The Chicago Cubs, who finished in last place last year, are doing a little housecleaning. Andy MacPhail, the Cubs' president, is thinking about trading in his team's top players, Sammy Sosa and Mark Grace, for some newer and younger talent.
"We haven't cracked the 70-win barrier in two seasons now," said MacPhail. "Clearly the current formula is not working. That's no individual's fault. Since I'm in charge of the day-to-day operation, I'm going to change our priority to pitching. I've been clear about that since the season ended."
Years with the Cubs: 8 years.
Looking for: Eight-figure contract.
Stats: Has averaged .305 with an amazing 179 home runs and whopping 437 runs batted in (RBI) over the past three years.
The scoop: President MacPhail plans to offer pitcher Mike Hampton hundreds of millions that Sosa recently rejected - probably in the $60-64 million range over four years. Hampton has gone 63-31 with a 3.30 earned run average over the past four years. He pitched in the playoffs in each of those years with the New York Mets and Houston Astros.
Sosa Quote: "I think Chicago is going to come through," Sosa said last week. "Hopefully I'll go to the Hall of Fame with that Chicago Cubs hat."
Years with the Cubs: 12.
Looking for: A team that wants him.
Stats: Hit .280 with 11 homers and 82 RBIs last season, his first below-.300 year since 1994.
The scoop: The Cubs have just about shut the door on its popular first baseman. And the Arizona Diamondbacks and other teams have come knocking at the door to sign the 36-year-old for 2001 and beyond.
Grace quote: "[MacPhail has] made it crystal clear he doesn't want me around anymore.... Now, I just have to move on. When your boss doesn't want you back, you have to go get work elsewhere, and that's what I'm doing."
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