The Winter Meetings start tomorrow in Dallas, and today is probably your travel day for a number of executives and agents. The rumors won’t wait until tomorrow, though, and we’ll have a round-up of the latest later today, to prime you for the week ahead.
- Perhaps the biggest rumor, however, gets a Bullet. Matt Garza showed up for the Cubs’ Christmas (er, Holiday) tree lighting ceremony last night (which is pretty awesome of him), and spoke to those around about the rumors he could be traded this Winter. “I’ve gone through it for the last six years of my career,” Garza said, suggesting he can’t let the swirling rumors bother him. More tellingly, he added that his agent told him, “it’ll be an active Winter Meetings, so watch TV.” As I’ve said repeatedly: the Cubs are very much considering trading Garza. All it takes is that one great offer (multiple top-of-the-line, ML-ready prospects), and they’ll pull the trigger.
- For his part, Garza wouldn’t mind signing an extension with the Cubs, which is also a possibility. “I’m open to whatever,” Garza said. “I just like playing the game. My family lives here, if that’s any indication. I just want to play the game. I do love Chicago.”
- That same article notes that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who was also present at the tree lighting, said to everyone in attendance that he “wants Wrigley Field to be here for the next century and beyond.” That’s not just a “thing you say.” Against the backdrop of a very public request for financing assistance to renovate Wrigley Field, the Governor knows the implications of what he said. Does that mean a deal is already worked out? I don’t know that I’d go that far (the city of Chicago is expected to be involved as well), but it’s a good sign.
- Speaking of public funds for stadium deals, the SEC is investigating the use of public money to get the new Miami Marlins stadium built after years of intransigence. Jeff Passan thinks there was some shady dealing (noting that public officials agreed to fund 80% of the project without ever reviewing the Marlins’ finances), and the story could get a lot worse. From my perspective, I’m worried that the narrative coming out of the story will be “see what happens when you use public money for baseball stadiums? You should NEVER do it!” What happened in Miami has nothing to do with what happens in Chicago (literally-speaking), but I know many of you don’t approve of the Cubs using public dollars (collected at Cubs games, mind you) to help renovate Wrigley.
- If you’re not yet convinced that Ron Santo belongs in the Hall of Fame, Phil Rogers does a convincing job of arguing his case. Let me add my own small point: Santo was a multiple Gold Glove winner, whose career offensive numbers are dampened by playing in an incredibly pitching-heavy era. The proof? He’s got a career 125 OPS+ (he was 25% better than the average player) despite what, on a mere glance, looks like a good-but-not-great career .826 OPS. For comparison, Sammy Sosa has a career .878 OPS. Career OPS+? Just 128. Santo was far, far better than his numbers looked.
- Kevin Goldstein says potential Cubs’ third base target Ian Stewart is not an everyday player, and says Brett Jackson is not ready for the bigs. Goldstein also says he doesn’t think the compensation going to the Red Sox for Theo Epstein will be very much, saying it could simply be the Cubs taking someone for the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft. (For what it’s worth, I still can’t fathom the Red Sox settling for that little. I know I’ve said all along that the Red Sox have no leverage, and that they weren’t going to get nearly as much as they were hoping for. But a Rule 5 pick? Teams sometimes do that for other teams as a favor anyway (see, e.g., Cubs taking Josh Hamilton for the Reds). How much value is that really providing the Sawx? One year of Theo Epstein, which is what the Cubs got, has value. He’s worth a prospect.)
- It’s no surprise, but big dudes don’t age as well as fit dudes when it comes to baseball-playing-ability. That FanGraphs article even suggests that Prince Fielder peaked several years ago.