Archive | Jim Hendry

Von Joshua Back to Triple-A Iowa after Failure at Major League Level

Posted on 09 October 2009 by Lou

Braves Cubs Baseball

It’s hard to put all the blame on Von Joshua (or Gerald Perry before him for that matter), but Manager Lou Pinella has decided to go in a different direction for his hitting coach in 2010.  Although Pinella emphasized that Joshua did nothing wrong, because the Cubs offense did not rebound after struggling under Gerald Perry through the middle of June, Pinella thought it would be best to try something different.  GM Jim Hendry had this to say as well: “There’s not blame to be handed out.  We had a lot of guys who didn’t swing the bats like they’re capable of.  When Von came up, we were scuffling, and we never really made a lot of progress in the same areas that we were deficient in the first half.”

After leading the National League with 855 run scored in 2008, the Cubs manages to score just 707 runs in a frustrating 2009 (9th worst in the majors).  The Cubs .255 team batting average ranked 5th worst in all of baseball and the team never seemed to be able to come through with the clutch hit with 2 outs or with runners in scoring position.  Several Cubs hitters underperformed – Milton Bradley hit only .257 after hitting .321 for the Rangers in 2008; Geovany Soto .218 vs. .285 in 2008; Alfonso Soriano .241 vs. .280 in 2008; and Mike Fontenot .236 vs. .305 in 2008.  Basically, save for Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez (who missed 2+ months of the season), the Cubs offense was in complete shambles for a good portion of the year.

Let’s hope the Cubs bring in a hitting coach who can simply relate to the players.  And let’s hope the Cubs get a few more clutch hits in 2010…

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Derrek Lee National League Player of the Month

Posted on 08 October 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

One of the few lone bright spots for the 2009 Chicago Cubs was the play of Derrek Lee.  Lee was named the NL Player of the month for September.  In the final month of the season, Lee led all major league players with a whopping .386 batting average.  He also had a phenomenal .500 on-base percentage with 9 HR’s and 23 RBI’s.  Lee was last named NL Player of the Month back in April 2005.

After a slow start (Lee was hitting below .200 as late as May 16th), Lee really turned it around during the last 4 months of the season.  Lee finished the season with a solid .306 batting average that led the team.  He also led the team with 35 HR’s, 91 runs scored and 111 RBI’s, and his .393 on-base percentage was the 3rd highest in his 12-year MLB career.  At the age of 34, it’s unclear how many more years he has left in the tank, but it is a great sign that he really turned it around in 2009.  With a healthy Lee and Aramis Ramirez in the middle of the lineup in 2010, you’d expect the Cubs to make some noise in the NL Central once again during the 2010 MLB schedule.  GM Jim Hendry, Manager Lou Pinella and the Wrigley Field faithful will surely be excited to see a dynamic Lee/Ramirez combination in the middle of the lineup for the entire 2010 campaign…

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MLB Approves Sale of Chicago Cubs to Ricketts Family

Posted on 07 October 2009 by Lou

It’s official!  All 29 other MLB team owners unanimously approved the sale of the Chicago Cubs to the Ricketts family.  The deal is expected to be completed by the end of October 2009, and it is believed that the Ricketts family will assume control over the day-to-day operations of the Cubs prior to the free agency period that starts up within days after the end of the World Series Fall Classic.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig had this to say about the owners approval:  “We’re extremely pleased that the sale process is drawing to a close, and we are confident that the Ricketts family will be great owners and custodians of the Chicago Cubs.  All of us at Major League Baseball are grateful to the Tribune Company for their years of stewardship of this proud and historic franchise.”

That is good news that the Ricketts family should be in position to make decisions prior to the start of 2010 free agency, but because GM Jim Hendry has mortgaged the team so much of the last 2 years, the Cubs will not be a big player anyway.  Hopefully Ricketts and Hendry can get together to at least make a few minor moves that will bring quality players in at an affordable price for the 2010 season… Management needs to focus on players who tend to stay healthy during the course of the year, players that are good in the clubhouse and players that are fan-friendly to the faithful that trek to Wrigley Field in droves all season long…

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Randy Wells Shines, Ryan Dempster Stumbles @ Wrigley Field over the Weekend

Posted on 05 October 2009 by Lou

Diamondbacks Cubs Baseball

It was a tale of 2 final starts for Randy Wells and Ryan Dempster in the final 2 games for the Cubs over the weekend at Wrigley Field.

