Weekend Update … Hendry Talks Cubs

The third week in November was anything but boring for the Chicago Cubs. From roster moves, to Larry Rothschild, to minor league comings and goings, to the Wrigleyville Classic, to the hot stove heating up … it was a busy seven days on the North Side of Chicago.

The Cubs made another addition to their minor league system on Saturday. According to a tweet from Carrie Muskat, the Cubs re-signed Bryan LaHair to a minor league contract. No official word yet, but the deal figures to have an invitation to big league camp attached to it.

LaHair had a good year for Ryne Sandberg in 2010. LaHair hit .308/.385/.557/.942 in 125 games for the I-Cubs. LaHair smacked 30 doubles and 25 home runs.

Jim Hendry took a little time Saturday morning with Bruce Levine and Fred Huebner. Hendry discussed a variety of topics on Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000)… including building from within, the free agent market, Larry Rothschild, first base, Tyler Colvin and the payroll

Plus … according to Bruce Levine, the Cubs have had discussions with the Texas Rangers concerning Chris Davis.

Here’s the update …

Jim Hendry on Talkin’ Baseball
The Cubs GM joined Bruce Levine and Fred Huebner at the bottom of the second hour Saturday morning.

The interview started out with Jim Hendry discussing Larry Rothschild’s decision to leave the Cubs.

Hendry said it all came about rather quickly. Hendry praised Rothschild and mentioned the fact the two have known each other since 1995 when their time in the Marlins’ organization overlapped.

Larry told Hendry a couple years back that before his career was over he would like to return to the Florida area to be closer to his family. After the Yankees job became available, Rothschild approached Hendry following the organizational meetings to find out if Hendry would allow him to interview.

Hendry called Brian Cashman (Hendry called Cashman a good friend of his in the industry) about Rothschild and the Yankees GM was surprised that Rothschild would be available. Hendry explained that after a meeting with Rothschild, Cashman offered him the job and the Yankees are thrilled to have him.

As for filling the void at first base, Hendry said the Cubs are going to look at all possibilities. Hendry added if the best fit is adding a corner outfielder then Tyler Colvin could move to first base.

The Cubs want Colvin to be an everyday player.

Hendry explained the team will see how the market works it self out and go from there.

Hendry discussed the GM meetings and said they were busier than most years with the business side of the game. Most of the discussions between teams and agents took place after hours. He got a feel that there will be more teams trying to “mix and match”, referring to more trades than usual this off-season.

Hendry said the free agency market is the same this off-season as it always is … relievers signing early, etc. Hendry added that he does not feel teams will trade pitching without receiving pitching in return.

Bruce Levine told Hendry he was on the same plane with Crane Kenney coming back from Orlando. Levine asked Kenney about the Cubs payroll and Kenney told Bruce, the Cubs should have some money.

Hendry is sure he will be able to add a piece or two this winter. Hendry then added that he will discuss a trade or two with Randy Bush and Oneri Fleita.

The Cubs farm system is producing players and it is up to the Cubs to mix in the young players with the vets and fill holes as the big contracts start to come off the books. Hendry reiterated the need to add a couple of pieces and mentioned they could possibly use a young player or two in a trade.

Hendry talked about dealing young players for vets and pointed out the deal they made with the A’s for Rich Harden. Hendry said that deal has not hurt them yet, from a prospects standpoint, then emphatically stated how important it is to know the system inside and out so you don’t trade away good players.

The Cubs feel they picked up a tremendous prospect in Chris Archer as part of the Mark DeRosa deal … and used that as an example of why there were never plans to trade away Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner and Tyler Colvin.

Hendry spent a lot of time on the farm system and how it is all about getting young players to produce. The Giants are a good example, according to Hendry, of building and producing a good pitching staff through the minor league system.

As for the Cubs next pitching coach, it should not take more than a week or two (Hendry later said a week to 10 days) … either right after Thanksgiving or just before the Winter Meetings.

Greg Maddux was very impressed with the pitching coaches in the system and there are three or four internal candidates to replace Rothschild. Hendry and Randy Bush have been discussing the situation.

The feeling throughout baseball is that the Cubs have good pitching coaches in the system.

Jim Hendry sounded confident and up beat as he was traveling to Wrigley for the Northwestern – Illinois football game.

The Latest Rumors and News from Levine
Bruce Levine shared several tidbits during his two-hour show Saturday morning on ESPN 1000. Here are the highlights:

  • According to Levine, if Greg Maddux wanted to be the Cubs pitching coach, he would be the Cubs pitching coach. Levine thinks once Maddux’s 14-year old son leaves for college, Maddux will be back in the game … either on the field or in the front office with more of an everyday job. Maddux has learned a lot from both Hendry and Randy Bush.
  • Both the Cubs and the White Sox are looking for a left-handed run producer.
  • The White Sox are trying to find a way to sign Adam Dunn … the Sox, and not the Cubs, are going after the one-dimensional player. When the off-season started it appeared Dunn would sign with the Cubs, but not any longer. Hendry would have to trade Kosuke Fukudome quickly in order to free up money to sign Dunn.
  • The Cubs are interested in Chris Davis and have had conversations with the Rangers.
  • The Rangers have a duplication of players … and a lot of good players in their system. With the emergence of Mitch Moreland, the Rangers will likely trade Chris Davis.
  • Davis is an adequate first baseman with home run power but with a lot of strikeouts.
  • If the Cubs trade for Davis, he could end up their starting first baseman.
  • Levine thinks Tyler Colvin will get a lot of reps early in the spring at first base … but could end up giving flexibility to Mike Quade and not be the Cubs starting first baseman. If Colvin can field the position he would give Quade flexibility late in games.
  • Tyler Colvin was more hesitant at moving to first last year than the Cubs were trying him out there.
  • Javier Vazquez is on the Cubs radar … and could be a topic of conversation for the Cubs soon.
  • Levine was asked what the Cubs rotation will be next season behind Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster. Levine’s answer … Randy Wells, Tom Gorzelanny and Carlos Silva. Casey Coleman and Jeff Samardzija will be in the mix in the spring.
  • Levine is hearing Andrew Cashner will be moved back into the starting rotation … and Cashner told Levine he is fine with pitching out of the pen or as a starter.
  • Chris Archer will likely not begin the year with the Cubs but depending on what happens, Archer has a chance to be with the big league team by May or June. So, according to Levine the Cubs rotation, by May or June, could be Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Andrew Cashner, Casey Coleman and Chris Archer.

Pitching Coach Candidates
Mark Riggins, Mike Mason, Lester Strode and Dennis Lewellyn are the top candidates to replace Larry Rothschild … with Mark Riggins being the favorite to land the job.

According to Bruce Levine, all four candidates will receive an interview.

The CCO’s Top 15 Cubs Prospects
With the roster moves and “little” announcement that Larry Rothschild left the Cubs for the Yankees on Friday, the CCO’s list of the top 15 Cubs prospects got buried on the main page.

If you missed it, take a minute and read the excellent report put together by Grant and Aaron.

The CCO’s Top 15 Cubs Prospects

Shawon Dunston, Jr.
Shawon Dunston, Jr., son of the former Cubs’ shortstop, has signed on to play baseball at Vanderbilt University. Vanderbilt has one of the best baseball programs in the country and has turned out David Price, Pedro Alvarez and Mike Minor in recent years. Cubs’ prospect, Ryan Flaherty is a Vandy grad as well.

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Well, there’s the weekend update … and I’m sticking to it.

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney