More bits for your Tuesday evening consumption (it’s not always all about the bullet-style posts, but this week very much lends itself to the format)…
- Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum met with the media at the Winter Meetings today, and, among other things, shared his thoughts on the Cubs’ pursuit – or non-pursuit – of Prince Fielder. Sveum was careful to emphasize that the Cubs aren’t “in the process” of talking to Fielder right now, which is exactly what you’d expect him to say whether the Cubs were pursuing Fielder or not (and, frankly, at the early stages, I’d expect almost no one but Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Scott Boras involved in the discussions).
- Sveum did, however, say that, if the Cubs do get “in the process” of talking to Fielder, he would definitely make a few calls to Fielder – whom he coached in Milwaukee – to try and persuade him to come to Chicago.
- Both Jim Bowden and Jon Heyman reported this evening that the Cubs remain in on Fielder, together with a few other teams. Bowden calls the Mariners the early favorite (that’s certainly a lineup that could use Prince), while Heyman says it’s still too early to pick a leader. Bowden adds that the Cubs are hoping to get Fielder on a shorter-term deal (as expected).
- Sveum added that there hasn’t been much discussion of Yu Darvish in the Cubs’ camp, from his perspective. I’m not trying to explain away everything Sveum said with rose-colored glasses, but, until Darvish is actually posted, how much discussion would you really expect between the front office and the manager about a guy like Darvish?
- The Pujols-to-the-Marlins-or-back-to-the-Cardinals stuff is getting about as intense as it can get without a decision. To sum up: the Marlins have met with Pujols three times, and top brass has also met with the Commissioner’s office (though with an SEC investigation looming, that meeting could be about any number of things – and Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria denied that the meeting was about Pujols). Cardinals’ owner Bill DeWitt this evening was unwilling describe himself as “optimistic” that Pujols would be coming back to the Cardinals, and no Cardinals official will confirm whether the team has upped its presumed eight or nine year $200ish million offer (though Bob Nightengale reports they have). Phil Rogers thinks there is a resolution by tomorrow. I’d bet the same, given the pressure being applied by the Marlins, and the implicit pressure by the Cardinals.
- We’ve heard over the last couple of days that the Cubs are getting some hits on Alfonso Soriano, but that the Cubs can move him only if they eat a substantial portion of the $54 million remaining on his contract over the next three years – something the Cubs are very willing to do. Phil Rogers says one of those hits is coming from the Orioles, whom the Cubs are trying to talk into taking Soriano. Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun quotes an Orioles official who says there’s “no chance” the O’s would want Soriano.
- Reports say, contrary to his prior good soldier attitude, Hanley Ramirez does not want to move to third base following the Marlins’ Jose Reyes signing. Even if the Marlins shop Ramirez, I still don’t see a fit with the Cubs. First, if Ramirez doesn’t want to move off of shortstop for the Fish, what makes any of us certain he’d do so for the Cubs? Second, Ramirez could have a great deal more value on the trade market to teams looking for a shortstop than to the Cubs – making the price to acquire him, for the Cubs, cost-prohibitive. If Ramirez wants to think about a move to second or third base, but still wants to leave the Marlins, however, well, sure, ok. I’m in.
- Bruce Levine held a chat today to discuss a number of Winter Meetings bits. Among the highlights (warning, this is densely packed and rather long (and it’s just the highlights)): Bruce says the Padres continue to want bullpen depth for Chase Headley; the Cubs’ bid for Pujols was not a mere ploy (though Bruce thinks Pujols goes back to St. Louis); no one knows the Cubs’ plans with respect to Fielder because Theo plays things close to the vest, but Bruce guesses the Cubs have a 50% chance of getting him (seems a bit optimistic to me, simply for the reason that there are as many as four other teams involved); no teams have contacted the Cubs about Soriano (contrary to other reports); the Cubs wouldn’t be interested in Placido Polanco, but would be interested in Gaby Sanchez; Bruce sees Marlon Byrd as trade bait (which is a significant change in position, as he’d earlier in the offseason said he saw the Cubs keeping Byrd even if they added another outfielder (called Byrd a cheap, effective back-up at all three OF positions)); the Cubs might look at Edwin Jackson, but Bruce hasn’t “substantiated” that rumor; Bruce expects Zambrano to be dealt later in the offseason, but doesn’t expect Geovany Soto to be dealt; the Cubs will “kick the tires” (“check the oil”?) on Gio Gonzalez, but Brett Jackson would be the first player Billy Beane asks about; the Cubs don’t think DJ LeMahieu can handle second base; the Cubs are still very much in on Cubans Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler.
- On the South Side, Kenny Williams wants an “Ubaldo Jiminez package” for one year of lefty John Danks, which, like, ha. Second/third baseman Gordon Beckham is expected to be dealt this Winter now, too, if the White Sox can get a good deal. Beckham, 25, was terribly offensively in 2011 and 2010 after a decent rookie campaign. On a quick look, he’s mediocre defensively at both second and third. Any takers? I say “meh.”
- The Cardinals are listening to offers on starters Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook, but each has a no-trade clause, which could make a deal difficult.