Mailbag: Does Perez have what it takes?

Mailbag: Does Perez have what it takes?

Neifi Perez, Nomar Garciaparra, Todd Walker and the Cubs Convention are hot topics this week.

A note: Someone asked about three players wearing the same number in a single season, since Henry Blanco, Jody Gerut and Scott McClain all wore No. 9 in 2005. Having three players wear the same number in the same season is not uncommon. In 2004, three Cubs wore Nos. 8, 19 and 29.

Since the 1998 Wild Card season, three Cubs have shared a number in the same year 10 times, and once, four players shared one number. In 2000, Will Ohman, Brant Brown, Danny Young and Scott Downs all wore No. 35 in at least one game. Baseball historian Ed Hartig says that the only other time he found one number shared by four players in a single season was in 1958, when Moe Thacker, Jerry Kindall, John Buzhardt and Jim Brosnan all shared No. 23, obviously not at the same time.

As for No. 9, Juan Pierre has now claimed that. It's his favorite.

Mark Feb. 24, 2006, on your calendars. That's when tickets go on sale online for the 2006 season. And the next mailbag will be on Jan. 2, 2006. Please remember to include your name and hometown in your emails to cubs06hit@yahoo.com. That's "06" as in 2006. Happy holidays.

What about Felix Pie? The trade for Pierre seems like a waste, giving up three arms for him, if they still have any plans to bring up Pie. And what about Johnny Damon? It would be awesome to see Pierre in left, Damon in center and Murton in right.
-- Jacob T., Burnsville, Minn.

Pie isn't ready yet. He was expected to open the season at Triple-A Iowa. Missing two months last year because of an ankle injury slowed his progress. As for Damon, I haven't heard his agent back off a request for a seven-year deal. The only team that might bite at that is Boston. Murton is better suited for left -- and Pierre is a perfect fit in center.

With Pie waiting in the wings, what do the Cubs have to lose by starting Corey Patterson at a corner outfield spot or having him as a potential replacement if Matt Murton struggles? The Cubs should not add a corner outfielder just to add one.
-- Tyler J., East Moline, Ill.

If the season began today, Patterson would be the starting right fielder. He has the arm to switch from center to right. With the addition of Pierre, Patterson won't be forced into the leadoff role. Patterson has been disappointing, but maybe hitting lower in the order will help him. In his young career, Patterson has hit .257 in the leadoff spot, compared to .270 batting third and .286 hitting seventh.

Do you know the list of players who will be at the Cubs Convention? Thanks.
-- Beth G., St. Louis, Mo.

The Cubs publish the list in the Chicago Tribune on the Sunday before the convention, so it'll be in the Jan. 8 newspaper. We'll post something on cubs.com as soon as we know.

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Will Neifi Perez be starting at shortstop this year? After doing such a good job filling in for Garciaparra last year, I would think he'd be a great choice. Do the Cubs have other plans for him?
-- Edward K., Indianapolis, Ind.

Remember, Perez was originally signed to be a backup. The Cubs would like to give Ronny Cedeno a chance to be the starting shortstop. Cedeno was third in batting in the Venezuelan League this winter the last time I checked. Perez will get his at-bats.

Why is there so much talk about the Cubs wanting to trade Walker? He batted above .300 and has offensive pop. As far as his defensive stats, he has solid range and will make very few errors. If anything, the Cubs should have signed him to a longer deal.
-- Steve M., Gurnee, Ill.

A lot of teams have called general manager Jim Hendry about Walker because they see the Cubs having an overload of middle infielders -- Walker, Perez, Cedeno and Jerry Hairston Jr. -- and Walker is rather inexpensive at $2.5 million. As of today, Walker is signed and a Cub.

Is there any chance the Cubs will get Miguel Tejada in a trade?
-- Kevin V., Pearcy, Ark.

The Cubs were one of several teams to tell the Orioles to call if they are interested in dealing Tejada. However, the O's are trying to determine if Tejada was serious, and the shortstop now is backpedaling and saying he doesn't want to be traded.

I would like Ryne Sandberg for manager. Why not?
-- Gustavo R., Juarez, Mexico

Sandberg is pretty happy as a part-time Spring Training coach with the Cubs, a full-time dad, golfer, husband and Hall of Famer right now.

I'd like to know the Cubs' reasons for not signing Garciaparra. He seemed to have fully recovered from his leg problem and he looked good at the end of the 2005 season. He is an excellent all-around Major Leaguer, viewed as God's gift to the Cubs when they acquired him, and now he's worthless? What happened?
-- Dick B., Palatine, Ill.

Here's what I know: The Cubs asked Garciaparra to move to the outfield, and he said no. Then, he changed his tune -- maybe because he couldn't find enough teams that wanted him to play shortstop. The Cubs tried to sign him to an incentive-loaded contract, and his agent wanted more money guaranteed. The Cubs said no, considering the injuries Garciaparra has had the last two seasons. Just between us, Garciaparra was a joy to work with.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.