Now that Larry Rothschild is with the Yankees, do you think Greg Maddux will be considered for the Cubs' pitching coach? I know it's more than what he wants to do right now, but I think he would make an excellent pitching coach.
-- Joe E., Chicago
Maddux has made a lasting impression on some of the Cubs' pitchers, but he likes the flexibility of his current job as an assistant to the general manager, which allows him time to be with his family. Expect a new pitching coach to be named after Thanksgiving, and it will most likely be someone promoted from within the Cubs' organization. Among the candidates are Minor League roving pitching coordinator Mark Riggins, bullpen coach Lester Strode, Triple-A pitching coach Mike Mason and Double-A pitching coach Dennis Lewallyn.
Why not sign Kerry Wood to get that veteran presence back in the bullpen? He was very dominant for the Yankees in the setup position last year and would fit nicely in that role for us. That would give us another power righty with Andrew Cashner learning from someone who has been in the bigs for a while.
-- Heath E., Paris, Ill.
Wood does have experience, he did well in the setup role with the Yankees, and he likes pitching at Wrigley Field. There are two catches: First, the Cubs are well versed in his injury history and, second, he made $10.5 million last year. He'd have to be willing to accept less pay and possibly a contract loaded with incentives to return.
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The Cubs retained Mike Quade as manager because of the success of the team in the last six weeks of the season. Why not use the same philosophy and retain Xavier Nady to play first base? He was there during the success as well.
-- Robin R., Aurora, Ill.
From Aug. 23 to Oct. 3 this season, Nady batted .290 with two home runs and nine RBIs. He finished the last month at .238. The Cubs think they can do better. They're not only looking at free agents but also trade possibilities. There could be a first baseman in another team's system that is blocked from playing every day.
There's one first baseman everyone forgot, and that's Carlos Pena, who is good, hits for power, steals 40 bases a year, and has an over .300 average. I have been watching him a little this year and he might be what the Cubs need. Can I put in my request? We want someone who can play as well as Derrek Lee.
-- Carol M., Willowbrook, Ill.
Pena would be good defensively, but your statistics are slightly off. His career high in stolen bases is seven, set in 2004. He's never hit .300, and last year batted .196. He does have power and has averaged 36 homers over the last four seasons, but he's also averaged 157 strikeouts in that time span. If the Cubs can pick up the slack on offense elsewhere, Pena would be an option.
I know this is probably a longshot, but I've seen rumors of the Cubs maybe trading for Adrian Gonzalez. What are the chances of this happening?
-- Gianni Z., Batavia, N.Y.
At this point, anything is possible. Gonzalez, who will be a free agent after the 2011 season, is coming off shoulder surgery to repair his right labrum. He's expected to be ready by Spring Training. The Padres do need pitching. Maybe Cubs GM Jim Hendry can find a match.
Any chance Bryan LaHair gets a shot at first? He crushed the ball in Triple-A and could be the left-handed-hitting first baseman the Cubs are looking for.
-- Andy K., Chicago
He'll get plenty of playing time this spring. LaHair, 28, signed a Minor League contract with the Cubs for 2011 after batting .308 with 25 homers, 30 doubles and 81 RBIs at Triple-A Iowa this season. Who's LaHair? He was selected in the 39th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft by the Mariners and signed a Minor League contract with the Cubs in December 2009. He played in 45 games with Seattle in 2008 and batted .250 with three homers and 10 RBIs.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.