Tag Archive | "Jim Hendry"

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Carlos Zambrano Bounces Back with Solid 4-Inning Outing

Posted on 16 March 2010 by Lou

Carlos Zambrano didn’t let a broken down bus slow him down in his 3rd spring start against the Rockies in windy Hi Corbett Field.  Zambrano scattered 5 hits over 4 innings, allowing just 1 earned run to score.  He didn’t strike out any batters, but he didn’t walk any either.  That is the key to an “in-control” Zambrano.

Zambrano has shown a lot of poise and maturity thus far this spring.  Despite giving up 5 runs in 3 innings in his previous start, he didn’t let him get him down.  Big Z seems to understand that this is just spring training and that there is plenty of time to work on certain pitches and situations in order to get ready for the regular season.  He had this to say about the start – “It’s just like Maddux used to say, it’s better to have movement than velocity.  Don’t get me wrong, velocity is good at this level.  When you locate your fastball, it’s good.  My sinker was good — great today.  I was able to command my pitches and get out of some situations.”  Zambrano didn’t lose focus after the broken down bus situation or the crazy wind patterns that seemed to change every minute during the game.  He kept his team in the game for the 1st 4 innings and he looks like he is ready to pitch more consistently for the Cubs in 2010.

Couple of other positive notes – Ryan Theriot had a single and a run scored at the lead-off spot and he is now hitting .550 during the spring.  Tyler Colvin also continued his hot hitting going 2 for 4 with an RBI.  He is hitting .517 this spring and his consistent performance is earning the praises of Manager Lou Pinella and GM Jim Hendry.  We might even see Colvin make the squad as the team’s 5th outfielder behind Xavier Nady when the Cubs open up at Wrigley Field in April.

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Silva Rebounds, Castro Continues Hot Hitting

Posted on 12 March 2010 by Lou

Carlos Silva pitched better in his 2nd spring outing – going 3 scoreless innings in the Cubs 8-7 win over the San Diego Padres.  But the bad news is that Silva still didn’t look all that sharp.  He gave up 4 hits and a walk in the 3 innings, but managed to work out of a few jams.  Silva showed up in camp out-of-shape according to our sources in Mesa.  This has to irk GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella who “suggested” to Silva back at the Cubs convention in January that he still needed to lose a few lbs.  If this guy wasn’t owed so much damn money ($26 million ($20 million that the Cubs have to fork over) over the next 2 years), he would be out on the street already.

Starlin Castro had a big day at the plate – going 2 for 3 with 2 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.  He hit his 1st home run of the spring and is now hitting .571 so far.  The Cubs have all but said that Castro will start the season in the minor leagues, but if he keeps raking like this, it’s going to be hard not to want to start him at the major league level with Ryan Theriot moving over to 2nd base.

Other good pitching news – Carlos Marmol and David Patton tossed scoreless innings in relief.  Jeff Stevens and Esmailin were not all that sharp because of shoddy defense behind them, but none of the 6 runs they let up were earned.  The Cubs are now 4-4 during the spring schedule.

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Milton Bradley Continues Feud with Chicago Cubs

Posted on 11 March 2010 by Lou

Milton Bradley really needs to let this go – Bradley continues to berate the Cubs and the city of Chicago in a recent interview with Colleen Dominguez of ESPN.  Bradley was a complete failure for the Cubs after signing a 3-year, $30 million deal.  Instead of being a steady run-producer that the Cubs expected he would be, he performed horribly at the plate and in the field, and became a cancer in the club house.  The Cubs finally had enough of Bradley’s antics towards the end of the season, enough so that GM Jim Hendry suspended Bradley on September 20, 2009 for the rest of the season.  Hendry invoked the suspension because of Bradley’s conduct that was deemed to be detrimental to the team.

Bradley was coming off a career year with the Texas Rangers – .321 batting average, .436 on-base percentage, 22 HR’s 77 RBI’s and 78 runs scored – when the Cubs lured him to the city of Chicago.  Right from the start, Bradley deflected questions about prior stories of his “bad attitude” problems and he often blamed other people for those outbursts and tirades.  Bradley started off the season hitting poorly and struggling with an injury and his overall offensive numbers were atrocious – 12 HR’s, 40 RBI’s, 61 runs scored and a .257 batting average in 393 at-bats.  Bradley never once took responsibility for his poor play.

