Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Cubs have their hands in a lot of things this offseason. And at the Late Fall Winter Meetings today, the Cubs announced three more moves. The rundown:

1) Cubs sign Ted Lilly for four years and $40 million

This is one of those "had no choice" kind of moves the Cubs had to make after Jason Schmidt signed with the Dodgers. It is also the kind of move that never happens with Andy MacPhail around given Andy's "Frank Burns Snapper Purse" on the Cubs dollars. With the spending going on right now, one just has to wonder why they couldn't have done this years ago. Maybe it's not the Trib that was cheap, it was MacPhail. One thing is certain, if they have this money to spend now given the Trib's dire straits, the Cubs were clearly cheap in the past.

The fascinating thing about this signing is how it happened:

Jim Hendry has negotiated some big deals before, but he topped himself Wednesday when Ted Lilly signed a four-year, $40 million deal while Hendry was in a hospital bed.

Hendry was taken to a local hospital with apparent chest pains Wednesday afternoon and was admitted overnight for observation.

"Jim was hooked up to an EKG machine, and we got it done," said Lilly's agent, Larry O'Brien.

The Cubs declined to disclose Hendry's ailment, other than to say it was not "life-threatening," and a spokesperson said he would be out of the hospital Thursday morning.

"He's fine," said manager Lou Piniella, who drove Hendry to the hospital. "He's staying overnight. It's more than indigestion, but I don't want to get into it."

This site's issues with Jim Hendry have all been business oriented, not personal. Get well soon, sir.

2) Cubs trade Freddie Bynum to the Orioles for the dreaded PTBNL

Shudder! Do the Orioles still have the rights to Sammy Sosa?

3) Cubs hire Ryne Sandberg as manager for the Class A Peoria

This move seems to be a sign that Cubs management (Hendry, John McDonough) believes that they will be here a while.

See, with Lou Piniella already 63 years old, the Cubs must already be planning for Lou's exit.

Given the irrational exuberance some Cubs fans showed towards Joe Girardi, marketing man McDonough knows that the fans would love to see one of their beloved heroes as a future Cub manager.

The betting here is that the Cubs told Sandberg that, if he gets in a year or two of practice time in the minors and does a good job, the Cub job is his once Lou retires.

This is such a smart move on so many levels.

- Sandberg gets to decide if he likes the gig.
- The Cubs get to see if Sandberg has the capacity to do the job well.
- Sandberg gets to manage players now who project to arrive on the major league roster at the same time Ryno would.
- Attendance at Peoria games gets a boost.
- It makes for a great feel good story.

Again, it's nice to finally see a team make good, smart moves. Too bad it only took 60 years for it to happen.

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