Winter Meetings Open Thread, Wednesday Morning, Updates 9:18 PM

Based on a request from our Fearless Leader Al Yellon, we're going to (hopefully) mix this up a little bit. I'm going to kick this off with some good, old-fashioned headliney goodness.

Then, as events warrant, I'll go ahead and update the main post with new rumors, deals, etc. In the meanwhile, post anything related to trades, free agent signings and other chicanery here. If you comment about something and it makes the main post, I'll tip my hat to you.

This way, hopefully we can keep all of our sweet, sweet trade rumory goodness all in one nice, easy to digest package for everyone. It makes it easier on people when there's one conversation about that Prior-for-Bedard deal that's sure to go down; that way... ok, I'm lying about Prior for Bedard. Really it'll be Pie and Patterson.

Strike up the band - alright, let's hit it.

Having failed to land either Torii Hunter or Miguel Cabrerra, Gordon Wittenmeyer says the White Sox could drive up the price on Fukudome. Just drive the price up, mind you; it would be out of character for them to actually sign someone this offseason. Wittenmeyer says the Cubs are still in the lead, and does his best of maintaining a journalistic veneer while basically mocking the Padres' offer.

He says that Plan B is Marshall-for-Ibanez, as a one-year stopgap until Tyler Colvin is ready.

Apparently the Ohman deal was really an Infante deal; the Braves were trying to acquire Infante from the Tigers, and when he got traded, the Braves followed him; Ohman was the throw-in needed to get Ascaino.

Jim Hendry says the Cubs aren't looking for a lefty reliever to replace Will Ohman. He also shoots down rumors that Dempster is on the trading block, and says Pie and Fuld are untouchables.

He also says that Ascaino is a real flamethrowe, with a fastball that goes between 95 and 97. And they think he can go multiple innings -- a real plus the way Lou uses his bullpen. He'll be given a chance to earn a job in the pen in spring training.

And apparently this means that Ronny Cedeno is being groomed as a utility player, and is learning to play center field to be more versatile.

The Mets may have tenative interest in Mark Prior. Paul Sullivan reports that it's unlikely that Prior will be offered arbitration. Also in that article: the Cubs are not pursuing free agent starting pitcher Hideki Kuroda, and are not looking to trade for Josh Hamilton.

Pirates outfielder Nate McClouth isn't being shopped.. The Cubs reportedly have been asking about his price as a fallback if Fukudome signs elsewhere.

The Reds, Dodgers and Mariners all seem to have inquired about Bedard's availability.

So, in the face of the Mitchell Report, Jim Hendry says he relies on his scouts to find high-character guys. I think it's the elephant in the room that Hendry just rather wouldn't deal with. He says: "Absolutely, you don't take it lightly but you can't go to bed every night think, gee, I heard back in '01 that this guy might have done that. You don't just blow it off like who cares, but in the same sense people have done certain things that we would all feel maybe weren't appropriate. We have no idea who they are and we can't speculate." I really wonder what Hendry's heard and what he's ignored while he was a baseball executive. Maybe in his memoirs. We may not have to wait until the Mitchell Report to see some of the featured names, though: several media outlets are suing to get access to the unredacted affidavits the Mitchell Commission is using as sourcing.

Cubs Assistant GM Gary Hughes is given a lifetime achievement award.

Update [2007-12-5 12:29:6 by cwyers]:Updates time!

Thanks to Josh for these; the Royals and the Cubs are seemingly the two clubs that could get Fukudome. I don't know if I believe that. And the Denver Post thinks we're closing in on him.

Glendon Rusch may return to the division; the Reds, Astros and Cards all have interest.

Update [2007-12-5 22:35:52 by cwyers]:Two things of interest from the local beatwriters - LouPa says that Dempster won't be handed a rotation spot -- he'll have to compete with Hart, Gallagher and Marshall. And the Cubs will move him back to the bullpen, probably as closer, if he can't make the cut. And Gordon Wittenmeyer provides grist for the mill about Brian Roberts. Says a package with Marshall as the centerpiece could interest the Orioles. Oh, and I have a new policy: I am not going to repeat any rumors started by Steve Phillips.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Al Yellon, managing editor (unless it's a FanPost posted by Al). FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans.

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