Inbox: Who will be the '10 center fielder?
Beat reporter Carrie Muskat answers Cubs fans' questions
Center field options, Mike Fontenot, Aramis Ramirez's shoulder and Spring Training are among the topics in this week's Inbox. Please send your questions and include your full name and hometown to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I've been reading that the Tigers are putting Curtis Granderson on the trade block. What are the chances the Cubs lure him to Chicago?
-- Robert B., Chicago
The Cubs are interested in Granderson, 28, and the two sides did talk last week, but don't believe reports that GM Jim Hendry is going to deal a top prospect like Starlin Castro for the outfielder. A popular player in Detroit, in 2009 Granderson stole 20 bases, drove in 71 runs, and hit a career-high 30 homers. Last season, Cubs center fielders combined to hit .260 with 14 homers and 62 RBIs.
However, Granderson is also coming off a career-low .249 season in which he struck out 141 times and posted an unimpressive on-base percentage of .327. He also struggled against left-handers, batting .183. The Cubs have used a part-time platoon with Kosuke Fukudome, who batted .164 against lefties last season.
Granderson would fill the leadoff spot, but he's also still owed a lot on his contract ($5.5 million in 2010, $8.25 million in 2011, $10 million in 2012) and that could hold the Cubs back as long as Milton Bradley is still on the roster. The Tigers won't swap outfielders -- Jim Leyland made that clear in July when Bradley was rumored to be going to Detroit. Not true, Leyland said.
According to reports, Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski also has talked to the Yankees and the Angels about Granderson. There are other young players in the Cubs system besides Castro who could be used as trade bait, and two players -- Jake Fox and Micah Hoffpauir -- who would definitely benefit by being in the American League. Asked last week about whether he'd be inclined to move prospects in trades, Hendry said there are a lot of guys he doesn't want to deal.
"We're in a situation now, as we all know, we'll be mixing and matching this winter more than just trading prospects for a high-end salary guy," Hendry told reporters at the GM meetings in Chicago.
The only downside for Granderson coming to the Cubs could be finding enough tickets for home games. He grew up in suburban Lynwood, prepped at Thornton Fractional South and played three seasons at University of Illinois-Chicago. There are other options. Read on.
I've heard rumors about the Cubs possibly signing Marlon Byrd. I think this would be a great idea since Byrd led the Rangers last year in almost every hitting category. What are the chances that Byrd could come to the Cubs to play center and Kosuke Fukudome move to right field?
-- Shane G., Woodridge, Ill.
Hendry was interested in Byrd last offseason, and if the Cubs were to add the free-agent outfielder, he'd be reunited with Rudy Jaramillo, who was his hitting coach in Texas and has now joined the Cubs. Byrd, 32, is coming off his best offensive season, setting personal highs in games played (146), home runs (20) and RBIs (89). A right-handed bat, he only hit .244 against lefties. Byrd has played for the Phillies, Nationals and Rangers. He made $3.06 million this year and apparently wants a multiyear deal. Because the Cubs already have so much money committed to players and are still burdened with Bradley's contract, I don't see Hendry with much flexibility. Granderson is younger and better defensively than Byrd, but more expensive. And Reed Johnson, who filed for free agency last week, is still an option.
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With Mike Fontenot receiving the "Super Two" status, how does this affect the Cubs plans for him? Does it make him more vulnerable to a trade or release?
-- Ross K., Avon, Ind.
It's a positive for Fontenot, who could make an additional $500,000 by being arbitration-eligible. That said, the second baseman hasn't priced himself out of the Cubs' picture as a non-tender candidate.
Other arbitration-eligible players on the Cubs include Jeff Baker, Neal Cotts, Tom Gorzelanny, Angel Guzman, Aaron Heilman, Koyie Hill, Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall.
Aramis Ramirez had the shoulder problem in 2009. When he returned to action, he said he would definitely have it operated on at the end of the season. When the season ended, he changed his mind. I see him getting hurt next year and spending a lot of time on the disabled list, leaving the Cubs with the same situation they had this year -- a big hole in the lineup. What are the Cubs' and your feelings regarding this situation?
-- Bill Z., Sarasota, Fla.
When Ramirez returned, he said he was considering surgery, not that he would have it. He's dealt with a separated shoulder in the past, and recovered without needing surgery. He has an offseason program designed to strengthen his shoulder. To avoid the "big hole," Hendry has to make sure the Cubs' roster includes a better backup third baseman.
Are the Cubs going to stay in Mesa this year? I've heard many rumors about Florida and other cities in Arizona. My family and I are planning to go to Spring Training, so we really want to know.
-- Sanjay H., Alexandria, Va.
You can go ahead and book a trip to Arizona this year. The spring schedule should be released soon and, yes, the Cubs will play in Mesa in 2010 and 2011. After that, who knows? The Ricketts family was expected to make a decision within the next three-to-six months as to whether the Cubs will stay in Arizona for 2012 and beyond or move to Florida.
Trade Roy Halladay for Bradley. Fukudome to right. Tyler Colvin in center. Wishful thinking?
-- Ryan P., Sioux Falls, S.D.
Not wishful, but very unlikely. The Blue Jays won't make that deal.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.