Posted on: July 15, 2010 5:32 pm

Zambrano working his way back

Carlos Zambrano The Carlos Zambrano comeback trail has begun in Arizona, the Chicago Tribune 's Paul Sullivan tweets .

Zambrano is finished with his team-ordered anger management and is in Arizona to begin his comeback on the field.

Zambrano hasn't pitched since his June 25 outburst at U.S. Cellular Field. He shouldn't need much longer to get in shape, but the team can use it as an excuse to delay his return to the team.

With first baseman Derrek Lee on the trade block, Zambrano may not join the team until after the trade deadline and perhaps to a Chicago team without Lee.

Zambrano had little trade value before the incident against the White Sox, so if he's going to be of any value as a major leaguer, it'll have to be with a comeback with the Cubs. As for the Cubs, Zambrano is owed too much money to just release him outright.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 11, 2010 1:41 pm

Arroyo won't talk extension

Bronson Arroyo Maybe Bronson Arroyo is a fan of The Who, because he says he won't get fooled again.

Stung by signing a contract with Boston in 2006 only to get traded to the Reds before the season started, the Cincinnati right-hander told the Cincinnati Enquirer he plans to follow through with the option year of his contract in 2011. He won't negotiate an extension that would give him more years but reduce his $11 million salary for next season.

"I’m not going to stay for a discount,” he said. "I’ve done that once. Loyalty in this game is the utmost. I got to look out for me. For what I’ve done the last six years in this game, to sign back for less than what my option is would be insane."

That stance puts the Reds in a tough spot, because it means they have to decide right now whether Arroyo is worth $11 million next year at age 34. The buyout on the option is $2 million.

If they're not willing to commit that money, they need to trade him before the deadline, but they're a first-place team and he's been a valuable starter (9-4, 4.04).

On the other hand, Arroyo could bring a big return on the trade market and, if there's any area the Reds have abundance, it's starting pitching. They have Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto and Travis Wood, with Edinson Volquez, Aaron Harang and Homer Bailey due to return from the disabled list.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: July 9, 2010 10:49 am

Cubs selling, but is anyone buying?

Alfonso Soriano Anyone want overpriced, underperforming baseball players?

Well, the Chicago Cubs are having a sale and they hope everything will go.

The Chicago Tribune writes :
Several baseball sources have confirmed to us that the Cubs are ramping up their efforts in the trade market to start clearing the books of cumbersome salaries.

In addition, it is expected that the team's ownership will address the media soon to assess the club's direction, especially if the team continues to struggle before the trading deadline.

"It has been very difficult for the family and the team the first half of the season," Tom Ricketts told season ticket holders Thursday at Wrigley Field. "This is not where the family wanted to be in the first half of the season.
The problem is, who wants what the Cubs are selling?

• A .276/.348/.548 guy with 15 homers and 43 RBI sounds pretty good, except that he's a liability in any defensive position and he's under contract through 2014 at $18 million per year (and a full no-trade clause).

• A middle reliever with more than $30 million left on his contract and a reputation as somewhat of a hothead.

• A broken-down corner infielder due $14.6 million next season hitting .195/.254/.350 with nine homers and 30 RBI.

• How about an extra outfielder due $13.5 million next season who is hitting .259/.357/.429 with eight homers, 26 RBI and has been caught staking as many times as he's stolen a bag (four)?

• A decent starter (7-7, 3.61 ERA 120 strikeouts, 43 walks in 122 innings) who makes $13.5 million next season and has an option for $14 million in 2012.

• A former All-Star first baseman who has only what's left on his $13 million contract for this season, but is hitting .230/.327/.367 with 10 home runs and 36 RBI.

It's not all bad, though. There are guys other teams may want, like Ted Lilly (3-7, 3.76 ERA), who is a free agent after the season, but does have a no-trade clause. He's the most likely to be traded, because people actually want him.

Carlos Silva (9-2, 2.96) is having a great season, but has a checkered past and is owned $11.5 million next season and has a $12 mutual option for 2012.

Closer Carlos Marmol would bring a decent prospect in return, and Sean Marshall would also be worthy to many teams as a set-up man, but both are more valuable for the Cubs on the team than as a trade piece.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: July 8, 2010 6:53 pm

Cubs offer pick unusual incentive

You might already know that the Cubs are paying people $144 million to play mediocre baseball, but did you know they've also agreed to pay someone half a million not to play football?

Matt Szczur, the fifth-round pick of the Cubs in the June draft, is a standout wide receiver for Villanova, which won the national championship last year in the Championship Subdivision (college football's second tier). He was MVP of the championship game with 270 all-purpose yards, and is a legitimate mid-round NFL draft candidate.

The Cubs are willing to let Szczur return for his final football season at Villanova in the fall, but are offering him a strong incentive not to flirt with the NFL. According to baseballamerica.com, the outfielder's contract calls for him to receive a $500,000 bonus if he makes a written commitment to give up football by Feb. 10, 2011, and agrees not to attend the NFL combine.

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Tags: Cubs
Posted on: July 7, 2010 2:04 am
Edited on: July 7, 2010 2:05 am

Piniella won't give up on Cubs, may be last year

Lou Piniella Lou Piniella ain't no quitter.

''I'm not a quitter,'' Piniella declared six times to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times . As bad as the Cubs have been this year -- 37-47 and 10 1/2 games out of first -- the skipper will not bail on the season. For good or bad, he's helming the team for the rest of the year. And that's just fine with Sweet Lou.

