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Tag:Chicago Cubs
Posted on: March 29, 2009 2:48 pm
 

Cubs name Gregg as closer

 MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago manager Lou Piniella said Sunday that Kevin Gregg has won the Cubs' closer job, with Carlos Marmol being relegated to the set-up duties he performed last season for Kerry Wood.

"We said we'd let both pitchers compete in the spring, and both have pitched very well," Piniella said Sunday morning after informing Gregg and Marmol of the decision. "I'm fortunate that I have two pitchers I have confidence in."

Piniella was being generous to Marmol in his assessment of the spring. While Gregg hasn't allowed a run in 8 1/3 innings this spring (four hits, 10 strikeouts, one walk), Marmol has allowed four runs in eight innings and, most noticeably, has had difficulty with his command. Marmol has hit five batters during his eight innings.

"I think, leaving spring training, we're a better team the way we put this together," said Piniella, whose Cubs open next Monday in Houston. "Now, what we have to do with Marmol in the set-up role is find a couple of pitchers who can help him so we can get to where we don't have to used him as much as we did (early) last year."

Veteran Aaron Heilman, who should see a lot of work in the seventh innings, figures prominently in that mix. Piniella also mentioned Luis Vizcaino and lefty Neal Cotts. Right-handers Chad Gaudin and Jeff Samardzija are two others who could factor in, but the Cubs aren't certain how the last spot or two in their bullpen will shake out.

Gregg, 30, compiled 61 saves over the past two seasons combined for the Florida Marlins. Marmol, 26, has eight career saves -- seven last year. Though Piniella did not mention the World Baseball Classic as factoring into the decision, Marmol spent part of this spring away from Cubs camp, pitching for the Dominican Republic. He struggled there as well, blowing a save opportunity in the Dominican Republic's 2-1 loss to The Netherlands.

"I told him the better he does his job, the better we'll be as a team," Piniella said of his message to Marmol. "I told him not to be disappointed, that there will be plenty of opportunities down the road for him for him to close. I told him to improve and maintain, and a lot of good things will happen for him in his career."

Besides, in a perfect Cubs world, if they win as often as they hope, Marmol may still get a chance to close at times because Piniella hopes to refrain from using Gregg more than two or three days in a row.

Of course, worse-case scenario is that Gregg stumbles early and a full-blown controversy develops.

"We're not going to tiptoe through the tulips with this thing," Piniella said. "We've made our decision. We're going to give (Gregg) every chance to succeed, and I'm sure he will."

Piniella added: "I couldn't go wrong either way, I really couldn't. I thought about this for a long time. It's tough to bring a young man into this office like that (and tell Marmol he lost the job), especially someone who's played such a big role in our success."

Likes: How can you beat this upcoming week: Bruce Springsteen's new tour kicking off on Wednesday night, the Final Four games on Saturday, Braves at Phillies in the season opener on Sunday, 28 major-league clubs opening on Monday and then the NCAA championship hoops game on Monday night. If you can't find some things to smile about in there, you may as well give it up. ... Aaron Boone continuing to do well following open-heart surgery last week. ... Clubs like the Cubs making final roster decisions. ... Jordan Zimmerman in the Washington Nationals' April rotation. Why not? What, they've got somebody both more experienced AND better. ... Villanova. What a great, gutsy team.

Dislikes: Watching Pittsburgh (and so much of the Big East, for that matter) play basketball. Grab, push, shove, hip-check ... it's all brawn, little artistry. But the Panthers sure do have onions, as television commentator Bill Raftery would say.

Sunblock day? Partly cloudy on Sunday in the desert, actually. I suppose it sunblock wouldn't hurt, but it's been on the cool side.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Hey Frank, won't you pack your bags
"And meet me tonight down at Liberty Hall
"Just one kiss from you my brother
"And we'll ride until we fall
"We'll sleep in the fields
"We'll sleep by the rivers
"And in the morning we'll make a plan
"Well, if you can't make it
"Stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive
"If you can
"And meet me in a dream of this hard land"

-- Bruce Springsteen, This Hard Land

 

 

 

Posted on: March 17, 2009 7:48 pm
 

The Go-Go Cubs? Not quite yet

 
So Chicago manager Lou Piniella was discussing whether the Cubs can become more of a running team given the makeup of this year's club.

