On the Air: Jim Hendry

After meeting with the media on Tuesday, Jim Hendry spent time at the end of the week on the radio. Thursday it was Waddle and Silvy (ESPN 1000), Friday morning Mully and Hanley (The Score) and Friday night, Hendry finished up with Sports Central (WGN Radio).

The three interviews on Hendry’s radio tour were very similar but each time Hendry dropped a couple of interesting tidbits. For instance, Hendry told Waddle and Silvy, “We are not going to sign anymore position guys.” On The Score, Hendry said the Cubs targeted Jermaine Dye and Xavier Nady and mentioned there were three and four-team deals on the table that included Milton Bradley.

After Dave Kaplan pushed for an answer as to which player they need most to rebound this season, Hendry named Carlos Zambrano.

Waddle and Silvy

The first stop on the Jim Hendry radio tour was on Thursday with Waddle and Silvy (ESPN 1000). Hendry began the interview with a discussion on clubhouse chemistry and Milton Bradley.

Hendry said until Milton Bradley, the Cubs had clubhouse chemistry.

From the Daily Herald:

“Honestly, until obviously, Milton, we’d always had that. So it wasn’t like it was a u-turn of philosophy. We had a great bunch of guys here for a long time, and we still do. Obviously, I made the mistake of trying to fit in the perfect type offensive player, and obviously, when that didn’t work, the other issues came out. Fortunately, we put it behind us. It wasn’t a conscious effort of doing anything entirely different. It was just like back to the norm, to be honest with you. The team that won 97 two years ago and the team that came back in Lou’s first year and won the division were filled with not only good players, but quality people. That’s the way we’ve always done things.”

“Offensively, he was the right guy. It wasn’t like we didn’t do our homework. I’m still convinced to this day if he’d have hit like he normally did the first couple of months, probably a lot of the issues wouldn’t have come out. He was probably our best player in spring training. I remember having some chats with Derrek Lee and Aramis during camp, and they were thrilled to have him. He (Milton) got out of the gate so poorly and just didn’t handle that lack of success well.”

Hendry hopes the Cubs can win the Series in 2010. He feels like this year’s club is better than last year’s team. They need three or four players to get back on track and Hendry feels Rudy Jaramillo will help … especially with Alfonso Soriano.

The Cubs like all of the young players on their roster, but according to Hendry, a team needs veterans in the pen and on the bench.

Hendry pointed out they would like to add a veteran to the backend of the pen (not a ninth inning guy) … either before or during camp. The Cubs have 12 or 13 full-time scouts that will be in Florida and Arizona looking at players during Spring Training. They would really like to add another veteran presence to go along with John Grabow.

Hendry was asked about Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye. After he said he was not going to discuss players he said, “We are not going to sign anymore position guys.” He admitted they talked to Jermaine Dye and with Xavier Nady before the Winter Meetings … they thought Nady would be out of their price range.

Hendry said they targeted Jermaine Dye and Xavier Nady. Dye wanted more playing time and more of a financial commitment.

When asked about the backend of the rotation, Hendry pointed out they have “good, young pitchers coming.” Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall will have a shot at making the rotation.

Hendry admitted that Alfonso Soriano is a “streaky guy.” He explained to a man Soriano’s teammates think he is a good guy. Hendry feels getting back together with Rudy Jaramillo will help. The Cubs know he is not going to hit .330 with a high on-base percentage but if he could hit .270 to .275 with 30 home runs they would be satisfied.

Hendry pointed to Soriano’s two significant leg injuries since he’s been with the Cubs as the reason for his lack of productivity.

The Score

Jim Hendry spent a little time on The Score Friday morning … and discussed a variety of topics with Mully and Hanley. The Cubs’ GM is excited to get the season started. After two good years the Cubs ran into a hiccup last season. Hendry said he picked up from the players at the convention that are looking forward to atoning for last season.

Hendry is not sure if Rudy Jaramillo was the Cubs’ biggest acquisition of the off-season but stated that Jaramillo was definitely an important addition … that could make a difference over time. Hendry explained the Cubs had a lot of good hitters that had down years in 2009. He admitted that his roster has some “aging veterans” on the “downside of their career” but he feels those players still have good years ahead of them.

The Ricketts family has been really good to work with since taking over in October. Hendry said they really care about the team, the city and the fan base. They are going to continue to work on the park as well as the area around Wrigley. Hendry pointed out the Ricketts family wants to win. He likes the Cubs are family owned again … and used the O’Malley family (former owners of the Dodgers) as an example of how family ownership can have a positive impact on an organization.

Even with the new owners possibly being more financially responsible than the Tribune Company, Hendry feels he has the resources he needs to build a winner. Hendry brought up the big contracts the team took on after the ’06 season. He said the large contracts paid off with back-to-back division titles. Hendry mentioned a couple of the large contracts run out at the end of the upcoming season.

Jim Hendry said he feels the Ricketts family will allow him to add on if they are in the race.

Ted Lilly did not have significant damage in his shoulder … there was no damage to the labrum or rotator cuff. Hendry does not know where the reported timeframe came from on Lilly’s return. He explained Lilly could be delayed a couple of weeks at the beginning of the year … but no one knows for sure at this point.

While Jeff Samardzija, Tom Gorzelanny, Sean Marshall and Carlos Silva will compete for a spot in the rotation, the Cubs will not need a fifth starter early in April.

The Cubs have not been to an arbitration hearing under Jim Hendry (either as the team’s GM or while he was the Assistant General Manager, 36 in a row by his count) … but could be looking at going into the room for the first time since 1993 with Ryan Theriot.

