GM Jim Hendry doesn’t believe Cubs need to go boom to improve
By Gordon wittenmyer email@example.com July 29, 2011 11:40PM
Ex-White Sox pitcher Edwin Jackson puts in a winning effort in his Cardinals debut Friday against the Cubs. | Dilip Vishwanat~Getty Images
Updated: August 1, 2011 3:17PM
ST. LOUIS — Cubs general manager Jim Hendry doesn’t share the same delusions about grand comebacks that his manager and at least a few players have had in recent days.
But he also doesn’t see a gut-the-roster, total-youth-movement rebuilding process — even on a day his team lost its fourth straight game, 9-2 to the St. Louis Cardinals, to drop a season-worst 22 games under .500.
‘‘You always need some kind of rebuilding when you’re in fifth place, absolutely,’’ Hendry said. ‘‘But you certainly don’t look at it like, ‘We’re not going to compete for a few years.’ When somebody says, ‘Blow the place up and start over and do it right,’ well, OK, does that mean we should get rid of the people who are very young and very good?’’
With a few key, veteran starting pitchers, a talented young middle infield, a strong bullpen and a few other select pieces, Hendry sees a return to competitiveness in the National League Central as a realistic short-term fix — especially with as much as $50 million dropping off of a $130 million payroll after the season.
‘‘A couple of new acquisitions, and for the first time in a few years, there’s significant dollars coming off the books,’’ Hendry said. ‘‘All’s you need is your young people to keep getting better, and you make the right moves with the money that now will be available, and why couldn’t you be right back in it?
‘‘We’re having a bad year,’’ he added. ‘‘There’s no way around it. No excuses for it. Nobody ever picked us to be in the first three this year [in the division], but we certainly felt like by now we’d be .500, and hopefully adding on. . . . Excuses or no excuses, injuries or no injuries, we haven’t played to the level that we should have.’’
Veteran Aramis Ramirez said a major-market team such as the Cubs never should need a blow-it-up rebuilding process.
‘‘You can’t rebuild in a big market,’’ he said. ‘‘When you get 40,000 every day in the stands, you can’t try and rebuild. You’ve got to put a winning product on the field. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But you can’t just get rid of everybody and try to rebuild in a market like this.’’
Right-hander Andrew Cashner , sidelined since the first week of the season with a shoulder injury, is scheduled to throw off a mo und today for the first tim e since a setback in May. He should join the team Monday in Pittsburgh to continue a throwing program .
◆ Manager Mike Quade had Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney batting first and second Friday — a combination he’ll stick with for at least a few days in hopes it’ll work longer-term.
◆ Outfielder Tyler Colvin , whose chance to play the rest the season was the main motivation for dealing Kosu ke Fukudome , bats ei ghth as Quade looks for m ore discipline at the plate after his 55 strikeouts in 212 plate appearances at Class AAA .
◆ Hendry on Quade suggesting the Cubs could re-enter the division race: ‘‘I respect his optimism. . . . You certainly don’t want Mike hanging his head and saying we can’t do something. I’m sure in his heart he believes we can have a good couple of months like we had last year at the end. . . . But you’ve got a lot of people in front of you and a lot of games behind.’’