Tagged: Jim Hendry

8/22 Maddux unsure if he’ll return

Greg Maddux, the four-time Cy Young winner who was a special assistant to Jim Hendry, isn’t sure if he’ll be back with the team. Maddux spent the last two seasons as a special assistant to the GM and would help with Minor League pitchers and do some scouting. However, Hendry was dismissed on Friday as the Cubs GM.

“I’m not real worried about how this affects me,” Maddux told the Chicago Tribune on Monday. “Jim is a good man and he did a good job not only for the Cubs but for the city of Chicago. He’s got a lot to be proud of.”

Maddux did not want a full-time job with the Cubs so he could spend time with his family. His contract with the Cubs expires in December.

“I don’t know [if I’ll come back], and I would feel the same way if Jim was still there now,” Maddux said. “I’m just trying to get my feet wet and figure out what I want to do in my post-baseball career.”

He is eligible for Hall of Fame ballot in 2013.

— Carrie Muskat

8/21 Business as usual

Randy Bush, promoted from assistant GM to interim GM following the dismissal of Jim Hendry on Friday, met with the baseball operations staff in Chicago this weekend. He also conducted a conference call with chairman Tom Ricketts, the scouts and the player development staff as well. Bush’s message was that he will do everything possible to make the transition smooth to the next GM. He also wanted to try and address any concerns they may have about their future with the Cubs.

“Tom has spoken about how happy he is and impressed he is with our scouting departments and player development,” Bush said Sunday. “He’s happy with [player development director Oneri Fleita’s] leadership and [scouting director] Tim Wilken, and I expressed to them that [Ricketts] has those feelings about the job they’re doing and that we could see a path where a lot of things in place would stay in place.”

What would Bush tell the next Cubs GM?

“I’d tell him I believe we’ve done a great job recently of acquiring talent,” Bush said, “and that Mr. Ricketts has made a commitment both domestically and internationally to pursue the top talent available, and that our player development people are doing a great job of moving those players along at the right pace to get them here so they’ll be here for a long time.”

* If there are any waiver wire trades to be made, Bush will handle that. One thing he made clear to Ricketts was that things happen quickly in baseball. Some teams in the race may need help because of injuries or performance.

“I don’t anticipate anything,” Bush said. “I think it’s the nature of the business that opportunities come up at different times and we have to be prepared.”

The games haven’t stopped because of the change at the top.
“The day to day activity here is probably a good thing,” Mike Quade said. “It doesn’t allow you the time to sit back. You’re just consumed with what goes on here every day. I wind up saying, it’s baseball, and then go about my business. There will be plenty of time for reflection down the road.”
— Carrie Muskat

8/20 Quade focused on what he can control

With Jim Hendry’s departure, the focus now shifts to the status of Cubs manager Mike Quade. Tuesday marks the one year mark since Quade took over the team.

“I just keep doing what I need to do here,” Quade said Saturday. “That’s all that really matters to me. What took place [Friday], you deal with that and whether it’s Jim or some of the adversity we’ve had this year, you move on. I don’t stop and say, ‘Oh my God, why this, why that?’ All I can control is today’s game and getting those guys ready to play and that’s it.”

Hendry was dismissed as the Cubs’ GM on Friday. He had spent 17 years with the organization, taking over the general manager duties in July 2002. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said the search for a successor would begin immediately and that the next GM would pick the manager. Quade did receive a two-year contract and is signed through 2012.

“How can you wonder what will happen when you don’t know who will be the new guy in town?” Quade said. “It’s such a cliche, but why worry about things you have no control over? What I can do is try to get this club to continue to play well.”

Quade was glad to hear Hendry say he was going to spend time with his two children.

“My concerns go to him and not his future,” Quade said. “He’ll be fine. It was great to hear him talk about spending time with his kids. I think that will be good for him.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/20 Hendry timeline with Cubs

During Jim Hendry’s tenure as GM with the Cubs, they won three division titles. Here are some highlights and lowlights:

* Named general manager in July 2002, taking over for Andy MacPhail. Inherited team with $75.7 million payroll. In offseason, hired Dusty Baker as manager from the NL champion Giants.

* In December 2002, traded Todd Hundley to the Dodgers for Mark Grudzielanek and Eric Karros. In July 2003, acquired Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton from Pirates for Jose Hernandez, Minor League player and Bobby Hill. Also added Randall Simon from Pirates. Cubs win first NL Central Division title, finishing 88-74, and beat Braves in NL Division Series. Cubs were five outs from getting to World Series but lost in NL Championship Series to Marlins.

