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Cubs not disappointed key deals remain elusive
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff

Although the winter meetings are over, Cubs manager Lou Piniella and GM Jim Hendry know there is plenty of time to get deals done prior to spring training.

 

Gilber R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

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Published: 12/7/2007 12:15 AM

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The winter meetings ended Thursday, but Cubs general manager Jim Hendry was singing a theme of "to be continued."

The Cubs swung one deal this week, but they haven't made the major moves they were looking to make.

That isn't necessarily a bad thing. There are still more than two months before pitchers and catchers report for spring training, and Hendry has laid the groundwork for possible trades or free-agent signings.

The Cubs will continue their pursuit of Baltimore second baseman Brian Roberts, and they'll go hard after Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome if he declares he's coming to North America.

Hendry said he talked late Wednesday with Joe Urbon, the agent for Fukudome. Major-league teams still are bracing for the possibility Fukudome will decide to remain in Japan. If that happens, Hendry will have to shift his focus to trading for the left-handed hitting right fielder he wants.

"We're not disappointed, because we haven't failed in the people we're pursuing," Hendry said. "Even then, if you get disappointed, with some of it, there's nothing you can do about it.

"When you're really targeting one or two things, and they're not done yet, you're certainly not pleased. But until all of the avenues are exhausted, you're not disappointed. I don't feel we're in any worse shape than we were three days ago, maybe in some ways better. But that remains to be seen."

It will take some time to get a deal done with Baltimore, which also is shopping left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard (who is not on the Cubs' radar screen). Roberts and Nick Markakis are among the Orioles' most popular players, especially with owner Peter Angelos.

Even though former Cubs president Andy MacPhail has been given authority to run the baseball operations in Baltimore, the Roberts situation will be an interesting "test case" for MacPhail, according to those plugged into the Orioles' situation.

The Cubs appear prepared to offer a combination of pitchers Sean Marshall, Sean Gallagher and/or outfielder Matt Murton to get Roberts. Hendry reiterated that he's not trading lefty Rich Hill.

The pursuit of Fukudome will be costly in terms of dollars, especially in light of the free-agent contracts given to Andruw Jones by the Dodgers and Torii Hunter by the Angels. It could end up costing the winning bidder up to $75 million over five years for Fukudome.

Hendry has been quick to point out he has gone deep into the off-season in the past to obtain players, pointing to the late-December acquisition of catcher Michael Barrett in 2003 and the mid-February signing of pitcher Greg Maddux in 2004.

"The focus hasn't changed," Hendry said. "You can't control the time frame. The things we could have controlled, we did. The things that we would like to accomplish, you have to have the cooperation of the other side or the other trade partner or the free agent to try to finish off your goals."

Gilbert R. Boucher II/gboucher@dailyherald.com

Although the winter meetings are over, Cubs manager Lou Piniella and GM Jim Hendry know there is plenty of time to get a deal done prior to spring training.