With Aramis Ramirez looking to test the free-agent market, will the Cubs possibly try to resign him or could we see them trading for another team's third baseman? Maybe Evan Longoria?
-- Adam S., Mishawaka, IN
Re-signing Ramirez doesn't seem to be an option unless no other team makes him an offer. If you can convince the Rays to part with Longoria, I'm sure the Cubs would be interested.
I totally disagree with the premise that Ramirez has made his feelings known. He has said he prefers to stay in Chicago and is just looking for a little reassurance. If Tom Ricketts spoke with him and his agent, and said something to the effect, "I would hope to see you back next year but I know you realize I have to get the new GM the authority a good one will demand. In order to get the right GM, there is no way I can publicly say anything other than what I'm saying," that probably would set the tone for some realistic negotiations.
-- Dennis M., Lakeland, FL
You call it "a little reassurance." What Ramirez wants is more money and more guaranteed years than the one-year, $16 million option he had with the Cubs.
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When do you project Josh Vitters will be the Cubs' everyday third baseman? With Ramirez testing free agency, who will play third? I really like Vitters but he's still one to two years from being ready in my opinion. What are the chances DJ LeMahieu is the third baseman?
-- Ben R., West Palm Beach, FL
LeMahieu has shown he can hit for average, but he won't give the team 25 homers like Ramirez did. He's playing in the Arizona Fall League now with Vitters, who is learning first as well as the outfield. As for a timetable, it's up to LeMahieu and Vitters. Vitters is coming off a solid season in which he batted .283 with 14 homers, 28 doubles and 81 RBIs at Double-A Tennessee.
What are the odds the Cubs go after a guy like Theo Epstein to replace Jim Hendry?
-- Matt D., Peoria, IL
All we've heard about the GM search is that the Cubs want someone from a winning organization who believes in developing players within the system. Epstein is a candidate until the Red Sox or Epstein say he isn't.
What's going on with Carlos Zambrano? Haven't heard anything about him in a while.
-- Kevin C., Sioux City, IA
According to a report out of Venezuela, Zambrano apparently has talked to his countryman and new Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen about possibly pitching in Miami next year. The Marlins and Cubs first have to figure out who is going to take care of the $18 million owed Zambrano in 2012. As far as the grievance filed by the Major League Baseball Players Association on Zambrano's behalf, that has still not been resolved.
I don't hear a lot about Tony Campana maybe being a starter next year. He brings a speed dimension to the Cubs offense not seen since Bob Dernier. What are the chances he can become a regular next year and maybe hit high in the order?
-- Ross M., Salt Lake City, UT
Campana finished with a .259 batting average and .303 on-base percentage. His speed is a huge plus, but he has to get on base to use it. He's expected to join the players in Mesa, Ariz., this offseason in hopes of gaining strength and working on his bunting. He's a perfect extra outfielder/pinch-runner.
Campana and Starlin Castro both had 20 stolen bases this year. Who were the last two Cubs teammates with 20-plus stolen bases in a single season?
-- Scott P., Indianapolis, IN
In 1997, Shawon Dunston stole 29 bases and Sammy Sosa 22. Doug Glanville also swiped 19 that year for the Cubs.
The Cubs ended the season with the same record as the Padres and Royals. How does the tiebreaker work when it comes to determining the 2012 Draft order?
-- Mark S., Gurnee, IL
The Cubs will pick sixth in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. The projected order will be the Astros, Twins, Mariners, Orioles, Royals, Cubs, Padres, Pirates, Marlins and Rockies. Any tie is determined by the previous year's record, with the team with the worst record picking first. That's also why the Pirates will select ahead of the Marlins, even though both teams finished with the same record in 2011.
I just watched the ESPN special "Catching Hell." I feel the way Steve Bartman was treated was wrong. Anyone who watched the game knows there were other factors that led to the outcome. If Mr. Bartman reads these posts, I would like to apologize to him for the ridicule and abuse he has taken. I hope one day he is able to live life without looking over his shoulder. Best wishes, Steve.
-- Jim T., Wausau, WI
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.