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
If you miss Milton Bradley, he’s back in Chicago on the South Side as the Seattle Mariners face the Chicago White Sox. Check out this interview. http://bit.ly/bgYenP
— Carrie Muskat
Lou Piniella has moved on along with Milton Bradley. A reporter asked Piniella on Sunday abut how the Mariners are projecting Bradley to bat cleanup.
“He got off to a little bit of a rocky start with the bat,” Piniella said of Bradley, who batted .118 in the first month last year with the Cubs. “He’s certainly very capable of being a productive fourth hitter. He’s over there in Seattle and we wish him well.”
Bradley told Chicago reporters on Sunday that the media ran him out of town. Did Piniella think the media was unfair?
“I don’t think the media was unfair to anybody,” Piniella said. “The amazing thing about Milton is he played, he played a lot of ballgames. He played hard when he played. Offensively, he didn’t do the things that Jim [Hendry] envisioned when we brought him over here.
“Look, he’s a Mariner, we have [Carlos] Silva, we’re happy with Silva, and let’s hope both players have a positive impact on both teams.”
When a reporter tried to do a follow-up question, Piniella stopped him.
“I’ve had enough,” he said.
— Carrie Muskat
Milton Bradley wasn’t in the Mariners’ lineup for Sunday’s game against the Cubs and when approached by Chicago reporters, the outfielder declined to talk.
“No chance,” Bradley said. “You guys ran me out of town.”
Bradley and Marlon Byrd were teammates in Texas, and when Byrd signed with the Cubs, Bradley called to tell him to “do what I couldn’t do there.”
“He wanted to go to Chicago, this was his choice,” Byrd said Sunday. “This is a great place to play and he didn’t get a chance to enjoy his time here and the atmosphere. He knows the type of guy I am and he was like ‘Hey, start off slow, start off fast, whatever it is, just enjoy it.”
Bradley is an intense player and doesn’t smile much. Byrd doesn’t want him to change.
“I want him to be him,” Byrd said. “In Texas, he didn’t smile at all. He put up ungodly numbers. He has to go out there and be himself. That’s the only thing he can do and that’s the only way he can play. I want to see him do 162 [games], all out, because he has MVP material.”
What drives Bradley?
“Being great,” Byrd said. “He’s a perfectionist. Sometimes when he doesn’t reach that, he’s very tough on himself. I think a lot of guys in baseball are like that.”
And Bradley has a different personality with his teammates.
“He’s a great teammate,” Byrd said. “I had one year with him. Everybody knows how he was in Texas. We had a great time and no run-ins, no nothing. It can happen with him. With [Ken] Griffey and Chone Figgins and those guys over there in Seattle, he’ll be fine.”
Obviously, there aren’t many media people on Bradley’s holiday card list.
“You have to approach Milton,” Byrd said. “You have to make sure every single day you talk to him and ask him how he’s doing. My locker was right next to him. Every game on the road, we were eating lunch. My relationship was a little different than everybody else’s. As a teammate, as a guy, you have to go up to him every day, ‘Hey, Milton, how are you doing?'”
The two haven’t gotten together this spring at all because of the long drive to Peoria, but they’ll see each other when the Cubs play the Mariners June 22-24.
What about Bradley’s comment that he’s the Kanye West of baseball?
“I thought it was interesting,” Byrd. “If that helps him, helps drive him, go ahead. He can be the Ron Artest, he can be the Kanye.”
Does Bradley enjoy himself?
“You have to ask him that,” Byrd said. “In Texas, 2008, he enjoyed himself.”
That year, Bradley led the American League in on-base percentage and batted .321, which led to his three-year contract with the Cubs.
“It’s not all bad with him,” Byrd said. “I know the way he’s perceived by a lot of fans is all bad but not at all. You weren’t around him much. He has good days and bad days just like everyone else. The distance between those good days and bad days is what people see.”
— Carrie Muskat
GM Jim Hendry says Milton Bradley’s implication that someone inside the Cubs organization sent him hate mail last year was “absolutely ridiculous” and the outfielder needs to “look in the mirror.”
In an interview with ESPN, Bradley said he received hate mail while with the Cubs that wasn’t stamped, suggesting it might have been sent by someone inside. Bradley felt he was a “prisoner in his own home,” and said that unless you’re “Superman or you’re Andre Dawson, Ernie Banks, or Hall of Fame, then it’s going to be tough” for African-American players in Chicago.
