Cubs Winter Meetings Recap

The Cubs entered the winter meetings looking for a left-handed-hitting outfielder.

They left the winter meetings looking for a left-handed-hitting outfielder.

But what happened in Nashville wasn't a complete waste of time. Cubs general manager Jim Hendry planted some seeds, and in the next couple of weeks, the team hopes it can meet some of its needs.

The Cubs' hot pursuit of Japanese star Kosuke Fukudome has been stalled until the outfielder decides whether he wants to leave Japan. If he does, expect the Cubs to be a high bidder for his services.

The rumored "Plan B" involved a possible trade for Seattle's Raul Ibanez. But since Ibanez is 35, don't expect the Cubs to give up too much for him.

The Cubs are also interested in Baltimore second baseman Brian Roberts, who could add speed to the top of the lineup. Hendry worked under Andy MacPhail, who is currently the boss of the Orioles, and the two have a good relationship. The O's could be looking at pitching prospects Sean Gallagher and Donnie Veal among others for Roberts.

The Cubs dealt infielder Omar Infante (who came to the team in a recent deal for Jacque Jones) and left-handed pitcher Will Ohman for Atlanta right-handed pitcher Jose Ascanio on the first day of business in Nashville, but that was all they could get done.

"Our club right now is incomplete," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "We have some blanks to fill.

"Things take time to materialize. We have a fairly good game plan. At the same time, things we would be interested in doing now, other teams want us to wait. I like our game plan -- just have some patience and it will come to fruition."

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Tim Lahey, the first pick in the Rule 5 draft, wound up with the Cubs. Tampa Bay selected Lahey from Minnesota and sold his rights to Chicago. Lahey could contend for a bullpen spot with the Cubs after going a combined 8-4 with 14 saves and a 3.65 ERA in Class AA and Class AAA this year.

--RHP Ryan Dempster is assumed to be going to the rotation after spending the last three seasons as the closer, but Piniella said during the winter meetings that it is not set in stone. If the Cubs have enough arms in the rotation, look for Dempster to either go to the bullpen or get dealt.

--RHP Mark Prior continues to be the subject of trade rumors. If he's still with the Cubs by Dec. 12, the team will have to decide if it wants to tender him a contract.

--LHP Will Ohman and INF Omar Infante were dealt to Atlanta for RHP Jose Ascanio during the winter meetings. That leaves Neal Cotts and Carmen Pignatiello as the leading candidates for the backup left-handed spot in the bullpen behind Scott Eyre if the Cubs don't trade for a southpaw or convert starter Sean Marshall into to long reliever.

Ascanio, 22, reached the majors in July and made 13 appearances for Atlanta, going 1-1 with a 5.06 ERA.

--OF Sam Fuld was named the Arizona Fall League Player of the Year Award during the winter meetings. Fuld hit .402 with a .492 on-base percentage and a .626 slugging percentage for the Mesa Solar Sox. He also had an 11-game hitting streak.

--OF Tyler Colvin, the Cubs' first-round pick in 2006, has been on a fast track in the minor league and could find himself opening the 2008 season at Class AAA Iowa. While the Cubs target Colvin to reach the majors in 2009, he could make it earlier with a hot start in Iowa.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "(General manager Jim Hendry) promised me by Christmas I would be very happy." -- Manager Lou Piniella, on the team's activity in the weeks after the winter meetings.


Northsiders Report Top Stories