Cubs GM Jim Hendry promises to be aggressive as trade deadline nears
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org July 8, 2011 11:52PM
Third-base coach Ivan DeJesus congratulates Aramis Ramirez on his solo shot in the first. | Jared Wickerham~Getty Images
Updated: October 22, 2011 12:16AM
PITTSBURGH — Matt Garza’s bold and inexplicable conjecture aside, this year’s Cubs are closer to the brink of extinction than the brink of a significant run.
General manager Jim Hendry already is fielding calls from contenders interested in some of his players. And once the Cubs reach the All-Star break after this weekend, the sprint is on toward the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline and what figures to be a new purpose over the final two months of the season.
“Hopefully, we can win a few games here,’’ Hendry said before the Cubs’ 7-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. “No matter what, it doesn’t really change the focus of what we’ll try to do here over the next month.
“Everything we try to do will be designed to try to get better moving forward. And there won’t be pieces moved that are going to be integral parts of the club a year from now.’’
That means players such as Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall and the young middle infielders are untouchable.
The Cubs also are likely to pass on requests for starting pitchers Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Garza, rather than create an even bigger hole to fill at their greatest area of need.
And while Kerry Wood is attracting as much interest as any Cub, the chances are remote he’ll be traded. He said during the last homestand it would require the ideal scenario for him to waive his no-trade clause.
Almost everyone else on the roster with at least arbitration-level service time could merit a discussion, depending on the offer.
No matter how hard Garza clings to the kind of optimism he displayed Thursday night in Washington after the historic comeback from eight runs down to a 10-9 victory.
“They say we’re down and out, but I don’t think so,’’ Garza said after the comeback. “We’re right where we need to be right now to make a good run.’’
Certainly, if he’s talking about setting it up for 2012.
“We’ll try to be aggressive and if some things [arise] that help us get better for next year,’’ Hendry said.
That could mean trading one of the hottest home-run hitters in baseball, one-year free agent Carlos Pena or final-year contract guys Kosuke Fukudome and/or John Grabow.
Another hot hitter, Aramis Ramirez, might draw some interest closer to the deadline, but he has expressed little interest in waiving his no-trade clause. Hendry doesn’t seem to have ruled out bringing him back next year, with the obvious sticking point his $16 million club option.
“At the right time, Aramis and I will have a chat moving forward,’’ Hendry said. “I’ll handle that like I always do. He’s been a real good player for a long time, and been really hot the last three or four weeks.’’
Meanwhile, look for the Cubs to be as active as most of the other teams in the next few weeks, even if the final result won’t take on fire-sale proportions.
“It’s just normal banter that when you’re having a bad first half like we’ve had that people just think you’re going to back up the truck and start moving bodies out,’’ Hendry said. “It’s not a question of having to move money. We’ll try to do things that make logical sense. And hopefully we do make some moves.’’
They might need one or two trades just to create enough flexibility to get a better look at some prospects down the stretch. Top outfield prospect Brett Jackson was hitting .440 at Class AA this month entering play Friday.
“If we could move some parts that in no way in any shape or form would fit next year we’ll try to do that,’’ Hendry said.