Cubs

Word on the Street: Cubs looking at Berkman?

Word on the Street: Cubs looking at Berkman?

Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010
CSNChicago.com

Cubs interested in signing Lance Berkman?

Looking to add some left-handed pop to their lineup without paying too much, Fox Sports writer Ken Rosenthal claims the Cubs are looking into former Houston Astros first baseman Lance Berkman. Berkman was primarily used at first base after being traded to the New York Yankees late in 2010, but says he wants to play the field again. (foxsports.com)
No arbitration offer for Pierzynski an interesting choice

The White Sox chose to offer salary arbitration to free agents Paul Konerko and J.J. Putz, but declined the option on A.J. Pierzynski and Manny Ramirez. While the Ramirez choice isn't shocking, the Pierzynski decision is a bit of a head-scratcher. How could declining to offer Pierzynski actually be beneficial for the White Sox and aid in the veteran's return to the South Side? (examiner.com)

Chicago home to "Hole of the Year"

Golf Digest's Ron Whitten handed out his 2010 awards in the December issue of the magazine and Chicago Highlands won big. Located in west suburban Westchester, the courses par-3 13th hole won the "Hole of the Year" award.

"It's shaped like a volcano ... blow it left, right, short or over the green, and the ball could roll 60 yards down. It's a giant chocolate drop of a hole, a pyramid of grass, the Iwo Jima of golf," wrote Whitten. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Scott Boras potentially in trouble with Players Union

Baseball super-agent Scott Boras, agent to some of the greatest players in the game over the last two decades including Alex Rodriguez, Greg Maddux, and Barry Bonds, may have violated the rules of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Boras is accused of providing tens of thousands of dollars of loans and payments to Dominican teenage prospects. According to the union's regulations, loans of more than 500 to players andor their families are prohibited unless the reason for the loan is disclosed to the players union.

The money obligates them to the agent, gives the agent leverage, and coerces the athlete to do what the agent wants because of fear of foreclosure or other adverse consequences for the athlete or the athletes family, said Mark S. Levinstein, a prominent sports lawyer who is a partner at the Washington law firm Williams & Connolly.

If found to be in violation of the union's rules, Boras could be subject to fines or even have his rights to represent players revoked. (The New York Times)
Vick featured on SI cover

Michael Vick has quickly become the most talked about player in the entire NFL, and this week Sports Illustrated is jumping on the bandwagon, featuring Vick on the cover of the this week's issue of the magazine. The cover, and the infamous jinx to those featured on it, add even more hype to this Sunday's Bears-Eagles game at Soldier Field. For their part, the Bears are convinced they can stop Vick.

"We believe in our defense and it's set up to play guys like him. We give him all the respect in the world, but our guys are excited about playing against not just Mike Vick, it's more than Michael Vick, the Philly offense. They have good skill guys all the way around," said coach Lovie Smith. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Heat flounder against Pacers, fall to 8-6

The star-studded Miami Heat, once the subject of talks as to whether or not they could best the 1995-96 Bulls NBA-record 72-10 regular season record, have lost their second consecutive game, bringing their season record to 8-6. Their most recent loss, a 93-77 dismantling at the hands of the Indiana Pacers, was the teams worst offensive performance of the year and came just hours after learning that they would lose their top reserve Udonis Haslem indefinitely due to a foot injury.

After their most recent loss, the Heat would have to go 64-4 for the remainder of the season to tie the Bulls' record. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

NFLPA writes to Quinn, Daley about potential lockout

The NFL Players Association's president Kevin Mawae wrote a letter to Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Richard Daley on Monday, warning the two of the massive amount of money that the state and city could lose if the NFL is locked out in 2011.

Mawae claimed in the letter that if the NFL does not play in 2011, the city and state stand to lose as much as 160 million. (SB Nation Chicago)

Morandini to manage Phillies Class-A squad

Former Cubs second baseman Mickey Morandini was named Manager of the Phillies Class-A Williamsport Croscutters on Monday. Prior to taking the job with the Phillies, Morandini was a baseball coach at Valparaiso High School in northwest Indiana. Morandini played two years with the Cubs, including their 1998 season in which they won the National League wild card. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Two MLB moves that changed the landscape of Kris Bryant's trade market

Two MLB moves that changed the landscape of Kris Bryant's trade market

Two reported transactions Tuesday may not have drawn much attention from Cubs fans, but both directly impact the North Siders.

First, The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya reported the Angels are trading third baseman Zack Cozart to the Giants for cash and a player to be named later. Soon thereafter, free agent shortstop Didi Gregorius agreed to a one-year deal with the Phillies, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported.

From a Cubs perspective, the Angels' and Phillies' moves impact a potential Kris Bryant trade market. According to Ardaya, the Giants are picking up the remaining $12.67 million on Cozart’s deal. This clears payroll space for Los Angeles to make a run at a superstar free agent, like third basemen Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson.

