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The Pudge to Chitown rumor


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Report: Cubs After Rodriguez


Steve Holley, Jay Zawaski - CubsTalk.com

December 9, 2003 at 11:37pm ET

Earlier this afternoon, KSAZ-TV in Phoenix, Arizona leaked word that the Cubs and free agent catcher Ivan Rodriguez were closing in on a deal. CubsTalk.com has since learned from sources that a deal for Rodriguez is on the table and could be finalized soon.

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I smell bullcrap on this, but what IF the Cubs sign him? I thought the Marlins offer was too big, and we would sign him for more? Uh oh, but maybe maybe Pudge will take a Chicago discount because he loves the city and its Latino (not to mention Polish and Irish) connections.

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Uh oh, but maybe maybe Pudge will take a Chicago discount because he loves the city and its Latino (not to mention Polish and Irish) connections.


Pudge likes Miami more Gimme an S! Gimme an A! Gimme an R! Gimme a C! Gimme an A! Gimme an S! Gimme an M!


What's that spell?

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Today's Chicago Sun Times:


Cubs thinking small in Big Easy


December 11, 2003


BY MIKE KILEY Staff Reporter


NEW ORLEANS -- General manager Jim Hendry raised the expectations of Cubs fans in recent weeks by adding first baseman Derrek Lee and reliever LaTroy Hawkins. So when Hendry arrives in New Orleans today for the winter meetings, a convention of trade rumors and gossip that bridges the gap to spring training, anticipation will be high that the trend of high-profile activity will continue.


But marquee free agents such as catchers Ivan Rodriguez and Javy Lopez and pitcher Greg Maddux aren't on Hendry's shrinking radar screen, according to team sources. His $85 million payroll for the 2004 season doesn't leave the kind of money to even consider Rodriguez's desires for $10 million a year.


Less flashy names who could become Cubs in the next several weeks are outfielders Jose Cruz Jr. and Todd Hollandsworth, left-handed relievers Ricardo Rincon, Gabe White, Ron Villone, Sterling Hitchcock, Glendon Rusch and Kent Mercker and perhaps left-handed starter Kenny Rogers.


Hendry has had discussions with Pittsburgh Pirates officials about catcher Jason Kendall, but he has put Kendall on the back burner for the moment because of the complex money issues. Kendall is due $42 million over the next four years, and the Cubs would want to pay only $20 million of that at the most.


Perhaps the biggest new name that could arise over the next few days is Rogers. He fit into the Minnesota Twins' budget last season by accepting a $2 million salary, down from $7.5 million each of the previous three years with the Texas Rangers.


At 39, Rogers presumably would know that is his price range. But word is he might be looking for $5 million to $6 million per year after going 13-8 with a 4.57 ERA in 2003. If so, the Cubs will pass and stick with right-hander Juan Cruz as the No. 5 starter, as badly as they want a competitive left-hander after the Shawn Estes experiment failed. Hitchcock is a lefty who could start or relieve. Rogers is strictly a starter.


Hendry will listen to any trade discussions of big-name players, just as he jumped into the Lee talks at the last moment after the Baltimore Orioles dropped out. But chances are, his priorities are down to adding important backups in the outfield and infield and a left-hander for the bullpen and possibly the rotation. Here is a breakdown of areas that will be part of the banter in New Orleans:


Fourth outfielder


Corey Patterson's rehabilitation is progressing optimistically, and the Cubs think he has every chance to be in the Opening Day lineup in center field. But what if he experiences a spring-training setback? What if the cold April weather keeps him from being as agile in his return from left knee surgery?


Hendry has said the fourth outfielder will be extremely critical and is focusing a lot of his energy on that spot to find either a left-handed bat or a switch hitter. Free agents Cruz, Hollandsworth, Ben Grieve and Chris Singleton will be discussed, as well as trade possibilities.


Cruz won a Gold Glove with the San Francisco Giants last season, and the switch hitter batted .250 in 158 games -- and there is the rub. He definitely wants a starting job, which the Cubs can't promise, the reason Kenny Lofton jumped ship. If no starting offers come along, Cruz could be persuaded to consider the Cubs.


As for the left-handed Hollandsworth, he is the kind of productive pinch hitter the Cubs lacked last season. He finished third among National League pinch hitters with a .350 average in 20 at-bats for the Florida Marlins.




How much money Hendry spends elsewhere will affect which left-hander he adds to the bullpen. Rincon made $1.7 million last season, White $3.3 million, Hitchcock $6 million and even the lamentable Rusch (1-12 for the Milwaukee Brewers with a 6.42 ERA) made $4.25 million. Villone, who earned $900,000 in 2003, and Mercker, who made $550,000, would come much cheaper.


Backup infielders


The Cubs hope to re-sign Ramon Martinez by Dec. 20. If not, Tony Graffanino and Miguel Cairo would get a lot of consideration. With Randall Simon not expected to return, Martinez also could back up Lee at first base; otherwise, the new backup outfielder might have to handle that chore.




Hendry continues to look for ways to upgrade after Damian Miller was subpar offensively last season. The Cubs like Miller's defense and might have to settle for that again, but they are searching for creative ways to make a change.


Wood and Lee


Hendry plans to talk with the camps for both Lee and starting pitcher Kerry Wood in New Orleans about multiyear contract extensions. It's just a first step toward what the team hopes will be agreements with both players.



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