It boils down to this – if the Cubs can find a taker for disgruntled, troublemaker Milton Bradley, then the Cubs and GM Jim Hendry could have a successful and productive off-season leading up to the 2010 MLB schedule. Hendry has already made moves – dealing the likes of Aaron Heilman to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Aaron Miles and Jake Fox to the Oakland A’s for prospects and to clear some salary cap space to sign new deals for arbitration-eligible players like Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Ryan Theriot, Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot.
If Hendry can somehow find a team willing to take Bradley (full-well knowing that the Cubs will still have to pay a pretty chunk of the $21 million owed to him over the next 2 seasons), it will be a step in the right direction for Hendry. Hendry has had a series of bad years at the helm and with a new owner in place, Hendry needs to prove his worth to the Ricketts family. That will be easier said than done as Hendry’s bad moves have left the Cubs brass with little flexibility.
Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella plan to move Kosuke Fukudome back to his more comfortable right field position. Then Hendry can concentrate on finding a center fielder and 2nd baseman for the 2010 Cubs. Even though the Cubs did not offer arbitration to Reed Johnson, they have not closed off talks with his handlers. So Johnson could be back to patrol center field at Wrigley Field next season.
Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot are in the running for the starting 2nd base job, so it is unlikely that Hendry will pursure any options outside the organization for that position.
The Cubs could also be in the market for a veteran right-handed reliever to complement John Garbow in the pen. While the Cubs have a lot of up-and-coming young stars in the bullpen – Angel Guzman, Esmailin Caridad, Jeff Stevens and Justin Berg – Hendry and Pinella would love to see a little more experience back there in front of closer Marmol.
We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything good – Winter Meetings start next week in Indy…