Bob Brenly was hired as the Cubs TV analyst for four years, and the former Diamondbacks manager said he was through with managing for the next four seasons. There was media speculation that Brenly was brought aboard in case manager Dusty Baker faltered in 2005. Baker will be in the third season of a four-year deal.
SS Neifi Perez signed a one-year, $1 million deal that could balloon to $2.5 million if he meets certain incentives. Perez will likely be a backup to whomever the Cubs try to bring in at that position. They are still negotiating with Nomar Garciaparra, but if they can't come to an agreement with him, they will look elsewhere for a free-agent shortstop. Perez hit .371 in 23 games with the Cubs in 2004. They picked him up after San Francisco released him toward the end of the season.
FUN WITH NUMBERS: Two -- Number of hours it took for the 2005 Cubs Convention to sell out -- an event record. The 20th annual event is scheduled to take place at the Hilton Chicago in January.
SAY WHAT?: "I've scratched that itch until it's a bloody mess." --New Cubs TV analyst Bob Brenly on the possibility of returning to the bench as a manager.
ROSTER REPORTThe Cubs, whose postseason expectations fell short thanks to a 2-8 finish to the 2004 season, will be looking for a closer, shortstop and second baseman. They will try to get into the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes if they can unload RF Sammy Sosa.
BIGGEST NEEDS: With the shoulder injury to Joe Borowski and the struggles of LaTroy Hawkins (nine blown saves), the Cubs are keeping an eye open for a reliable closer for 2005 and are looking at free agent Troy Percival.
FREE AGENTS: LF Moises Alou, C Paul Bako, RHP Matt Clement, SS Nomar Garciaparra, OF Tom Goodwin, 2B Mark Grudzielanek, OF Ben Grieve, OF Todd Hollandsworth, INF Ramon Martinez, LHP Kent Mercker, LHP Glendon Rusch, 2B Todd Walker.
The aforementioned Perez was briefly on the list, but the Cubs signed him quickly and likely will do the same with Rusch. The Cubs are considering bringing back Garciaparra and Walker, but other teams will be bidding for those two as well.
The Cubs have never gone to arbitration since Andy MacPhail took over as the team president in 1994. They are considering pinning down Ramirez to a long-term deal while Farnsworth could be trade bait. Barrett, Patterson and Zambrano will be tendered contracts, and the versatile Macias could be tendered one as well.
IN LIMBO: Sammy Sosa left the team without permission during the season finale against Atlanta, and the Cubs are looking to unload him. There are reports that RHP pitcher Kyle Farnsworth left that game early as well, and the Cubs also might be dangling him out there.
Farnsworth can throw at speeds up to 100 mph, but his consistency has always been a problem. Hawkins could also be mentioned in some trade proposals.
MEDICAL WATCH: RHP Joe Borowski (torn right rotator cuff) hopes offseason surgery is not needed and that a few months off will help strengthen his arm for 2005.