So … who wants to talk about Cubs-related stuff? Nothing can get us all back on the same page like Chicago Cubs rumors, eh?

This week, Bruce Levine did his chat thing, and Paul Sullivan did a podcast thing. Both were ripe with Chicago Cubs rumors/speculation.

Sullivan was on the Midway Baseball Today podcast (good guys, I’ve been on there a couple times) this week, and covered a variety of interesting subjects. Among the most interesting tidbits is Paul’s belief that the Cubs and Matt Garza aren’t as close on an extension as national media reports would have you believe. Sullivan says he doesn’t believe the two sides are even talking dollars at this point, and he’d be surprised if they reach an extension during this season.

Indeed, Sullivan speculated that the reports could have found their origin with Garza’s agents. Why would they want to suggest to the world at large that the two sides are closer than they actually are? To put pressure on management to make an offer? A trial balloon to see the way the winds blow? Probably something like that. But it’s very interesting to hear the stark contrast in Sullivan’s sense of the discussions (or lack thereof) from the sense you get from others.

Sullivan added that he thinks the Cubs would like to trade Geovany Soto if that were possible (his performance is obviously hurting things), and thinks the Cubs would like to bring Ryan Dempster back for another year or two.

As for Bruce Levine’s chat, he offered a few interesting thoughts: (1) Bruce thinks the hold-up in the Jorge Soler situation remains the background checking process (which Bruce attributes to MLB’s fears over the Fausto Carmona debacle; but many others have pointed out, the issue doesn’t even reach MLB until Soler has residency in the Dominican Republic, which we don’t believe he yet has), and there still isn’t anything to update; (2) Bruce doesn’t think an Alfonso Soriano for Josh Beckett swap makes sense for the Red Sox (duh); (3) Bruce thinks Bryan LaHair could play left field when Anthony Rizzo comes up, but the question is whether the Cubs can move Soriano before that happens because the Cubs aren’t putting Soriano on the bench (Sullivan agreed with this, for what it’s worth); (4) if the Cubs keep hanging around five-ish games out in the Central, they could look to add a piece or two mid-season, likely in the bullpen; (5) the Nationals will be/have been kicking the tires on Geovany Soto and other possibly available catchers; (6) the Cubs will shop both Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster, but would prefer to extend the former; (7) Dempster might accept a trade to a contender if the Cubs tell him he won’t be coming back next year either way; and (8) if the Cubs extend Garza, Bruce sees them going after Cole Hamels (but Bruce asks if the Cubs would want to spend $100 million for five years of Hamels – once again, I say: um, yes please).

  • Spencer

    Blake Parker is getting called up.

    • Mrp

      Hmm, Coleman or Maine being sent back down?

    • Brett

      Thanks. Tweeted about that earlier, but waiting on the corresponding move to post.

  • EQ76

    If we are still within 5 games out at the trade deadline, I say get a couple of relievers.

  • Cooper R

    Man if only Soriano could play second base like the good old days problem would be solved. Feels like he’s aged 30 years in the last 5. Hopefully he starts to heat up and an AL team gets desperate for a bat at the deadline.

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Good old days? He sucked at 2nd base when he was with the Yankees. His bat made him valuable, not his glove. He doesn’t even have his bat anymore.

      • Cooper R

        Exactly, but if he could play 2nd Rizzo could play 1b and LaHair could play LF. But since Sori can barely move now he seems to be the only thing keeping Rizzo in AAA. Wasn’t saying Sori used to be good at 2nd but at least serviceable would’ve been nice.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Actually, I seem to remember that Sori was not as bad at second as everyone thought.  Yes, he made a lot of errors: but he also (supposedly) had excellent range.  Of course, the latter might have been an illusion: he was, after all, one of the few non-sessile guys on the field for some of those Yankee teams!

      • EQ76

        Good Ole Days is correct.. yeah, he sucked at 2B, kinda like he sucks in LF, but at least he would hit 35-40 HRs and steal 30 bases. those would be the good ole days.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          This gets back to the WAR concept.  30 HR from your 2Bman means a lot more than does 30 HR from your LFer: the latter is about 10 more HR than your average opponent’s LFer is hitting, whereas the former is about 15 more HR than your average opponent’s 2Bman is hitting.

          LaHair exemplifies why this is the case: you can move him to LF and he probably won’t be the worst LFer (even if nobody mentions Brett Gardiner in the same sentence).  Not even Billy Beane would move him to 2nd!

    • Richard Nose

      I feel like he’s aged 30 years in the last month…after the 30 years of aging he did over the prior 5 years of course. He now appears to be 95 years old. Jk jk he looked pretty good there for a couple weeks earlier this year.

    • art

      he never was any good on defense at any position.

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    I don’t understand what Bruce’s thoughts are on the 5 yr $100 million being this huge deal for Hamels when 1) He is in his prime 2) He is one of the top 3ish left handers in the majors 3) He has already won at the biggest of stages 4) He is in his prime and he is Cole f’in Hamels… In the modern landscape of players soon to be overpaid that is not that huge of a deal. Now, if you were buying out arbitration years, that is a stretch.

    • Richard Nose

      I want him to hit Yadier Molina next year, then say he did it on purpose.

  • N8theGr8

    I hear the Angels are looking for a slugger….

  • FromFenwayPahk

    I watched Wily Mo Peña play right field because someone thought you could just stick a guy out there. I have never seen an uglier professional sports performance (this includes Jose Canseco pitching). I watched Cody Ross, a very athletic guy, cost the Red Sox a run last night just because he caught the ball with his momentum going the wrong way.
    This isn’t a beer softball league.
    Guys can learn a new position, but, the Cubs’ (possible) crowding at first base does not make Lahayah a major league outfielder. He is very valuable right where he is. Someone will rent us a hard hitting outfielder soon enough.
    Besides, Rizzo isn’t ready. And it ain’t July.
    Keep it hot, Bryan.