Wells picked up his 12th win of the season as he dominated the Arizona Diamondbacks over 7 innings of work.  Wells threw 107 pitches and struck out a career-high 10 batters.  He gave up just 3 hits and 1 walk during his outing.  Top top off the excellent showing from Wells, Esmailin Cardidad and Carlos Marmol continued their hot pitching with 2 perfect innings of work to preserve the 5-0 win for Wells.  We could be seeing a lot of Cardidad and Marmol in 2010 for the Cubs, as well as a lot of Wells.  Wells has been the Cubs most pleasant surprise of 2009.  He made 27 starts for the Cubs, an amazing number given the fact that he did not get his 1st start until May 8th.  He finished with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP, and he gave up just 56 ER in 165 1/3 innings pitched.  The 12 wins and 3.05 ERA were team highs.

Ryan Dempster did not fare so well in his final start of 2009.  Dempster was also going for his 12th win of the season, but he gave up 5 ER on 6 hits and 1 walk in just 5 innings of work (he did have 10 K’s). He was on a roll of late – going 2-0 while pitching at least 7 innings in each of his last 4 starts – but he didn’t have it on Sunday.  Overall, Dempster finished the season with a 3.65 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.  Dempster struck out 172 batters while walking only 65 in 200 innings pitched, but he was just too inconsistent all season long.  The strikeout and innings pitched numbers were team highs.

If Wells can repeat his 2009 performance in 2010, the Cubs will have a formidable starting rotation once again with Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Wells.  The Cubs finished with the 5th best team ERA in all of baseball in 2009.  GM Jim Hendry, Manager Lou Pinella, and pitching coach Larry Rothschild should feel good knowing that they will have 4 quality starters coming back in 2010 he pitched very well in 2009 despite being on an under-achieving team.

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Cubs Suspend Milton Bradley; GM Jim Hendry Should be Next to Go

Posted on 21 September 2009 by Lou

chicago cubs milton bradley jake fox 1

Wow – with the meaningless weekend series between the Cubs & Cardinals, at least Milton Bradley and Jim Hendry gave us some lively action to sink our teeth into.  The Cubs officially suspended Milton Bradley for the rest of the 2009 MLB schedule on Sunday for his adverse actions and statements made regarding the Cubs organization.  Yippee – it’s about time…

Here’s what GM Jim Hendry said to the media on Sunday:  “There have been a lot of issues that we’ve lived with during the year but the last few days became too much for me to tolerate, to be honest with you.  I’m not going to let our great fans become an excuse, I’m not going to tolerate not answering questions from the media respectfully.  Whether you feel like talking or not, it’s part of our jobs.  I’m not going to allow disrespect to other people in that locker room and uniformed personnel. The only real negativity here is his won production.”

Among many issues raised by Bradley all season long – racism, means fans, injury issues – it all came to a head when Manager Lou Pinella pulled Bradley during Wednesday night’s game against the Brewers during a double-switch.  I guess Bradley did not like being pulled by Pinella, so in Thursday’s series finale against the Brewers, Bradley pulled himself from the games with an apparent “knee injury” to “get back at” Pinella.  Can you say “baby”?!  Then Bradley refused to answer questions about the knee injury, he pulled himself from Friday night’s game in St. Louis right before the 1st pitch to put Pinella and the Cubs in another bad position, and finally proceeded to bad-mouth the Cubs organization and fans.  Here’s what he said:  “It’s just not a positive environment.  I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment.  There’s too many people everywhere in your face with a microphone asking the same questions repeatedly.  Everyone is just bashing you.  You go out there and play harder than anybody on the field and never get credit for it.  It’s just negativity.  And you understand why they haven’t won in 100 years here, because it’s negative.  It’s what it is.”

The Bradley signing was a bad move in November, it was a bad move during spring training, it was a bad move when he injured himself during the first few weeks of the season, and it was a bad move all season long.  And it’s taken the man in charge of player personnel 10 months to realize that.  Let’s look at the numbers:

In 393 at-bats in 124 games, Bradley hit .257 with a .378 on-base percentage.  Bradley hit 12 HR’s and 17 doubles and drove in 40 runs while scoring 61 runs.  He had 66 walks and 95 strikeouts.  Now without comparing him to every single player on the Cubs, let’s simply compare him to Jake Fox – a young player who helped the Cubs in numerous positions and is the consummate team player.  In just 189 at-bats in 74 games, Fox hit .286 with a .335 on-base percentage.  Fox hit 11 HR’s and 14 doubles and drove in 42 runs while scoring 26 runs.  Fox also makes a LOT less than the $10 million Bradley is set to make under his 3-year deal with the Cubs.  In half the number of at-bats, Fox had more RBI’s and 1 less HR than Bradley.  How can this be?

