I hope everyone had a splendid Christmas. I’d intended on taking both yesterday and today off, but I guess I really can’t help myself. Regular posting should resume tomorrow-ish, but for today you get a Bullets, Lukewarm Stove, and Obsessive Prince Fielder Watch all rolled into one.
- Jon Morosi says the Cubs remain involved in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes, but, as I’ve said for weeks now, the Cubs are not interested in blowing Fielder away with a 10-year deal to make him sign. They, like many other teams, are slow-playing the market. If Fielder’s camp is suddenly willing to consider a five-year deal, the Cubs could become aggressive. As it stands, they aren’t exactly in playoff push mode, and are content to see how Fielder’s market plays out while they try to land a young first baseman like Anthony Rizzo from the Padres.
- Morosi adds that the Cubs continue to look for a first baseman, outside of Fielder (you mean the Cubs aren’t just handing the position to Bryan LaHair? No way!), which list of non-Fielder options includes former Cubs Carlos Pena and Derrek Lee, as well as Casey Kotchman, and trade options like Mark Trumbo, Billy Butler, and Carlos Lee. I’d add Kendrys Morales to that list, though, despite the infield logjam in Anaheim, the Angels’ demands for Morales are said to be perversely high for a guy who hasn’t played in almost two years. As for one of the other names on that list, Carlos Pena, the Cubs would lose a supplemental draft pick (between the first and second rounds in 2012) if they sign Pena, rather than him signing somewhere else. Given the direction the franchise is headed in the near term, I think they’d greatly prefer to muddle through 2012 at first base and keep that draft pick than to give it up and maybe be marginally better with Pena back. Best non-Fielder bet? The Cubs will probably pick up a young kid like Rizzo, but will allow LaHair to start the year in the job, with, perhaps, a guy like Derrek Lee along to platoon/support/mentor. When the young kid is ready, the job is his.
- Morosi notes that Cubs’ closer Carlos Marmol could be had “for the right price,” but, given the suddenly swamped closer market (it went from Jonathan Papelbon and Joe Nathan getting ridiculous money because so few quality arms were available to Ryan Madsen and Francisco Cordero being unable to find a home because so many trade options came onto the market), I’m not sure how attractive Marmol looks anymore. He’s owed $7 million in 2012 and $9.8 million in 2013, and is coming off a poor 2011 season that saw him blow 10 saves (and, worse, saw his fastball velocity drop considerably, and saw his slider movement decrease). Increasingly, it seems like, if the Cubs move Marmol, it will be more about saving money than anything else. Instead, it’s probably likely at this point that the Cubs will cross their fingers for a great start to the year, and then a chance to move Marmol mid-season.
- Back to Prince, Buster Olney says many executives think the Nationals will make Fielder his most attractive offer. Having acquired Gio Gonzalez to bolster their rotation, I, too, could see the Nationals making a run at Fielder, and, in turn, the NL East. Current first baseman Adam LaRoche is under contract through 2012, but is coming off an injury-filled and ineffective 2011 season (hey, sounds like another Cubs buy low opportunity!).
- Nick Cafardo gets the sense that the Cubs will deal Matt Garza this Winter, rather than hold onto him and try to deal him later, or try to sign him to an extension. For what it’s worth, I’m told that discussions with teams (as many as five) about Garza didn’t stop for the holidays, which suggests (“suggests” means I’m inferring, not that I’ve been told) that the talks are serious.
- Cafardo adds that the Cubs could shop Ryan Dempster, which would be swell (as much as I like Dempster, the man), but Dempster has no-trade rights and an affinity for Chicago. I’m not sure he’d accept a trade even if the Cubs lined one up (Dempster is owed $14 million in 2012), though if the roster is further deconstructed, maybe he’d change his mind.
- BCB’s Al Yellon interviews Tom Ricketts, in three parts. Part one is up today.
- You know how you take all the little shampoos and soaps from hotel rooms (and sheets and robes and toilet paper and the TV … er, no … not that stuff) when you check out, and then they pile up in your bathroom closet because, really, who wants to shampoo with mango kiwi? Well, the Cubs’ players and staff are nicer than you. They’ve been gathering unused toiletries from their many hotel stays over the years, and donating them to folks who need them.
- UPDATE: A couple post-publishing notes from a source. Apparently Ryan Dempster has indicated to the Cubs that, if they truly want to move him and find a good deal, he would strongly consider accepting a trade, in part because of how well the organization treated him when no one else would give him a shot (good guy). The source adds, as I guessed, that the Matt Garza talks are getting “hot and heavy right now.” No rest for the weary.