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A nail in Cuban's coffin

Reports from the SEC have Mark Cuban accused of insider trading.  Cuban supposedly saved $750,000 back in 2004 by dumping stock shortly before a transaction.

Cuban lives in a country where people are innocent until proven guilty, but he's walking shaky ground here.  It's way too early to speculate on what will happen, but if he's convicted then he's at risk of losing control of his company, he's at risk of going to jail, and obviously he'll probably be officially out of the running to buy the Cubs.

I've said all along that Cuban is a sexy choice to own the Cubs because he represents something the team hasn't had in decades - a face for the team.  People know him, they know what he represents, and that flies in contrast with the Tribune, a company of people whose names I do not know and faces I would not recognize.  He also has the kind of competitor's spirit and pride that Cubs ownership has lacked since the time of the Depression.

But if Cuban fails to purchase the Cubs - something that is becoming more likely with every passing day now - then I can only hope that whoever buys the team shares his pride and desire to win.  The Cubs need - and Cub fans deserve - a guy like that.  But who knows if we'll ever see one?

On the off chance that three trade rumor posts a day aren't enough...

Here's the latest.

Robothal:

In the first big showdown of the offseason, it's the Braves vs. the Cubs for Padres right-hander Jake Peavy.

Both teams continued to target Peavy as the general managers' meetings concluded Thursday, and the Padres' discussions with the Cubs could be expanded to include a third team, according to major-league sources.

...

The details of the Cubs' proposal are not known and likely are fluid. The Padres could spin one or more of the players they would receive from the Cubs to get additional pieces from another team, sources said.

...

The Padres are seeking young pitching in any deal for Peavy, who has a full no-trade clause but has informed the club that he is willing to go one of five National League teams. The Yankees and Angels will become viable options only if the Padres fail to reach agreement with one of Peavy's preferred clubs, but such a scenario appears unlikely.

Peavy almost certainly would require some type of inducement to approve any deal. At minimum, he probably would ask for a full no-trade clause for the rest of his contract. He also could ask for a team to guarantee his $22 million option for 2013, or provide some other type of compensation. Padres general manager Kevin Towers said Wednesday that Peavy has established different criteria for different teams.

The Braves are not going to trade their top pitching prospect for Peavy. The Padres desire young pitching.

More from Towers:

He said that the Jake Peavy trade talks have progressed to a point where the pitcher has been told he’s going to be traded, it’s just a matter of when a deal is struck.

“That train has left the station,” Tower said.

Towers also revealed that he is dealing with three teams, all in the National League. He mentioned the possibility of Peavy moving as part of a multi-team trade.

The Padres are known to be dealing with the Braves and Cubs. The third team could be the Cardinals or Astros. The Yankees are not in the mix.

"It’s been narrowed down for quite a while and there have been no additions,” Towers said.

For those of you wondering how or why a Peavy deal is going down, this should clarify some things:

Padres CEO Sandy Alderson reiterated Wednesday that the payroll hasn't been set for 2009, but Alderson did not dismiss the possibility that it could be near $40 million, the ballpark figure players told The San Diego Union-Tribune in August.

“We've discussed everything from something in that range to something higher,” Alderson said.

The club opened last season with a $73 million payroll.

Ace pitcher Jake Peavy, the subject of recent trade talks with the Braves, Cubs and Dodgers, is guaranteed an $11 million salary for 2009. That would chew up nearly 30 percent of a $40 million payroll. Peavy's salary will jump to $15 million in 2010.

Cutting Peavy would go a long way toward getting those salary figures down. Another $6.5 million could be cleared by trading shortstop Khalil Greene. There has been some chatter about Greene being packaged with Peavy, although apparently the Braves aren't interested.

Padres AGM Paul Depodesta blogs about trade rumors, obviously not saying much concrete about Peavy's situation.

More Ideas...

