LOS ANGELES -- For the first time this season, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry is in the mode of changing the direction of his team.
The Cliff Lee trade has suddenly put a focus on teams like the Cubs, who could start to move veteran players between now and the July 31st trading deadline.
Hendry was asked if he expects to start hearing from clubs in need of pitching and hitting help.
“I don’t know,” Hendry said. “The industry is going to be active the next couple of weeks. So I can’t say that’s unrealistic. It’s been a while since we’ve been this far back in July. I think our players are realistic. They didn’t think they’d be 10 games back this time of year. [Trade talk is] a part of the industry. It’s the world we live in.”
Left-hander Ted Lilly may be at the top of the list of available Cub players. Lilly is just hitting his stride after coming back from shoulder surgery last November. His first start of 2010 wasn’t until the third week of April, so many teams will consider him stronger than other starting pitchers at this time of year.
Hendry was asked how difficult it is to face the fact that this year he’s a seller and not a buyer.
“What’s hard for me is that I thought we’d be doing a lot better,” Hendry said. “I like the action of July. That’s not any secret. We’ve made some great deals in July. You’re around these guys so much, you’d like to be in it and reward them for their efforts.”
It’s inevitable that Hendry will have to move some of his veterans. However the players will probably be told in advance before the Cubs GM makes any moves.
“I try to let people know where I stand. I think that’s a good thing,” Hendry said. “Even when you have to give people bad news, if you give it to them in an upbeat fashion, I think they appreciate that, and I think that bodes well for your future relationships with your players. That’s not just some magic formula. That’s just the way we do it.”
When Hendry pulls the trigger on any trade, he’ll keep his eye on improving the Cubs for now, and the future.
“Anything we do, we will try to make us better for the future,” Hendry said. “Like I told everybody the other day, we’re never going to go into a season thinking we’re not going to contend. In my mind, we should have been right in the thick of the competition right now. That being said, we’re getting better young players. These guys will be coming around the next couple of years. We’re not going to overhaul the program. We’re not going to be going young for a couple of years and say ‘we can’t win’. We’re going to go into it thinking we’re going to contend next season.”
Major league sources tell ESPNChicago.com that the Angels, Rangers and Padres all have inquired about the availability of outfielder/first baseman Xavier Nady. Other teams have also inquired about Derrek Lee, although Lee has a full no-trade clause in his contract.
Upwards of six contenders will be sending scouts to watch Lilly’s next couple of starts, even after two below-average outings.
The Tigers and Cubs have also had conversations that included talk about the availability of second baseman Ryan Theriot.