Piniella acknowledged that new right fielder Milton Bradley can run some but "we've got to be careful with him" given some of the leg injuries in Bradley's past.

"(Ryan) Theriot can run, and (Mike) Fontenot and (Kosuke) Fukudome can steal the occasional base," said Piniella, whose Cubs ranked eighth in the NL in steals in 2008. "But we're probably more of a first-to-third team than a stolen-base team, to me. That was one reason we added Joey Gathright.

"Are we going to lead the National League in stolen bases? I hardly think so. Unless we steal them before and after games."

Likes: Lou Piniella's sense of humor. ... Cubs general manager Jim Hendry and assistant Randy Bush, on their first trip to the Dodgers' new complex here Tuesday, unknowingly walking into the wrong dugout about 30 minutes before game-time (the teams were both back in the clubhouses) and helping themselves to the spray bottles of sunblock on a very hot day. Dani Holmes, the Cubs' media relations assistant, had to cross the field and re-direct them. "Stole some of the Dodgers' sunblock," Hendry quipped, his face all lathered up in SPF-something. ... Mixed reaction to the Camelback Ranch facility the Dodgers and White Sox are sharing. Very plush, cool architecture, good-looking copper and tan and brown buildings but just not the cozy spring training atmosphere.

Dislikes: Phoenix traffic never seems to improve.

Sunblock Day? Most definitely. Gettin' hot here in the desert. Must have been pretty darn close to 90 today.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Is it much to demand
"I want a full house and a rock and roll band
"Pens that won't run out of ink
"And cool quiet and time to think"

-- Lucinda Williams, Passionate Kisses

 

 

Posted on: March 14, 2009 5:06 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2009 9:17 pm
 

Lou: Fontenot to play second, bat sixth for Cubs

 MESA, Ariz. -- All you Chicago Cubs fans who appreciate Mike Fontenot's hustle and grit, know that you sure aren't alone. Manager Lou Piniella essentially named him as the everyday second baseman Saturday morning before the club's Cactus League game with the Los Angeles Angels.

"Fontenot's basically winning the second base job right now," Piniella said. "He's played really well this spring.

"If that's the case, we'd rather keep him at second base as much as possible."

There was some thought coming into the spring that veteran Aaron Miles would be the second baseman, with Fontenot spotting in at both second and third behind Aramis Ramirez.

A month into camp, those ideas essentially have changed. Fontenot is hitting .371 with a.421 on-base percentage and making all the plays at second.

More conscious than ever about balancing his lineup with left-handers following last October's playoff debacle, Piniella also likes the left-handed Fontenot's strength. Even though he's only 5-8 and 170 pounds, Fontenot popped nine homers in 243 at-bats last summer.

Piniella right now plans to bat Fontenot sixth, lefty Kosuke Fukodome second and switch-hitter Milton Bradley in the cleanup slot.

"It breaks things up," Piniella said of batting Fontenot sixth. "I don't want to get caught with two left-handed hitters hitting sixth and eighth at the tail end of the lineup.

"Two, four and six is a real nice way to break things up."

Meanwhile, lefty Sean Marshall is throwing to well this spring that he's making another decision for the Cubs. The fifth starters' slot was open entering camp, following Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden.

Marshall has been lights-out, compiling a 0.68 ERA over 13 1/3 spring innings, and has emerged as the clear favorite as the fifth starter.

That probably would bump veteran Aaron Heilman into the bullpen, and it adds drama to the status of Jeff Samardzija.

"What we're looking for more than anything else is what we're going to do in the seventh inning," Piniella said, referring to his bullpen. "How we set up our pen in the seventh will dictate what happens everywhere else."

