Hendry Ready For The GM Meetings

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While the Chicago Cubs Hot Stove has not been all that hot recently, expect it to come to a full boil this week as all 30 General Managers will be meeting in Florida this week. Typically at these General Manager’s meetings, the groundwork is being laid for potential trades and free agent deals to be completed within following weeks. It was at the same General Manager’s meetings, that Cubs GM Jim Hendry laid the groundwork for signing the likes of Alfonso Soriano, and Milton Bradley in the past. However, in year in which the Cubs payroll may drop 10%, Hendry tells Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times that he is more focused on making “two or three solid additions” instead of one big splash.

"”I’m not worried about the ‘splash’ factor,” said Hendry, who might be looking at a 10 percent drop from the $146 million Opening Day payroll of 2010 once chairman Tom Ricketts gets specific with the budget in the next few weeks. ”I’m worried about getting the right guys that make us better. We’ve already put the fifth-place thing behind us, and we’d like to think we’re going to build off the last two months [24-13 finish]. … It’s really imperative that we have two or three really good moves.” CHICAGO SUN TIMES"

As if we needed any more clarification, this means that the Chicago Cubs are not going to sign Adam Dunn, or even Cliff Lee for that matter. However, Hendry is probably hoping that he has the foundation made for improving this team for the 2011 season. Among the things Hendry will be working on this week, is finding a first baseman, adding a starting pitcher, and improving the teams bullpen.

Even though Cliff Lee is the ideal match for the Chicago Cubs, he is not a financial fit with where the Cubs are right now. With this mind, Wittenmyer notes that the Cubs will be in the market for a mid-rotation starter. Among the names he mentioned are Jake Westbrook, Kevin Millwood, and Javier Vazquez. While Vazquez struggled with the Yankees this year, he has proven that he is very capable of pitching in the National League. In 2009, when he was with the Atlanta Braves, Vazquez had an ERA of 2.87 while pitching 219 innings. In my opinion, Vazquez is the best option of the three that were mentioned by Wittenmyer.

The Chicago Cubs top priority, appears to be finding a power hitting left handed first baseman. While Adam Dunn was believed to be their top target, it appears now that he is no longer within the Cubs price ranger. Expect the Cubs to exhaust every effort in trying to trade for Adrian Gonzalez, but in the end, it appears that the Padres will hold to him to start the season. Meaning the Cubs will be looking at “second-tier” options according to Wittenmyer. The names that were mentioned in the Sun Times report include Adam LaRoche, Nick Johnson, and Lyle Overbay. However, it has been reported, that Carlos Pena is the guy the Cubs may want to man first base. I have already made it known, that if the Cubs can not trade for Gonzalez, they should sign Pena.

Meanwhile, a need that is being overlooked, is the Cubs need for a veteran reliever. Without question, the Cubs could make the biggest move by bringing back Kerry Wood. However, Wittenmyer labels that as a splash the Cubs probably can’t afford. Instead of Wood, Wittenmyer lists Jason Frasor and Grant Balfour. But, I actually disagree with Wittenmyer’s options here. while he states that it appears that Wood is headed back to the Yankees, there really have not been any form of communication between the two sides. Which is why I feel the Chicago Cubs have a greater chance at re-uniting with Kerry Wood than the Yankees do.

Expect their to be a lot of rumors and news coming out of the General Manager’s meetings this week. They will take place on Tuesday November 16th, and Wednesday November 17th. However, the General Managers usually stay there for the entire week.