ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine is reporting today that the Cubs are interested in former White Sox right-hander Jose Contreras. In an amusing choice of words, Levine says the Cubs "are in the planning stages of what needs to be done to bring them back to elite status."
Two points on that: 1) The offseason is about half over, so the Cubs should be past their planning stages by now. 2) If those plans include signing guys like Contreras and Scott Podsednik, they won't be anywhere near elite status in 2010.
Sox fans will always be grateful for the contributions Podsednik and Contreras made during the 2005 World Series run. However, both of those players are huge injury risks and past their prime at this point.
I just can't see the Cubs being foolish enough to sign Podsednik to play center field. That guy was afraid of the padded outfield walls at U.S. Cellular Field. How is he going to deal with the brick walls at Wrigley? Podsednik is still a decent on-base guy when healthy, but his stolen base percentage isn't what it used to be. His defense has always been bad. Cubs fans should be shrieking in horror if their team actually decides to put Podsednik in center next to Alfonso Soriano, a noted butcher in left field.
As for Contreras, he's almost certainly older than his listed age of 39. He can still pitch at times, but I've noticed the last couple years that he's no longer able to consistently repeat his delivery. That leads to wide variances in command from game to game and sometimes inning to inning. It also leads to a 5-13 record with an ERA of 5.42.
Contreras might be better than Carlos Silva, the stiff acquired recently in the Milton Bradley trade. But if the Cubs want to return to "elite status," they should stay far, far away from Peter Pods and Grandpa Contreras.