Hendry said there might be an avenue to get something done with Theriot before the hearing. Hendry explained that arbitration is a process … and the Cubs have done a good job over the years at avoiding the process. If it happens, the Cubs do not expect Theriot to play any differently. Hendry said, “Ryan is a good kid.”

Milton Bradley was the next topic discussed (on a side note, when is the mainstream media going to realize Bradley is no longer a Chicago Cub?). After taking responsibility (again) for signing him, Hendry explained how the trade went down with Seattle.

Jim Hendry said he spent a couple of months working on trading Bradley leading up to the Winter Meetings. There were a couple of three-team trades and even a four-team trade on the table with “players going everywhere.”

The Cubs liked Carlos Silva in his days with the Twins. Hendry described Silva as a good character guy and they feel a change of scenery could do him good. In the end, Silva gave the Cubs another arm and Hendry felt that was his best option … in a trade that included Milton Bradley.

The Cubs are comfortable with Carlos Marmol being their closer. Hendry said, “It is his time.” Marmol likes the action of closing games.

Lou Piniella has not lost his fire or desire to win according to Hendry. Piniella takes losing very hard. Hendry said nothing is more difficult than going into that little room (referring to the size of the Cubs’ press room) after a loss and having to answer all of the questions.

Hendry said, “Lou has plenty left in the tank. He has lost nothing, has a lot of passion and wants to win.”

Greg Maddux returning to the Cubs was Jim Hendry’s idea … and Ryne Sandberg being the manager of the Iowa Cubs was up to Hendry and Oneri Fleita. The Ricketts family had nothing to do with either Maddux or Sandberg.

Hendry pointed out his good relationship with Greg Maddux and admitted the Ricketts family supported the hiring … but left the decision up to him.

Add Mike Fontenot to the list of players the Cubs are expecting to get back on track. The Cubs were counting on Fontenot to play better than he did a year ago. Rudy Jaramillo should help him offensively. Hendry pointed out that Jaramillo should help several players get “back on track.”

According to Jim Hendry, there are already 40 players in camp. But the one with arguably the most interest is Starlin Castro. Hendry said he is an impressive kid and there is a fine line the Cubs have to take with his development. Castro will let the Cubs know when he is ready for the big leagues. Hendry pointed out it is hard to make a good analysis of a young player in Spring Training.

The Cubs have not put any expectations on him breaking camp with the Major League team.

Sports Central

Jim Hendry finished his radio tour with Dave Kaplan on Friday night. Hendry is leaving late Sunday afternoon for Mesa. He will meet with Lou Piniella and his coaching staff before pitchers and catchers report on Wednesday … then he will hit the field for the first workout on Thursday.

Pitchers and catchers report on February 17 … with the first workout on Thursday, February 18. Position players report on February 22 … the first full squad workout is on Tuesday, February 23.

Jim Hendry believes the Cubs have enough to win the World Series. Hendry responded, “absolutely” in response to Kaplan’s question. Hendry said he knows the Ricketts family will allow him to add to the payroll in July if they are in the race.

Hendry explained it is important to “get yourself into position to win” early in the season and then tinker with the roster … like the Cardinals did last season.

The Cubs did not have a lot of positions to fill in the off-season. Hendry discussed the additions of Marlon Byrd and Xavier Nady. Hendry also thinks Jeff Gray will be a factor in the pen … he pointed out they really like Gray’s power arm.

The return of Ted Lilly was next up on Kaplan’s list. Kaplan asked if Lilly would be back by May 1. Hendry quickly responded with “absolutely.” The Cubs are expecting Lilly to pitch at least 90% of the season.

Hendry discussed Ryan Theriot’s pending arbitration hearing. Hendry made the same points (as the two previous interviews) but stated at the end that there is “still a chance it could be worked out” before the hearing.

Dave Kaplan brought up Andrew Cashner’s name in the discussion about the Cubs’ pen. Hendry did not mention Cashner in the group of possibilities for the pen. Hendry said they feel good about Angel Guzman. Jeff Gray could lean into the late-inning role. They like Esmailin Caridad as well.

Hendry is not sure if John Gaub will break camp with the big league team but pointed out they feel really good about the southpaw. Justin Berg will be in the mix in the pen … as will Jeff Samardzija, Tom Gorzelanny, Carlos Silva and Sean Marshall.

Hendry is still trying to add a veteran right-hander to the pen, either before or during camp.

The Cubs would like to have a mix of homegrown players and quality veterans on their roster.

The future of Ted Lilly, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez with the Cubs is not something Hendry is worried about right now. He pointed out the Cubs have a new owner and he will have to sit down with Crane Kenney and Tom Ricketts to discuss those player’s futures. Hendry said they would handle each player on a case-by-case basis.

Dave Kaplan asked which player rebounding from last year was the most crucial to the success of this year’s team. Hendry said Carlos Zambrano. The Cubs feel if he remains healthy and everything falls into place Zambrano could win 17 to 20 games this season.

The Cubs up and coming minor league system was the next topic of discussion. Hendry admitted he did not believe in the number one ranking the Cubs’ system received several years ago. He thinks the system is much better now and believes it is in the top ten … thanks to the work done by Tim Wilken, Oneri Fleita and Jose Serra.

A couple of the drafts before Wilken really took a toll on the system according to Hendry. He admitted he is proud of how far the organization has come but pointed out that you can’t get too excited … because players still have to produce.

Hendry made the same points about Starlin Castro as he had in the previous interviews. They don’t want to hold Castro back … but with just two months in Double-A under his belt, he will have to let the Cubs know when he is ready.

Kaplan finished the interview by pointing out the positive influence Greg Maddux had been on Carlos Zambrano in the past … and said he feels Big Z will win 19 games this season.

Pitchers and catchers report on Wednesday.

Stay Tuned …

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Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt