If there were any lingering questions about whether the Cubs had pulled back from pursuing San Diego ace Jake Peavy in a trade, manager Lou Piniella answered them this week.
The Chicago Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer asked Piniella at an event in Chicago on Sunday whether the Cubs were still pursuing starting pitching in the wake of their four-year contract extension with free agent right-hander Ryan Dempster.
"No," Piniella was quoted as saying in Tuesday's Sun-Times. "Starting we don't need. We're set. We've got six good starters, and they're all experienced. Getting Dempster back was the key. We're in good shape with our starting pitching. Bullpen-wise, [we're looking for] possibly one more experienced pitcher. We've got a lot of young kids out there."
He was referring to starters Dempster, Rich Harden, Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis and Carlos Zambrano, each of whom reached double-digit wins in 2008 (if you include Harden's first half in Oakland), plus left-hander Sean Marshall, who bounced between the rotation and the bullpen.
Marshall, though, has been mentioned in reports out of both Chicago and Kansas City as one Cubs player who could be used to acquire outfielder Mark Teahen from the Royals.
Piniella's comments make the Cubs the second team to publicly distance itself from rumors about Peavy, who is being shopped by the San Diego Padres. The Braves, considered at the time the leading contender to land Peavy's services, stopped actively pursuing the right-hander on Nov. 14.
Cubs starters were 69-40 in 2008 with a National League-best 3.75 ERA and a Major League-best .237 batting average against.
In the same Sun-Times article, Piniella seemed to offer an endorsement for free-agent outfielder Raul Ibanez, who played for Piniella in Seattle from 1996-2000. The Cubs are looking for a left-handed bat to hit in the middle of the order, and Ibanez has been mentioned as one possibility.
"Raul can hit, there's no question," Piniella told the newspaper. "He's a professional bat, and he's that type of hitter that we're alluding to. ... And he's a great guy, no question. I like the guy. He's a professional hitter; he plays hard; he's a good player."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.