What is going on with Kerry Wood?
-- Mark E., Des Plaines, Ill.
The Cubs and Wood's representatives have been talking since the 2011 season ended and both sides say they want Wood to stay. On Sunday, Wood told NBC 5 Chicago that he'll make a decision by the end of the week. There are other suitors. ESPN reported that the Phillies have shown interest in the right-hander for their bullpen. Wood, 34, has said he'll retire if he doesn't return to the Cubs. Hopefully, we'll know Friday, when Wood is hosting a fundraiser for his foundation at Harry Caray's at Navy Pier. Theo Epstein, the Cubs' president of baseball operations, was scheduled to attend.
Why don't the Cubs make more of an aggressive attempt to land Prince Fielder? I'm sure if they were to offer a five-year deal for around $125 million, we might be able to land a player who we can build a great team around. By losing out, we are just making it harder on ourselves to compete against other teams.
-- Austin S., Davenport, Iowa
Fielder's agents don't seem willing to budge from a 10-year deal, not five. The Cubs' trade on Friday for Anthony Rizzo should end the rumors that Epstein is bidding for Fielder. Rizzo is the Cubs' first baseman of the future, and even if he doesn't start Opening Day 2012, he's expected to be a mainstay in 2013 and beyond. Committing that much money to Fielder at this time doesn't make sense.
I like the Anthony Rizzo trade. We got a top-tier prospect. Does this mean Bryan LaHair will be relegated to the bench, or will he be given a shot at everyday playing time, either in the outfield or at first? I know LaHair has not proven he can hit big league pitching every day, but he did well in 2011 in the Majors after tearing it up in Triple-A. It seems he deserves the chance to succeed or fail.
-- Billy E., Albany, N.Y.
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Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Rizzo, 22, needs more development, and that LaHair is the starting first baseman this year.
The Cubs traded Andrew Cashner to the Padres. I don't understand the move. Cashner was a young pitcher with a lot of potential as a starter. He looked to be healing up nicely and could be a good No. 4 guy in the rotation for the Cubs. I just don't see the point of this trade.
-- Christopher T., Chicago
Even though he is healthy after the shoulder injury that sidelined him in 2011, Cashner was projected for the bullpen (which is where the Padres will use him). Rizzo has a lot of upside and could be a middle-of-the-order, power-producing first baseman.
With Sean Marshall traded and Wood unsigned, what do the Cubs plan to do for late-inning relief? Jeff Samardzija improved as the 2011 season went on and Cashner looked good in his late-season relief stint. Will the Cubs give them a chance at the starting rotation, or will they end up filling the late-inning relief spots left open by Marshall and (maybe) Wood?
-- Doug E., Palatine, Ill.
You submitted this before Cashner was dealt. Samardzija has said he wants to start, but he has been more successful in the bullpen. Maybe we'll find out at the Cubs Convention. The Cubs' rotation could be Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad and Randy Wells. Besides Samardzija, the pitchers the Cubs can chose from for relief duty include James Russell, Scott Maine, John Gaub, Chris Carpenter, Alberto Cabrera, Marcos Mateo, Rafael Dolis and new additions Manny Corpas, Andy Sonnanstine and Casey Weathers. Plus, the Cubs need to slot in Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo.
What are the chances the Cubs will sign right-hander Edwin Jackson or lefty Paul Maholm? They are both young and pitch a lot of innings. The Cubs sure could use more pitchers with the ability to go deep in games.
-- Paul W., Columbia City, Ind.
Jackson is reportedly looking for a five-year contract, which is not something the Cubs' front office would seem to be agreeable to. There were reports linking the Cubs to Maholm, who has spent his entire career with the Pirates, and having another lefty in the rotation would be a plus. The only thing certain is the Cubs are still shopping.
"We're not finished acquiring starting pitchers," Hoyer said Friday. "We want to have as much depth as possible. At this point, we're still very much in the process of gathering as many quality arms as we can, and we'll put those pieces in place as we get closer to Spring Training."
When will the single-game tickets go on sale?
-- Daniel M., Evanston, Ill.
Single-game tickets go on sale March 9 at Wrigley Field and on cubs.com. We'll post more details as soon as they are available.
Last season, Tony Campana, in my opinion, was the most exciting Cub to watch. He is surely one of the fastest players in baseball. I have no doubt he could steal 70-plus if he played regularly. Where does he figure in the outfield mix this season? Is there a chance he plays every day?
-- Michael S., Peoria, Ill.
Not likely. Campana has to get on base to steal, and his .303 on-base percentage in 95 games would need to improve. He's best suited as a pinch-runner and defensive sub in the outfield.
What is the level of interest the Cubs have in Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler? I would love if they got both, but I think Soler would be a great potential long-term solution in the outfield, seeing as he's only 19 years old. I think he'd be cheaper than Cespedes as well.
-- Kevin B., Urbana, Ill.
The Cubs are among the many teams keeping tabs on the two Cuban outfielders -- and Epstein did watch Cespedes in a workout in the Dominican Republic -- but it will come down to the price tag. It's a big risk to commit $50 million to a player who has never had an at-bat in the big leagues. You're right that Soler, 19, would be less expensive, but his agents also are looking at a mega deal.
Whatever happened to Angel Guzman? Is he still with the Cubs' organization?
-- Steve O., Arlington Heights, Ill.
Guzman signed a Minor League contract with the Dodgers in December.
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.Less