain. This is another good revenue source for the team, and a lot of people seem to like the shows. (I have a friend who saw The Police at Wrigley a couple years back.) But I’d just as soon see the ballpark stick to baseball in the summertime.
*As always, the bolded phrases at the beginning of each paragraph are hyperlinks to news stories.