* In November 2003, acquired Derrek Lee from Marlins for Hee-Seop Choi and Minor Leaguer. In January 2004, gave Kerry Wood three-year, $32.5 million contract. Signed Greg Maddux in Spring Training 2004. Acquired Nomar Garciaparra at Trade Deadline. Cubs finished 89-73, and lost bid for Wild Card spot in final weeks. Season ends with Sammy Sosa leaving Wrigley Field early during last game.

* In February 2005, traded Sosa to Orioles. Acquired Jeromy Burnitz (.258, 24 HR, 87 RBIs) to play right field. Neifi Perez plays more games at shortstop than injured Garciaparra, and Cubs finish fourth, 79-83.

* Injuries to Derrek Lee, Mark Prior and others result in 66-96 season. Baker and staff dismissed at end of season; pitching coach Larry Rothschild retained. Lou Piniella hired, and team spends $300 million on players, including eight-year, $136 million deal for Alfonso Soriano. Signed Ted Lilly to three-year deal while hooked up to EKG machine at 2006 Winter Meetings.

* Cubs win division in 2007 under Piniella with 85-77 record but are swept in NLDS by Diamondbacks. In August that year, Carlos Zambrano given five-year, $91.5 million extension.

* In December 2007, sign Japanese batting champ Kosuke Fukudome to four-year, $48 million contract. Add Reed Johnson and Jim Edmonds. Gave Aramis Ramirez five-year, $75 million contract. In 2008, Cubs win second straight Central Division at 97-64, but are swept by Dodgers in NLDS. In offseason, traded Mark DeRosa, acquired closer Kevin Gregg, signed Ryan Dempster to four-year, $52 million contract.

* In January 2009, signed free agent Milton Bradley to three-year, $30 million contract. He hits .257, 12 homers, 40 RBIs, then is suspended in September. Cubs tied for first on Aug. 5, but finish second at 83-78. Bradley traded to Mariners in offseason for Carlos Silva and cash.

* Signed free agent Marlon Byrd to three-year, $15 million deal in December 2009. Piniella announces in July 2010 he is retiring at season’s end. Mike Quade named manager on Aug. 23. Cubs go 24-13 under Quade and finish season in fifth, 75-87. Quade gets two-year contract.

* Signed Carlos Pena to one-year, $10 million deal in December 2010 and re-signs Kerry Wood for $1.5 million. In January 2011, acquired Matt Garza from Rays for top prospects in eight-player deal. Signed Carlos Marmol to three-year, $20 million contract in February. Placed Carlos Zambrano on disqualified list in August after pitcher walks out, announcing his retirement in Atlanta.

— Carrie Muskat

8/20 Quade’s status

With the dismissal of GM Jim Hendry, Cubs manager Mike Quade’s future now is being questioned. Hendry hired Quade and gave him a two-year contract through 2012. Asked about his future on Friday, Quade said he wasn’t thinking about himself.

“This is not a day for me,” Quade said. “It’s the furthest thing from my mind. You work for a guy, he’s a friend. This is a tough day for all of us. But I have no time to concern myself at all with me on a day like this.”

Tuesday will mark the one-year anniversary of when Quade was named Cubs manager, taking over for Lou Piniella in 2010. The team responded well, going 24-13 in the final six weeks.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said the next GM will determine the manager.

“The GM makes the decision,” Ricketts said Friday. “They have to have the freedom to make decisions they are most confident will deliver the results. Obviously, if you don’t do that in any organization, there are no grounds for you to hold them accountable for the outcome.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/19 Players reaction to Hendry’s departure

Friday was a difficult day for some of the Cubs. GM Jim Hendry’s dismissal caught them off guard.

“He’s responsible for every single person in here,” Ryan Dempster said, looking around the clubhouse. “He’s a really good person and good man and he was let go because we didn’t do our job on the field.

“He’s been a big part of my life and gave me the opportunity to play for the Chicago Cubs and that’s something I’ll always be grateful for,” Dempster said. “It’s tough for us in the locker room, I’m sure it’s tough for the coaches. I’m glad we won today because I know he’d be happy for us.”