They're still unsettled on whether Carlos Marmol or Kevin Gregg, acquired from Florida during the winter, will replace Kerry Wood as closer. Likely, Marmol will wind up being that guy. Either way, one of them will pitch the eighth and the other the ninth.

Heilman probably will become the seventh-inning guy if Marshall nails down the fifth-starters' slot. Piniella is somewhat concerned that Marshall's move from the pen to the rotation will leave him with only one lefty reliever, Neal Cotts, though there are some options in camp, including veteran Mike Stanton and Jason Waddell.

As for Samardzija, 24, the Cubs continue to evaluate whether it would be best for both him and the team if he breaks camp as a long reliever or returns to Triple-A as a starter. The guess here is it may be very difficult for Piniella to resist bringing that arm north with him.

Likes: Nice chat with Milton Bradley on Saturday morning. I hope this three-year deal works out for him in Chicago. Yes, he has had issues. But he is an intelligent man, and quite likable when he doesn't have a chip on his shoulder. ... The way Jarrod Saltalamacchia's last name curves around the number on the back of his jersey, bending like one of those swimming pool noodles. If there were any more letters in that name, they would have to begin and end on his pants, not his jersey. ... The completely underrated song on Bruce Springsteen's latest disc, Working on a Dream, is Tomorrow Never Knows. It's spare, simple and excellent. ... Of the "fast-food" pizza delivery chains, I'll take Papa John's in a rout over Pizza Hut and Domino's.

Dislikes: Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol was wild against Los Angeles on Saturday, hitting two Angels in the third inning. Someone must have told Marmol that they were hitters from The Netherlands disguised in Angels uniforms. ... Aw, hate to see Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central bow out of the Michigan boys high school basketball tournament, but it's true. My Falcons were defeated by Dundee 38-23 on Friday night in the district championship game. Sounds like Dundee played a little defense.

Sunblock Day? It's the gorgeous part of the year in Arizona now. Warm sun, around 80. It's supposed to creep up to 90 in a few days, but for now, it's perfect.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Does anyone know where the love of God goes
"When the waves turn the minutes to hours?
"The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
"If they'd put fifteen more miles behind her
"They might have split up or they might have capsized
"May have broke deep and took water
"And all that remains is the faces and the names
"Of the wives and the sons and the daughters."

-- Gordon Lightfoot, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

 

 

 

Posted on: January 15, 2009 8:48 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2009 8:55 pm
 

Scouting out a good cause and a cool Saturday

It may be a slow winter for free agents, but Dave Garcia already has signed his 2009 contract with the Chicago Cubs.

No, he's not a candidate to help Lou Piniella's bullpen. And nope, he won't be batting fourth, protecting Derrek Lee.

OK, so he's 88 years old, and he doesn't see so well anymore because of macular degeneration. But it is men like Garcia and hundreds of others who help bring a human touch to baseball and remain an integral part of the game's DNA.

His '09 contract calls for him to continue scouting for the Cubs, although truth be told, Garcia, who will begin his 72nd year in the game, is as much consultant as anything.

"It really is an honor to have Dave with us. He's such an important member of the baseball community," says Gary Hughes, a special assistant to Cubs general manager Jim Hendry. "You can't spend five minutes with him -- he'll talk forever. He has so much to say.

"He probably knows more people in the game than anybody. His vision isn't so good anymore, but that's OK. He's got so much information stored."

Garcia, along with longtime Philadelphia advance scout Hank King, will receive the George Genovese Lifetime Achievement Award in Scouting on Saturday night in Los Angeles at the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation's Sixth Annual "In the Spirit of the Game" gala.

Billed as a dinner and "the world's largest auction of sports and entertainment memorabilia", the gala is the signature event of the foundation started by former agent and current Chicago White Sox executive Dennis Gilbert to aid to scouts who are in trouble financially or who are in poor health (and often, of course, the two are linked).

