Sunday, October 22, 2006

No Shortage of Rumors Concerning the Cubs

The hot stove is heating up early this year and rumors are flying left and right. Here is a sample of some of the things being said on sports-talk radio, on the sports pages, in blogs, and at the corner tavern:

* Aramis Ramirez will have a lot of suitors if Jim Hendry cheaps out on signing the third baseman. Tops on that list will be the Angels, but never fear. Big Jim will work things out. It will be a last minute deal, but Ramirez will be playing third for the Cubs into the foreseeable future.

*Alfonso Soriano will be the Cubs #1 free agent position player target this off season. There have also been rumors that the Cubs have designs on Carlos Lee, but Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice (who is very good, by the way) says that Lee will be signing with Houston.

* It seems that everyone is talking about why ARod should waive his no-trade clause and agree to a trade with the Cubs. Nancy Armour does a nice job of laying out the argument for ARod coming to Chicago.

* ARod is not the only high profile SS the Cubs may be looking at this off-season. Paul Sullivan at The Chicago Tribune reports that the Cubs may be setting their sights on Miguel Tejada. Of course, this was the hot rumor last off-season, but the Orioles may actually be willing to move Tejada this year.

* Sullivan also says that Pinella may be pushing to bring in one of his “athletic” former outfielders to be a lead-off hitter. Players in the mix are Mike Cameron, Carl Crawford and Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro in particular interests me. I can’t imagine why Seattle would trade the all-star right fielder, but Sullivan says that Ichiro, who has one year left on his contract may be getting tired of not getting enough attention playing for the Mariners, a team that seldom gets any national press.

* Many Cubs fans want to dump Mark Prior, but the guy still has a tremendous amount of potential. For now, Prior is still relatively inexpensive and if he is healthy (a big if), he’ll be in the starting rotation in 2007.

* Could Eric Gagne be in the Cubs plans for 2007? The Dodger closer missed the 2006 season with injuries, but should be back in 2007. The problem is, in Gagne’s absence in LA, Takashi Saito has emerged as the Dodger’s closer and LA, who holds a $12 million option for 2007 on Gagne, will likely be interested in moving the closer. It’s no secret that the Cubs closer position will be up for grabs in 2007. Ryan Dempster had a horrible year as the closer and it’s likely that Piniella will want someone different in that role next year. Up until now, speculation has been that someone already with the organization would fill the closer slot. But with the Cubs new “win right now” attitude and increased payroll, the Cubs may have to consider bringing in someone proven and dependable to close out their games.


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