A roundup of MLBTR’s original content from the past week:
- In a fascinating, extremely detailed piece, MLBTR contributor and former Cubs front office man Chuck Wasserstrom went back in time to the team’s active offseason after the 2006 campaign. The Cubs won just 66 games in 2006, leading the Tribune Company – which owned the franchise at the time and was looking to sell it – to give then-general manager Jim Hendry the green light to spend in free agency. Improving the on-field product would increase the Cubs’ value, the Tribune Company figured, so Hendry brought in famed manager Lou Piniella and made several signings. Wasserstrom interviewed both Hendry and Piniella about that offseason, and Hendry noted that left-hander Ted Lilly was the Cubs’ top free agent pitching target entering the Winter Meetings. Both Lilly and his agent, Larry O’Brien, as well as Hendry, Piniella and Yankees GM Brian Cashman (the Bombers were Lilly’s top choice) were among those who detailed the courting of Lilly, who ultimately signed a four-year, $40MM deal with Chicago. At the same time, though, Hendry was in a terrifying personal situation, having found out that he’d need to undergo an emergency heart procedure. When Lilly agreed to join the Cubs, Hendry was in the midst of an EKG. “To this day, the story obviously has been embellished in some ways by the fact that a couple hours later I was going to have a heart procedure – but the fact is that Larry O’Brien called me when I was on the gurney,” Hendry said. Added Cashman, who now works with Hendry in the Yankees’ front office, “I know we as an industry were worried sick about Jim and his health, but it’s nice to be able to look back on it in a fond way promoting how dedicated Jim is – because he survived it.” Hendry’s signing of Lilly proved to be a quality move, as the left-hander went on to post a 3.70 ERA in 113 starts with the Cubs and help the team to two playoff appearances.
- Brewers reliever and funnyman Tim Dillard, who’s in minor league camp in Arizona, returned to share the second part of his Inner Monologue. Here’s an excerpt: “Yesterday a teammate walked in the clubhouse carrying coffee and wearing a huge round fancy wristwatch. So just to be stupid, I asked him what time it was. The guy stopped… dug his watch hand into his pocket… and emerged with a smart phone. He hit the button to make the screen light up, but it was upside down. But after repositioning his coffee between his arm and chest, he managed to flip the phone right side up. “It isssssssss 6:37.”’
- This year’s Offseason In Review series continued with looks at five teams. Tim Dierkes handled both Chicago clubs (links: Cubs, White Sox), while I tackled the Mets and Athletics, and Mark Polishuk analyzed the Blue Jays.