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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.
  • Kansas Cubs Fan

    Have you heard anymore about the Tigers being interested in Garza? Or that they are willing to give up Jacob Turner?

  • Brian Peters

    Ahhhhhhhh…….thanks for the fix, Brett!

  • Oswego Chris

    Ok…I don’t feel like an idiot now about my Dempster speculation…Garza better be a “wow” of a deal…I would still prefer an extension…

  • Jeff

    Brett,

    Dempster does not have a no trade clause, only Soriano and Zambrano.

    • KCubsfan

      He is a 5 and 10 so, it is the same thing as a no trade.

  • Oswego Chris

    ten and five rights…

    • ncsujuri

      What he said…

    • Jeff

      lol, I guess his de facto no trade clause.. maybe he will want to wave it this July once he realizes how bad we will be and help us get a prospect or two. I’m a fan of Dempster though.

  • Eric

    Oh Garza trade heating up.  I worked Midnight and I have to sleep, dammit Brett!  Calm me down calm me down!  Must slee. . . . . . zzzzzz. . . zzz. z . z. zz. . . z.z . . . . z. . .

  • HoustonTransplant

    Wow, that’s nice to hear from Dempster.  He’s always been a class act and one of my favorite guys in the clubhouse.  Sure, his actual “stuff” has deteriorated over the years, but you can’t knock the guy on character.  At least I can’t.

    Let’s hope that all this Garza talk results in something with some severe upside for the Cubs.  I’m no expert in other teams’ systems (hell, I barely know my own!), but reading through the comments yesterday, it looks like we could net some serious talent with a Garza trade.  Get it done!

    • BetterNews

      Physics 1—You don’t get something for nothing. Look what you lose by dealing Garza.

      • HoustonTransplant

        Physics 2 – For each action, there is an opposite and equal reaction.  Giving up 1 great piece can net you 3 or 4 valuable pieces…both sides are, ultimately, equal.

        Unlike physics, though, what at first looks like a balanced transaction can potentially (and that’s the key word) supersede the talent of the original piece you gave away.

        In a time when the entire Cubs organization is scraping for talent, it only makes sense to deal one piece and get 2, 3, or more to replenish more positions than one.

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          Houston you have a problem when you try and converse with BetterNews

          • BetterNews

            Goat, you still trying to recruit for the BN gestapo? Please quit, it’s getting old.

            • Bric

              Physics 3: All objects fall to the earth at a speed of 9.8 meters per second squared. Therefore, in the absence of resistance, a pebble falling from a speed of at rest will’ve traveled 4.9 meters in the first second and continue to accelerate until it reaches terminal velocity or the ground, which ever one comes first. I passed high school physics, too.

              Better news, most of the other posters don’t have an issue with you. It’s just the random idioms and manner that you use that confuses a lot of people and then you get defensive. We’re all not idiots, you know. And most of us don’t like to argue.

              • BetterNews

                Bric—-First I never called anyone an idiot, just not my style.(Maybe if somebody pissed me off with a derogatory comment) Secondly, I don’t try to be”offensive”. I try and comment on things based on how I feel and what I know. Some have suggested, including Brett, that somehow makes me a Cub “basher”. I love to state the good things about the Cubs, unfortunately there is not too much to say on that front at the present time as far as players go. Yes, management is definitely much better. Player wise, minus Castro and Garza, who do we really have? And yet another person wants to make an off the wall comment about trading Garza for prospects.

          • Bric

            That’s a pretty good pun, intentional or not- “Houston, we have a problem”

            • HoustonTransplant

              Indeed.  Wit is abound on these boards!  Well, kind of.

        • BetterNews

          There lies the debate. Trading an established commodity for “potential”. A lot of people are suggesting a Garza trade will reign in pieces with significant upside. How is one to know this? No thank you. Dealing Garza right now is just too risky. I can’t believe how many people want to deal Garza just for the sake of saying the Cubs did something. Don’t buy it, sorry Houston.

          • Stinky Pete

            ” I can’t believe how many people want to deal Garza just for the sake of saying the Cubs did something.”

            I don’t think anyone wants to deal Garza for the sake of saying the cubs did something.  I think they want to move Garza to get better players in return.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        ????? My sources tell me this makes no sense, write it down.