"In this business, you'd better be prepared to take the bad with the good. Nobody wants the bad, but it happens."

Piniella also revealed that the Cubs will be his last managerial gig. His contract expires after the year, and it's not yet known if new owner Tom Ricketts will bring him back, although that possibility exists. He refused to speculate on his future, but admitted he was looking forward to retirement. Just don't accuse him of looking past his job.

"Look, I still care. I still want to win. I'd like to get this season turned around more than anything else and win as many games as we can and make it fun. Again, we'll see.''

Despite the Cubs not living up to expectations since Piniella arrived to town with high expectations, there are no regrets for the manager who won a World Series with Cincinnati in 1990.

''I'm looking at this as a unique experience, as enjoying the city and managing a franchise that's big-market and that has a big fan base and that's got its challenges to it,'' he said. ''So I'll look at this thing positively, there's no question. At the same time, nobody wants to lose, I can tell you that. ... I haven't been in this position in the three years I've been here. It's not easy. I just do the best I can. That's all I can do.''

Piniella also took a jab at Joe Torre, whom many consider to be a potential replacement for Piniella in town and who came out and said that he doesn't think Piniella is done managing in Chicago. After saying Torre was flat-out wrong about Chicago not being his last stop, he challenged Torre to come to town and see what it's like to skipper the Cubs.

''He can come here, and he'll find out that it's a little harder than what he thinks it is.''

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Tags: Cubs, MLB
Posted on: July 6, 2010 12:43 pm

Dave Matthews to play Wrigley

Just when you thought you couldn't get more drunk frat boys with no interest in actual baseball into Wrigley Field, they've found a way.

The Dave Matthews Band will play two nights at Wrigley Field, according to the Chicago Tribune . College sophomore girls experimenting with not showering will descend on baseball's favorite party spot Sept. 17 and 18, before deciding ivy's too harsh to smoke and they don't like smelly guys enough to make the next step on to Widespread Panic.

Billy Joel and Elton John were scheduled to play Wrigley Field this week, but the concert fell through when Joel decided not to tour and instead concentrate on finding another hot woman who wouldn't date him if he didn't have millions of dollars and then go find another 20-year old to start dating. Joel and John have played Wrigley before. Others who have played on the outfield grass and, like the inhabitants, don't have a World Series title are Jimmy Buffett, the Police and Rascal Flats.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 6, 2010 1:05 am

Reds' Rolen says Wrigley holding back Cubs

Scott Rolen When you ask Scott Rolen a question, there's usually a pause before he starts to answer it. There's a reason -- he likes to think before he speaks.

Never is Rolen bombastic or does he seek a headline. Usually, whatever the Reds third baseman says is backed with experience and reason.

When the Reds were in Chicago, he was asked about the Cubs' ails. Here's what he told the Chicago Tribune :
"The Cubs are very limited facility-wise and that dramatically limits the work the players can do day to day," he said. "The clubhouse and weight room are significantly below par. They play a different schedule than everybody else in baseball. The day games are very hard to deal with day after day. Plus, when you have so many different starting times from 1:20 to 12:05 to 7:05 then play mostly all night games when you go on the road, I think the Cubs have their back against the wall.

"In Cincinnati we have a track to get loose on and three batting cages that a pinch hitter can use before he comes up to hit. (The Cubs) don't have anywhere for a pinch hitter to get swings in before he hits."

Rolen also told us that he believes that to win the Cubs need a younger team because of the grind of day games.

"However, with young players in a great city like Chicago, you have to make sure that you have guys who are committed to winning because the night life in Chicago can keep a player from performing at his very best," he said.
Rolen's words appparently also carry great weight with the umpires. In one of Monday's oddest plays, a Rolen strikeout was changed to a hit-by-pitch, starting a six-run Reds rally in the team's 8-6 victory over the Mets.

With the bases loaded and two strikes no outs in the fifth, New York's Mike Pelfrey threw a pitch inside to Rolen and home plate umpire Jerry Meals initially called it a foul tip, caught by the catcher for a strikeout as Rolen trotted toward first base. When Rolen noticed the runners weren't advancing, he saw that Meals had called him out.

"I said, 'if that’s your call, you got it wrong.' I wasn’t going to yell and scream.," Rolen told the Cincinnati Enquirer 's John Fay .

The umpire conferred and overturned the call, ruling the ball did indeed hit Rolen, sending him to first and breaking the 1-1 tie and leading the Reds to a win.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 5, 2010 1:17 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2010 3:50 pm

Stubbs, Colvin deliver fireworks on July 4

Drew Stubbs There were plenty of fireworks during the Reds-Cubs game on Sunday -- just not the kind you're thinking.

Drew Stubbs and Tyler Colvin both have quite a few things in common: both are young, play the outfield for a NL Central team and are fighting to get extensive playing time.

They can also add hitting multiple home runs in a game as something in common. Stubbs hammered three home runs to pace the Reds to a 14-3 rout over the Cubs, driving in five. That gives him 11 homers on the season. Along with 16 steals, Stubbs is performing to a .240/.313/.417 line in 305 plate appearances. He's generally the starting center fielder for Cincy but due to his struggles, has been riding the pine a bit more frequently.

Safe to say he won't be doing that anytime soon.

Colvin has more trouble fighting his way into the lineup but has amassed 176 plate appearances, knocking 12 dingers for an impressive .568 slugging percentage (.278 batting average, .320 OBP).

As the Cubs continue to flounder, Colvin will get more playing time at the expense of Kosuke Fukudome, as Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd are both producing.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com