    • Cooper R

      So when you think Rizzo is ready what’s your plan for LaHair…trade him?

      • Chris84

        I think that was the original thought, but the fact that he’s killing it right now, I’d assume they’re going to try to make it work somehow.

    • Jonathan

      I generally agree with your premise of defense being important but right now in baseball offense is at a major premium especially power. If LaHair continues to hit like this you have to at least see if he can handle another position. And was Pena really worse in the outfield than Alonso last year for the Reds or Soriano at 2B?

    • BN Virgin

      LaHair has played outfield in the past. The past 2 seasons in AAA he played 60 games as an outfielder. In those games he only had 2 errors. Would he be a Gold Glover? No. Would he be on the same level of Soriano? Most likely. Probably even a slight upgrade.

  • Jfedwards333

    Five years of Hamels at $100 million? Can we just get that signed now?

    I’m afraid his final contract may exceed those numbers. Some team willing to overpay might give him 7+ years (which is stupid, stupid, stupid but happens over, and over, and over again).

    • Cubs Dude

      7 yrs at 145 million my guess for Hamels. I wonder if Theo has some apprehension about big long term deals because of his recent bad contracts in Boston =Lackey, and Crawford.

  • Beer Baron

    Unless something happens soon, Soler is going to lose out on millions once the international signing cap takes effect in July. My understanding is he stands to make around $15 million if he signs before the cap, but once that kicks in he maxes out at less than $3 million. That’s kind of big. And I think it also hurts the Cubs because they can no longer out spend everyone (without incurring a penalty) so would essentially be on equal footing with everyone else.

    • Cubs Dude

      Yeah, I am sure Soler’s people are doing everything possible to make sure he is available before that deadline.

    • Brett

      I agree with your assessment.

    • hansman1982

      we need to establish a Soler Super-PAC if we only got $1 for every comment about him we would have more than enough to get him here…

      • Richard Nose

        Can we donate blood/organs?

  • fester30

    I saw the part about how the Cubs may possibly look to add a couple relievers if they are still within 5 games or so of first place at mid season, and my drink ended up on my keyboard. Then I had to clean off my keyboard to write this post. Am I the only one who thinks that’s sort of a chicken and egg thing? Which comes first, the bullpen help or the 5 games out at midseason? Seems to me if the Cubs wait till midseason to consider adding to the bullpen, they’ll be outside the 5 or so games. I’m fine with a couple seasons of sucking during a rebuilding process. Adding a couple relievers could cost too much money unless they are expiring contracts. We all know the luck the Cubs have had with overpaid relievers in recent years draining the budget.

    • RY34

      great words fester, i love it, now i too am cleaning water off my keyboard after reading your post!

  • michael

    How about DLing Sori for 15 days? Gives him a chance to heal his perpetually sore legs and we can call up Rizzo and see what we have.

    • RY34

      or just put sori out of his misery and cut bait! make him our other secret weapon a la jeff baker!

  • RY34

    we have three choices on sorryano: play him, bench him, release him; nobody in their right mind is gonna take him on their club, have these writers watched him run, he acts like he is 70! we will never unload sorry to another team, face it. now i wouldnt mind having dempster back for another yr or two, maybe get a hometown discount and go after hamels, hells bells, we have garza, shark, hamels, and demp for 2 yrs, now you are talking; lastly, lahair cannot do any worse in left than sorry so just bring the kid(rizzo) up and make the freakin move of lahair to the outfield already. god this is not rocket science here!

  • RY34

    5 games out at midseason, ha ha, we will be lucky to not be 20 games out.

  • The Show

    If they are out of it by mid-season,trade Dempster for a young starter at the deadline, sign Hamels and Ethier in the off-season, if Rizzo, BJax, pan out and LaHair is in LF…. BOOM! CHAMPIONSHIP!

    • Nathan

      Sounds like a good idea, I also like the idea of Junior Lake in RF or third base. Any thoughts?

      • Njriv

        Yeah I would like to see Lake at 3rd, Cubs are kind of short in that area outside of Vitters, Baez will take some time to get through the system.

  • RY34

    the real question is what the hell are we going to do about the offense?? after last nights display of crap against the always powerful kyle kendrick, our lack of production and ability to hit which seems little league-esque at times. If we don’t do something about actually getting some qualified hitters, we won’t even be an afterthought in hamel’s mind let alone other bonafide free agent pitchers.

  • daveyrosello

    1. Release Soriano
    2. Promote Rizzo
    3. ???
    4. Profit

  • Big Joe

    Soriano for Beckett??? That HAS to be a joke. Boston is a contender, with limited piching as it is, and already scores enough. Beckett has been under performing, and yeah, his best years may be/are already behind him…but…SORIANO? An even exchange? Tell me when Beckett’s plane lands. I’ll pick him up, and get him to Wrigley.

  • die hard

    Did anyone else see a mirror image of Ernie Banks on his last legs hitting his 500 when Soriano hit HR last nite..everything from slow wrist swing to lumbering around bases on bad legs was deja vu for me..anybody else?

  • http://Bleachernation Oliver dehart

    Who said Sori runs like a 70 year old.
    I take exception to that comment…
    I’m 70 and I run much better than he does..
    I haven’t had a bat in my hands for a few years
    But there is a chance that I could hit better also.

    Awaiting my call up.