      • Stinky Pete

        (Raised eyebrow.)

        What do we lose by trading Garza?  Two years of TOR pitching with a .500 record?

        • BetterNews

          If Garza is just “another grain of sand” as far as pitchers go, why are so many teams interested in him?

          • Stinky Pete

            No idea what you mean by “another grain of sand”.

            • BetterNews

              You made it sound like he’s an average pitcher. I don’t believe that is the case. His ERA after the All-Star break last year was 2.20 with a 1.02 WHIP and he is only projected to get better. That’s pretty scary stuff!

              • Stinky Pete

                TOR = Top of Rotation = Really good Pitcher.

                • BetterNews

                  Stinky Pete–Sorry. I just get bent when it comes to Garza, When you posted TOR I thought you meant trade or release.

  • cubsfankevin

    Dempster has been a good pitcher for the Cubs. Always around 200ip sub 4 era. Aside from his brutal April his era would have been under 4 last year. That said its more than well documented the Cubs are not anticipating a world series parade for 2012. I don’t know if its possible but trading Garza and Dempster for 4-6 prospects would be par for the Theo post 2011 CBA course and would help stock the cupboard. I look forward to real prospects coming through the pipeline. No more Ozzie Timmons or Kevin Orie’s.

    • BetterNews

      cubsfan—It it pretty scary when Dempster is used in the context of being good. Yes he has been a “workhorse” no doubt. But his big problem is the long ball. It’s been discussed numerous times on BN how “gut wrenching” it is to see Dempster on the mound in a tough situation wondering if the next pitch was heading out to the bleachers. That goes back to when he was a relief pitcher as well. When you factor in his salary, he is not good. I would rate him average to below average.

  • Ashley

    I know its not huge news but just read on twitter from MLB Trade Rumor the Cubs are close to signing Jason Jaramillo a catcher who was released by Pirates after they singed Bedard. Said the kid had over 300 big league at bats and could be a candiate to backup Soto!

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      I see it as a non-move and is just organizational filler, but it could mean that one or more of the three catchers we have are about to be moved.

      • Kyle

        Yeah, the only thing I can think is that they don’t expect to have enough C prospects to fill AA and AAA next season. He’s not even a good AAA catcher, to be honest.

    • Zach

      I think that Soto could be traded, because Jaramillo could take over as the Triple-A catcher and Castillo and Clevenger could be the catchers for the Cubs.

      • Ashley

        Could def see Soto being traded but I think Jaramillo will be with the main club if he is traded because Castillo and Clevenger don’t have near the major league at bats that Jaramillo does. I think you would want soem experience up in the majors and not just two rookies. I do think we could get some nice prospects back for Soto and would not hate trafing him.

        Have never been a huge Soto fan!

        • Gary

          I read last week that we might be interested in Varitek, so I can’t imagine Theo letting us have 2 rookie catchers. This does seem like a step towards trading a catcher the cubs currently own. We will have to wait and see how it plays out, but I don’t know about anyone else it’s getting hard to wait to see what we do.

  • TonyP

    Cubs just signed Andy Sonnanstine formally of the Rays to a split contract per MLBTR.

  • jacob

    Cubs sign Andy Sonnanstine. This move is also beyond me.
    Tony beat me to the punch.

  • Kansas Cubs Fan

    Why is this move beyond you?

    • jacob

      Just because we have 8 or 9 capable starters and Sonnanstine is coming off injury. I just cant see a place for him on our team.

      • ferrets_bueller

        …maybe you should look into how absolutely horrible our AAA pitching last season was, then.

        Or the fact that we had absolutely no SP depth whatsoever in the majors.

    • http://bleachernation ferris

      4th an 5th starters went 1-15 after cashner and wells injury…thats why we need depth

  • Lou Cub

    I’d have no problem dealing Soto either…I just want to see youth being served for once in this organization..Byrd, Marmol, Demp, Z, Sorryano…see ya all later!!!

  • die hard

    Many criticize the idea of moving Castro for 3 starting above avg veteran position players, say 1B, SS and 2B, because Castro’s salary so low…but that is the one factor to make him very attractive to a small market team wanting to start over…..would give Cubs chance to compete in 2012, 13 and 14…and to use this time to groom legitimate SS in minors rather than Castro who is playing out of position and will never do better defensively than has shown so far…and his offensive upside from 2011 is nominal

    • Rick Vaughn

      ^That just happened!