The Cubs rallied to beat the Cardinals 5-4 in 10 innings on Friday, just hours after meeting with Hendry in the clubhouse to get the news.

“It was a tough day and a tough thing to hear that sadness,” Dempster said. “He doesn’t have anything to be sad about because he did a great job in every aspect. Everyone was thankful to go out and play for him.”

The Cubs did improve to 12-5 in August with Friday’s win but they are 55-70 overall, and now searching for a new GM.

“Whatever his legacy is, in my time here with the Cubs, he’s as good a baseball man as I’ve been around,” Mike Quade said of Hendry, “and I’ve been around some pretty good ones.

“My friend won’t be my boss,” Quade said, “but he will always be my friend.”

Hendry, who took over the GM duties in July 2002, signed Alfonso Soriano to an eight-year deal in November 2006.

“He tried to do what’s best for the team,” Soriano said. “He’s very honest with the players. He does what’s best for the players and what’s best for the team, too.

“I was very surprised,” Soriano said of the news Friday. “I talked to him after practice today. I thought they wanted to make a move, but I didn’t think they’d make that kind of move. It’s very sad for Jim and for the players because we love him.”

It’s impossible to fire 25 players when the team isn’t performing well.

“We didn’t play the way we should play and a lot of veteran guys are making a lot of money and not performing like they should and someone had to pay the price,” Aramis Ramirez said. “The players are responsible. [The GM] doesn’t play. He signs guys and brings in guys and puts this guy in this position and gets the manager and the coaches.

“The bottom line is to get the job done between the lines,” he said, “and we didn’t.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/31 Trade deadline update

The Cubs may not have made a deal by the 3 p.m. CT Trade Deadline, but they can still make a trade in August. Expect some action then.

“To make a trade today to say we made one and get somebody who we don’t think is the caliber that I’d expect in return, I have no problem not moving the people we didn’t move,” GM Jim Hendry said Sunday.

The Cubs did deal Kosuke Fukudome to the Indians for two Minor Leaguers on Thursday. The move was to make room for Tyler Colvin; the Cubs want to find out if he’s an everyday big league outfielder.

It may be hard for fans to stomach any inactivity. They see a team that’s 23 games out in the National League Central. Hendry knows that.

“Everybody says ‘Oh, you didn’t do something by 3 o’clock today — this is a disaster, that’s a disaster’ — I don’t put much stock into that,” Hendry said. “The guys we kept are for the most part guys who still have a chance to be involved next year.

“If we do make a trade or two in August,” he said, “it’s no more or less significant than if we made one today.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/30 Rebuild? Retool? Reboot?

Are the Cubs in rebuilding mode? Yes and no.

“There are certain people who won’t be back and there are a whole lot of people we should be happy with — young players, two kids in the middle,” GM Jim Hendry said Friday. “We’re hoping [Tyler] Colvin gets back to where he was. Marlon [Byrd’s] been a fine player here and he has another year on his contract.

“You have a bullpen of a lot of guys coming back who are very good,” he said. “Everybody should be encouraged by the year Jeff Samardzija has had and where he’s going and the year James Russell has had since moving back into the bullpen. Sean Marshall will be here, [Carlos] Marmol will be here.

“You always need some kind of rebuilding when you’re in fifth place but you certainly don’t look at it like, ‘Oh, we’re not going to compete.’ When somebody says, ‘Blow the place up and start over and do it right,’ well, OK, does that mean we should get rid of the people who are really young and real good? I’ve said this a hundred times, wasn’t Pittsburgh 20 games under a year ago, and Cleveland? All you need is for your young people to get better and make the right moves, and why couldn’t we be right back in it?”

The Cubs did fall to 22 games under .500 after Friday’s 9-2 loss to the Cardinals.

“We’re having a bad year, and there’s no way around it, no excuses for it,” Hendry said. “Nobody picked us to be in the first three this year but we felt by now, we’d be at .500. [If we were .500] a week ago, it would’ve got you two or three back. We didn’t do our part. Excuses or no excuses, injuries or not injuries, we haven’t played to the level we should have.”

At the start of this road trip vs. NL Central teams, Mike Quade said he felt the Cubs still had a chance to get back in the race.

“I respect his optimism,” Hendry said. “There are a lot of teams above you. You don’t want Mike hanging his head and saying, ‘We can’t do something, we can’t do this.’ I’m sure in his heart he believes we can have a good couple months like he had last year at the end and hopefully we will. You’ve got a lot of people in front of you [in the standings] and you’re a lot of games behind. I wouldn’t want him to say, ‘Hey, we’re all done and let’s get the guys ready for next year.'”

