Unless the Cubs win the World Series under the general management of Jim Hendry, the disastrous signing of Milton Bradley will loom as the unfortunate but defining episode in Hendry’s Chicago career. Fantastic deals like acquiring Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez and even missteps such as signing Soriano, Fukudome, Kevin Gregg, Jeromy Burnitz, Kent Mercker, LaTroy Hawkins, Juan Pierre, Cesar Izturis, (etc., etc.) will be eventually be forgotten, but Bradley’s treachery will stain Hendry’s resume forever.
However, due to new ownership not letting Hendry spend like an Irishman on payday any longer, it looks like the 2010 Cubs will be satisfied with just an upgrade in team chemistry, if nothing else.
Having rid the team of pesky positive influences like Mark DeRosa and Reed Johnson over the last couple of seasons, Hendry seems to have lucked into similarly upbeat personalities in the two highest profile acquisitions of this past off season in Marlon Byrd, Carlos Silva.
Even though Silva got hammered in his first spring training start, he has settled down thanks in no small part to another brilliant Hendry signee, special assistant and future first ballot HOFer Greg Maddux.
“His journey is hanging in my house!” Silva gushed to the Trib this weekend when asked about Maddux. Apparently Silva has also known the big man Carlos Zambrano since he was 16 years old and the Cubs think Big Z’s influence will help Silva readjust to the National League, where he had a promising start to his career with the Phillies.
“He can pitch. He has good pitches,” the Cubs ace remarked. “I don’t know what’s going on, but the last two seasons (in Seattle) it looks like he’s been distracted, doing something wrong.”
“It’s amazing when you fix one little thing.” Z said about Silva’s recent success.
Zambrano also put his stamp of approval on his new center fielder.
“I like Marlon Byrd a lot, the way he goes about his business. He just cares about playing baseball. He knows his mission is to beat that guy. People count more on (Derrek Lee) and (Aramis Ramirez) to drive in runs, but he wants to be part of those dangerous hitters and that’s a good thing.”
Byrd is also thrilled with his opportunity.
“To me, it’s an honor I have to protect Aramis (batting 5th),” said Byrd who is hitting .355 this preseason. “It’s not an easy task. I did it for Sammy (Sosa) in ’07, and (Josh) Hamilton and Michael (Young). I feel I’ve done a good job of protecting guys. I know I’m going to get challenged this year, so it’s going to be fun.
“Teams are going to test, to see who’s swinging the (hot) bat. So you have to come out in the first game (of a series) and let them know, ‘Hey, you’re going to have to pitch to Aramis.’
“I know I’m a good baseball player, but (Ramirez is Ramirez). I put myself up to that challenge.”
Byrd also seemingly wants to distance himself from the guy many fans think he is replacing in the Cubs everyday lineup.
I absolutely promised myself I wouldn’t get excited about the Cubs this year, buuuuut… (tribune)
“I’m a happy guy,” he said. “These (teammates) are great. The young guys are watching a learning, and the old guys are leading by example.”