10/14/09 2:30 PM ET
Inbox: Where will Sandberg be in 2010?
Beat reporter Carrie Muskat answers Cubs fans' questions
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Is there a possibility Ryne Sandberg could be the Cubs' hitting coach next year? If not, could Sandberg be the manager of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs? Either position should help him ease into a Major League team as manager, hopefully with Chicago.
-- Ara W., Alpharetta, Ga.
Let's put an end to the hitting coach rumors. Sandberg is interested in managing; he will not be considered for the coaching vacancy on Lou Piniella's staff. Sandberg could find himself at Double-A Tennessee again, and that's not a knock on how he did in 2009 with the Minor League team. The Southern League is a tough, competitive league, and they play by National League rules. It's a good training ground. Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has said he'd like to have Sandberg back in the Minor League system as a manager. The Cubs typically announce their staffs in early December.
What are the Cubs' plans for Jake Fox next year? Piniella has indicated his desire for a big RBI bat, and it seems Fox could fill that role nicely, especially if there are payroll constraints. Fox added some key production and power in his limited playing time this year. Also, has anyone coined the term "Fox trot" when he hits a home run? If he gets more playing time, we could see the "Fox trot" a lot in coming years.
-- Wes K., Dallas
Fox didn't embarrass himself at third base or in the outfield, but his best position is first base. As long as Derrek Lee is on the Cubs, it'll be hard for Fox to get playing time. The openings for 2010 appear to be second base and center field, and Fox isn't a good fit at either of those positions. There was some interest in the right-handed hitter during the season, and it may be best for him if he's moved to get more playing time. And, no, I haven't heard anyone use "Fox trot." I'm sure Fox would like to hear that on a regular basis.
What is the status of Aaron Heilman? I would love to see him back next year in pinstripes.
-- Matt, Logansport, Ind.
Matt, you didn't include your last name, but judging by your e-mail address (which had an Irish reference in it), you're a Notre Dame fan, and, obviously, a fan of Heilman. He could be back, or the Cubs may not tender him a contract if they decide they have enough arms for the bullpen. Heilman is arbitration eligible. This is his last year for that; he'll be a free agent in 2011. Here's a list of other arbitration-eligible Cubs (3-6 years of big league service): Jeff Baker, Neal Cotts, Mike Fontenot, Tom Gorzelanny, Angel Guzman, Koyie Hill, Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall and Ryan Theriot. The Cubs have until Dec. 12 to tender contracts to those players.
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Why is it that Piniella insists the team needs another RBI bat if he's expecting Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano to be better next season? What this team could use and use badly is speed and guys who can reach base. I recommend the team try to acquire Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton or Detroit's Curtis Granderson. Their teams are considering trading them, and they can actually play defense. If you look at the teams in the playoffs, you will see fast runners at the top and solid defense up the middle. Wouldn't that be better than going backwards and looking at a Mark DeRosa, like most Cubs fans want?
-- Alfonzo A., Chicago
You're absolutely right about the need to be solid up the middle. Piniella's two priorities actually are linked together. If Soriano and Soto are healthy and return to form, the manager will have two RBI men who were missing this season. If Aramis Ramirez is healthy and doesn't miss two months, he'd probably drive in 100 runs, which would help fill Piniella's list as well. The Cubs could use someone like Upton or Granderson. We all have wish lists. A lot of the impetus behind the push for DeRosa is because he was a popular guy. DeRosa fans should remember he'll be 35 in February, he'll be coming off a wrist injury and he batted .193 in September.
I've heard the phrase "another Ken Griffey Jr. out there." Why don't we sign Griffey to a one-year contract? He played for Piniella once, so maybe he would end his career with him as well. Has anyone mentioned Adam Dunn? He would've been the perfect fit instead of Milton Bradley.
-- Jesse P., Mellen, Wis.
Unless Griffey can turn back the clock, no. He batted .214 this season for the Mariners, and he turns 40 in November. As for Dunn, he is best suited for left field, and that position is filled on the Cubs by Soriano. Everyone who has written to suggest the Cubs deal Soriano needs to remember he's owed $76 million over the next four years, and it would be a Herculean task for Hendry to find a team that would take on that money.
Baker really played well when he got here. Do you see him as a potential starting second baseman for next year?
-- Mordy G., Cleveland
Right now, Baker is the frontrunner, especially considering how far Fontenot fell off the chart. Baker batted .305 in 69 games with the Cubs. To Fontenot's credit, he never took his offensive problems onto the field.
Do you know when the DVD release of "We Believe" will be out?
-- Josh B., Lombard, Ill.
Unfortunately, the release has been delayed until spring.