      • Kansas Cubs Fan

        Haha.

  • Toni

    Any thoughts on who the “up to five” teams are that are interested in Garza?

    The Red Sox, Jays and Tigers have been rumored to be interested, and it would seem to make sense for the Yankees to inquire, but who might the 5th team be? I would imagine that the Rangers are done adding SP after winning the rights to Darvish. Are the Marlins still looking to add? Might the Royals try to make a run in the central by augmenting their rotation?

    • BetterNews

      I’ve heard more than five, for sure.

  • CubsFan5391

    If in fact the Cubs do trade Garza, Theo will pget an “equal” return. But why trade a sure thing for potential that won’t necessarily pan out? IMO the cubs should extend him and if Fielder’s yrs are lowered get aggressive and sign him. Fielder, Garza, and Castro are 3 guys to build around. Then after this yr, well free more money up off the books making it alot easiee to acquire another front of the rotation guy or some protection for Prince. If the goal is to rebuild then why not start it off with 3 guys, 2 of which are in their prime and 1 that is still learning the game and is far from his ceiling. I love that Theo is taking the time to rebuild this franchise the right way. This offseason has been exciting thus far and I can only see more moves to come. As fans we just need to be patient. Getting Theo doesn’t make us instant contenders, it means in 2 or 3 years were gonna be well on our way to having a real dynasty. Not the patchwork team we’ve had in recwnt years.

    • Kyle

      Nothing in baseball is a guarantee, prospects or big leaguers. MLB proven players lose their skills, take a nosedive, or just plain get hurt all the time.

      Obviously prospects are a bit more risky, but how risky depends on the prospect. An 18-year-old in the Midwest League is a big risk. A 22-year-old with proven AAA performance? Much less of a risk, basically almost the same as a MLB vet.

      You have to properly adjust the statistics, though. Age, park and league matter a lot.

  • CubsFan5391

    Were talking MATT GARZA here. The guy dominated the AL East. One of the best duvisions in baseball if not the best. A guy with his track record is the type of guy you build aroynd, nottrade to restock the minors. They should use guys like byrd, marmol, z, and dempster for restocking. Not an ace of the staff that can dominate any team on any given day. Garza is way too valuable to take a risk on prospects for. If we didn’t have the money to keep him it’d be an entirely different story.

    • Kyle

      It depends on the “prospects.”

      I wouldn’t trade him for a collection of A-ball high-ceiling types. Anyone would trade him for Bryce Harper straight up.

      So the only question is: How good are the “prospects” or young players that we get in return? Not whether or not we’d ever trade him for young players.

      • Lou

        However, Kyle if he goes to Toronto, that’s exactly what will happen–A ball high-ceiling starting pitchers. I believe that Theo might want this 5 to 6 guys gelling at the same time for the majors. That’s why I don’t believe we’ll truly be competitive until 2015.

  • CubsFan5391

    Harper would never be in the realm of a possibility to trade for. Unless the cubbies get prospects similar to the ones the A’s got I would be extremely disappointed. Im all for entertaining offers, every player has their price, but if you already have an ace to rebuild around why trade him? Thats a step in the wrong direction. The cubs have a ss and an ace to build around. That sounds like 2 ideal positions with elite young players that any gm would love to build around.

  • Cubsin

    Theo and company will trade Garza if they value the return more highly, and attempt to extend him if they don’t. I expect them to be wrong about 40% of the time. The more deals they make, the more likely the outcome will be a better team. I can live with that.

  • die hard

    If Theo does his homework as advertised, he will see that Prince’s father, Cecil, started going downhill at 31 and was just a shell of himself at 33…….apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree….so 4 year contract at 27 mil would be max should be offered to Prince….

  • Lou

    While we’re on the topic of 1b, if Fielder goes to the Nationals, why get LaRoche when you could get Michael Morse?

    • ferrets_bueller

      Because Michael Morse is an OF first, not a 1B.  The nats would not be looking to move him.

      • CubFan Paul

        because laroche is owed $9Million. the Nats cant afford fielder & if they could there would be no takers/trades for laroche’s $9million salary

        no way does the Nats GM allow Boras to rape & humiliate him two years in a row

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