November 2009

11/20 Roster additions

The Cubs added outfielder James Adduci, catcher Welington Castillo and pitchers John Gaub, Blake Parker, and Rafael Dolis to the 40-man roster on Friday. Teams had to set their 40-man rosters by midnight Friday in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft, which is held Dec. 10 at the Winter Meetings. The Cubs roster is now at 38.

– Carrie Muskat

11/20 Cubs & Blue Jays talk

The Cubs are one of the teams the Toronto Blue Jays have contacted regarding pitcher Roy Halladay. However, before Cubs fans start salivating at the prospect of the former Cy Young winner in the rotation with Ted Lilly, Carlos Zambrano, and Ryan Dempster, there’s a catch. He’s owed $15.75 million in 2010, and the Blue Jays want some of the Cubs’ top prospects. No. 1, the team can’t take on Halladay’s salary. The Blue Jays apparently have a wish list and Milton Bradley is not on it. A player like highly regarded shortstop Starlin Castro most likely is, and the Cubs don’t want to part with him, especially since they might only have Halladay for one year. The right-hander was 17-10 with a 2.79 ERA this season, and is a free agent after 2010. One thing the Blue Jays did make clear to the Cubs is they want to move Halladay this offseason.

– Carrie Muskat

11/20 Bradley rumors

Four to six teams have expressed interest in acquiring Milton Bradley, with the interest in varying degrees, depending on how much of the $21 million still owed the outfielder that the Cubs are willing to pick up.

However, top officials at both the Rangers and Cubs on Friday denied a Chicago Tribune report, which outlined a three-team swap that included the Mets. The proposed deal had Bradley going to the Rangers, who would ship Kevin Millwood to the Mets. The Cubs would get second baseman Luis Castillo from New York.

Yes, the Cubs would like to improve their second base situation. Millwood is owed $12 million in the last year of his deal, and the Mets need pitching. According to the Tribune, the Cubs would have to pay part of the $21 million remaining on Bradley’s contract.

But a top Cubs official said there was no truth to the rumor. A high-ranking Rangers official told MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan such a deal is “not happening.”

There is legitimate interest in Bradley, even after his dropoff in ’09, his first year in Chicago. Teams have told GM Jim Hendry to keep them in the loop, and are waiting to see whether the Cubs will eat some of Bradley’s contract.

There have been reports that the Cubs would take Tampa Bay outfielder Pat Burrell in a deal for Bradley, but Burrell is owed $9 million in 2010 and the Rays reportedly want Chicago to pick up part of Bradley’s money as well.

– Carrie Muskat

11/20 Grabow deal done

Free agent reliever John Grabow finalized his deal, signing a two-year, $7.5 million contract with the Cubs on Friday. Grabow, whom the Cubs acquired July 30 from Pirates, gives the team a veteran arm in the pen to set up closer Carlos Marmol.

– Carrie Muskat

11/19 Minor additions

Jonathan Mayo, MLB.com’s guru on Minor League players, offers this info on the two prospects whom the Cubs acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Aaron Heilman:

Scott Maine, LHP: Taken in sixth round of the 2007 Draft of the University of Miami, Maine projects as a lefty reliever or specialist. He pitched at two levels in 2009, finishing with a 2.90 ERA and 61 K’s in 62 IP. For his career, he’s got a 3.29 ERA with a 134 K’s in 120 1/3 IP.

In some ways, the 24-year-old hasn’t lived up to the potential he once flashed in high school. He had Tommy John surgery early in his amateur career and never turned into the lefty ace some thought he’d be. That being said, he could have a future role. His fastball can run up to 93-94 mph and he comes from a pretty tough angle for left-handed hitters. He’s got a lower arm slot that creates some deception. His secondary stuff is is a work in progress, but the arm strength from the left side has some value.

Ryne White, 1B: White just completed his first full season of pro ball after being selected by Arizona in the fourth round of the 2008 Draft. An accomplished and advanced college hitter out of Purdue, White spent the season with Visalia in the Class Advanced California League, finishing the year at .266/.371/.356. He’s always shown an ability to control the strike zone and draw some walks, but he hasn’t hit for much power thus far in his pro career (career .389 SLG). There are those who feel the 23-year-old will hit for power going forward, at least as a left-handed platoon type. He’s kind of stocky, at 5-11, 205 lbs. At the very least, the Cubs are getting a decent organizational guy who has the chance to be a Matt Stairs type of hitter.

(My note: GM Jim Hendry said the same thing re: White, calling him a “Matt Stairs kind of guy.” As for Maine, Hendry said the D-Backs made a good decision to put him in the pen.)

– Carrie Muskat 

11/19 AFL wrap up

The Mesa Solar Sox finished their season Thursday with an 8-1 loss to the Peoria Saguaros. Cubs top prospect Starlin Castro went 0-for-3, only the sixth game out of 26 in which he was held hitless, and he ended with a .376 average. The 19-year-old shortstop made two errors.

Third baseman Josh Vitters, the Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2007, went 1-for-4 Thursday and closed the Arizona Fall League with a .353 average. Michael Brenly also played, and went 0-for-4. He finished at .240.

– Carrie Muskat

11/19 Cubs deal Heilman

The Cubs dealt right-handed reliever Aaron Heilman to the Diamondbacks Thursday for two  Minor League prospects. Heilman, 31, was 4-4 with a 4.11 ERA in 70 games in his only season in Chicago. He was one of a large number of arbitration eligible players, which include Carlos Marmol, Mike Fontenot, Jeff Baker, Sean Marshall, Ryan Theriot, Koyie Hill, and Angel Guzman.

In exchange for Heilman, the Cubs acquired left-handed pitcher Scott Maine and first baseman Ryan White. White is a Chicago native and 2005 graduate of St. Rita of Cascia High School.

– Carrie Muskat

11/19 Grabow close to deal

Thursday is the last day the Cubs have exclusive negotiating rights with John Grabow before he hits the free agent market, and the left-hander appears to be close to a new deal. The Cubs want Grabow to have a veteran lefty set-up pitcher in the pen. Grabow filed for free agency on the 12th day of the 15-day period. He is one of the top lefty relievers available in the free agent market.

– Carrie Muskat

11/18 AFL update

Starlin Castro went 2-for-5 with a double in the Mesa Solar Sox’s 7-5 loss to Scottsdale on Wednesday. Cubs prospects John Gaub and Blaker Parker both pitched one inning in relief. The Solar Sox end the Arizona Fall League season on Thursday against the Peoria Saguaros.

– Carrie Muskat

11/18 Mexican League update

Cubs prospect Thomas Diamond gave up his first run in three games during an outing Tuesday for Mexicali. Diamond served up two hits — including a solo homer — and walked three over six innings in his third Mexican League start. He struck out six. In 14 innings so far, the right-hander has served up eight hits and struck out 15. The Cubs claimed Diamond off waivers from the Texas Rangers.

– Carrie Muskat

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