The Phillies inquired with the Cubs regarding a potential Bryant trade, according to multiple reports. However, Bryant’s unresolved grievance case is a holdup in any trade talks, should the Cubs entertain offers. If he wins, he'll become a free agent next winter. If he loses, he'll remain under team control through 2021.

Gregorius will slot into shortstop for Philadelphia, while incumbent Jean Segura will move to second base, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury. The Phillies are less likely to pursue Bryant — should the Cubs shop him — than they were entering Tuesday. Things can change, but they have less of an infield need as they did on Monday.

On the other hand, the Angels and new manager Joe Maddon suddenly could be a candidate to pursue Bryant. Acquiring him would bring less certainty than Rendon or Donaldson, as Bryant is only under contract for two seasons more, max. Furthermore, acquiring Bryant will cost the Angels prospect capital, while adding Rendon and Donaldson will 'only' entail paying them handsomely as free agents.

In short, Philadelphia is less likely to pursue Bryant than they were entering Tuesday; the possibility of the Angels doing so is stronger than it was entering the day. The Angels haven't been directly connected to Bryant at this point, but that now could change.

Cubs still waiting for their number to be called in baseball's offseason equation

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AP

Cubs still waiting for their number to be called in baseball's offseason equation

SAN DIEGO — Jed Hoyer busted out the fishing and football metaphors to explain how the Winter Meetings have gone for his front office.

The Cubs have so far not made a move of any magnitude on baseball's biggest offseason stage, but that's not really a surprise. Their Opening Day payroll is already projected for about $6 million over the luxury tax threshold and so far, there hasn't been much movement in the trade market. 

Hoyer called the first couple days in San Diego productive in terms of having conversations and laying groundwork. But when asked if he thought the Cubs would make a substantial move before the end of the Winter Meetings, Hoyer wasn't optimistic.

"Right now, we don't have anything that's in the red zone," the Cubs GM said. "That'd be my instinct. But at the same time, there's a bunch of days left. More than any other time of year, things happen quickly at the Winter Meetings. That's the one great thing about the Winter Meetings, where an idea can go from the germination to deal very quickly because we're in the same place and people have a certain level of motivation."

The Cubs leaving San Diego without a big trade or adding impact players to the 2020 roster is certainly frustrating for fans who are still trying to wrap their heads around how this team has gone from a potential dynasty to one that is now likely breaking up the core of players.

It's frustrating to the Cubs, too. As Hoyer put it, "the percentage of times that you cast into the water and get a fish is really rare," while preaching patience on the team's offseason.

In a lot of ways, the winter is out of the Cubs' hands. Because they're not players at the top of the free agent market while they attempt to shed payroll, they have to wait for teams to decide to turn to the trade market to fill their roster needs. When Josh Donaldson and Anthony Rendon are still out there and require only money — and not a haul of prospects or big-league players — to acquire, it's understandable teams would want to wait that out before resorting to meeting the Cubs' asking price for Kris Bryant.

"The people that are making that decision, they're trying to figure out that calculus," Hoyer said. "In some cases, they want to make a trade because that's easier or they like that player a lot and in some situations, they'd rather just spend the money. That's always the calculus you have this time of year — the teams that are in those markets are making that decision."

So it goes for the Cubs, who are spending another Winter Meetings preaching patience and another offseason operating more at the fringe of the big-league roster than at the top of it. 

That's not to say the Cubs are still figuring out their plan of attack for the offseason. They're aligned in their focus this winter — somewhere in the middle of rebuilding and going all-in for the immediate future. More like retooling on the fly. 

Theo Epstein's front office isn't planning on punting on 2020, even with a rookie manager, a brand new coaching staff and more budgetary restraints. Not when the division is still within reach, as no other team has emerged as a powerhouse within the NL Central.

The Cubs also aren't going to mortgage the long-term future for the next couple of years. Ideally, they would be able to make moves to keep the team competitive during the window of contention in 2020 and 2021 while also ensuring the roster has a better long-term future than is currently constituted.

"The makings of a very, very good team is currently under control on our roster, with a chance to win the division. You do that and you have a chance to have a great October," Epstein said Monday. "That's not to be taken lightly. At the same time, we can't just pretend that we can keep putting off making some important decisions for the future if there's an opportunity to strike that can help ensure a better future, we have to do that. We also have to be very mindful of what's on our roster right now, how we can complement it and how we can put ourselves in the best possible position for 2020. Both things are important."

The Cubs have been having a lot of conversations with various relievers and role players to round out the roster, similar to the moves they've made so far in free agency (right-handed pitcher Dan Winkler), trade (right-handed pitcher Jharel Cotton) and the waiver wire (left-handed pitcher CD Pelham).

"The end of our roster did struggle last year in certain places and we have to do a better job of fortifying that," Hoyer said. "And so those conversations are really important. They're not the names you read in trade rumors and stuff like that, but they are really important and we are having a ton of those conversations."