Cubs GM Jim Hendry: Season ‘frustrating’ to management
By Toni Ginnetti firstname.lastname@example.org June 13, 2011 7:10PM
Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade, left, chats with general manager Jim Hendry, right, in this file photo from Feb. 27, 2011, in Mesa, Ariz. | AP
Updated: June 13, 2011 7:20PM
Injuries have taken a toll on the Cubs, but the team’s woeful position after two months is ‘‘frustrating’’ to management, general manager Jim Hendry said Monday.
He also said he understands why he is coming under fire from fans.
‘‘I’ve been here a long time, and I expected us to win at a higher level than three division championships,’’ he said. ‘‘I expected more out of myself. This is professional baseball in a great city with a great fan base, so that’s to be expected.’’
But Hendry, whose contract is up this year, remains supportive of manager Mike Quade, his choice last fall to take over for Lou Piniella. Hendry insisted he is positive about the team’s future and the commitment of the Ricketts family to the franchise.
‘‘Obviously, Mike didn’t flip a light switch from last fall [when the team went 24-13 in the last six weeks of the season] and start managing differently,’’ Hendry said. ‘‘I don’t know how Mike could have managed differently [in the face of the injuries]. Nobody has eight starting pitchers in their system who can help, and even guys like [Jeff] Baker and Reed [Johnson] could have helped. I don’t dump any of that on Mike Quade.
‘‘We’re all frustrated. We got off to a bad start. We’re not here to make excuses about the injuries. It’s something you have to fight through. It’s baseball, and hopefully you can get it going. We didn’t play well early. I feel bad for Mike’s situation because we lost guys early to injuries, but we didn’t deserve to win a lot of games early because we didn’t play well.
‘‘There are still 100 games left to do something.’’
Hendry’s remarks came in the wake of the Cubs’ 2-8 road trip that saw them fall two games out of last place in the National League Central. They have the second-worst record in baseball, ahead of only the Houston Astros, who swept the Cubs in a three-game series on the last homestand.
The outlook for this homestand is no less daunting, starting with the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers tonight before a weekend series with the New York Yankees. Then the Cubs visit U.S. Cellular Field next Monday to play the revived White Sox.
Hendry was in Arizona for the Major League Baseball amateur draft during the road trip, and chairman Tom Ricketts spent time there, as well. Hendry called the draft a good one for the Cubs, trying to highlight a brighter future and saying things might look better next year with many of the team’s prospects gaining experience by being on the injury-depleted roster.
‘‘A year from now, I don’t think the future is anything but in great shape,’’ he said, saying the Ricketts family is committed to long-term upgrades in the farm system, spring-training facilities in Arizona and facilities in the Dominican Republic.
Ricketts didn’t want to speak Monday, but Hendry said the new owner ‘‘has every right to be frustrated.’’
‘‘Our conversations with Tom [are about] let’s get to work and make the right decisions for next year and keep in mind our own guys are developing,’’ Hendry said.
But he was less committal on free agency in the face of speculation the Cubs won’t have money to spend in the offseason as some $50 million in salary comes off the books.
‘‘That will be up to Tom, and we’ll discuss that at the end of the year,’’ Hendry said. ‘‘There’s never been any talk of not [pursuing free agents].’’
Hendry said there is still time for the team to turn it around this season.
‘‘It’s baseball, and hopefully you can get it going,’’ he said. ‘‘Guys are battling. Some nights we were against some pretty tough odds. Some of it is bad breaks.’’