Chicago Cubs GM Jim Hendry Missing, Not In Action

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IJuly 29, 2009

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 30:  General manager Jim Hendry of the Chicago Cubs answers questions from the media during a press conference to announce the sigining of Alfonso Soriano to an eight year free agent contract November 30, 2006 at the Stadium Club at Wriglry Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)

The non-waiver trade deadline for Major League Baseball is Friday afternoon, and the flurry of deals many analysts were starting to doubt has started.

As usual, the Pittsburgh Pirates are giving away talent a couple times a day "in an effort to improve themselves," while other National League contenders make strong statements that they intend to compete into October.

On Wednesday, the defending World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies made the biggest statement to date, moving a number of prospects to the Cleveland Indians for someone else carrying hardware from 2008, last year's AL Cy Young winner Cliff Lee.

What baffles me, as it likely does many other fans, is how the Phillies have a handful of elite prospects that were rumored to be included in a trade for Toronto ace Roy Halladay, and yet they didn't trade one of their top five to get Lee.

This move gives the Phillies perhaps the best 1-2 punch of left handers the National League has seen in decades, partnering a defending Cy Young winner with a World Series MVP in Cole Hamels.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants bolstered their infield and batting order by moving a highly regarded pitching prospect, Tim Alderson, to Pittsburgh for second baseman Freddy Sanchez.

While both of these deals are going on, the Chicago Cubs have been nowhere.

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No rumors. No hints of potential movement. Nothing.

Oh, they made a roster move on Wednesday, sending one pitcher back to Iowa and recalling another. But nothing of any substance.

The Cubs received somewhat concerning news after Wednesday's blowout victory over the Houston Astros, when they learned outfielder Reed Johnson had broken his foot early in Wednesday's game and will likely miss the next four weeks.

But will Hendry even approach the idea of acquiring another outfielder?

Johnson is arguably the best defensive player in the Cubs' crowded outfield, and the depth chart now lists two converted (or converting) infielders, Jake Fox and Micah Hoffpaiur, behind the defensively challenged Alfonso Soriano and offensively questionable Kosuke Fukudome and Milton Bradley.

The Cubs signed injured and inconsistent BJ Ryan after he was released by Toronto earlier this month, hoping he could become a second lefty out of their bullpen. But Ryan is likely a couple weeks away from being ready for the majors, leaving the Cubs with Sean Marshall being the only healthy lefty on the roster (Ted Lilly is on the DL).

But where could Hendry go for another pitcher? Does he have the pieces to make a move?

If you believe the soundbites on Chicago radio and what many pundits have taken away from conversations with Cubs management over the last ten days, it appears the team believes the return of Aramis Ramirez to the lineup is all this team needs to contend for a Championship.

But that's not accounting for Bradley's continued struggles hitting the ball (he walks plenty, but rarely makes contact effectively). If management watched last week's series in Philadelphia and the last three games against Houston, its obvious that this team can streak just as badly as they can get hot.

It's also not accounting for their lack of depth behind the plate, where Koyie Hill has now started 19 consecutive games. The last time a Cubs catcher caught that many consecutive games was Damon Berryhill in 1989, and Hill isn't the Cubs primary catcher.

How, or if, Geovany Soto comes back from his lovehandle contusion, I mean oblique strain, is a big question for this team. His offensive production wasn't anywhere near what it was last year when he won Rookie of the Year honors, but he was beginning to come out of his funk when he got hurt.

Or was he coming out of a haze? Just kidding.

The one position that the Cubs could specifically address on the field to make an improvement without throwing the consistency of the roster completely off is second base, which is why many Cubs fans were starting to develop a fancrush on Sanchez.

But now he's in San Francisco, a team that's ahead of the Cubs for the Wild Card.

Is Hendry going to do anything? Is there another left handed pitcher out there the Cubs could make a move for, or is Hendry really buying his own message that this team is good enough as-is?


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