Jim Hendry Rumors
7:35pm: Hendry commented on all kinds of topics to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. He sounds a little more intent on re-signing Dempster than Wood. Hendry is not sure whether Jim Edmonds will retire, but he sees Felix Pie making the team out of spring training.
12:13pm: According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs have extended GM Jim Hendry's contract through the 2012 season. He can now focus on free agents Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood, as well as acquiring a lefthanded bat.
THURSDAY: According to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs declined to give the Mariners permission to interview GM Jim Hendry. Hendry holds an option with the Cubs for 2009.
The sale of the Cubs is not likely to be completed before the 2009 season begins, so the current regime is going to have to figure out the Hendry situation. Rogers talked to one source who believes a three-year extension is in the works.
Links for Sunday, before I head out to Chipotle...
- Hank Steinbrenner talked to George King of the New York Post. He made it clear that he has not taken a step back in running the Yankees. Hank also mentions Mark Teixeira by name, calling him a "quality player."
- Ken Davidoff tries to determine if A.J. Burnett's injury-prone days are behind him, as his agent would like us to believe.
- Henry Schulman chatted with Dodgers GM Ned Colletti.
- John Shea lays odds for the C.C. Sabathia bidding.
- Phil Rogers campaigns for an extension for Cubs GM Jim Hendry. He wonders if Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood would follow if Hendry joined a different team.
- A's GM Billy Beane talked to Matthew Lutovsky of the Sporting News about fantasy baseball as well as a new video game.
Let's talk Cubs.
- First things first - the Cubs need to lock in their GM. ESPN's Buster Olney says the Cubs are currently trying to convince Jim Hendry not to opt out of his contract in December. Olney expects a new long-term agreement.
- Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago-Sun Times talked to Cubs CEO Crane Kenney, who anticipates another payroll bump despite ownership uncertainty. Maybe the $140MM range?
- Lot of talk about the Cubs adding a left-handed hitter for balance, with Kosuke Fukudome looking like a failure. Names suggested by Olney, Wittenmeyer, and Andy Dolan of Desipio.com: Raul Ibanez, Bobby Abreu, David DeJesus, Milton Bradley, and Brian Roberts. Regardless of the path the Cubs take, they seem likely to accept shaky right-field defense in exchange for a middle-of-the-order bat. The Cubs could also consider Aubrey Huff or Adam Dunn, but they'd be even more of a stretch in right.
- Dolan would like to add a more complete shortstop. If the Cubs feel the same, they could again pursue switch-hitter Rafael Furcal and finally move Alfonso Soriano out of the leadoff spot.
- Everyone expects Rich Harden's $7MM option to be exercised, setting the '09 rotation. The Cubs will look at Harden's shoulder first though. Wittenmeyer recommends an aggressive run at C.C. Sabathia, which seems unlikely.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has a new column up.
- Rosenthal fills us in on Jim Hendry's contract status: Hendry controls his own fate with an option for '09. If the new Cubs ownership doesn't want to extend him beyond that, he could elect free agency this winter. Click here to download a spreadsheet of Hendry's trade history.
- Teams with third basemen to trade this winter are at an advantage due to the weak free agent market. Names like Garrett Atkins, Melvin Mora, and Hank Blalock could generate interest. Blalock is a huge question mark though, and the Rangers still have to decide on his $6.2MM option. Jorge Cantu, Adrian Beltre, and Kevin Kouzmanoff are other names to watch in my opinion.
- Rosenthal talked to a rival executive who sees the Red Sox making a "major push" for A.J. Burnett if he opts out. He can hindle the rigors of pitching in the AL East, and will also draw interest from the Yankees.
- The Rangers may shop Gerald Laird this winter. Laird, 29 in November, is under team control through 2010. The Reds could be a nice match.
- Marlins infielder Chris Coghlan can play second or third base, giving the Fish flexibility on whether they want to trade Cantu, Mike Jacobs, or Dan Uggla this winter.
I've got some odds and ends related to the Rich Harden and CC Sabathia trades.
- The Cub Reporter had an interesting post yesterday, stating that Harden can demand a trade after this season under the old CBA. The Cubs could always sidestep that by declining Harden's $7MM option and going through the arbitration process with him. I ran this by a source close to the situation, and he said the Cubs are not worried about Harden demanding a trade.
- Bruce Miles talks about the "great personal and working relationship" between GMs Jim Hendry and Billy Beane.
- Susan Slusser says Beane never inquired on the Cubs' top draft pick from 2007, third baseman Josh Vitters. She says the A's did not consider it appropriate to ask for a player they had no chance of getting.
- Slusser adds that "there is thought among other clubs that the A's might deal Matt Murton or Eric Patterson."
- Authors at the Hardball Times did a roundtable about both trades.
