A conversation with the Cubs' GM about his home park, baseball history and PEDs, and his relationship with his managers.
Jim Hendry doesn't shy away from the old-school label, but the straight-shooting Cubs GM is by no means narrow-minded in his approach. In his current position since July 2002, Hendry has seen the game through a wide array of lenses, having served in multiple capacities at both the college and professional levels. Named the National Coach of the Year after leading Creighton University to the College World Series in 1991, he subsequently spent three years working with the Florida Marlins before coming to Chicago in 1995. Since joining the Cubs organization, the native of Dunedin, Florida has worn multiple hats, including those of Director of Player Development, being in charge of scouting, and Assistant GM/Director of Player Personnel.
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Wieters or Price, the hatchet falls in Colorado, the Cubs wonder if they've done the wrong right-handed thing, plus rumors and rumblings from across the major leagues.
Matt Wieters or David Price? That was the debate over who was the best prospect in baseball as teams had gone into spring training. Now, the two can compete for American League Rookie of the Year honors after both were called up from the minor leagues to great fanfare this past week.
The off-season challenge of veering to the left in the lineup was accomplished, but will it work?
You can understand how dissatisfaction can inspire a desire for wholesale change. After the crushing disappointment of last season's LDS shutout at the hands of the underdog Dodgers, it was taken for granted that the Cubs would be shaking things up this winter. As the Hot Stove's drama played out, general manager Jim Hendry was definitely busy, retaining Ryan Dempster, turning over two lineup slots, turning over his club's bench and bullpen, and dealing away several top prospects.
However, after the Jacob Peavy trade rumors petered out and it became clear the Cubs would not be adding yet another ace to their rotation, there has been an anticlimactic quality to the exercise. Where other teams have been involved in flirting with or chasing down the marquee names of this winter's market, the Cubs seemed to be taking on some strange risks, while getting very few guarantees. For a club perhaps already feeling scorchy from their big-ticket addition of Japanese import Kosuke Fukudome last winter, should the Wrigleyville faithful anticipate being burned again by the decisions to bring in Milton Bradley and retain Dempster at high cost, not to mention waving good-bye to Kerry Wood?
The Rays have joined in playing bullpen games, for the Phillies it's 'hello we must be running,' plus news and views from around the major leagues.
ST. PETERSBURG-One of the more interesting questions going into the beginning of the World Series tonight is how much of a factor David Price might play for the Rays. The rookie left-hander recorded the final four outs, including a bases-loaded strikeout of J.D. Drew to end the eighth inning, to get credit for the save in the 3-1 win over the Red Sox in Game Seven of the American League Championship Series on Sunday night. It was the first save of Price's major league career, which had consisted of one post-season inning and 14 regular-season innings to that point. The Rays are without closer Troy Percival, who has missed the postseason with back tightness after recording 28 saves in the regular season, so it would seem logical for Price to step into that role.
The Twins and Cardinals surprise the experts, the latest example that Manny being Manny may not be all fun and games, plus news and rumors from around the game.
Money was not an issue for Joe Nathan. The contract offer that the Twins made to their closer during spring training was certainly fair in his mind, but Nathan also knew he could get a similar deal, and possibly a more lucrative one, by playing out the season and becoming a free agent. The organization that acquired him from the Giants and turned him into one of the game's best closers-his 4.398 WXRL leads the American League-had traded left-hander Johan Santana to the Mets during the offseason and then lost Gold Glove center fielder Torii Hunter to the Angels as a free agent. As a result, while Nathan's heart was with the Twins, he wanted to make sure they would still be competitive.
How is Jim Hendry's spending spree working out so far?
The Chicago Cubs are trying to answer the following riddle over the course of the 2007: What do you get for spending $296.05 million on free agents in one offseason? It wasn't much in the first month, as the Cubs finished April with a 10-14 record. The team has picked up the pace in May, going 5-1.
"We're playing more relaxed now and everyone is having fun," said Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano, their biggest off-season catch. "I don't think we were relaxed early in the season. I think it's taken us a while to kind of put everything together."
The hot stove burns both player and executive alike in this edition of The Week in Quotes.
"When we spoke at the end of the year, I felt like he wanted to be back here. Not only does he like it here, he has the faith we will get better."
--Jim Hendry, general manager of the Chicago Cubs, on signing third baseman Aramis Ramirez to a new five-year deal. (ESPN.com)