Cubs To Target Hiroki Kuroda, Gary Sheffield?
Some interesting rumors coming from Cubdom, ideas that surprisingly don't seem too foolish. At least compared to last year, when the budget was spent on middle relievers, Jacque Jones, Glendon Rusch, and Neifi Perez.
The first one comes from the Chicago Tribune. Paul Sullivan indicates that the Cubs may turn their focus to Japanese hurler Hiroki Kuroda instead of Daisuke Matsuzaka. Not that Matsuzaka isn't the better pitcher; he certainly is. But Kuroda won't require a posting fee, and he posted the best ERA (1.85) in Japan's Central League. Kuroda also posted a 6.9 K/BB ratio, which is awesome. If Hendry can snag Kuroda for an under-the-radar two-year, $15MM deal it wouldn't be a bad move. Of course, it's not a guarantee that Kuroda wants to pitch in the United States as of right now.
Second, Joel Sherman names the Cubs as a strong possibility for Gary Sheffield. We've all read Sheff's comments, about putting up a huge stink if the Yanks pick up his option and then trade him. But as Sherman says, Sheffield has always been like this. He's still got a lot of reasons to play and play hard in 2007. It'd be a low-risk acquisition with .900 OPS potential. Maybe an Angel Guzman type does the trick? Maybe a little more, but it won't be requiring Rich Hill like some other sluggers would. From the Cubs' point of view, where would Sheffield play? Left and right field seem locked in with Matt Murton and Jacque Jones.