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Miscellaneous Cub Acquisitions and Other News

Yesterday, the Cubs signed left-handed-hitting outfielder Todd Hollandsworth to a one-year contract for an estimated $1 million.

Apart from his name taking up way too much room on a scorecard, Hollandsworth can play all three outfield positions and supposedly, he is going to work on first base in spring training so that he can back up his teammate last year at Florida, Derrek Lee, on occasion.

Like the Mercker signing, this isn't a big deal, and for the price, it's reasonable. Hollandsworth isn't a great player, but he's better than Troy O'Leary, whose 2003 roster spot he essentially takes, and he sure wore out Cub pitching during the NLCS. So this is also a case of "if you can't beat him, then have him join you".

In a bit of a head-scratcher, the Cubs traded a 25-year-old minor league pitcher named Wilton Chavez, who was probably never going to make the major league roster, to the Expos for 29-year-old journeyman utility infielder Jose Macias.

Macias does pretty much the same things as Ramon Martinez, only not quite as well. This may indicate that the Cubs aren't going to re-sign Martinez. Macias is a .255 lifetime hitter who rarely walks. He did hit .306 against the Cubs in 2003 and has a .353 lifetime average against the Cubs, his highest against any team except the Cardinals.

The Cubs also signed three players to minor league contracts and invited them to spring training: Gary Glover, Jamey Wright and Bill Selby. Glover might have a shot at making the major league bullpen, as he has had some success in that role with the White Sox. Selby, likely, will be the starting third baseman at Iowa.

Wright's an interesting case. He was once the best pitching prospect in the Rockies organization, and like so many pitchers who come through Coors Field, he got all screwed up. I saw the Cubs beat the living daylights out of him last spring training when he was with the Padres, and he landed for four starts late in the year with the Royals, where he pitched OK. He's 29, and will, I suppose, get a shot at the fifth starter's job.

Finally, Grant DePorter, a friend of the late Harry Caray and managing partner of his eponymous restaurant, bought the infamous foul ball from NLCS game six for the ridiculous price of $106,000, and he says that on February 26, 2004, when Harry Caray's downtown Chicago restaurant has its annual toast to Harry, they will destroy the ball with great ceremony.

That's an awful lot of money to pay for your proverbial 15 minutes of fame, but hey, whatever floats your boat.