Talkin' winter baseball
Back to baseball -- both Chicago baseball GMs has press briefings on Friday.
Ironically, both teams are still in the hunt for a leadoff man, some left-handed run production, and veteran bullpen help. White Sox general manager Kenny Williams doesn't seemed to be that concerned about the leadoff spot. He stated that 90 percent of the teams do not have a prototypical leadoff man and reminded the media on a phone conference that the Sox won a division with Orlando Cabrera as their leadoff man -- definitely not a prototypical leadoff guy.
Williams also stated that the Bobby Jenks episode between the two sides was mostly media-driven off of old quotes.
"Those comments were made two months ago," Williams said Friday. "I haven't commented since those comments were made (on Bobby). There isn't any volleying going on. He said what he had to say, we said what we had to say. It really hasn't been a thought in our minds since then. We believe in an open dialogue; nothing that has been stated publicly isn't anything that hasn't been said behind closed doors (first)."
Williams is also open-minded going into next week's winter meetings in Indianapolis about possible trades.
"I haven't had any conversations with regards to trading Bobby Jenks. That's not to say I wouldn't, but we value him. Now, this is the same stance I've taken since Day One sitting in this chair. All of our players know that. If the right opportunity presents itself, then we'll travel down that road. More of this has been made of it (Jenks' trade talk) than it should be. I'm really surprised at everyone that this has continued on."
Williams feels the signings of veterans Omar Vizquel and Andrew Jones and re-upping of Mark Kotsay gives the team an extremely strong bench. The Sox general manager concluded his briefing stating that the free agent market and the secondary market (non-tenders) would create a cache of players available in January, February and March in what he thinks may be a late-developing market. Although the White Sox payroll is set at around $100 million, Williams didn't discount going after free agents in the later in the winter.
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry is still busy working on his main offseason project: trading Milton Bradley.
According to Major League sources, there are still three teams involved with the Cubs in ongoing trade talks for Bradley. The main clubs appear to be the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Mets. A three- or four-team deal involving Bradley, the Mets' Luis Castillo and the Rays' Pat Burrell is still being tossed around. The Cubs goal is to trade Bradley, save as much money as possible on his two-year, $21.5 million contract and get a viable player back like Castillo for the 2010 team.
The North Siders must move Bradley before going after some of the other pieces of their 2010 puzzle. A left-handed hitting center fielder and a right handed platoon outfielder like Reed Johnson are being targeted by the team. The Cubs would like Johnson or another player like him to platoon with Kosuke Fukodome in right field. If they have the residual dollars, they will seek to sign a free agent like Texas' Marlon Byrd, St Louis', Rick Ankiel, Milwaukee's Mike Cameron or Kansas City's Coco Crisp. They are all free agent center fielders who the Cubs might look at.
The team's payroll will come in at $140 million, however with seven arbitration cases coming up, there is little or no flexibility for Hendry to add salary right now. Some Major League Baseball sources feel the chances of a Bradley trade in the near future are growing better due to the urgency that comes with four intensive days of direct talks at the winter meetings among the interested general managers. The Cubs will look at players like rehab projects right-hander Ben Sheets, and reliever J.J. Putz down the line.
The team will also look at the secondary player market, which will take shape in a larger context after Dec. 12, when clubs must offer contracts or decline to offer contracts to the players on their 40-man rosters.