Throw in the horrendous fielding in right field, the numerous dropped/misplayed balls, and the fact that Bradley is not a “good” clubhouse guy, this was a disaster waiting to happen.  Most people saw this, and the man in charge of player personnel decisions should have seen this day coming too.  It’s time for Hendry to get the boot too.

Three years ago, I thought Hendry did a great job re-inventing the Cubs model after reliance on injury-prone pitchers (Kerry Wood, Mark Prior) came back to haunt the Cubs year-after-year.  Hendry signed middle-of-the-road pitchers Jason Marquis and Ted Lilly because he knew they were innings-eaters who would make 25-30 starts a season.  He added Mark DeRosa – a solid ballplayer who was a great clubhouse guy who would produce day-in-and-day-out.

But after these “conservative” moves, Hendry started making some questionable moves that undermined his new game plan.  The Alfonso Soriano signing was exciting, but why the 8 years for a player that would be over 30 years at the start of his 1st season with the Cubs?  Soriano’s 2009 numbers – 477 at-bats, .241 batting average, .303 on-base percentage, 20 HR’s, 55 RBI’s, 64 runs & 118 K’s. Why 4 years (and close to $50 million) on an unproven major league player from Japan – Kosuke Fukodome – who would be handed the everyday right field job? Fukodome’s 2009 numbers – - 462 at-bats, .253 batting average, .371 on-base percentage, 11 HR’s, 52 RBI’s, 71 runs & 103 K’s (these numbers are nearly identical to his 2008 numbers whcih were considered a huge disappointment).  And most recently, why 3 years and $30 on Milton Bradley?

Coupled with those moves, Hendry had to unload the likes of Mark DeRosa and Marquis who once again had productive years in 2009 without causing any issues in their respective clubhouses.  DeRosa has a combined 21 HR’s, 72 RBI’s and 74 runs scored while playing for the Indians and Cardinals in 479 at-bats.  Marquis is 15-11 in 30 starts pitching half his time for the Rockies in Coors Field in Denver.  Marquis has a 3.84 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP and will likely be pitching in the post-season for the 6th straight year.

Hendry has mortgaged the outfield with the signings of Soriano, Fukudome and Bradley for the next few years.  The Cubs will have little room for the free agent market during the off-season following the horrible 2009 MLB campaign.  And we haven’t even mentioned the signing of Carlos Zambrano to an extension during the 2008 MLB season – and now we’re hearing rumblings that the Cubs will try to move Zambrano in the off-season to dump salary.  Does this guy even have a clue or a plan?  How do you sign a player to a 4-year extension because he is so important to your team, and then – less than 1 year later – decide that you can’t have this guy on your ballclub anymore?  It just doesn’t make sense to me and it is a downward trend that is becoming more and more evident with Hendry if you truly analayze the moves he has made the last 2-3 years.  I hope the Ricketts family takes a very close look at Hendry and makes an informed decision on whether or not he is the man to lead this the organization to a World Series.  There was a time where I thought he had what it took to do the job, but right now, I firmly believe that Hendry must go too…

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Cubs Clubhouse in Disarray – What is Going on on the North Side?

Posted on 19 September 2009 by Lou

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Gotta love this.  Not only has this been a disappointing season for the Chicago Cubs, now things are getting bizarre in the clubhouse.  This piece by Chicago Tribune Cubs beat reporter is “enlightening”.  I know I’ve been ready for this damn season to end for a while, and now it looks like the players and coaches are too.  This latest clubhouse twilight zone is a good indication that Manager Lou Pinella has lost control of this team.  Is it too late to re-group for 2010?  Will Lou be back in 2010?  Who will GM Jim Hendry trade in the off-season – Carlos Zambrano, Milton Bradley, Kevin Gregg?