Hendry said Bradley never said anything to anyone in the Cubs organization about getting hate mail from inside the organization until the interview, which aired Tuesday night.
“That’s absolutely ridiculous,” Hendry said Wednesday. “That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I think it’s time maybe Milton looks himself in the mirror. It is what is it, he just didn’t swing the bat and didn’t get the job done. His production, or lack of, was the only negative.”
If the problem is racial, Hendry said, why did both Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee say they want to end their careers with the Cubs? And, if there was a problem in Chicago, why would Kevin Millar and Marlon Byrd, who are both represented by the same agents as Bradley, the Levinson brothers, have signed with the Cubs?
“It’s really unfortunate you get to that situation where you reflect the lack of production in the year you’re here and try to use other things as excuses,” Hendry said.
— Carrie Muskat
Ryan Dempster said he did not see the ESPN interview with former teammate Milton Bradley, in which the outfielder talked about the difficult time he had in Chicago. Bradley mentioned he received a lot of hate mail. Has Dempster ever gotten any?
“Kevin Millar has been giving me hate mail,” Dempster said, tongue in cheek. “He usually puts a postage stamp on it and then hands it to me. He’s going to get some bad stuff back. After all, he took me deep the other day on the backfield and I’m not too happy about that.”
The Cubs have moved on after last season, which was Bradley’s first with the team. Wednesday was the second day of auditions for the team’s version of American Idol.
“We’re having a blast,” Dempster said. “Everybody’s focused on this year and going out there and getting ready for the 2010 championship season. We’re excited about it.”
Asked again about the Bradley interview, Dempster said: “I didn’t see it — what was it, bad coffee in Seattle?”
The attitude in Cubs camp is that they’ve moved on since Bradley left.
“I try to forget the last pitch I threw,” Dempster said. “We can’t control the past and tomorrow might not come. You just live in the present and enjoy the present and how wonderful it is that we get to play baseball for a living in such a great city like Chicago with the best fans in the world in such a great organization like this. I’m glad I’m here with the Cubs and having a great time with a great bunch of guys and looking forward to this season.”
Dempster heard the boos when he was the Cubs closer. How does he handle angry fans?
“Play as hard as I can,” he said. “I think if you give 100 percent and prepare as hard as you can and take pride in what you do, that seems to work no matter where you’re playing or who you are. I care a lot about winning and doing things the right way. I don’t always do things the right way and I’m not perfect. They’re fans, and they pay the ticket to come in and have every right to boo if they feel you’re not giving 100 percent or your best effort.
“At the same time, I’ve always said about Chicago is they love their Cubs and they’re very forgiving people,” he said. “They want you to do well, because if you’re doing well, their team is doing well.”
LaTroy Hawkins and Jacque Jones also had a tough time while playing for the Cubs. Is it more difficult for African-American players there?
“I don’t know. I’m Caucasian,” Dempster said. “[Derrek Lee] seems to really like it there. He’s really enjoyed Chicago and loves playing there. Some other guys I’ve played with have really had a good time playing there. I know Marlon [Byrd] is going to have a blast playing there. I think any time you struggle, it can be tough, no matter what color your skin is.”
— Carrie Muskat
Milton Bradley told ESPN that he received hate mail while with the Cubs and felt he was a “prisoner in his own home.” He said that unless you’re “Superman or you’re Andre Dawson, Ernie Banks, or Hall of Fame, then it’s going to be tough” for African-American players in Chicago.
He said he asked Lou Piniella to publicly apologize to him for comments made last June at U.S. Cellular Field. Piniella made a derogatory comment to Bradley, and sent him home from a game between the Cubs and White Sox.
“The next day, [Piniella] called me into his office and wanted to apologize,” Bradley told ESPN. “I felt you put me on blast, called me out in front of everybody, you’re going to apologize in front of everybody. He didn’t choose to go that route but I accepted his apology nonetheless because as a Christian, that’s what you do. I don’t have time to hold grudges against people.”
During the ESPN interview, Bradley also said his 3-year-old son was called a derogatory name in school, calling that “the last straw.” Bradley also was taunted by someone at a restaurant.
Bradley received a three-year, $30 million contract from the Cubs in January 2009, and batted .257 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs. He was suspended for the final 15 games of the regular season because of detrimental conduct and was traded in December to the Seattle Mariners for Carlos Silva.
