This morning, on the second day of the Winter Meetings, the Chicago Cubs largely resemble yesterday’s Chicago Cubs. That is not to say no moves are forthcoming, but yesterday was a relatively quiet day all around baseball. Still, the rumor mill was churning through the night, and we’ll have an update this morning. Until then, the Bullets…
- Carlos Zambrano has told friends, after meeting with Cubs’ President Theo Epstein, that he expects to return to the Cubs in 2012. Epstein laid out a series of conditions Zambrano must meet in order to be welcomed back after walking out on the team in August. The interesting thing, from Zambrano’s perspective? Apparently he’s talking about returning to the Cubs as though it is his decision. “All the things he wanted to see gone are now gone,” said one friend, referring to former general manager Jim Hendry and pitching coach Mark Riggins. “He likes Theo and is looking forward to proving himself next year.” Zambrano is owed about $18 million in 2012, the final year of his contract. For what it’s worth, he has no-trade rights, which would allow him to block any trade. If he really, truly wants to be a Cub, it is within his power to stay.
- Speaking of Zambrano, he’s been recovering in Venezuela after taking a liner to the face that required a bunch of stitches and a liquid diet. He’s hoping to finally return to the mound in the Venezuelan Winter League this weekend.
- Bryan LaHair left Venezuela last week, en route to Dallas to pick up some hardware. While there, he met Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer for the first time face-to-face. LaHair said the duo made no promises, saying only that they want to give him a chance. Of the meeting, Epstein said, “We told him we appreciate the things he can do as a player and asked him to concentrate on certain elements of his game as well and said we look forward to seeing him in Spring Training.” Epstein added that he could see LaHair being the left-handed side of a platoon at first base for the Cubs in 2012, which may be the case, but, without another logical first baseman on the roster right now, what else is Epstein supposed to say?
- Grantland’s Jonah Keri talks about the atmosphere at the Winter Meetings. In short: you don’t see much of the executives. Instead, the place is packed with job-seekers and media members.
- Dale Sveum is hoping to add Dave McKay (a long-time coach under Tony LaRussa in both Oakland and St. Louis) to his coaching staff, and the Cubs have hired former pitcher John Koronka as a Florida scout.
- Andrew Friedman has decided not to take the Houston Astros’ GM job.
- Ryne Sandberg is the manager of the year in the minor leagues, according to Baseball America. He was undoubtedly great, but you think BA wasn’t aware that it would get nods like this if it selected a big name like Sandberg?