— Carrie Muskat

6/29 Hendry: “No fire sale”

Cubs GM Jim Hendry says there will be no fire sale at the trading deadline and that he’s looking forward to seeing the team whole once injured players like Marlon Byrd and Kerry Wood return.

“I read some things that people assume — they use the word ‘fire sale,'” Hendry said Wednesday. “That’s not going to happen. We’re not interested in trading people at all who will be valuable to us moving forward. People like to float names of your better players which makes no sense to trade. If we make moves, it will be designed to make us better for the future. We still want to see how we play the next month or so.

“Everybody thinks there’s this big automatic, ‘You have to be a buyer or seller’ or ‘It’s fire sale time,'” Hendry said. “We’ve got a lot of young people out there pitching and playing, and people who will be productive for us in a year from now who, when you get ready to put a team together in the offseason, you don’t want to start without them anyhow. As the games go, there’s less and less pitching available every year and less and less talent, for the most part. We’re certainly going to hold onto the people no matter what who we feel will be major contributors down the road.”

That said, Hendry is not content with the way the Cubs have played and expects a better situation when Byrd and Wood come off the DL.

“The bantering that goes on about how many people will be out of here [at the trading deadline] is foolish,” Hendry said. “There’s a lot of people you’re still capable of winning with down the road who are not free agents and you have control of their contracts for years that you’re not interested in trading.”

Hendry said the Cubs can turn things around in a short amount of time.

“We’ve done that before a few times and plan on doing it again,” he said. “You look at people winning now the last couple years who weren’t two or three years ago — people like Texas come to mind. Different clubs are in contention now that weren’t two or three years ago. Unfortunately, we’re on the other side.”

The Cubs began play Wednesday at 32-48.

“It’s obviously extremely disappointing,” Hendry said. “Nobody expected that. There’s no sense in going with excuses — we haven’t played good enough baseball to be in contention. When you lose a couple rotation guys, it puts us right behind the eight ball. I think we’re 8-24 in the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation. That first week of the season when we saw [Randy] Wells and [Andrew] Cashner pitch like that, I don’t think those two at that point in their lives would be 8-24.”

The Cubs also have lost games started by pitchers other than the fourth and fifth starters which they should have won, he said.

“It’s kind of a snowballing effect,” Hendry said. “Now some of the guys who were not swinging in April are swinging better now. We still feel there’s a lot of baseball games. We’re not going to roll over.”

— Carrie Muskat

5/21 Pitching and defense

If pitching and defense are keys to a winning season, and most baseball experts  say they are, then the Cubs are headed in the wrong direction. They rank second in the Major Leagues in batting, trailing only the Cardinals. But they are 28th in the Majors in pitching with a 4.72 ERA, and 28th in fielding with 33 errors. The Astros are the only National League team worse than the Cubs in the latter two categories.

Before Friday’s game against the Red Sox, GM Jim Hendry sounded encouraged by what he’d seen in Florida in the two wins over the Marlins.

“I’m hopeful that a lot of our failures early (are over),” Hendry said before the Cubs’ 15-5 loss to the Red Sox. “When you play well against a good team like the Marlins, and in a place until last year we never had any success … What we have is a lot of really solid guys, team-oriented guys, that are trying to hard to be ‘the guy’ and get something going that maybe they’ve pressed themselves into some failures.

“Hopefully, they proved the last couple of days they could relax, play good baseball against a good team, and hopefully we’ll carry that over here and in a big homestand before the end of the month.”

This has been a long, tiring road trip that started in Cincinnati with two losses to the Reds, including a 7-4 loss Monday that prompted a team meeting by manager Mike Quade.

“We gave away a few games,” Hendry said. “Everybody has them. The two in Cincinnati were probably as hard to take as any ones all year. … I think they’re going to grind their way through it and play good baseball.

“The last couple of days [against the Marlins] should show you something because [the losses to the Reds] … were two we really should’ve had. It’s hard to get off the plane the next day on the road, and they really played good baseball for two days [in Florida].”

Unfortunately for the Cubs, that good feeling didn’t last in Fenway Park. They still have not been able to win three in a row.

— Carrie Muskat