It’s a day of shaking hands and saying goodbye. For some, it’s goodbye for good, and for others, it’s see you next year. Both Jim Hendry and Lou met the media this morning. Both seemed as enthusiastic about putting this year behind them as they are looking forward to next year.
Since it’s been in the news lately, Ryne Sandberg will be heading back to the minor leagues to manage next year. What happens beyond that is anybody’s guess, but look for him at Class AA Tennessee, where he led the Smokies to the Southern League championship series.
"Ryne will be back managing in the minor leagues,” Jim said. “He's doing a very good job of it. His final assignment will be up to Oneri (minor-league director Fleita), not myself. He'll probably be back right where he was if we don't have any changes above. He's doing very well. I admire him for the way he's gone about his business.”
Lou didn't get into endorsing any possible successor, saying only it's a lot harder to manage in the major leagues than it is in the minors.
Dempster needs 5 innings to reach 200 for the season, and he’d be the only Cubs pitcher to do so this year.
As far as the off-season goes, Jim says it may take “4-5 months” to put together next year’s club. That’s been more of the norm for everybody lately, as free agents linger well into the winter. Remember, the Cubs went all the way to the eve of spring training of 2004 before signing Greg Maddux.
Jim more or less talked around what would happen to Milton Bradley. The Cubs will trade him this winter, but Jim was asked if there was any chance Milton could come back.
"You deal with the cards you're dealt,” Jim 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."
As for Lou, he didn’t want to speculate beyond next year, the final season of his contract.
“I don't want to talk beyond next year,” he said. “I’ve been very appreciative that I could come to a wonderful city like this, a wonderful franchise like this and get a chance to close out my career. It's been everything I've bargained for and even more, it really has been. This is a great city. The fans here, I mean gosh, how can you say anything but nice things? They come out here in numbers. They are patient.”
That they are.
Enjoy the game. We’ll keep blogging for much of the week, with a rundown on each of the players.