Garcia and scouts like him, for whom baseball is as important a component of their bloodstream as oxygen, probably give more back to the game than anybody. There is little glory, the pay is low and there is too much time away from the family.

Most work on one-year contracts, and their job security is only as good as those several rungs higher up the ladder.

As Hughes says, "Every time you read the transactions and see somebody on top (in an organization) losing his job or moving on, a bunch of guys below are losing theirs because you're not the new guy's guy."

It's often a nomadic existence filled with too many greasy cheeseburgers and too many lumpy hotel beds. But even if it's not monetary, these guys stick with their jobs because there will be, to them, a big payoff sometime during the day.

"It's very possible that I've seen more professional baseball games than anybody who ever lived," says Garcia, who managed the California Angels (1977-1978) and Cleveland Indians (1979-1982) during different points in his career, says. "I can't prove that."

"He might be right," Hughes says, chuckling. "At least, I don't know of anybody alive who could claim to have seen more."

Garcia, who grew up in East St. Louis, Ill., was a Knothole Gang member for both St. Louis franchises, the Cardinals and the Browns, as a kid in the 1930s. Which meant, when school was out, he could go to the ballpark for free every day except Sunday.

"I've seen every living Hall of Famer play," Garcia says. "And I've seen more dead Hall of Famers play than there are alive."

He'll tell you about watching the 1930 Philadelphia A's with their four Hall of Famers -- Lefty Grove, Al Simmons, Mickey Cochrane and, of course, Jimmy Foxx. He'll tell you about Ducky Medwick and Dizzy Dean and Hank Greenberg.

"If they played from the '30s on, I've seen them play in person," he says. "Not that it means anything to anybody but me. I love baseball more than anything except my family."

His dear wife of 52 years, Carmen, passed away a few years back ("Rita Hayworth never saw the day when she was as pretty as Carmen," Garcia says wistfully). He has three grown children -- two daughters and a son -- who all live near him in the San Diego area.

And, of course, he still has the game.

Because of the macular degeneration he can no longer drive, yet he still is as much a regular at San Diego's Petco Park as the Tony Gwynn statue beyond the outfield fence.

When his eyesight first began to fail, he could drive during the day but not at night. So for two seasons, he would drive to the trolley stop, take the train downtown and watch batting practice before night games. Then he would take the trolley back, drive home (arriving just before dusk) and watch the game on television.

He's since moved, and now his neighbor, a retired Navy man, drives him to every home game. The Padres set them up with a parking pass and set Garcia's friend up with a scouting ticket as well.

"They're very nice," Garcia says. "I'm sure Kevin Towers (the Padres' GM) is responsible for that."

Towers will be presenting Garcia for his award at Saturday night's dinner. Former big league player and manager Buddy Bell was supposed to do it, but a personal matter is keeping him away. Bell, who played for Garcia in Cleveland, remains Garcia's all-time favorite baseball person.

In fact, Garcia was a coach on the Colorado Rockies' staff when Bell managed there a few years ago. But when the Rockies fired Bell in 2002, Garcia quit the same day.

"Buddy Bell is the best baseball kid in my life," Garcia says. "I love Buddy Bell. When they fired him at 3 in the afternoon, I resigned at five after three. I thought it was wrong."

Garcia is fortunate in that he has his three children nearby and collects a big-league pension. There are plenty who scrape by financially, especially those who never had a day in the majors and who aren't quite so high on a club's front-office roster.

For example, amateur free agent scouts -- the folks who scout high schools and colleges for clubs in preparation for the annual June draft.

"When the Florida Marlins started in the early 1990s, we started everyone at $30,000 a year," says Hughes, who was an executive with the Marlins back then. "People (in the game) were screaming, 'You're ruining us! You're paying those guys too much!'

"People in the industry were going, 'How can you pay those guys that kind of money?' And that was 17 years ago. I don't know if guys are even starting at $40,000 a year now."

The PBSF was designed to act as a sort of backstop for old scouts who never made much money and who are facing hardship -- or worse -- now.

