Friday – Sports Central Live with Dave Kaplan
The Cubs Convention got underway on Friday and will be covered throughout the weekend and into Monday on the radio. WGN Radio has plenty of coverage scheduled and XM Radio is there and will run its coverage on Monday. Here is the first recap of the Cubs Convention via the radio….
Dave Kaplan from WGN 720 did his Sports Central Live show from the Cubs Convention. He had 4 segments in his 2 hour broadcast. Michael Barrett, Scott Eyre, Mark Prior and Ryan Dempster were from 7:00pm – 7:30pm. Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker were from 7:30pm – 8:00pm. Pat Hughes, Ron Santo and Glenn Beckert were from 8:00 – 8:30pm and Derrek Lee and Juan Pierre were from 8:30pm – 9:00pm. Barrett, Eyre, Prior and Dempster was a lot of joking back and forth. Barrett even commented on the play he made last year in Philadelphia that cost the Cubs the game. Scott Eyre mentioned he takes pride with leaving men on base. Dave Kaplan asked them about the bad fundamentals the Cubs had last season. Barrett said the Cubs needed a lead off hitter. He said the truth is that Corey Patterson is not a lead off hitter and that was the position the Cubs needed him to play. He said Patterson is a run producer and the Cubs need a guy with a high OBP. Barrett said he feels the Cubs now have that with Juan Pierre. He said the lead off hitter sets the tone for the entire team, he then mentioned the White Sox and got booed. These guys were just having fun.
Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker’s segment had a more serious tone. Hendry stated that no one was pleased with last year and he does not ever want to see that again. Hendry went on to say he feels he has fixed the bullpen and loves the additions of Juan Pierre, Jacque Jones and John Mabry. Dusty was very quick to say he is very excited about the new season and when asked about last year’s lack of fundamentals, Baker stated he assumed that the players knew what they were doing and then made the assume joke.
When asked about Mark Prior, Hendry stated that Prior was never going to be traded for Miguel Tejada. Hendry said his job is to explore every possible avenue and he did explore trading for Tejada. Hendry stated he never shopped Mark Prior. He went onto say the Orioles did ask about Prior but there were never any deals in place. Dusty confirmed Hendry’s statement and mentioned the same about the Orioles asking for Prior and reiterated the Cubs never offered Prior as a part of a trade.
Hendry said even if the Cubs would have ended up with Rafael Furcal, they would have still gone after Juan Pierre. Hendry said the Cubs offered $9.5 million a year for 5 years to Furcal and the Dodgers came in with $13 million. Hendry stated that the $13 million dollars per year has blown the industry away and that is too much to pay for a lead off hitter.
Dusty was asked about Juan Pierre and Dusty said the only knock he has heard was the fact Pierre works to hard and you have to stop him from working. Dusty said Pierre causes problems for the other team. When asked about the ‘log jam at second base’, Dusty mentioned Todd Walker would be his starter if the season started today. He then stated the season does not start for another 10 weeks. Dusty said he thinks Matt Murton will be an outstanding player and the team calls Murton, ‘Lucky’ Dusty stated Murton can hit and works his ‘butt off’. Dusty said he has never had a problem with playing ‘young guys’ and that is a misconception. According to Dusty, Ronny Cedeno and Matt Murton are ready to play.
Hendry mentioned the Cubs are going to Spring Training with 8 starters: Maddux, Zambrano, Prior, Jerome Williams, Rusch, Angel Guzman, Rich Hill and Kerry Wood. When asked about the rumors of Barry Zito pitching for the Cubs, Hendry stated he is always looking to improve the team and if someone wants to work a trade he will listen. He mentioned that Dusty suffered from having a bad bench and with all of the injuries the Cubs had to carry 12 pitchers, which left Dusty with a short bench. Hendry mentioned John Mabry will help the bench and can fill a lot of holes. Mabry is a veteran player that can come off of the bench and will help win games late.
I could listen to Pat Hughes, Ron Santo and Glen Beckert all night long. Those guys just sounded like they were having so much fun. Santo is the greatest. Ernie Banks was scheduled to be on the show, but ‘he was busy celebrating his 75th Birthday’. Glenn Beckert brought up the fact it is 10 times harder being a Cubs fan than being a Cubs player. Santo was asked about his thoughts of the 2005 Season. Santo said it was the worst year he had ever experienced with a team’s lack of fundamentals. He went onto say to win the World Series a team must have outstanding, healthy pitching and good defense. Not a bunch of home run hitters like he used to think. Santo said he feels Hendry is not done improving the team yet and Cubs fans will see good fundamentals in 2006. Santo stated the Cubs are going after another starting pitcher. Kaplan asked, ‘Does the name start with a Z?’ and Santo replied. ‘I hope so.’
The show ended with Derrek Lee and Juan Pierre. I think this is the first time I have ever heard Pierre talk. He and DLee were great and this segment got me fired up for the upcoming season. Lee started by saying this has been a long off-season and Kaplan went straight into the Marlins fire sale with Pierre. Pierre said he wants to be in Chicago and Cubs fans are great. Pierre mentioned that the Cubs Convention ‘blows my mind’. Pierre was a joy to listen to, he sounded like a fan and not a player. He even commented about the fact he had just gotten off of the phone with his parents and told them about shaking Ryne Sandberg and Ron Santo’s hand….I really like this guy.
Pierre’s enthusiasm for the game was VERY evident throughout. Kaplan brought up 2003 and asked if this year could be the Cubs turn. Lee responded with a ‘why not’ and said he is very excited about having Juan Pierre and he is the reason the Marlins won the championship in 2003. Pierre went on to say that his job is to get on base and the fans will get to use to him not having a ‘pretty game’. Pierre said last year he did not like the fact his OBP was low and is looking forward to improving it.
Kaplan asked Lee about last season and the start he had. Lee stated he found a groove coming out of Spring Training and is going to take the same approach this year. He said he never thinks about his personal stats and Pierre stated last year was just the start for DLee. Kaplan asked Lee about his contract status and Lee said he wants to be in Chicago and wants to get the contract thing over with.
Kaplan mentioned a quote from Bob Costas, “Aside from the Olympic Hockey team, the Cubs winning the World Series would be the biggest story in 50 years.”
Listening to these interviews was just the way to start my weekend.
Don’t forget to check back throughout the weekend for updates from the Cubs Convention.
Well, that was the radio report….and Go Cubs Go!!!