Your complete Cubs wrap-up from Tuesday's news


Your complete Cubs wrap-up from Tuesday's news

So we know today got cray here for you all trying to keep track of everything from the MLB Winter Meetings in Dallas. (For those of you not hip, the word "cray" is short for "crazy." That's how the cool kids abbreviate it now.)

To make things convenient, we've decided at CubsTalk here to aggregate all the content into one big post, like we did yesterday. You know, just 'cause we're nice and cool like that.

Things kicked off fast and furious (too fast! too furious!) as the Cubs allegedly put a bid in for Albert Pujols. A team official later denied, but it was just the way the rumors surrounding Pujols went all day.

Word came out that the Cubs thought more of Prince Fielder than Pujols, which makes total sense and may take the award for the most obvious news nugget of the day.

The Pujols drama raged on all day, with the Marlins bursting to the forefront as the lead candidate to sign the slugger and a mystery team emerged offering 10 years that may or may not have been the Cubs (hint: it probably wasn't).

Everybody was hoping the Pujols drama would end Tuesday night, but it didn't look good as of midnight central time.

Meanwhile, the Fielder news was less dramatic and attention-seeking, but still surrounded the Cubs as they emerged as one of the teams in on the "once in a lifetime" player.

The Cubs' top free agent, Aramis Ramirez is drawing plenty of interest from some major contenders, but the Brewers appeared to be the favorite early in the day. Late in the night, it looked as if Milwaukee may soon be alone atop the A-Ram sweepstakes with the Phillies dropping out and the Angels possibly more focused on Pujols.

The Cubs tried to improve their team with some trade talk, as well. If the Marlins do indeed sign Pujols, it would make first baseman Gaby Sanchez available and the Cubs could be a major player for the 28-year-old.

Chicago's rumored deal for the Rockies' Ian Stewart hit a snag as Colorado asked for top Cubs infield prospect D.J. LeMahieu and left-handed reliever Scott Maine.

Theo's crew also allegedly tried to do a little addition by subtraction in sending Alfonso Soriano on a one-way ticket out of town by trying to talk the Orioles into taking the outfielder. But, Baltimore officials said "no chance" to the deal when they heard about the rumors.

Also, the Cubs may be aiming to improve their pitching staff for 2012, but may have to look no further than their own roster as Carlos Zambrano is not out of the team's picture just yet.

And, in a bit of TMZ-esque news, Theo Epstein closed on a 3.25 million mansion just blocks from Wrigley Field, showing his mad money skills at overpaying as the house was on the market for over 250,000 less.

Tomorrow may be the day the Cubs actually make some moves. Or maybe they could make some overnight, as they signed Carlos Pena at roughly 3 a.m. central time last winter meetings.

Stay tuned.

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Joe Maddon's T-shirt slogans can get a little old at times, but the Cubs manager found a new audience in Brett Anderson, who liked the idea of "Be Uncomfortable" after signing a one-year, prove-it deal with the defending champs.

"It's been awesome so far," Anderson said. "That's my running joke – we're a month into it now or whatever it is – and I don't hate anybody yet.

"That's a testament to the group as a whole – and maybe me evolving as a person."

Yes, Anderson's sarcasm, social-media presence and groundball style fits in with a team built around short-term pitching and Gold Glove defense. The if-healthy lefty finished his Cactus League tour on Saturday afternoon by throwing four innings (one unearned run) during a 7-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies in front of 13,565 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Anderson will open the season as the No. 4 starter after a camp that has been remarkably low-key and drama-free.

"I'm kind of cynical by nature, but it's a fun group to be a part of," Anderson said, "(with) young guys that are exciting and happy to be here. And then obviously the mix of veterans, too, that are here with intentions of winning another World Series."

To make that happen, the pitching staff will have to again stay unbelievably healthy. Anderson rolled with a general question about how he physically feels now compared to where he's usually at by this time of year.

"Obviously better than last year, because I was walking with a gimp and all that stuff," said Anderson, who underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a bulging disk in his lower back last March. "No, my body feels good, my arm feels good and you're getting into the dog days of spring training where you're itching to get to the real thing."

Joe Maddon breaks down the Matt Szczur vs. Tommy La Stella decision for Cubs

Joe Maddon breaks down the Matt Szczur vs. Tommy La Stella decision for Cubs

MESA, Ariz. – Matt Szczur vs. Tommy La Stella appears to be the final decision as the Cubs shape their Opening Night roster.

That's assuming good health – manager Joe Maddon sounded unconcerned about Ben Zobrist (stiff neck), Addison Russell (stiff back) and Albert Almora Jr. (stiff neck) – and the Cubs carrying an eight-man bullpen.

Maddon appeared to eliminate one variable, confirming that La Stella has signaled a willingness to go to Triple-A Iowa if necessary, which would normally be an obvious statement, except for last summer's "Where's Tommy?" episode.

"I haven't even thought about it," Maddon said during Saturday's media session at the Sloan Park complex. "It's not an issue. I thought we handled it pretty openly last year and there's been no blowback whatsoever from the players."

Beyond this – La Stella initially refused to report to the minors last July, moved back home to New Jersey and talked briefly about retirement – an American League scout and a National League scout tracking the Cubs in Arizona both agreed that Szczur looks like the superior player.

Plus Szczur – and not La Stella – is out of minor-league options now.

"When you get this kind of a talent, depth-wise, it's a wonderful problem to have," Maddon said. "And then, of course, the rules start creeping in. The rules in this situation would benefit Matt, which is a good thing, because he's a big-league guy that's been riding the shuttle. He's done it in a very stoic manner, and he's been great for us."

La Stella has allies in the clubhouse – Jake Arrieta got a Coastal Carolina tattoo on his right butt cheek after losing a College World Series bet – and goes about his routine in a quiet, diligent manner.

La Stella is not a distraction at all and can hit left-handed and play the infield – two attributes that Szczur can't bring to Maddon's bench.

"Matt Szczur, to me, is a Major League Baseball player," Maddon said. "You're seeing what Tommy can do from the left side of the plate right now. And then it's just a matter of balancing things out. We've already mentioned that some guys on the infield can play the outfield within this group, thus it presents differently regarding what you need."

[MORE CUBS: Javier Baez won’t change his style around Cubs after World Baseball Classic: ‘We’re not showing anybody up’]

Szczur is hitting .361 with a .994 OPS through 14 Cactus League games and can play all over the outfield. But that skill is diminished when the Cubs already have four established outfielders plus Zobrist and Kris Bryant able to shift from the infield.

Then again, defensive wizard Javier Baez should have the Cubs covered all across the infield in case of an emergency. With the defending World Series champs a week out from facing the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, we're about to find out if Maddon made his recommendation or had a possible trade scenario or disabled-list situation in mind.

"I love Matt Szczur," Maddon said. "This guy as a teammate – you're not going to get a better one. Nobody's going to get a better one on any team for any reason.

"We haven't decided everything or anything yet. Stuff happens in a very short period of time. He is a major-league baseball player. So we'll just wait a couple more days, see how it plays out. But he's a benefit to any group that has him."