After his indefinite suspension, the Cubs ultimately traded Bradley to the Seattle Mariners for Carlos Silva.  The Cubs put Bradley in their rearview mirror, but Bradley just couldn’t let it go at that.  In spring training this week, Bradley sat down with ESPN’s Colleen Dominguez and gave a scathing report on the Cubs organization and the city of Chicago as a whole.  Here are some pertinent quotes: “It was pretty bad.  I would have rather tore my knee up and gone through rehab all over again then have to deal with that… When you get paid a lot of money to play this game, they expect miracles.  And when you don’t go out there and perform like that, then people don’t like it.  People don’t want to see a guy that’s brash and cocky and a little arrogant and kind of does his own thing making a lot of money. They were like, ‘He doesn’t deserve that.’”

Bradley said race played a role.  He said he was often racially taunted when in the field and he implied that he received hate mail from within the Cubs organization – “I could see from the envelope.  I could just tell, you get an envelope, no address on it, no postmark. it’s just in your mail.  How does that get in your cubby hole? I don’t know how that happens.”  Bradley went on to express his fears for himself and his family: “I was worried about my family, about my kids.  The worst part of it all, the last straw is when I found out that my kid has been called a derogatory name at school… I was a prisoner in my own home.  I pretty much stayed at home, ordered in every day, never went anywhere.”

Bradley clearly has some issues.  The Mariners are his 8th team in 11 years.  There is a reason clubs decide to part ways with Bradley after only a short time on their squad.  We’ve also confirmed with the Cubs that fans/individuals can drop off mail to the players at Wrigley Field without any postage or return address on the mail.  Assuming the letter/package does not seem threatening, the Cubs do pass that mail onto the players.  So the fact that Bradley got letters without postage and without a return address is not all that uncommon.  And it doesn’t mean that it came from someone within the Cubs organization.  Hearing slurs at Wrigley Field is obviously inappropriate, but as an athlete, they have to accept that fans are going to do stupid things at the ballpark.  I’m sure Bradly has heard similar things in all 29 other major league cities in which he has played games.  It’s unfortunate that this occurs, but racism clearly does still exist in our country, and it doesn’t necessarily make that city “bad” as a whole.  It’s just a few “bad apples” that give the city a bad name.

The Cubs had been trying to stay clear of the Milton Bradley subject this spring, but his latest comments forced GM Jim Hendry’s hand.  He called Bradley’s assertions that the Cubs sent Bradley hate mail “absolutely ridiculous.”  He went on to say the following – “That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  I think it’s time maybe Milton looked at himself in the mirror.  It is what it is.  He didn’t swing the bat; he didn’t get the job done.  His production was the only negative, or lack of… We have a long hsitory of quality people who want to play here.  I don’t believe in the last seven or eight years, under this regime, we lost a free-agent player we wanted to keep.  And that still is the case.”  Hendry pointed out that Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez have both indicated that they want to end their careers here in Chicago.  The Cubs also signed 2 players this off-season – Marlon Byrd and Kevin Millar – who are represented by the Levinson brothers – Bradley’s agents.  Hendry made it clear if things were really as bad as Bradley said, it would be highly unlikely that the Levinson brothers would advocate their clients signing deals with the Cubs to play in the city of Chicago.

This is a complete waste of time.  I’m sick to my stomach writing this post – it’s probably the longest post I’ve written in about 6 months.  Hearing Bradley’s response to Hendry’s statement today just goes to show how lost Bradley is.  I can’t believe the guy even said this – wait, yes I can: “I have nothing bad to say about Jim Hendry.  He gave me $30 million.  God bless Jim Hendry and his family.”

