Center fielder Mike Cameron could take center stage for the Cubs by the time the winter meetings begin Monday in Indianapolis, depending on how quickly they can slam the door on Milton Bradley's tail and how much room is left in the payroll.
What's clear is the Cubs' interest and the strength of manager Lou Piniella's relationship with Cameron, who spent the past two seasons with Milwaukee.
"I love the guy," Piniella said Friday night in Cincinnati during a reunion event for the 1990 World Series champions at the annual Redsfest. "Mike is somebody we've talked about. I'm looking forward to Sunday, [when team officials meet before] the meetings over in Indianapolis."
About ten days ago, I made this post comparing two potential acquisitions for the Cubs, Cameron and Marlon Byrd. For 2010, I think Cameron is a much better choice -- Byrd, coming off a career year, is likely going to be asking for far more money and years than the Cubs should commit. Signing Cameron at age 37 risks him having a decline at that age, but he had a pretty good year in 2009, and his OPS and OPS+ numbers have been remarkably consistent for the last eleven seasons.
In Wrigley Field, Cameron is a lifetime .261/.355/.521 hitter in 119 AB, hitting eight home runs, and he hits slightly better in day games (.803 lifetime OPS) than in night games (.782). There's no question about his outstanding defense, and he draws a fair number of walks (75 in 2009).
For the right price, and presuming the Cubs can move Bradley, Cameron would be a perfect fit for 2010. I wouldn't sign him to more than a one-year deal with an option year, but that might work out just right.