"We've saved guys' houses three days before they've been on the streets," says Hughes, who also serves on the foundation's board of directors. "We try to help families get back up."

Aside from Garcia and King, five other veteran scouts will receive the Legends in Scouting award Saturday night:

-- Gene Bennett, to many is the Cincinnati Reds. He signed with them as a player in 1952 and started scouting in '58. Among many others, he signed Chris Sabo, Paul O'Neill, Barry Larkin and Don Gullett.

-- Mel Didier, who has worked for several clubs and received his most notoriety for writing the famous scouting report that dissected Oakland closer Dennis Eckersley and contributed to Kirk Gibson's iconic home run to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

"(Gibson) was armed with an unforgettable scouting report by Mel," former Dodgers GM Fred Claire writes in the forward to Podnuh, Let Me Tell You a Story: A Baseball Life, Didier's autobiography co-written with T.R. Sullivan. "'If Dennis Eckersley gets a 3-2 count against a left-handed hitter, you can bet he will throw a backdoor slider.' The count went 3-2 to Gibson. You know the rest of the story."

-- Epy Guerrero, the long-time Toronto Blue Jays scout who helped break open a new frontier, the Dominican Republic. He signed dozens of players from there, including Alfredo Griffin, Tony Fernandez, Carlos Delgado and Cesar Cedeno.

--Moose Johnson, one of the first national cross-checkers for the Toronto Blue Jays. A cross-checker is, as Johnson so often called himself , a "comparative scout." He criss-crosses the country and personally scouts several of the top players of whom a club's scouts already have turned in reports. He acts as a clearinghouse and final judge, in a sense.

-- Lenny Yochim, who did a little bit of everything for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Several others will be honored as well, including Hall of Famers George Brett and Goose Gossage, former manager Whitey Herzog and the Alou brothers -- Felipe, Matty and Jesus.

"It's thrilling, the things we've been able to do with this thing, the amount of help we've been able to give people," Hughes says.

Aside from this night, and the Scout of the Year program run by Roberta Mazur for the past 25 years, the scouts mostly work in obscurity with little notice. Their reward simply is when some kid they watched when he was 18 grows into a player.

That and, of course, the privilege of spending most of their lives at the ballpark.

Oddly, there isn't even a place for scouts in the Hall of Fame. While players, managers, executive and umpires are honored, and while there is even a wing for writers and broadcasters, the scouts mostly remain in the background there, too.

There was a display about a decade ago entitled "Ivory Hunters" but, when the museum was redesigned, it went down in favor of a few other exhibits.

Jeff Idelson, Hall of Fame president, intends to change that soon.

"We think the best way we can represent scouts in Cooperstown is through an extensive exhibit showing their contributions to the game," says Idelson, who is traveling to Los Angeles this weekend for the gala. "I do think that is the best way to let the American public know how important their role is in the game.

"The way we'll do that in time is an exhibit on amateur baseball starting with youth leagues and ending at the minor leagues, bridged by scouting. Our curatorial staff is really excited to tell the story."

Two exhibits are on deck in Cooperstown before the one examining scouts' place in the game's lineage: One featuring Hank Aaron, and one featuring the history of Latinos in baseball. Idelson's hope is that the amateur exhibit including scouts will be up in four or five years.

"In the museum world, things take a little longer than in other sectors of the economy," he says. "It takes time to develop and write the stories, and it takes time to secure the funding."

One thought is that, possibly, the Scout of the Year program could dovetail into the presentation on scouts, when it goes up.

"Roberta Mazur has been terrific with the Scout of the Year program," Idelson says. "She's a heroine."

There are a lot of them here on the fringes of the game. It just takes so much time to meet them.

As for Garcia, he can no longer read things at close range, or write, because of the macular degeneration. "But when I go to the park, I can see the game and I can see the scoreboard," he says. "I think I'm very lucky. I can still evaluate ballplayers, and that's what my job is."

