Cubs Inside Pitch: Nov. 16

The Cubs wrapped up their organizational meetings, and then general manager Jim Hendry prepared for double-dip trips to Orlando, first for the GM meetings and then the winter meetings next month.

Hendry has said the Cubs don't need a major overhaul, despite a 75-87 record this season. He said the Cubs can get back into contention with three or four good moves in the off-season.

They'll have to be cost-effective moves because the player payroll is expected to drop a yet-to-be-determined amount from the approximately $145 million it was this season.

Hendry will explore both the trade and free agent paths toward acquiring what he feels the Cubs need. At the top of the priority list are a left-handed-hitting first baseman and a starting pitcher.

The Cubs don't figure to be a player for such big-name pitchers as lefty Cliff Lee. It's more than likely the Cubs will seek a No. 3-type pitcher to work behind Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano and ahead of Randy Wells and rotation candidates Tom Gorzelanny, Casey Coleman and Jeff Samardzija.

Some reports have said the Cubs would ask about the availability of San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, but a trade for Gonzalez would be costly in terms of prospects, and the new Cubs ownership says it wants to build from within.

Still on the books are the costly contracts of Zambrano, left fielder Alfonso Soriano and right fielder Kosuke Fukudome, all of whom have performed inconsistently.


--Ryne Sandberg's disappointment about not being named the Cubs' new manager led him to leave the organization. Sandberg will manage the Phillies' Class AAA Lehigh Valley team in Allentown, Pa. It's a homecoming of sorts for Sandberg, who came up through the Philadelphia organization before he was traded to the Cubs, jump-starting a Hall of Fame playing career.

--The Chicago Tribune reported on Nov. 11 that the Ricketts family, which bought the Cubs in 2009 for $845 million, wants the state of Illinois to finance more than $200 million in renovations at the 96-year-old Wrigley Field.

The newspaper reported that the Ricketts want the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which owns U.S. Cellular Field, to float up to $300 million in bonds. The bonds would be paid off with the amusement tax paid by fans attending games at Wrigley Field.

In a letter to season ticket holders, Chairman Tom Ricketts of the Cubs called the plan, "fair and simple."

Gov. Pat Quinn said he had no knowledge of the plan, which would require the approval of the Illinois General Assembly.

--OF Brad Snyder was outrighted off the Cubs' 40-man roster, making him a free agent. The 28-year-old made his major league debut in September, and the Cubs wanted to see if he fit into their plans for 2011. Apparently he does not. In 12 games, he batted .185 (5-for-27). It's possible Snyder could sign a minor league contract with the Cubs and come to spring training again with them.

--CF Marlon Byrd fell short in his bid for a Gold Glove. Houston's Michael Bourn, Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez and Philadelphia's Shane Victorino won the awards ahead of Byrd, who dazzled the Cubs with several highlight-reel catches in center field.

"To me, he, Victorino, (Andrew) McCutchen, Bourn. Those four guys, I think, have played as well as I've seen of all the center fielders in our league," manager Mike Quade said of Byrd late in the season.

--RHP Kyle Smit was seeing a lot of action in the Arizona Fall League, and he's a good bet to be added to the 40-man roster. Smit, 23, came to the Cubs from the Dodgers organization in the July 31 trade that sent LHP Ted Lilly and 2B Ryan Theriot to L.A. Smith was 3-2 with 4.76 ERA through eight appearances for Mesa. For the Cubs' Class AA Tennessee club, he went 5-1 with one save and a 1.96 ERA in 12 relief appearances. Smit, who turns 23 on Nov. 14, is a slender 6-foot-3, 165 pounds.

--SS Starlin Castro may see limited action in winter ball. The Cubs are more than happy with Castro's offense -- he hit an even .300 this season. They'd like him to use any winter-ball experience he might get to work on his defense. Castro made a team-high 27 errors in 2010, and he also had trouble with tags and with catching throws at the second base bag.

--Fukudome has been the subject of much trade speculation. Fukudome has one year and $13.5 million left on his four-year, $48 million contract. The Cubs need to find more playing time for OF Tyler Colvin, who hit 20 homers. However, the Cubs seem prepared for the possibility of keeping Fukudome and using him to back up in right and center, given his strong defense. His .371 on-base percentage this year was second among the team's regulars to C Geovany Soto's .393.

Northsiders Report Top Stories