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The Chicago Cubs sported a very healthy $140 million(ish) payroll in 2009 – good enough to top the Senior Circuit (with the New York Mets having about the same payroll). And it was worth every penny, right?

Fans no doubt expect that payroll will increase next year, and it is expected to do so, incrementally at least. But folks expecting a jump large enough to accommodate a big new signing – without a corresponding move that alleviates a large salary burden somewhere on the roster – are probably going to be disappointed.

When team executives meet in Arizona next month to map the future, Hendry can expect a payroll in the $143 million range — a tick above what he had last season. With so many contracts ballooning in 2010, there won’t be any room for a big deal. And don’t expect Ricketts to cave in at the last minute to get that big name.

After he pops the corks on the champagne bottles, he will have a long list of tasks to tackle. Wrigley Field needs some pampering. There are plans for a major face-lift around Clark and Addison. Wrigley’s restrooms should get overdue upgrades, and long-awaited plans for a Cubs hall of fame in the neighborhood soon will be unveiled.

As for the on-field product, look for the Cubs to tout their emerging prospects — Tyler Colvin, Josh Vitters and Andrew Cashner. This talk will be met with skepticism from fans who remember being burned by Corey Patterson, Felix Pie and Mike Fontenot.

Quick editorial aside – Um, what? First of all, Mike Fontenot was never considered a serious Cubs prospect. He developed in the Orioles’ system, came over in the Sammy Sosa trade, and almost immediately started contributing on the big league level. Listing him with Patterson and Pie is truly bizarre. Secondly,no one considers Tyler Colvin a touted or emerging prospect at this point. Grabbing the names of the guys taken in the first round in 2006, 2007, and 2008 does not a prospect list make. If you want to make a point about prospect disappointment, fine. But if you don’t follow Cubs prospects, don’t write an article acting as though you do. Ok, back to the otherwise good article:

As for Hendry, his contract guarantees him a Cubs paycheck through 2012, but he will be under his closest scrutiny in Year 1 of the Ricketts era. Another flop that mirrors the minus touch he had in 2009, and Hendry will be residing in an Ed Lynch-style exile.

Manager Lou Piniella has stressed he plans to return for the last season of his contract and promises to walk away from managing — anywhere — after 2010. The Ricketts camp seems open to the entire idea of one year — and one year only — of Piniella.

As for the biggest piece of unwanted baggage that accompanied the deal, outfielder Milton Bradley and the remaining two years and $21 million left on his contract will be Hendry’s problem. The new owner isn’t expected to say he will gladly eat Bradley’s salary. Whatever the Cubs must pay to get rid of Bradley — and he remains a goner — will count against Hendry’s $143 million-or-so payroll. CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.

If the Cubs manage to move Bradley without eating all of his salary, and do not re-sign Rich Harden, they may have some $10 million or so to play with. However, they would also have a hole in the outfield at that point.

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