To the point where, when the Padres are on the road during the season, Garcia simply settles in at home. He's got DirecTV, and at 88, he'll still watch two or three games on television a day.

For more information on Saturday night's dinner and auction, or if you'd like to attend, check out the Web site listed above or phone 310-996-1188.

Posted on: January 5, 2009 5:45 pm
 

Cubs land Bradley, address left-handed problem

The Chicago Cubs have landed the left-handed bat they so badly wanted this winter, agreeing to terms with switch-hitting outfielder Milton Bradley on a three-year deal worth $30 million, CBSSports.com has learned.

Bradley is due in Chicago this week for a physical examination as one of the final hurdles to finalizing the deal. The contract is expected to be formalized later this week, possibly as early as Thursday.

The move is significant for the Cubs in that a team that breezed through the NL Central and won 97 games last summer was exposed as being too right-handed at the plate during a bitterly disappointing first-round playoff loss to Los Angeles. Dodgers pitchers feasted on the Cubs' steady stream of right-handed hitters during the three-game sweep, holding Chicago to a .240 batting average and six total runs in the three games.

Bradley, whose re-emergence in Texas last season after a significant knee injury in San Diego in 2007, batted .321 with a .436 on-base percentage and a .563 slugging percentage for the Rangers last summer. His patience and selectivity at the plate are exactly what the free-swinging Cubs need.

However, Bradley, 31, also has a checkered injury history and in this, the first multi-year deal of his career, his challenge will be to stay on the field. Among the injuries that have sent Bradley to the disabled list over his seven-year career are knee, oblique, calf, shoulders and hamstrings.

In Texas last season, after serving as the Rangers designated hitter early while recovering from knee surgery last winter, he played only 165 innings in the field.

Nevertheless, by the winter meetings in Las Vegas last month, the Cubs, scouring the market for left-handed hitters, had identified Bradley as their No. 1 target. Hendry and manager Lou Piniella both have researched the volatile Bradley extensively, checking on both his injury history and several controversial incidents in which he's been involved.

Included in those are a very public feud with second baseman Jeff Kent in Los Angeles in 2005 that forced the Dodgers to trade him that winter, a bitter public disagreement with Oakland general manager Billy Beane in 2007 and the knee injury in San Diego late in the '07 season that came when manager Bud Black was attempting to keep Bradley from charging umpire Mike Winters.

Winters was subsequently suspended by major league baseball for provoking Bradley.

In the end, the Cubs decided that Bradley is a risk well worth taking. Aside from the incident with Kent, Bradley mostly has gotten along well with teammates throughout his career and been viewed positively in his clubhouses.

And to that extent, there are those with the Cubs who believe that maybe Bradley's fierce intensity will be beneficial for a clubhouse generally viewed as nice and docile.

The Cubs plan to play Bradley in right field and move Kosuke Fukudome to center. Their hope also is that Fukudome, who faded badly following a hot start last summer, will come back strong in 2008.

Specifically, the Cubs' strength and conditioning people have given Fukudome a workout regimen to follow while he trains in Japan this winter. The club thinks that a major-league season longer than the campaign in Japan caught up to Fukudome, who was in good shape entering 2008 but, in hindsight, maybe wasn't strong enough for the duration of a 162-game season.

Posted on: December 12, 2008 7:27 pm
 

Phillies bag Raul Ibanez

Moving to fill big holes in the middle of their lineup and left field, the world champion Philadelphia Phillies have reached an agreement with free agent Raul Ibanez on a three-year, $31 million deal, according to sources.

The deal is pending a physical examination.

The Phillies had targeted the now former Seattle Mariner since parting ways with slugger Pat Burrell. Ibanez, whose long list of suitors included the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels, New York Mets and Atlanta Braves, among others, hit .293 in 2008 with a .358 on-base percentage, .472 slugging percentage, 23 homers and 110 RBI.

Though he's 36, he plays younger than his years.

