Holden Kushner has been with XM Radio, Channel 175 since 2005 first hosting MLB Live Weekend. Since, Holden has hosted such shows as Baseball This Morning, The Show and of late, Inside Pitch.
Holden recently took time from his shows on XM Radio to answer a few questions about the Cubs off-season for the CCO…. Chicago Cubs Online – Before turning our attention to the Cubs, would you give our readers a brief run down of your jobs in the game before joining XM Radio?
Holden Kushner – Oh boy. I’ve got a long list of jobs. Started out in Liberal, Kansas broadcasting Beejays summer-league action. Liberal is as far as you can get away from large populations as possible.
I broadcasted Grays Harbor Gulls games in Hoquiam, Washington. They are now a defunct team in the Independent leagues. I lived about a mile away from Cobain’s childhood home.
After a couple of sports talk jobs, I broadcasted a few Iowa Cubs games and hosted a talk show in Des Moines, Iowa.
I covered the 2003 Red Sox during a stint in Boston. Also covered the Royals in 2004 before landing my XM gig.
CCO – If you could make your own highlight reel of your time at XM Radio, what would be the top play, moment or interview?
HK – I’d say the wildest moment was in 2006 when I was running out on the field about 5 seconds after Magglio Ordonez hit the walk-off, ALCS-ending home run to beat the Oakland A’s. I didn’t see the ball leave the yard so I had to ask a security guard what happened. He said, “Home Run!” I just ran around interviewing any player that would talk to me.
CCO – Many have questioned all of the changes the Cubs have made this winter to a team that won 97 games a year ago. You have been very vocal of late on your shows, voicing the same concern. Could you elaborate?
HK – I feel that the Cubs are not a better team on paper right now than they were at the end of last year. Milton Bradley is a major health concern (although I expect he will far exceed Fukudome’s production). Marmol and/or Gregg really have to prove themselves in the closers role. Fontenot may be a sleeper, but he has some proving to do. Will Zambrano ever realize his full potential? Does Dempster have 17 wins in him again? How many innings can Harden throw? These are questions that will be answered, but I’m not sure they’ll be the answer Cubs fans want to hear.
CCO – What are your thoughts on the following moves?
Re-signing Ryan Dempster
HK - Coming off a career year. How smart was he to take that 4-year deal before the market completely collapsed? Very smart.
Trading Jose Ceda for Kevin Gregg
HK – Ceda could be a force at the back end of the bullpen for many years. He must not be close to contributing at the major league level this year though. Gregg blew 9 saves with Florida last season and his strikeouts per inning were WAY down. He will make Cubs fans more comfortable in the 8th inning role.
Not Re-signing Kerry Wood
HK – Wood’s injury history scared the team away from giving him $10 million dollars. Tough to see him go, but it made good business sense.
Trading Mark DeRosa
HK – Never got a good answer why he was dealt. They dumped salary, lost a versatile player who was great in the clubhouse and received 3 unknown minor league pitchers. This deal led to the Milton Bradley signing.
Signing Aaron Miles and Joey Gathright
HK – Miles adds a veteran presence up the middle. Gathright is a good defensive replacement with speed.
Signing Milton Bradley
HK – He has missed an average 72 games over the last 4 seasons and that was in the American League where he could be used as a DH. It’s always possible he gets into it with an umpire or a teammate but I think the chances of that are slim. He just has to stay healthy. Let’s just hope he does. When he is, Bradley is a destructive offensive force.
Trading for Aaron Heilman
HK – A starter? He needs to come up with a third pitch. A change of scenery will be good for him. I would feel comfortable rolling him out in the 7th inning if the conversion fails.
CCO – The National League Central went from the ‘Comedy Central‘ in 2007 to the best division in the Senior Circuit in 2008. Do you think the NL Central will be as competitive in 2009?
HK – One of the five other teams in the division should give the Cubs a run for their money. The Cubs are HEAVY favorites in the Central. Milwaukee should be competitive but only in the 85-87 win range. Houston never addressed their starting pitching concerns. The Cardinals are going with the youth movement in the bullpen and a patch-work rotation. I think they have 85 wins written all over them. The Reds could be a sleeper with young arms in Volquez and Cueto, but they need a bounce-back year from Aaron Harang. Then there’s the Pirates.
CCO – On paper the Cubs appear to have the best team in the division and one of the top teams in the entire league. Other than staying healthy, what do you think the keys are for the Cubs to win the Central for the third year in a row?
HK – Bradley needs to play 125 games and be healthy in September and October. Zambrano needs to grow up and take the reigns as the staff ace. Fontenot needs to prove he can play 2B on an everyday basis. Marmol must take the closers role in spring training and not look back. The organization needs to stop hiring Greek Orthodox priests to sprinkle holy water in the Cubs dugout before the playoffs. THERE IS NO CURSE! Just bad luck and poor personnel decisions.
Jim Hendry also needs to get Jake Peavy.
CCO – Do you have a bold prediction for 2009?
HK – It’ll be 101 years and counting…unless they get Peavy.
A big tip of the cap to Holden for taking time for the CCO. I first met Holden during the 2007 Cubs Convention and we have kept in touch off and on ever since. Holden has become one of the mainstays at XM Radio and always delivers an honest opinion during his broadcasts….and I appreciate him using the same approach for the CCO.