Good riddance Milton.  We look forward to plenty of strikeouts from you in June when the Cubs visit the Mariners in Seattle.  Better keep a close eye at the plate -we wouldn’t want you to get hit…

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Shocker – Alfonso Soriano Still Dealing with Sore Knee; Hendry Must Go…

Posted on 22 February 2010 by Lou

Not sure why I’m even surprised by this, but it looks like Alfonso Soriano is still dealing with a sore knee that bothered him in 2009.  That nagging knee injury caused him to put forth one of the worst offensive years of his career – .241 batting average, .303 on-base percentage, 20 HR’s, 55 RBI’s and 64 runs.  What great production from the Cubs $18 million-dollar man.

Soriano still hasn’t run 100% on his surgically repaired knee and the left fielder has said that he is only running about 75-80% on the knee.  The Cubs opted to have Soriano hold back a little in the off-season so that he could fully test it with Cubs medical staff present during Spring Training in Mesa.  That means Soriano will need an uneventful spring in order to ensure that he is ready by opening day.  WOW!

Soriano had this to say about the situation – “I’m not running 100 percent.  That’s why I said I don’t feel 100 percent, because I’m not running 100 percent… We’ll see in one week when I test my knee running in the field.  My knee will tell me how I feel.”

Soriano also says that he is looking forward to working with Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo who mentored Soriano when he was with the Texas Rangers back in 2004.  Let’s hope the new role of being the Cubs 6th or 7th hitter will also help him relax a little more and allow him to drive in runs on a consistent basis.  “It’s a new year.  Whatever happened last year is past.  It’s 2010 now, and we have to concentrate on 2010 and see what 2010 will bring.”  It better be something better than a .303 on-base percentage and 55 RBI’s.  If Soriano doesn’t turn it around in a big way, that could lead to GM Jim Hendry’s ouster as he mortgaged the Cubs future with his Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome and Milton Bradley signings each of the last 3 seasons.  None of the 3 have produced the way Hendry and the Cubs thought they would, and Bradley isn’t even with the team anymore.  But because of the moves, the Ricketts Family has their hands tied because of the long-term nature of the deals.  The Cubs 2010 payroll is expected to top $140 million – the highest in franchise history.  If the Cubs aren’t winning in October, it’s clear that the team that Hendry has assembled isn’t up to par, and when that happens, someone needs to be held accountable.  It’s time for a change – just like the Cubs have new owners – now we need a new GM to run the team and bring a championship to the north side of Chicago!

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Cubs Win Arbitration Hearing with Ryan Theriot

Posted on 21 February 2010 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs “won” their arbitration case with Ryan Theriot, who will now make $2.6 million for the 2010 MLB schedule.  Sure $2.6 million is a lot of cash, but this is a travesty in my humble opinion.  As we argued before, GM Jim Hendry finds it so easy to shell out tons of money to over-rated, under-producing players like Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome and Milton Bradley, and then has the nerve to fight over $800,000 with hard-working, reliable, productive players like Ryan Theriot.  The Cubs are going to rely on Theriot to play the all-important shortstop position and to bat lead-off in 2010.  This wasn’t a negotiation for a long-term deal either – it was 1 baseball season.  For the Cubs to push Theriot so hard on his contract demands for 2010 (he sought $3.4 million is his 1st year of being arbitration-eligible) should leave a bad taste in his mouth.

Hendry defended his position: “We’ve always paid players what’s fair.  I think those of you who know us know we would’ve never been in Tampa unless I thought we’d reached the highest level of fairness… I’m not mad at Ryan for wanting to go to arbitration.  He has every right to put himself on the other side of the philosophical midpoint… He’s being compensated what I thought was a fair number to begin with.  He’ll be fine.”

Baseball teams won 5 out of 8 cases heard this year, so it looks like Theriot got stuck with the wrong year to have to plead his case.  Hendry has settled 36 arbitration cases in a row during his tenure as Cubs GM.

I sure hope this doesn’t affect Theriot’s play during the upcoming season.  The Cubs need Theriot to play at the highest level right from the get-go, so hopefully he can clear his mind in Mesa during Spring Training and be ready to tackle the big leagues at Wrigley Field come April…

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Cubs Headed to Arbitration Hearing with Ryan Theriot – More Hednry Shenanigans

Posted on 17 February 2010 by Lou

It looks like the Chicago Cubs and Ryan Theriot will go through with an arbitration hearing at some point this weekend.  GM Jim Hendry is headed to St. Petersburg, Florida where it is likely that the 2 sides will have to argue the arbitration case for Theriot’s 2010 salary.  It would be the 1st time that Hendry has had to go to arbitration with a player during his tenure as the Cubs GM.

