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Hendry knows there's work to be done
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff

Arizona Diamondbacks' catcher Miguel Montero tags out Sam Fuld during a rundown between home plate and third base in the third inning of Sunday's 5-2 Cubs loss.

 

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Published: 10/5/2009 12:07 AM

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After he takes a brief break this week, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry will settle in for the long haul of the off-season.

To hear Hendry tell it, it could be a long haul indeed, with the 2010 Cubs not being fully set until spring training.

Whatever, neither Hendry nor field manager Lou Piniella was interested in dissecting what went wrong in 2009, when the Cubs finished with a winning record (83-78) but failed for the first time in three years to make the playoffs.

"Obviously, we're disappointed that we didn't do better," Hendry said before Sunday's finale at Wrigley Field, a 5-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. "We're disappointed we didn't get in. There's no sense in rehashing who could have done better or what we should or shouldn't have done.

"That being said, I think from my own personal statement, I think I'd like to acknowledge congratulations to the Cardinals. They certainly played great. Well-deserved of a division title."

Hendry said the Cubs aren't that far away from getting back to first place but that it may take a whole winter of work.

"There were a lot of positives, and we don't have a poor situation by any stretch of the imagination," he said. "We have a lot of good guys coming back. We don't have an old team. I think Derrek (Lee) is our oldest guy - he just turned 34 - and obviously he's still tremendously productive.

"After today, we're going to put it behind us and start working towards putting a better club together by spring training. It might take us four or five months."

The first order of business will be to find a taker for suspended right fielder Milton Bradley and at least part of the $21 million he has coming over the next two seasons.

With Kevin Towers having been fired as GM of the San Diego Padres, that may have eliminated one possible landing place for Bradley, as Towers recently expressed possible interest.

There is little to no chance that Bradley and the Cubs could mend fences, but Hendry won't say that publicly.

"You deal with the cards you're dealt," Hendry said. "Right now, he's still a member of the Cubs. It will be a long process to get a roster that we think is better obviously than what we did in the standings this year.

"But until people come or go, you have to play the cards you have right now."

The Cubs soon with gather in Arizona for their organization meetings. Still to be determined is the player payroll for 2010. The sale of the Cubs from the Tribune Co. to a group headed by Tom Ricketts should be finalized in the coming weeks after three full baseball seasons of the club being up for sale.

Piniella has talked of wanting an "RBI guy" for the middle of the order to replace Bradley, and he also has talked of wanting more team speed.

Much will depend on how much money the new owner OKs.

"I'm not worried about that; it's not tricky," Hendry said. "What's been a little bit different is a club of this magnitude being for sale for 21/2 years through a couple of different transitions. The old Tribune selling out to Sam Zell and obviously the latest transaction taking a long, long time.

"We don't make excuses around here. We had a very high payroll around here for a couple of years but obviously the last eight, nine months has been a little different than the first couple of years.

"It was obviously in total transition, and then obviously we went through the company having their bankruptcy issues that probably did affect the way the sale was done. We're just glad to have finally an end to it."