Cubs general manager Jim Hendry alternated between being aghast and amused Saturday over a report that had the Cubs sending seven players to the Baltimore Orioles for second baseman Brian Roberts and left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard.
The "deal" reportedly was killed by Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who last year hired former Cubs president Andy MacPhail to run his baseball operation.
"First of all, that story was not accurate," Hendry told the crowd at the Cubs convention. "I think it mentioned the owner nixing the trade. That certainly hasn't been the path we've been on. I don't think it would ever get to the ownership-type level. Andy MacPhail is certainly capable of making deals. That is not accurate.
"I'd like to know who we gave up."
The Cubs are interested in Roberts to play second base, but field manager Lou Piniella said Friday he didn't think a deal would get done. Hendry has inquired about Bedard, but the Cubs have not been serious players in the Bedard derby.
Revisionist history? Lou Piniella reiterated Saturday he'd be more than happy playing Mark DeRosa at second base if the Cubs are not able to land Brian Roberts.
Jim Hendry turned the tables on fans, who have cheered DeRosa at every turn during the Cubs convention. Hendry noted that last year at the convention, many fans wondered why the Cubs had signed "utility guy" DeRosa to a three-year, $13 million contract. DeRosa went on to have a productive 2007.
"There was a lot of negativity around us signing him," Hendry said. "(Assistant GM) Randy Bush had scouted Mark the year before for about 20 games, and he was the one who recommended us signing Mark. He turned out to be everything Randy told us he would be.
"We love Mark DeRosa. But I told this to Mark himself -- we have a very honest relationship. No player of his caliber would want to lose his everyday job and have Lou (manager Piniella) bounce him around to different spots. But the day we wake up in the morning and consciously put one player's situation above making the ballclub better, that's the last day we should have these jobs."
Lineup spots: Lou Piniella said Saturday that shortstop Ryan Theriot would likely bat second with newly signed right fielder Kosuke Fukudome hitting fifth. However, Piniella added that batting Fukudome second might be "the ideal spot to break him in."
Alfonso Soriano will continue to bat leadoff, and Piniella doesn't want to break up No. 3 hitter Derrek Lee and cleanup man Aramis Ramirez, both of whom bat right-handed. Fukudome is a left-handed batter.
For now, Mark DeRosa, catcher Geovany Soto and center fielder Felix Pie will hit sixth through eighth. The Cubs are in the market for a center fielder (perhaps trading for Texas' Marlon Byrd) as insurance against Pie not being ready. Failing that, Hendry and Piniella may allow Pie to battle it out with rookie Sam Fuld, who made a good impression in September.
The favorites? During a session that featured Lou Piniella and his coaches talking to the fans, Piniella wasn't shy about touting his ballclub.
"The Chicago Cubs are the team to beat in the National League Central," he said.
Piniella added that he'll tell his players to forget the 100th anniversary of the last Cubs world championship.