This seems so ridiculous to me.  After all the millions of dollars that Hendry was willing to shell out to busts like Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome and Milton Bradley, why is he now fighting for a measly $800,000 (Theriot wants $3.4 million and the Cubs have offered $2.6 million)?  It doesn’t make any sense.  The guy plays every day, he hustles everyday and he is actually productive – one of the few position players that you can say that about.  This sends a really bad message from the Cubs and Hendry to other players.  I can’t believe someone hasn’t stepped in (Tom Ricketts are you there?) and told Hendry to pay Theriot (his shortstop and Manager Lou Pinella’s lead-off hitter) his money.

I really hope Theriot wins the arbitration case – he deserves it!  I can’t wait to hear Cubs fans cheer Theriot on Opening Day at Wrigley Field on April 12th against the Milwaukee Brewers…

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Cubs, Ryan Theriot Could Face Arbitration Hearing

Posted on 11 February 2010 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs and Ryan Theriot have yet to reach an agreement for the 2010 MLB baseball season.  Theriot asked for $3.4 million while the Cubs countered with a $2.6 million offer.  A hearing has not been scheduled yet, but statements that GM Jim Hendry made recently do not sound promising: “I haven’t spoken to his people for awhile.  There’s always a chance [for a settlement] until it’s final.  But I can’t say I’m optimistic, either.  We’re already settled with the other seven [arbitration-eligible players].  So if the situation ends up going to a hearing, then that’s OK, too…  Everybody has a right to [a hearing].  It won’t affect, obviously, the way we feel about him or the way he plays.”

The closest Hendry has come to going into a hearing with a player was with Carlos Zambrano back in the Spring of 2007.  Hendry and Big Z’s agent were literally walking into the hearing in Phoenix when the 2 decided that they were close enough to make a deal that both sides could be happy with.  Hendry has never actually had to go to a hearing in his tenure as Cubs GM.

I’m a little surprised that the 2 sides can’t work out a deal.  Theriot clearly has the upper hand – he plays everyday, his numbers are solid, he is a good clubhouse guy and the Cubs desperately need him to play shortstop and probably bat lead-off.  Sure his 2009 numbers were a little off from 2008, but he did reach career highs during the 2009 MLB schedule with 7 home runs, 54 RBI’s and 5 triples.  Theriot led the Cubs with 154 games played and 602 at-bats and he was also the only Cubs player with more than 20 stolen bases (21).  Theriot led the major leagues in 2009 with 139 singles.  There are only a few minor negatives – his walks went down in 2009 (from 73 to 51), while his strikeouts went up (58 to 93).  Both his batting average (.307 to .284) and on-base percentage (.387 to .343) also went down.  Now the Cubs struggled mightily offensively in 2009, so that could mean that Theriot was pressing a little more to try to make something happen for the team.  Maybe he swung at pitches he might not have swung at if the whole lineup was swinging a good bat.  So it’s hard to say why the numbers dipped a little bit.

That being said, given the precarious injury situation with Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez, the Geovany Soto question mark, and the 2nd basemen platoon of Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot, the Cubs really need some stability up the middle of the infield and at the top of the order.  Ryan Theriot provides both of those.  I find it hard to believe that the 2 sides won’t agree to a deal before a hearing, but if it does actually make it that far, I’d bet it all on Theriot to win…

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Spring Training Send Off – Chicago Style…

Posted on 10 February 2010 by Lou

It was a perfect way to hold the annual Spring Training send off for the Cubs – amidst a steady, all-day snowstorm outside the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.  The Cubs clubhouse staff, as well as Chicago area students from the Inter-American School, helped pack the trucks that would bring all of the Cubs equipment and jerseys to Mesa, Arizona for the Cubs 2010 Spring Training schedule.  Cubs GM Jim Hendry was on hand for the send off:  “I’m anxious to get there.  When you have a year that doesn’t end in post-season play, it just kind of lingers with you all offseason no matter what you do or how you think you might have fixed this or fixed that.  [That feeling] doesn’t leave you until you get down there and get outside and guys are on the field.”

