Jim Hendry is starting to make noise that he may finally have added up that two plus two equals more runs than the Cubs will usually score in a game. While still not using a label as a "seller," Paul Sullivan reports that Hendry is looking at the trade market with an eye on the future.
The problem is, he is still talking like this is a team that needs a little minor tweaking:
"Anything we do I will try to set ourselves up for the future," Hendry said. "We're not ever going to go into a season thinking we're not going to contend. In our mindset, we should've been in the thick of contention now.
"(But) we're starting to get better young players come up. A lot more of those guys are going to be coming the next two or three years. But it's not like 'Oh, we're going to be young a couple years and can't win.' "
Jim Hendry is like the big, fat hairy guy that thinks he only needs to lose a couple of pounds to look good in a Speedo swimsuit.
Hendry has tweaked this same basic team repeatedly over the years and not been able to even win a single playoff game. He stockpiled diminutive middle infielders. He signed relievers to three-year deals. He became hellbent on getting more left-handed. He said screw left-handedness and went for a happy, clappy clubhouse. Nothing has worked and now the main cogs in the offense, Lee and Ramirez, are reaching the ends of their careers as difference makers.
Meanwhile, there really isn't anybody who has been able to step up into the void to take over. Soriano has improved over last year, but he's not getting any younger and his periods of dominance are fewer and further between. Colvin has been nice, but I don't think many people who look beyond the boyish good looks think he is a solid three or four hitter. Castro could eventually be one of the better hitting shortstops in the league, but he probably isn't ever going to hit 40 homeruns.
The Cubs need to stockpile some high ceiling talent and the way they do that is selling off the viable pieces they have that will be problems two or three years from now. Marmol is going to be a problem eventually. Marshall is going to force his way into the rotation and probably show that he is decent but not great at it. Soto is a catcher and they decline faster than the other positions. Dempster isn't getting any younger. Silva will eventually remember that he is Carlos Silva.
As ccd (from Waxpaperbeercup.com) and I were discussing the last couple of days in the comments, the reason Hendry is taking this angle has nothing to do with baseball and everything to do with not having the balls to take a flamethrower to the current team and rebuild it from the ground up. They don't think that fans will pay to see that process (especially given that we have seen the Bulls working on their third five-year plan since the demolition of Jordan's Bulls) and they are probably right because Cubs fans can't let go of decent players in order to get younger unproven talent with higher ceilings and higher flameout risk.
Get used to seeing the baseball equivalent of cellulite muffin-topping over a banana hammock, because all the Cubs are going to do in the next few months is a couple of sit-ups.