As if bracing us for a trade season that sees the Cubs make very few moves, General Manager Jim Hendry is already talking about how, with just a couple more players added to the current crew, the Cubs could be right in it next year.
“That’s the way the game is now,” Hendry said. “The Pirates were [34 games] back a year ago. They did a nice job. Some of their younger players are playing well. They had a few real quality acquisitions in the winter that clicked. And you’re right back in it.
“Everybody in the preseason was ready to hand everything to the Reds or the Cardinals and all of a sudden you got a good four-team race.”
Yes, a good four-team race.
Meanwhile, the Cubs are much closer to being locked in a two-team race for the worst record in baseball. Even in trying to build hope, Hendry can’t help but remind us how brutally disappointing this season has been.
“Some of the minor-league pitching hasn’t come as fast this year as we would have liked,” Hendry continued, acknowledging how poorly some of the team’s top pitching prospects have performed this year. “But we still got a pretty good core group in the rotation coming back.
“The pen’s in good shape. You tinker with that, add a little pitching, add a player or two. [The] guys that are close come up [from the system] and play [like Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney]. All of a sudden, you got a pretty good thing for a few years.”
Sadly, it sounds like Hendry continues to peddle hope as a strategy.
But, even as hopeful as he may be for 2012, it remains highly unlikely that Hendry will be the one doing the strategizing.