- Squawking Baseball praises Beane's boldness.
- The Royals spoke internally about Sabathia, but it never got to the point of a discussion with the Indians.
MLBTR contributor Brendan Bianowicz tackled Cubs GM Jim Hendry for his latest GM Trade History spreadsheet. Previous GMs:
This is a couple of days old, but Lou Piniella wants the Cubs to give GM Jim Hendry a contract extension.
"He's on the last year of his contract," Piniella said. "He has done a heck of a job here. I've seen where other GMs have been extended. Why not ours?"
The renewal of Hendry's contract is complicated by the pending sale of the Cubs. Piniella is worried that the sale could be dragged out, leaving the team without a general manager next off-season. On the other hand, any prospective buyer of the Cubbies may prefer to hire their own GM. If a deal is not reached on a new owner soon, this could potentially affect how the Cubs handle trades during the season and how they deal with free agents, player contracts and potential trades next winter.
Tim profiled Jim Hendry last May.
Jim Hendry took over as the General Manager of the Cubs on July 5th, 2002. The team was awful that year, finishing 67-95. However, the team's Pythagorean record of 76-86 indicated better things to come. Let's take a look at Hendry's deals over the years, and try to determine his tendencies and favorite trading partners. He's been quite active, making 48 trades by my count.
One trend I noticed is that Hendry hasn't gotten much in return when trying to dump veterans from out-of-contention clubs. He failed to trade Fred McGriff in '02, opting to send off Darren Lewis for Chad Hermansen at the July deadline. That year, Hendry preferred to dump off his vets in August, ditching Tom Gordon, Jeff Fassero, and Bill Mueller for nothing of consequence. (He later dumped many vets like Matt Lawton, Greg Maddux, Todd Hollandsworth, Phil Nevin, Scott Williamson, Todd Walker, and Neifi Perez without receiving useful players.)
Hendry's first offseason was a success. He revamped his catching corps by getting Damian Miller and Paul Bako, and somehow managed to send off Todd Hundley for two helpful players in Mark Grudzielanek and Eric Karros. The Cubs netted about six wins in '03 with the acquisitions. Hermansen was in that deal so maybe we can say Hendry acquired one useful player in a salary dump trade.
You'll notice that much of the core of the current Cubs team came from Hendry's generally fine trading skills. He fleeced Dave Littefield for Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton in July of '03, and went back to grab Randall Simon in August. Ramirez was only 25 at the time of the deal and had hit 34 HR as a 23 year-old. Unbelievable that Bobby Hill could get this done.
Hendry's finest trade came in the winter of '03, when he acquired Derrek Lee for Hee Seop Choi during the Marlins' fire sale. Choi never panned out, while Lee blossomed into a star. Marlins GM Larry Beinfest exacted his revenge on Hendry two years later in the Juan Pierre deal - one of Hendry's few trade missteps. Hendry surrendered useful young pitchers Ricky Nolasco, Sergio Mitre, and Renyel Pinto for Pierre. A month after the Lee trade Hendry acquired Michael Barrett from Billy Beane for Damian Miller - another win.
The Cubs didn't give up anything too useful in their blockbuster trade of the summer of '04, acquiring Nomar Garciaparra and Matt Murton. Even though Nomar didn't help the Cubs, they came out ahead with Murton. Hendry has quietly gotten the better of Billy Beane and Theo Epstein.
The Sammy Sosa trade in February of '05 didn't bring the Cubs anything useful; Jerry Hairston Jr. never panned out. But that was a salary dump, and Hendry did the best he could with a player he simply had to trade away. A year later the Cubs couldn't stand another minute with Corey Patterson, and he became an Oriole too. That one made Hendry look foolish. A third trade of the same variety was made in May of '05, when Hendry sent the much-maligned LaTroy Hawkins to the Giants for Jerome Williams and David Aardsma. That was his only "forced" type trade that resulted in useful players.
Hendry waited a while to find a replacement for the injured Lee in '06, eventually settling on a league average Phil Nevin from Texas. The Cubs soon became sellers that year, and the best Hendry could do for Greg Maddux was Cesar Izturis. He's generally much better as a buyer than a seller, except for the Pierre deal.
Hendry's favorite trading partners are Theo Epstein and Dave Littlefield; he's made four deals with each. He also enjoys dealing with the Orioles' braintrust, Larry Beinfest, Dave Dombrowski, Doug Melvin, and Dan O'Dowd. His one and only crosstown trade came this winter with the Neal Cotts-David Aardsma deal; that one's too early to call. Click here to Download chicago_cubs_hendry.xls - Hendry's entire trading record in a spreadsheet.
While Hendry's free agency record is questionable, he comes out as a strong trader upon review. Cubs fans should have confidence that he'll add some helpful players in July and August if the team is in the race.