"He's everything you want as far as professionalism, he hits 20 homers consistently, 80-to-100 RBIs," one major-league scout said. "Five years ago, people thought that maybe he should stop playing the outfield. But he's continued to work at it to where he makes most of the routine plays.

"Plus, he's a great guy. Just a super human being. He can hit anywhere in the lineup, three, four or five, and he's a tough out."

The Phillies are hoping that perhaps Ibanez brings another benefit, too. He's good friends with pitcher Jamie Moyer dating back to their days as teammates in Seattle. The Phillies still haven't signed Moyer because of a disagreement over salary. Now that they've got a left fielder and have a firm grasp of how much is left in their budget, and given the presence of Ibanez, they're hoping they can reach an agreement with the lefty.

 

Posted on: December 11, 2008 1:00 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2008 1:56 pm
 

Cubs out of Jake Peavy talks

LAS VEGAS -- The Chicago Cubs are out of the Jake Peavy talks.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry told Padres GM Kevin Towers on Thursday morning that the Cubs have decided to do other things. Their first priority is adding a left-handed bat. Among those they're interested in on the free-agent market are Milton Bradley and Raul Ibanez. They also are investigating the possibility of adding free agent lefty pitcher Randy Johnson.

Whatever they do, it won't be Peavy.

"It was the Cubs' decision," Towers said. "They ruled it out this morning."

The Padres had constructed an elaborate deal with the Cubs that would have involved three or four teams, most likely Baltimore and Philadelphia. Other teams became involved in the talks when it became apparent that the Cubs were thinking of including infielder Mark DeRosa in the deal. Minnesota, for example, called and inquired about DeRosa -- the Twins wanted to play him at third base.

The Padres were attempting to arrange a four-, five-, or six-player package for Peavy and, among other scenarios, were talking about the possibility of acquiring Cubs third base prospect Josh Vitters, right-hander Kevin Hart, Baltimore pitcher Garret Olson and Philadelphia pitcher J.A. Happ, among others.

The Cubs were going to have to move pitcher Jason Marquis and his $9.875 million salary, and because they couldn't find another taker, he was going to go to the Padres -- but the Cubs were going to have to pick up a significant portion.

A Cubs source said that they ultimately decided it was simply too many prospects and too much money for them. The Phillies are described as being very disappointed because they were hoping to obtain infielder Mark DeRosa from the Cubs in the deal. They still could engage the Cubs in those talks, though Chicago doesn't really want to trade DeRosa.

Talks regarding Peavy have been dragging on for eight weeks or more, and the Padres have gone from being close with Atlanta to close with the Cubs to, now, apparently, being forced to huddle back in San Diego next week and discuss their alternatives.

"We'll regroup next week and figure out what we're going to do," Towers said.

There is one thing the GM is sure of.

"We need to start moving forward," Towers said. "We can't keep doing this deep into the winter."

The Padres have been searching for trade partners because they're attempting to shed payroll, and Peavy is owed $63 million over the next four years. Owner John Moores is in the middle of an ugly divorce that sources say will strap him for cash, the team lost 99 games in 2008 and attendance dropped almost 13 percent.

The long and laborious talks with Peavy have undergone several bizarre twists, most recently when the pitcher was reported to have been in a Las Vegas bar the other night singing "Go Cubs Go" after attending a Brooks and Dunn concert with his buddy, Houston pitcher Roy Oswalt. The only part of that story that I've confirmed is that Peavy indeed was in Las Vegas this week. Among other things, he attended Greg Maddux's retirement press conference.

One alternative now, he said, is to release a statement that the club will keep Peavy.

But that doesn't change the fact that the Padres need to shave payroll.

While Towers said he didn't sense from Hendry that the deal could be resurrected with the Cubs, the domino effect of what else happens on the market this winter still could take this thing in a different direction.

Atlanta on Thursday remained deep in negotiations attempting to land free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett. If he goes to the New York Yankees, though, the Braves will be forced to readjust and conceivably could re-engage the Padres.

