Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

November 2009 Archives

Cubs consider GM meetings ``productive''

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Jim Hendry said he considers the just concluded general managers meetings at the O'Hare Hilton fruitful and said that the abbreviated format seemed to encourage even more dialogue between GMs than the usual spread-out, longer sets of meetings in the past.

But just how successful those meetings were won't be known until he finishes dumping Milton Bradley - presumably by the winter meetings in Indianapolis in less than four weeks - and knows how much of the $21 million left on that contract he has to eat, and what player he gets in return.

``We were real pleased with the meetings,'' said Hendry, who joined assistant GM Randy Bush in meeting with ``seven or eight'' teams Tuesday night just ahead of Wednesday morning's wrapup. ``We felt we got a little direction on the path we might want to go. It was productive.

``We'd like to make a few moves before Indy. Then it really clears up. We don't have a lot of quantity to add. We want to make a few adjustments.''

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry used to face a barrage of questions this time of year centering on all the big names he would be interested in adding during the offseason. This time, he's facing a steady stream of questions asking about the one name everyone knows he must subtract.

Until he's gone, Milton Bradley continues to be Problem No. 1 for the Cubs and Hendry.

Which brought this question to mind Monday during the first day of the general managers meetings at the Hilton Chicago O'Hare Airport: Is there any scenario in which Bradley could return to the Cubs in 2010?

''He's on our roster and until he's not on our roster, that's how you have to look at it,'' Hendry said. ''A lot of people have had worse exits at the end of the year than that and they return.

''The goal is to do the best we can to put a good club on the field by spring training. Until people aren't here, as a general manager, I approach it like they are here. And that's what you deal with.''

Passing on Harden right non-move

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The Cubs say that Ted Lilly's surgery last week doesn't change their minds about allowing Rich Harden to become a free agent without making an offer.

And it shouldn't.

Some critics of that sentiment have suggested the Cubs must try to retain Harden, but the team is right to let him go.

Harden's a good guy, and his talent is unquestioned.

But a history of injury problems and a thin free agent market for high-end pitchers almost guarantee Harden's ability to command a multi-year deal and suggest a strong possibility somebody will wind up overpaying for him.

Even in a season his balky shoulder didn't seem to be a problem until the final two weeks of the season, Harden was a pitcher who needed to be managed with extra rest between starts, when possible, and who averaged nearly 18 pitches an inning in 2009 -- making him a five-inning pitcher far too often.

Whether he rebounds to look at dominant as he did the first month the Cubs had him in 2008 (and for glimpses in '09), the risk is too great for a team looking at '11 and beyond for payroll flexibility (with contracts expiring) to make fundamental changes that extend and strengthen its competitive window.

Randy Wells is locked in among three healthy returning starters. Lilly may well be ready to pitch again at a high level by May. Jeff Samardzija may be ready to step into a starter's role next season. Tom Gorzelanny is a competitive candidate for the fifth starter job.

And lefty Sean Marshall is more than deserving of a full-fledged chance to start -- not to mention the fact he has a pretty decent track record as a starter-reliever swing man for this team the past two seasons, making him a capable stand-in for Lilly even if Lilly is out until the All-Star break.

Harden? At worst he'll create more instability in the rotation for a big-ticket price. At best, he's a dice roll not worth taking.

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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