It should be fun watching this mess unfold in the off-season.  Can’t wait to hear all the gossip leaked out after all the players go back to their respective homes for the winter…

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Rich Harden Showing Why Cubs Should NOT Re-sign Him to Long-term Deal

Posted on 17 September 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

Rich Harden is a streaky pitcher, and right now, he is in one of those streaks where it is clear to me that the Cubs should not re-sign him in the off-season.  In Wednesday night’s loss, Harden needed 72 pitches to labor through 3 innings.  Harden gave up 5 runs (only 2 earned), but he suffered his 9th loss of the season.  5 hits and 3 walks in just 3 innings is never a good line, and he works way too many counts way to deep in order to be an effective pitcher over the course of a long MLB season.

In addition to this poor line, check out his last 3 starts:

Cubs 6-4 win over Reds on 9/11 – 4 innings, 1 ER, but 2 hits and 5 walks with 6 strikeouts – 104 pitches.

Cubs 5-3 win over Mets on 9/5 – 5 innings, 1 ER, but 7 hits and 1 walk with 10 strikeouts – 102 pitches.

Cubs 5-3 loss to Astros on 8/31 – 5 innings, 5 ER, but 5 hits and 6 walks with 9 strikeouts – 98 pitches.

While his strikeout numbers are impressive – 171 K’s in 141 innings – his 67 walks and high 1.34 WHIP really don’t help him or the team in the long run.  With those numbers comes high pitch counts.  And with high pitch counts comes short outings.  This usually means a tired bullpen and more late innings losses throughout the season because the bullpen gets over-worked too early and too often in the season.

Not having to re-sign Harden to a long-term deal should free up the $8-9 million that the Cubs paid to him in 2009.  That money could be used to find another more “productive” back-end starter or for a full-time starting 2nd baseman since the Mike Fontenot/Aaron Miles experiment failed miserably. Let’s just hope GM Jim Hendry hears what we’re talking about.

Couple of bright spots in last night’s loss:  Aramis Ramirez hit his 13th HR of the season; Geovany Soto had 2 more hits; and Ryan Theriot had 3 hits and a walks in 5 at-bats.  Not great, but not all that bad either…

Randy Wells looks to pick up win #11 in the series finale against the Brewers at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon.  His ERA is still under 3 (@ 2.96), so he looks to keep that number low as well.

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Sorry-ano End to Alfonso Soriano’s Sorry 2009 Season

Posted on 16 September 2009 by Lou

Mets Cubs Baseball

Talk about your bad free agent signings.  Cubs GM Jim Hendry might be at the top of the list.  Back during the 2006-7 MLB off-season, there was probably a reason (in fact, numerous reasons) that no other MLB GM offered a big blockbuster contract to Alfonso Soriano.  Too bad Hendry didn’t see the signs.  The 8-year, $136 million contract that Soriano signed with the Cubs before the start of the 2007 MLB season could go down as one of the worst free agent signings ever.

Now granted, the Cubs did win back-to-back NL Central division titles in 2007 and 2008 (for the 1st time in over 60 years), but it wasn’t all because of Soriano.  In fact some might argue that the Cubs did it in spite of Soriano being on the team.  Soriano has spent time on the DL in each of his 3 seasons with the Cubs.  His numbers have also declined in each year.  Soriano just underwent season-ending knee surgery to repair

Let’s look at the stats:

In 2007, Soriano had 579 at-bats in 135 games.  A .299 batting average, .337 on-base percentage, 33 HR’s (his 2nd lowest total in 6 years), 70 RBI’s (his lowest total in 6 years), 97 runs scored and 130 K’s.

In 2008, Soriano had 453 at-bats in 109 games.  A .280 batting average, .344 on-base percentage, 29 HR’s (his lowest total in 7 years), 75 RBI’s (his 2nd lowest total in 7 years), 76 runs scored and 103 K’s.

In 2009, Soriano had 477 at-bats in 117 games.  A .241 batting average (his lowest batting average in 9 years), .303 on-base percentage (his lowest on-base percentage in 9 years), 20 HR’s (his lowest total in 8 years), 55 RBI’s (his lowest total in 8 years), 64 runs scored (his lowest total in 9 years) and 118 K’s.

Do we see a trend here?