Also, as CBSSports.com reported several weeks ago, the Los Angeles Angels held brief conversations with the Padres about Peavy several weeks ago, and sources with knowledge of the Angels' thinking say the club very well might turn its attention back to Peavy if the Angels whiff on Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia. With Sabathia having been delivered to the Yankees, the Angels so far are 0-for-1.

They could potentially satisfy the Padres with a package built around right-hander Jered Weaver, one of two infielders -- Erick Aybar or Maicer Izturis -- and a couple of prospects.

Further complicating the situation, though, is that Peavy has no-trade powers and so far has used them to attempt to steer himself toward Chicago. Several people close to the talks believe Peavy is not enamored with going to Atlanta. It is believed he may approve a deal to the Angels, though he could ask for contractual concessions. His preference is to stay in the National League.

Towers said he would probably talk to Barry Axelrod, Peavy's agent, and tell him it's not going to work with the Cubs and they'll have to move on to other alternatives.

"Even if he wants to go somewhere else, I think we need to sit down as an organization and say, 'Do we want to go through this process again?'" Towers said. "It's difficult on the fans."

Not to mention difficult on the Padres, and everyone they're dealing with.

"We're asking a lot," Towers said. "To move Jake Peavy, we would plan on getting a lot. We knew going into the winter there were no guarantees."

 


Posted on: December 9, 2008 9:48 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2008 2:17 am
 

Padres, Cubs progress in Peavy talks

LAS VEGAS -- Jake Peavy may or may not have been singing Go Cubs Go in a bar here after attending the Brooks and Dunn concert with his buddy, Houston Astro Roy Oswalt, the other night.

But after more talks Tuesday between the Padres and Chicago Cubs, Peavy's long, strange trip out of San Diego appears to be moving along to a place where Peavy will be able to memorize those lyrics for good.

The Padres and Cubs were scheduled to hold another session of talks later Tuesday evening, according to San Diego general manager Kevin Towers, who said he "feels probably better today at this time than yesterday at this time" regarding the progress of the trade talks.

"We've made some progress," Towers said. "We're just not there yet."

He described the Cubs as having some work to do. Though he wasn't specific, sources with knowledge of the talks say the Cubs must move payroll to take on the $63 million Peavy is owed over the next four years.

Specifically, they're attempting to move pitcher Jason Marquis and his $9.875 million salary owed for 2009.

Though Towers said the Padres and Cubs haven't completely settled on the pieces Chicago would send to San Diego, there is general agreement. Third base prospect Josh Vitters certainly would be in the package, which also is expected to include right-handed pitcher Kevin Hart and possibly pitcher Angel Guzman. Shortstop Ronny Cedeno is also a possibility.

A third team almost certainly would need to be involved, and possibly, according to Towers, a fourth club.

Philadelphia, which could end up acquiring infielder Mark DeRosa from the Cubs and sending pitcher J.A. Happ to the Padres, remains one possibility.

Baltimore, which would sent pitcher Garret Olson to the Cubs for outfielder Felix Pie -- and then the Cubs would pass Olson along to the Padres -- remains another possibility.

The Cubs were said to have been approached by another club -- or more -- Tuesday involving players that could be in the Peavy deal. That could mean either Marquis or DeRosa, or both.

Another twist, that likely will mean more delays if this deal is to be completed: The Padres are looking to pick one player -- and perhaps more -- in Thursday morning's Rule 5 draft and, as a result, they may need to clear some space on their 40-man roster to make room for some of the players in a potential Peavy trade.

That presents a scenario in which the Cubs and Padres could agree to a deal in a day or two but delay announcing it until Friday, Saturday or later.

Towers said he believes Hendry has the power to move now in personnel decisions despite the Cubs' impending sale.

"My impression is he has the ability to move if he is comfortable with what he's giving up," Towers said.

Hendry said on Monday that he is operating with no restrictions while the impending sale progresses.

 
 
 
 
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