So recently I've heard that the White Sox are shopping Nick Swisher. The guy is a a career .250 hitter but has 30-40 HR power. This past year he hit hit .219/.332/.411 with 24 HRs. His career average is about .245/.360/.452 with 29 HRs. So in my mind The Sux will be selling low on this one. They also apear to be in need of infield speed which Theriot is. Swisher is a swithch hitter so that could settle our lefty issue but I'm gonna one up you. I've got a more fun scenario...

 

Cubs let Dempster walk if he doesnt take the 3/36 contract.

Cubs trade The Riot to Sox for Swisher.

Cubs sign Furcal (who is going to test the free agent market) using Dempster's money to fill Theriot's spot at SS.

 

The Cubs get a true leadoff in Furcal and a legit 30 HR threat in Swisher, both can switch hit.

The Sox get infield speed (whether they keep Theriot at SS or move him 2B) and dump a 3.6 mil contract.

 

S SS Furcal

R 2B DeRosa

R 3B Ramirez

S RF Swisher

R LF Soriano

R 1B Lee

R C Soto

- CF Johnson/Fukudome

- P ------

Fukudome - Bust? Already?

Am I the only guy that sees the upside or at least the possibility that he has the tools to become a quality major leaguer?

Defensively - a nonissue.

Offensively - for a 'rookie', he had a good 1/3, a fair 1/3 and a horrendous 1/3.  Yes, he's older and more experienced than your typical rookie, albeit from the japanese league.  But after one year we look at it as a bust?

He has a year of 'american' baseball under his belt.  He can draw a walk, that's been proven.  He just got into a huge hole trying to get out of the 2nd half slump and only added undo pressure on to himself.  When you're on a 1st place team and batting 6th or 7th, many times you will have men on base when you're at the plate.  But when you're a rookie in a slump, it could get ugly quick.  And it surely did.

However with few swing/stance adjustments & winter ball, I think he can turn it around and be a .280/.390/15/80 defensive gem for our club.  Maybe even our next leadoff hitter.  This isn't a Walton/Rhodes/Patterson/Pie scenario.  We also have to remember any comparision to Ichiro (which has been mentioned by some media) wouldn't be fair.

Was he overhyped?  At some levels, yes.  Did we pay him a lot of money?  Yes.  Too much?  The verdict isn't in yet.

What's that, Lassie? Timmy's stuck in the rumor mill?

Maybe the Cubs won't have to go far to find a left-handed outfielder; the White Sox may be dealing Nick Swisher. I think that'd be a nice buy-low situation for the Cubs.

Oh, right, Jake Peavy. Here's the latest from the UT:

  • The Pads aren't looking to package Greene and Peavy; they probably will deal the shortstop seperately.
  • Padres GM Kevin Towers says he's "down the road" in trade talks for Peavy with two teams, presumably the Cubs and Braves. Nothing is expected to happen today, however.
  • Oh, and in case you were wondering: Hendry and Towers have now bowled together, in addition to playing golf.

Hendry talks about his plans:

"We're a long way from anybody having any idea what our club will be," Hendry said Tuesday at the GM meetings. "To talk about our own free agents or somebody else's isn't [productive].

"We'll do whatever we can to make the club better before spring training. It's a process when the free-agent [period] starts. You never know where it's going."

So Hendry must wait until Dempster and Wood can negotiate with other teams Nov. 13 to see what offers are made. And that could last well into December as players see what the market bears.

The Braves apparently are interested in Dempster as well. He's expected to stay in Chicago - reportedly there's an offer from the Cubs for three years, $36 million. If he signs for that, it's a real bargain. I don't know that he will.

Jake Peavy is dominating your rumor mill

Raul Ibanez rumors just won't die. Just say no to Raul Ibanez!

Jake Peavy rumors keep picking up steam:

As for Peavy, who has four years and at least $63 million left on his contract with San Diego, three teams are in the running now that the Padres have announced they would trade him for the right mix of young players. The teams are believed to be the Dodgers, Braves and Cubs, although it is doubtful Peavy would be traded within the West Division.