Hendry has already been down to the Cubs training facility in Mesa and he said that just under 20 players are already there working out and getting ready for the season.  That is a good sign – “They have a little bit of an edge to them after the way things ended last year. “  After winning back-to-back NL Central division titles, the Cubs finished in 2nd place behind the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009.  Although they had a winning record for a 3rd straight season – something foreign to many of the Cubs players and their loyal north side fans – it still felt like a disappointing season.

Let’s hope the sloppy, messy snowstorm during yesterday’s Spring Training send-off does not foreshadow the type of season the Cubs can expect during the 2010 MLB schedule.  This team needs to right the ship in 2010!

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2nd Base – Baker or Fontenot or a Castro/Theriot SS/2B Combo?

Posted on 09 February 2010 by Lou

The 2nd base job is the only real position up for debate for Manager Lou Pinella and his staff to decide in Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona during the next 2 months.  How will it turn out?

Right now, Pinella and the staff are probably leaning towards some sort of combination of Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot at 2nd base.  Fontenot showed that he really couldn’t handle the load of being the full-time 2nd baseman in 2009 (.236 batting average in 377 at-bats).  Baker played the 2nd half of the season and performed at a high level for the Cubs (.305 batting average in 203 at-bats).  But Pinella and the Cubs could be a little gun-shy of anointing Baker the everyday player considering how bad Fontenot was exposed as an every day player.  Baker is right-handed and Fontenot is left-handed, so assuming that neither player outshines the other significantly in spring training, the easy solution is to platoon the 2 players.  I have a feeling that’s how things will start in 2010, with Pinella favoring one of the other after a month or 2 of the season.

One alternative could be an entirely different 2nd base/shortstop combination.  If minor league sensation Starlin Castro really shines during Spring Training, and if Pinella and the staff believe that the 20-year old is ready to play in the big leagues, you could see a Ryan Theriot / Castro combination.  Theriot can play 2nd base and Castro is a solid shortstop, so it would be an interesting move for the Cubs to make coming out of Spring Training.  My bet is that the Cubs continue to let Castro develop in the minor leagues for one more season.  As the season progresses, if Castro continues to excel at Double-A and Triple-A, you could see the Cubs bring him up mid-season or in September once major league rosters expand. Castro is clearly the shortstop of the future, so fans at Wrigley Field are chomping at the bit to get a glimpse of the youngster in the very near future.

Stay tuned – this should be a really fun position to watch, especially if Castro really shines in Spring Training.  That could make things really tough on GM Jim Henry and Pinella…

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Cubs Avoid Arbitration with Lefty Sean Marshall

Posted on 29 January 2010 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs and left-handed pitcher Sean Marshall have agreed on a 1-year, $950,000 deal for the 2010 MLB schedule.  Marshall will be given an opportunity to compete for a spot in the Cubs starting rotation on Opening Day 2010.  And if he doesn’t make it there, he will likely be one of Manager Lou Pinella’s go-to guys out of the bullpen during the 2010 MLB schedule.  Marshall submitted 1 $1.175 salary demand, while the Cubs had countered with $800,000 Marshall made $450,000 in 2009, so it is still a pretty hefty raise for the lefty.

Marshall is a bargain at $950,000.  Marshall can be a full-time starter, he can make spot starts or he can be an effective pitcher out of the bullpen.  What more can you ask out of a pitcher. He has gained some valuable experience over the last few years, so he is becoming more and more of a veteran presence on the team.  He is a solid clubhouse guy too, so Marshall is a key pitcher on the Cubs staff.

GM Jim Hendry and the Cubs still have to work out deals with 2 other abritration-eligible players – probably the most important 2! Shortstop Ryan Theriot and Closer Carlos Marmol.  Theriot made $500,000 in 2009 and has submitted a $3.4 salary demand with a $2.6 million counter-offer from the Cubs.  Marmol made $575,000 in 2009 and has submitted a $2.5 salary demand with a $1.75 million counter-offer from the Cubs.  The Cubs will definitely get deals done with these 2 valuable players in the upcoming days…

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