Cubs eyeing Pedro Martinez?

According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs sent a scout to watch Pedro Martinez work out in the Dominican Republic and are considering signing the veteran right-hander to add to their rotation. Apparently the Rays are another team that has shown interest in Martinez.

Unless Martinez can hit with runners in scoring position, I don’t see how he could have an immediate impact for the Cubs. Starting pitching isn’t the problem right now for Chicago – offense is. And while adding another arm to a rotation that features the oft-injured Rich Harden isn’t a bad idea, I’m a little surprised the Cubs aren’t popping up in more trade rumors involving bats.

Right now the Cubs are either in denial about their offensive woes or they’re just being extremely patient. Aramis Ramirez (shoulder) should come off the DL soon, which will certainly help, but if the club is simply holding out for players like Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto to catch fire, then they could be waiting awhile. (It would be nice if Milton Bradley resembled a baseball player once in awhile, too.)

There are worse ideas than the Cubs adding a healthy Martinez to their starting rotation. But I wonder if this is just the club’s way of trying to appease the fans after failing to trade for Jake Peavy and not an attempt to turn things around. Because if the Cubs were really trying to address needs, then they’d be concentrating on adding bats right now – not arms.

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Cubs’ Ramirez seperates shoulder, out 4-to-6 weeks

Cubs’ third baseman Aramis Ramirez separated his shoulder making a diving catch during Chicago’s 3-2 loss to the Brewers on Friday night and is expected to miss the next 4-to-6 weeks.

Ironically, the Cubs traded outfielder Joey Gathright to the Orioles in exchange for infielder Ryan Freel earlier in the day, which at least takes a little of the sting out of losing Ramirez. Freel does have experience playing third base and will likely split time there with Aaron Miles and Mike Fontenot in Ramirez’s absence.

The loss of A-Ram is a tough blow considering the Cubs just placed ace Carlos Zambrano on the disabled list less than a week ago due to a hamstring injury. Ramirez was hitting .364 with four home runs and 16 RBI before the injury, so Chicago will not only be without their No. 1 pitcher for the next couple weeks, but also one of their prominent bats.

The Cubs were 2.5 games back of the Cardinals entering Saturday’s action.

2009 MLB Preview: #4 Chicago Cubs

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Offseason Movement: The Cubs were seemingly hosed by the Indians in a trade that sent ultra-utility player Mark DeRosa to Cleveland in exchange for minor league pitching prospects Jeff Stevens, Chris Archer and John Gaub, none of which were viewed as top 10 prospects in the Tribe’s organization. But maybe one of those youngsters will emerge as a quality arm down the road and DeRosa’s contract does expire at the end of the season so at least the Cubs got something for him. Chicago also added volatile outfielder Milton Bradley, reliever Kevin Gregg and pitcher Aaron Heilman, who will move to the bullpen after losing out to Sean Marshall this spring for the Cubs’ fifth spot in the rotation.

Top Prospect: Josh Vitters, 3B
This club is loaded with quality prospects, including reliever Jeff Samardzija, shortstop Ryan Flaherty and outfielder Tyler Colvin. But Vitters appears to be the best of group, with his excellent plate approach, outstanding hand-eye coordination and natural swing. Thus far in Single-A, Vitters is hitting .357 and slugging .529 in 70 at bats. At only 19, he still has a ways to go before he’ll make his big league debut, but Vitters appears to have quite a future ahead of him.

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2009 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Third Basemen

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Here is everything you need to know about the depth at the third base position these days: On CBS Sports’ cheat sheet for the top players at each position, they list 41 starting pitchers, 25 relief pitchers, 67 outfielders, 25 first basemen, 25 second basemen, 25 shortstops, 30 catchers…and 15 third basemen. Fif, teen. But wait, it actually gets worse: of those 15 third basemen, two are full-time first basemen (Kevin Youkilis, Miguel Cabrera) one is a full-time catcher (Russell Martin), and one played nearly 100 games at DH (Aubrey Huff). In other words, just over a third of all the teams in Major League Baseball have a third baseman worth drafting. And they include Ryan Zimmerman and Edwin Encarnacion as two of those 11 players, meaning even that number is padded.

What this means for you, gentle reader, is that assuming Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez and Albert Pujols are no longer on the board, you are a stone cold fool if you don’t draft either David Wright or Alex Rodriguez at your earliest opportunity, and you could even be excused for drafting Wright or A-Rod ahead of the other three. (Don’t let this whole ‘steroids pariah’ hoopla scare you; A-Rod’s gonna put up crazy numbers this year.) Almost overnight, third base has become a fantasy wasteland, so you’d be wise to snag a stud third baseman if you can, especially now that Ryan Braun has lost his 3B eligibility and Troy Glaus decided to go under the knife at the 11th hour. But even when the big names are off the board, don’t panic; there are some players that can keep your fantasy team from having a smoking hole in the ground where third base used to be.


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