Their bags stuffed with lots of tiny hotel soaps and tiny bottles of hotel shampoo, the baseball people have all checked out of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, taken off from Nashville International Airport, and scattered across the country. Some, like Dave Dombrowski, are returning home triumphant. Others, like Jim Hendry, see important items left on their to-do lists.
Though he was able to snag the "young power arm" of Jose Ascanio from Atlanta, Hendry didn’t land his speed guy, his left-handed hitter, or his new outfielder during these Winter Meetings. By all accounts, he is still in contention for the Orioles’ Brian Roberts, who's speedy and hits left-handed, and the much coveted Kotsuke Fukudome, who hits left-handed and plays outfield. (The O's may be waiting to conclude a Roberts trade until they can move Miguel Tejada and Eric Bedard; Fukudome's answer might be coming soon.)
One deal Hendry and the Cubs did close in Nashville involved the acquisition of minor league pitcher Tim Lahey from Tampa, who had selected Lahey from the Twins with the first pick in Thursday morning's Rule 5 draft.
Here’s what Baseball America had to say about the pickup:
Lahey was a catcher at Princeton, then converted to the mound when the Twins drafted him. He has a short, catcher-like arm action, but he throws strikes with his 90-92 mph fastball, one that has touched 95 according to Cubs officials, and the delivery adds some deception. A 20th-round pick in 2004 by the Twins, Lahey also throws a solid-average slider and a changeup. The Cubs see room for improvement, since Lahey is still relatively new to pitching.
"He's got real good sink with a ground ball ratio of almost 3-to-1 and the makings of a pretty good slider," Cubs farm director Oneri Fleita said. "It's amazing—I think he has 178, 179 innings and has less than a hit per inning pitched. That's pretty good for a guy who just got converted. We're excited to see him.
"He's a big, strong durable guy with great makeup and we wanted to roll the dice on it. It wasn't long ago that Carlos Marmol was changed from a catcher to to a pitcher. Boy, if he's half as good as (Marmol) is, we might have gotten lucky."