Cubs News and Notes

RF Sammy Sosa was fined $87,400 by the team for leaving an Oct. 3 game early without permission. It's the largest fine in team history.

Sosa will appeal. He also is the subject of trade rumors. Although general manager Jim Hendry said he has not talked with anyone yet, there is media speculation that the New York Mets, Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers could be interested.

LF Moises Alou led the Cubs with 39 homers and 106 RBI, but the Cubs do not plan on exercising his $11.5 million option for 2005. They could sign him to a smaller figure but have to decide if his reported $6 million asking price is worth signing him to another season.

RHP Carlos Zambrano (16-8, 2.75) was rock solid all year while the rest of the staff was up and down. He was named the National League Pitcher of the Month in September when the Cubs were trying to nail down a wild-card spot. He led the league with a home ERA of 2.06 and day ERA of 1.70.

RHP Greg Maddux (16-11, 4.02, two or the team's three complete games) gave the Cubs a boost with a 9-4 mark after the All-Star break. For a guy who wasn't expected to give the Cubs big innings because of his age (38), he led the squad with 212 2/3 innings of work. He did a lot of good things this season, which can help overlook the fact he allowed a career-worst 35 home runs.

RHP Mark Prior (6-4, 4.02, 139 strikeouts in 118 2/3 innings) was up and down after missing two months with Achilles and elbow problems. But in six starts with backup Paul Bako behind the plate, Prior was 4-0 with an 0.82 ERA, only five walks and 54 strikeouts.

RHP Kerry Wood (8-9, 3.72) had his first losing season on the major league level. Despite his heroic performance in the National League Division Series in 2003, his critics are wondering if the 27-year-old has underachieved in his career. Still, with his stuff, Cubs officials wouldn't be surprised for him to enjoy a breakout season in the next year or two.

LHP Glendon Rusch, who pitched well as a spot starter and long reliever, will be a player the Cubs are interested in re-signing. Although he won't be guaranteed the No. 5 spot in next year's rotation, Rusch could be a leading candidate.

SS Neifi Perez impressed the Cubs brass enough with his play during his brief time in September that the team is interested in bringing him back in 2005. Although he would likely be viewed as a backup, he could serve as insurance if the Cubs can't re-sign Nomar Garciaparra or go after Edgar Renteria or Orlando Cabrera.

RHP Ryan Dempster, who came off of August 2003 elbow surgery in impressive fashion this year, could be viewed as an eighth-inning man or a closer in 2005 even though he has been a starter most of his career.

RHP Matt Clement (9-13, 3.68) was the hard-luck pitcher of the year in July and August but then couldn't go five innings in three of his last four starts and was skipped in the final two turns in the rotation. He will likely leave as a free agent.

RHP LaTroy Hawkins (closer, 5-4, 2.63, 25 saves in 34 chances) will likely be a setup man, which is what the Cubs signed him up to do. He took over the closer's role in early June, when Joe Borowski was injured.

RHP Joe Borowski (2-4, 8.02, nine saves) went on the disabled list with a shoulder injury in early June and did not return. He's signed with the team for 2005, but it's unlikely he will be the main closer.

RHP Kyle Farnsworth (4-5, 4.72) continues to baffle the Cubs with his lack of consistency. Will he be the lights-out, closer-of-the-future they have been hoping for since 1999? Or is it time for a change of scenery for the 28-year-old? The Cubs are not actively shopping him this offseason but will listen to offers.

LHP Mike Remlinger (1-2, 3.44) will be back for a third year, but his sore shoulder cut his availability down in 2004. His 36 2/3 innings of work was his lowest output since 1996.

LHP Kent Mercker (3-1, 2.55) had good raw numbers, but some of the off-field controversy he got into with the Cubs radio announcers plus nagging back injuries could cause the North Siders to sever their ties with the veteran.

RHP Jon Leicester (5-1, 3.89) had one less victory than Mark Prior. Leicester, Todd Wellemeyer (2-1, 5.92) and Michael Wuertz (1-0, 4.34) were young players who picked up significant playing time because of injuries and will be fighting for more time next year.

C Michael Barrett (.287, 16 HR, 65 RBI) provided an offensive spark at a position from which the Cubs haven't gotten a lot of offense in recent years.

C Paul Bako (.203, 1 HR, 10 RBI) caught most of Greg Maddux's games, and Mark Prior was 4-0 with an 0.82 ERA in the six starts that Bako caught.

1B Derrek Lee (.278, 32 HR, 98 RBI) is used to a heavy workload every season but swung a tired bat toward the end of this season (20-of-93 in his last 24 games) after leading the team with 159 games.

2B Mark Grudzielanek (.307, 6 HR, 23 RBI) had troubles with his right Achilles tendon all year but played solid defense while posting his second .300-plus season in a Cubs uniform. The Cubs will have to decide if they want Grudzielanek or Todd Walker back.

2B Todd Walker (.278, 15 HR, 50 RBI) came to the Cubs with the idea he would be a backup player for one year. But he will be looking for a chance to start next year. The Cubs like his offense but not necessarily his defensive range or ability to turn a double play.

3B Aramis Ramirez (.318, 36 HR, 103 RBI) enjoyed another great offensive season, but the Cubs' bosses are delighted with his 10 errors on defense after committing 77 in his last three seasons.

INF Ramon Martinez (.246, 3 HR, 30 RBI) might have played himself off the team after doing a so-so job while then-starting shortstop Alex Gonzalez was hurt early in the season.

INF Neifi Perez (.377, 2 HR, 6 RBI) might have earned a spot on the team next year after providing a spark when starting shortstop Nomar Garciaparra was injured for a handful of games late in the season.

INF-OF Jose Macias (.268, 3 HR, 22 RBI) could play a variety of positions and might be back next year.

CF Corey Patterson (.266, 24 HR, 72 RBI, 32 stolen bases) led off the final two months of the season and had a red-hot August but faltered in September. He led the club with 168 strikeouts, so it's doubtful he will be the leadoff man when the team breaks camp in 2005.

OF Todd Hollandsworth (.318, 8 HR, 22 RBI) suffered a shin injury in late June and never returned. He was a great lefty bat to have come off the bench, and his loss was felt.

OF Tom Goodwin (.200, 0 HR, 3 RBI) was a handy guy to have around to pinch hit and pinch run, but he might not be back with the club after a two-year run.

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