— Carrie Muskat
Lou Piniella was surprised to hear Milton Bradley’s comments in the New York Times in which the outfielder said the Cubs expected him to hit 30 home runs last season. Bradley told the newspaper: “Two years ago, I played and I was good. I go to Chicago, not good. I’ve been good my whole career. So, obviously, it was something with Chicago, not me.”
Now with Seattle, Bradley said: “Just no communication. I never hit more than 22 homers in my career, and all of a sudden, I get to Chicago and they expect me to hit 30. It doesn’t make sense. History tells you I’m not going to hit that many. Just a lot of things that try to make a me a player I’m not.”
The Cubs manager said they never placed those demands on Bradley.
“We never put any expectations on Milton,” Piniella said Thursday. “I don’t really have anything else to add but we never put any expectations, or 30 home runs or anything like that.”
Told that Bradley felt the problem was Chicago and not him, Piniella said: “I think getting off to a struggling start didn’t help. He tried to make up for it with one swing of the bat and look, it snowballed. Look, that was last year. I wish him well and at the same time, we hope [Carlos] Silva does well for us here and that’s it.
“We were hoping [Bradley] would come in here and hit fifth in our lineup and be productive and that was it,” he said.
Bradley wasn’t. He batted .257 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs in 124 games, and was suspended for the final 15 games of the regular season for detrimental conduct. The outfielder was traded Dec. 18 to the Seattle Mariners for Silva.
— Carrie Muskat
WGN Radio’s first spring broadcast will be March 4, and Ron Santo can’t wait. The former Cubs third baseman and current radio analyst stopped by the Cubs’ Fitch Park facility on Friday to show off his new prosthetics. He has had both legs amputated below the knee because of complications from diabetes and says his new devices have a motor. He’s been doing 70 situps every other day and riding an exercise bike. He’s very excited about the 2010 Cubs.
“I’m just hoping we stay healthy,” Santo said. “If we stay healthy, we should be real good, I think.”
He skipped the Cubs Convention because he was worried about getting sick and catching what he called “slime flu.” Santo expects to make most of the road trips but could take time off if needed because of his health.
“I’ll do as many as I can,” Santo said. “It’s hard for me not to go because I go crazy at home. I’ve got to also realize I want to be there the whole season. I’ll take three, four days off once in a while, maybe.”
He signed a new three-year deal recently. That’s pretty long term.
“I’m looking [to broadcast] until I die, how’s that?” Santo said. “That’s long term.”
He is happy to have some new faces in the clubhouse and to see Milton Bradley gone.
“I’m a very strong believer in good chemistry and there’s nobody better than Lou Piniella when it comes to good chemistry,” Santo said. “But this was a tough situation [last year] when you bring a man in who hopefully was going to change. I couldn’t understand it, the way [Bradley] is. He’s just not a happy man. He loved the game of baseball but when you start talking about the fans and Wrigley Field and that you can’t wait to get off [the field], that’s not good. It wasn’t like he’d get on anybody in the clubhouse. He was always kind of mad. He wasn’t a happy man.”
Santo didn’t talk much to Bradley.
“He’d walk right by you and not even look at you,” Santo said. “Several times, he’d walk by Lou — Lou would say something and he didn’t say anything. But that’s over with.”
It’s time to move on.
— Carrie Muskat
Milton Bradley didn’t want to talk about the Cubs or the past during a 10-minute conference call with the media Friday. Bradley was dealt to the Mariners for pitcher Carlos Silva and said he’s always enjoyed the city of Seattle.
Asked how important it was to get a fresh start, Bradley said he just looked forward to playing baseball again “in a positive environment, good atmosphere, good group of guys. It should be fun.”
What went wrong with the Cubs?
“You know, I’ve already moved forward,” he said. “I made a statement about Chicago. I’m a Seattle Mariner. Chicago’s a thing of the past. I’m not interested in rehashing old news.”
He is looking forward to playing with Ken Griffey Jr., who, Bradley said, was one of two players he ever wanted an autograph from. The other was Barry Bonds.
Bradley didn’t have a list of teams he wanted to be traded to.
“I didn’t request anything,” he said. “It became apparent to me that I was going to be traded to someone at some point. I didn’t really keep track of anything. I knew there were some teams out there. Seattle had been mentioned at some point. It kind of happened quickly.”
— Carrie Muskat