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?
  • Fishin Phil

    Zambrano is a lunatic, but he is not necessarily wrong about some of the stuff he says.  He just needs to learn how to express himself as an adult.  I don’t necessarily want to see him on the Cubs come opening day, but I do hope he gets his act together and has some success.

    • JAndersonjr81

      I don’t want to see him somewhere else, pitching lights out and winning games.

      • Adam H

        Good thing he wont be pitching lights out

  • hansman1982

    What would be interesting is to see the percentage of the job seekers who get hired at this thing. I guess it beats standing at your mailbox waiting for unemployment to come in.

  • Ron

    Well I wouldn’t have seen the BA article if not for BN!

  • Luke

    I’m as big a fan of Sandberg as anyone, but naming him manager of the year is stretching it. Yes, the Iron Pigs were good. They should have been good. They consisted largely of AAAA players and minor league veterans, and those teams are supposed to outperform teams that are more prospect heavy. Now he did do a nice job getting the most out of his team, but I tend to think this sort of award should go to a guy for whom player development was a greater responsibility.

  • Internet Random

    Apparently he’s talking about returning to the Cubs as though it is his decision.

    To the extent that he did/could retire, I suppose he has a point.

    • Brett

      Walking away was always his choice. It’s the coming back part that’s dubious.

      • hansman1982

        In a way it is his choice.  To go all new agey – if he chooses to do everything that Theo laid out for him.  He also holds the cards with his 10/5 rights – granted if he doesnt earn his way back on the team and blocks all trades then good luck getting a decent contract in the future.  Then again Aaron Harang just got $12M for 2 years…

  • JAndersonjr81

    I like Zambrano. I actually agree with him. I might have walked out on them guys last year, myself. Sorry Manager, lame duck GM and a roster of idiots who didn’t try and didn’t care. One thing you can never say about Zambrano is that he doesn’t care. I wouldn’t be suprised if he pitches Ace/Cy Young type or had a better season then Garza. I want that guy on my team.

  • hansman1982

    Interesting tweet from Buster Olney:

    The objection from Pujol’s side in contract talks last winter was not over length of contract, but annual salary.  Offer was $22m a yr.

    Hey, Albert, how about 4 years $35M per.

    • Luke

      Chicago Tribune’s website is reporting that the Cubs submitted a bid for Pujols early this morning. No word on dollars, years, or how receptive the Pujols camp was.

      I can’t see Epstein going 10 years like Miami is offering, so something in the fewer years, higher dollars could be the offer.

      On the other hand, MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that the Cubs are more interested in Fielder. If the team is interested enough in Pujols to make an offer, and they are more interested in Fielder, then I think we can safely expect a lot of Fielder-Cubs talk as the week goes on.

  • Clark Addison

    RigginsWas was a wretched pitching coach. Quade was an inept manager. I’ll bet Z wasn’t the only Cub who considered walking out last season.

    • Boogens

      I don’t disagree with your statements about the ineptitude of last year’s manager and pitching coach but to suggest that that’s linked to that particular meltdown is ridiculous and gives him too much credit for having a purpose behind his immature actions. It’s as if some are suggesting that the reason that Z threw those pitches at Chipper Jones was because he was making a statement about his disdain for the coaching staff. That’s absurd and it revises history. It’s as simple as the Braves had his number that night and were smacking him around the ballpark. Didn’t they hit something like 4 or 5 homers off him that night? Anyway, Zambrano couldn’t handle it and intentionally threw at Jones twice. Then the guys stomps off to the locker room, declares he is retiring and leaves the team in the middle of the game. It’s a classic hissy fit thrown by a spoiled child. Don’t look for any reason other than Zambrano melted down because he got his butt kicked that night. As always, he acted selfishly and only thought of himself that night. Suggesting he had deeper motivation gives this guy an out to excuse all his selfish behavior. It’s true that he may have hated Quade and Riggins as coaches but that particlar meltdown was a completely selfish act.

      I also disagree with the bloggers that think that letting him go may be a mistake because he could revert back to his form from a few years ago. This too is ridiculous. It’s clear his skills are diminishing with age and so far he hasn’t made the adjustments to become a consistent winner with that diminished stuff. I believe that the guy truly lacks the discipline to make the long-term behavioral change, both in attitude and in pitching approach, to become a consistent winner when he doesn’t have overpowering stuff any longer. That doesn’t mean that he can’t win some games. It just means that you’re looking at a 10 – 12 game winner instead of an 18+ game winner. Worst case is that we can live with that for one more year. It’s as simple as whether or not Theo & Jed can find the right deal for him. Pull the trigger if you can or keep him if you can’t.

  • Andy

    Bringing Zambrano back has more to do with the depth (or lack of) of the pitching staff than wanting to give him another chance. When his head is on straight he is one of the better pitchers in the NL and that is always hard to give up on. I think they bring him back with the threat that he is gone after his first offense.

    Also, if I remember correctly Koronka had a couple cups of coffee with the Cubs about 8 to 10 years ago.