That leaves the Cubs and Braves. And one scout said the Cubs "don't have the talent it would take."

The Padres need a young starter in return, plus other young players as they reduce payroll. The Braves have better young pitching, especially considering Jeff Samardzija's deal with the Cubs includes a no-trade clause. A source said the Cubs were offering Ronny Cedeno, Felix Pie and others, but that could not be confirmed.

CBS Sportsline says to add Rich Hill to the list of players available. The Padres are trying to dump Khalil Greene and his salary, which explains the inclusion of Ronny Cedeno in rumors.

Pads GM says that Peavy has added two AL teams to his list; Peavy's agent says he hasn't.

Robothal says the Braves are still the frontrunners in the Peavy derby, while the Dodgers seem to have dropped out. He also says that either retaining or replacing Wood and Dempster could keep the Cubs from acquiring a guy like Bobby Abreu. Again, good! No Bobby Abreu!

I called it

Colin reported yesterday that Ryan Dempster will be testing the waters shortly, as he is looking for a 4 year deal or more while the Cubs are only going to offer him 3.

About a month back, when the season ended, I wrote the following: This is the biggest area of interest this off season.  I'm sure there are some people who think that Dempster will be an elite pitcher next season.  I'm not one of them.  However, I do think he'll have a good 2009, and maybe even a good '10 and '11.  If Jim Hendry can negotiate a reasonable deal with Dempster - say, 3 years for 30-36 million with an option for a 4th year - then I support his return.  But if Dempster demands 4 or 5 years for 14 million or more, the Cubs will need to wish him the best and let him go.

It looks now as though Dempster is asking for just that, while the Cubs appear interested in offering the kind of deal I speculated on.

Consequently, Jim Hendry will have a busy week or two.  He'll be trying to negotiate with Dempster while blowing up the phone lines of the San Diego Padres in order to land Peavy.  Peavy would be costly, but let's remember two things - 1) he's the same age as Carlos, and 2) He's locked up for 4 years for barely more money than what Jason Marquis is making.  If I'm the GM, Peavy is a must-have, as he is that rare ace pitcher with an affordable contract.

There is one other factor that will play out interestingly this off season for Dempster - most seasons, he'd be the top free agent pitcher on the market.  This year, he's one of a bunch.  While there is always a need for starting pitchers, there are also only so many dollars able to be spent and the market may be saturated to the point where the only guy to get what he "deserves" will be Sabathia.  But even if Dempster goes, and even if Peavy's price is too costly, the Cubs will have the ability to replace Dempster with somebody for less-or-equal money who actually may outproduce Clownsevelt next season.

Those options look to include the following:

Jon Garland - 29, 14-8, 4.90 ERA
Braden Looper - 34, 12-14, 4.16 ERA
Derek Lowe - 35, 14-11, 3.24 ERA
Oliver Perez - 27, 10-7, 4.22 ERA
CC Sabathia - 28, 17-10, 2.70 ERA
Ben Sheets - 30, 13-9, 3.09 ERA
AJ Burnett - possible free agent - 31, 18-10, 4.07 ERA

And there are other good pitchers who could file but haven't yet.  My current theory is also that one of the teams that loses out on some of the pitchers above might be willing to accept a trade for Jason Marquis rather than go home empty-handed.

Regardless, I'll end it by saying this - if Ryan Dempster can get 4 or 5 years elsewhere, then I believe the Cubs should wish him the best and send him on his way.  At his age, after a career year, and without knowing if he can pitch consistently for another half decade, anything more than 3 years would be too much.  There are other options out there, and the Cubs should pursue them.

Updating the mill

Here's the latest juicy rumors from around the Interwebs.