I really don’t need to go on.  The arthroscopic knee surgery supposedly was successful, and Soriano should be fully healthy by spring (he will rehab with the Cubs during the final 3 weeks of the season and then again at home in the Dominican Republic).  But until he actually shows some consistency in 2010, I’ll expect the same over-paid, under-producing outfielder that I’ve grown accustomed to the last 3 years in left field at Wrigley Field.  April 2010 can’t come soon enough…

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Harden, Heilman Remain Cubs; Harden Lacks Focus in Monday Night Start

Posted on 01 September 2009 by Lou

Astros Cubs Baseball

The Cubs decided to keep Rich Harden and Aaron Heilman because they “we still feel we have a chance in the Wild Card race, and we’re going to go after it” according to Manager Lou Pinella. Yeah right!  Gotta love the optimism, but it is way to late for pep talks right now, Lou.

GM Jim Hendry echoed Pinella’s sentiments when asked about Harden and Heilman potentially being moved in a trade: “I can honestly tell you we never gave it any substantive thought to deal the two.  We certainly would never give up unless we were out of it.  If we were 15 back, we might look at it differently…We’ve got a shot at the postseason, but we need to really play well the rest of the way.  So far we haven’t shown the ability to maintain it for a long time, and we need to do that.”  Makes you want to go out and catch the next Cubs game at Wrigley Field – doesn’t it?!

Unbelievable.   Hendry hasn’t given Pinella the right roster to win games on a consistent level at all this season.  And now we’re expected to think that the Cubs are going to flip a switch and go -0 during the month of September.  What a joke.

Harden did pitch against the Astros on Monday night at Wrigley Field… it wasn’t pretty.  98 pitches, 5 innings, 5 ER, 5 hits and 6 walks.  He did strike out 9, however, so that was a plus.  The bullpen shined again though, so at least we can take solace in that.  Aaron Heilman pitched 2 scoreless innings, although he did give up 2 hits and a walk.  Kevin Gregg pitched a scoreless 8th inning with 2 K’s.  John Grabow pitched a perfect 9th inning with 2 K’s.  Grabow looks like a keeper – someone the Cubs will have to pay in free agency to keep.  In 15 Cubs appearances, Grabow has not allowed a single run and opponents are batting just .081 against him.  He has a miniscule .089 WHIP.

Ryan Theriot broke out of a mini-slump, going 2 for 4 with 1 RBI.  Jeff Baker also had 2 hits and a run scored in defeat.  Baker has also played well since being acquired by the Cubs – .316 batting average, .374 on-base percentage, 12 RBI’s and 15 runs scored in just 98 at-bats.  Not bad.  Well’ keep a close watch on some of these players that are playing well – they could see significant game action in 2010 with the Cubs unlikely to make many big moves in the off-season with the new ownership in flux.

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Rich Harden, Aaron Heilman Claimed Off Waivers, Cubs Fall to Nats 5-4

Posted on 28 August 2009 by Lou

The good news – Rich Harden and Aaron Heilman were claimed off of waivers this week.  Why is that good?  Well, as I discussed in my post yesterday, Harden has had a great 2nd half of 2009.  Give certain factors (limited payroll flexibility, new ownership team, Harden’s injury risk), the Cubs are unlikely to sign Harden in free agency to a long-term lucrative deal, especially since other teams will likely pursue Harden with a big deal that the Cubs won’t be able to match.  Now that Harden has been claimed off of waivers, the Cubs have 72 hours to negotiate a trade with that team, pull Harden back or release him.  Seeing that the Cubs weren’t going to get anything for him anyway if he signed with another team in the off-season, it would be great if the Cubs could trade him to acquire a young prospect now.  This late in the season, it’s unclear how much a team might be willing to give up for Harden, but if they can get something for him, that would be great.  We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything.

As for Heilman, who really cares.  Nice guy, bad performance in 2009 with a 2-3 record and a hefty 4.55 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 57 appearances.

The bad news – in Thursday’s game, the Nats defeated the Cubs 5-4 and took the series from the Cubs 2 games to 1.  Heading into the series, the Nats were the worst team in baseball, winners of just 44 games and only 17 games on the road.  Figures they would take 2 of 3 games from the Cubs at Wrigley Field and destroy all hopes of a 3rd straight playoff appearance for the north siders.  Randy Wells had an uncharacteristic off day – giving up 5 ER on 5 hits and 4 walks in only 6 1/3 innings.  Wells suffered his 7th loss of the season and his WHIP rose to 1.22 and his ERA rose to 3.06.  Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez were the only 2 good hitters for the Cubs in the loss.  Lee went 2 for 2 with a home run and 2 runs scored.  Ramirez went 3 for 4 with a 2-run home run and 3 RBI’s.

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