Rumors during Baseball’s Hot Stove Season are usually that, just rumors. But when a team’s GM discusses his ballclub in detail with just over a month before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training … well, that is more than just speculation from the mainstream media.
Jim Hendry joined Rob Dibble and Jody McDonald on XM Radio Thursday afternoon. Hendry said on multiple occasions he would like to make two or three moves to round out the Cubs’ roster before heading into the Twenty-Ten season.
Not long after Matt Holliday’s press conference concluded, Jim Hendry spent a little time on The Show (XM Radio) Thursday afternoon.
Jody McDonald began the interview by asking what impact the Cardinals re-signing Matt Holliday would have on the Cubs. Jim Hendry said he is still working on his roster and has “things he would like to do” before Spring Training begins.
Hendry admitted he made a mistake or two last winter that he would like chance to do over … but realizes he cannot. The Cubs had a few players that did not play the way he and the organization felt they would last year as well. Namely Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto.
For as bad as the Cubs felt like they played last year, they still won 83 games and Hendry pointed out they were tied for first place until the Cardinals pulled away. The team simply did not play to expectations last year. He also indicated how tough the sale of the team made it for him to make changes and additions during the season.
Jim Hendry said he’s not done “tinkering” with the roster. He would like to add two or three players before Spring Training. He also feels that if the Cubs are in the race this summer he will get the approval from the Ricketts family to add players and payroll.
As for the decision to sign Milton Bradley last winter, Hendry admitted (once again) that he took a gamble that did not work. The numbers looked like Milton would be a good addition to the team. But Milton got off to a bad start. He did not hit early on and the season snowballed on him … no one thought Bradley would not produce at the plate, and that included Milton.
Hendry said the money they saved by dealing Bradley to the Mariners for Carlos Silva allowed them to sign Marlon Byrd. As for Silva, the Cubs are hoping to get the pre-Mariners Carlos Silva … the one that pitched for the Minnesota Twins. Hendry mentioned the fact Rudy Jaramillo was very influential in the decision to sign Marlon Byrd.
Hendry is hopefully that the Cubs will be able to add a player that can play the corner outfield spots … as well as provide a bat off the bench.
Andre Dawson’s election to the Hall of Fame was discussed. Hendry was asked about the blank check he signed to become a Cub and he joked that would not work nowadays. There is no telling how many zeros the player would add.
Hendry feels there are good players still on the market. Hendry indicated that might be the route he ends up taking in order to add pieces to the mix (Hendry mentioned once again at this point in the interview that he would like to add a player or two).
Jody McDonald asked about the Sophomore Slump that Geovany Soto went through last season. Hendry described Soto as a bright, proud kid and emphatically stated he will bounce back this season.
Hendry said, “I would like to ensure Cubs’ fans that they will get the 2008 Soto not the 2009 Soto.” He is in Puerto Rico working very hard to make sure he is ready for the season.
Once the Cubs found out Rudy Jaramillo would be available, they did not hesitate on pursuing him. The Cubs were in Mesa at their organizational meetings with the news surfaced Jaramillo was leaving Texas. Hendry said they acted as fast as they could. They figured the best hitting coach in the game would help Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto.
Rudy Jaramillo, Larry Rothschild and Lou Piniella (on the top step) make a GM’s job an easy one according to Jim Hendry.
Hendry was then asked about the Carlos Zambrano trade rumors. Hendry said he would not talk about those, there’s no need to. The Cubs need Zambrano to come back next season and pitch the way he is capable.
Carlos Zambrano has a full no-trade clause, as Hendry pointed out, something that they agreed to when he signed his extension. Hendry added that Zambrano would have received more then on the open market than he did from the Cubs.
Hendry was asked about the rumors again and he said he would not discuss trading a player on his roster.
The Cubs are looking for Zambrano to get back to form. Big Z is working hard this winter preparing for the season and they feel he could win 17 to 20 games in 2010.
Hendry again pointed out they just need to add a couple of players to round out the roster.
Derrek Lee and Ted Lilly are entering the final year of their contracts. Hendry was asked about possible extensions for both players. Hendry said they have never had problems re-signing their own guys. Hendry pointed out Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano all re-signed … and why not. Chicago is a great city. Players like playing for the Cubs. As Hendry said, the Cubs are no longer the “Lovable Losers“.
Ted Lilly just has to get back out on the mound, win games and everything else will take care of itself. Hendry described Lilly as a true professional and competitor.
Hendry explained that the Cubs have not let any player leave that they wanted to keep.
The Cubs are comfortable going into camp with the pitchers they have competing for the fifth spot in the rotation. Hendry said that Larry Rothschild was pleased with the progress Jeff Samardzija made in Mexico during Winter Ball. Sean Marshall is valuable to the team as a swingman and will get a shot. Hendry pointed out they really liked the way Tom Gorzelanny pitched after he came over from the Pirates last year. He also brought up Mike Parisi, the pitcher they took in the Rule 5 Draft from the Cardinals. Mark Riggins (the Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator) recommended Parisi from his time in the Cardinals’ organization.
Larry Rothschild will get to work with Carlos Silva next week. Rothschild thinks he’s already found things to fix with Silva. Silva will attend the Cubs Convention and will review tape with Rothschild at that time.
Jim Hendry would not rule out adding a starting pitcher to the mix … if something was to come his way in the next few weeks.
Jody McDonald asked Hendry to prioritize the moves he would like to make. Hendry said he would like to over-load the pen, in a good way with a Rob Dibble-type pitcher for the eighth inning. Hendry indicated they are looking for a veteran arm to add to Carlos Marmol, John Grabow and Angel Guzman.
The Cubs like Jeff Gray and Esmailin Caridad as well for spots in the pen.
Hendry reiterated he would like to add a veteran presence on the bench that can play the corner outfield spots … and possibly against lefties to spell Kosuke Fukudome in right field.
The Cubs’ GM did not mention a desire to add a second baseman before the season … a position both Dibble and McDonald think the Cubs need to address.
Jim Hendry sounded very upbeat throughout the interview …
Gary Hughes on XM Radio
Special Assistant to Jim Hendry and “Super Scout” Gary Hughes spent a little time with Scott Graham and Buck Martinez during Baseball This Morning on Thursday.
Gary Hughes discussed Andre Dawson’s election to the Hall for a majority of the interview.
Buck Martinez pointed out that Hughes has made a career at evaluating talent. Hughes was named Scout of the Year during the Winter Meeting in Indianapolis. The two discussed the “wow factor” and how difficult it is to find nowadays.
Martinez asked about the addition of Marlon Byrd. Hughes explained how excited the Cubs are to have him. Hughes added it looks like it’s “happening” for Byrd right now. The addition of Byrd allows the Cubs to move Kosuke Fukudome to right field, which will make them a much better defensive team.
Hughes said Byrd is a great guy in the clubhouse and will be stepping in for a guy that did not work out.
Tom Ricketts is doing wonderful things with benefits and compensation for the organization according to Gary Hughes.
Hughes indicated Tom Ricketts was very involved in moving Milton Bradley to Seattle for Carlos Silva and adding Marlon Byrd. Hughes said, “Tom went out of his way to make those moves happen.” He added, “Tom has been outstanding.”
Well, that’s the latest … and I am sticking to it!
With all of the changes in the Cubs’ organization in recent months, to say next week’s Cubs Convention will be interesting would be an understatement … especially the “Meet the Management” session.
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