Fox Sports' nigh-omniscient Robothal says Dempster plans on testing free-agent waters:

Dempster, 31, plans to test the open market, major-league sources say. He filed for free agency on Friday, and does not intend to sign with the Cubs before their exclusive negotiating period with him expires on Nov. 13.

The prevailing assumption in baseball is that the Cubs will re-sign Dempster, a right-hander who went 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA last season while starting full-time for the first time since 2002.

Dempster's return, however, no longer is a given.

While the Cubs remain interested in retaining Dempster, an 11-year veteran, the pitcher first will entertain bids from other clubs. He conceivably could receive four-year offers on the open market, an important consideration if the Cubs only are willing to give him three.

He indicates this could step up the Cubs' interest in trading for Peavy, although it's unknown if the Cubs have the pieces necessary to make a Peavy trade and still complete the rest of their offseason agenda.

Chicago Cubs Online has secondhand rumors from ESPN 1000's Bruce Levine. The highlights:

  • Levine says that Theriot may not be the starter next year, specifically mentioning Rafael Furcal as the one-who-got-away. Furcal is not due any compensatory draft picks, not having enough playing time the past two seasons.
  • In line with what Rosenthal said, Dempster is looking for a 5 year deal, while the Cubs would like to stick to three years.
  • The Padres would like to complete a Peavy deal sooner rather than later. A package would probably have to start with Cedeno, Pie and Marshall, expanding to include some other prospects. (I don't know about that, that's just what Levine says.)

As for the Peavy deal, I'd expect to have a good reading on where that's headed when the GM meetings roll around next week; on the other hand, Dempster isn't expected to sign during his exlusive negotiating window (now until November 13th), so the Cubs may have to act on this before they know whether or not Dempster will be retained.

ESPN's Buster Olney says that Edmonds plans to play next year. The Cubs have already publicly committed to playing Fukudome and Johnson in center field next year, so he'll probably move on to another team.

2009 Projections

If you're looking toward next year, projections are starting to become available.

Dan Syzmborski's ZiPS projections for the Cubs are available, and I must say I really dig the presentation.

Rally hasn't gotten his CHONE projections for hitters and pitchers out yet, but his defensive projections are available.

SG's CAIRO projections are out, which include defensive projections based upon STATS ZR as well.

Tom Tango hasn't published his Marcels yet, but I've published my reimplementation of the Marcels.

The Official Goatriders Policy On Ken Griffey Jr.

I would appologize for hijacking this blog and the voices of the other Riders for this purpose, except for the fact that this is quite possibly the most important issue facing our great nation, and swift and resolute action is required here. Too many lives have been lost already to allow this to continue any further.

And by "this" I of course mean Ken Griffey Junior's continued employment as a baseball player.

Just so's there's no confusion on the issue, I am going to present you with a list of people who would be better right fielders (taking into account hitting, defense and baserunning) than Ken Griffey, Jr. for the Cubs in 2009:

  • Kosuke Fukudome
  • Mark DeRosa
  • Micah Hoffpauir
  • Jim Edmonds
  • Ryan Theriot
  • Sam Fuld
  • Josh Kroeger
  • Manny Ramirez
  • Adam Dunn
  • Juan Pierre
  • Gary Matthews, Jr.
  • Gabe Kapler
  • Brad Wilkerson
  • Emil Brown
  • Milton Bradley
  • Willie Bloomquist
  • Jerry Hairston, Jr.
  • Mark Kotsay
  • Corey Patterson
  • Scott Podsednik
  • Moises Alou
  • Garrett Anderson
  • Pat Burrell
  • Cliff Floyd
  • Luis Gonzales
  • Raul Ibanez
  • Kevin Mench
  • Craig Monroe
  • Jay Payton
  • Juan Rivera
  • Jason Michaels
  • Coco Crisp
  • So Taguchi
  • Craig Counsell
  • Lou Piniella
  • Matt Sinatro
  • Jim Hendry
  • Air Bud

This list should not be considered to be all-inclusive.

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