Ten days ago, Cubs general manager said the team was three or four solid moves away from contending in 2011.
After trading away first baseman Derrek Lee to the Braves for three prospects Wednesday, Hendry again talked about the near future of the franchise.
“I just figured moving parts over the winter, things can change.” Hendry said. “I just used that number [three or four moves] basically just that if we look at it realistically and we feel some of the kids we bring up can play well and hold their own, maybe we can fill some spots in the pen or the back end of the rotation with somebody in the system by next year. That would minimize the amount of people we have to get from the outside [via trade and free agency]. Whether it’s three, four or five outside moves, I don’t know.”
Trying to replace Lee, the Cubs’ first baseman the past seven years, might not be an easy thing to do.
One consideration could be to ask third baseman Aramis Ramirez if he’d be interested in changing positions next season. Ramirez, who has endured a rough year all around, would most likely balk at that suggestion initially. Still, it might be easier for the Cubs to replace a third baseman than a first baseman over the offseason.
Baring a remote chance the Cubs are able to trade for Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder, some first base candidates include free agents Carlos Pena (Tampa Bay), Paul Konerko (White Sox), Adam Dunn (Washington) and Lyle Overbay (Toronto). Of those four, Dunn is the only player who is a below average defensive player at first. Pena, Konerko and Overbay all are veterans who may or may not fit into a long-term retooling process for the Cubs.
There’s been some speculation that outfielder Tyler Colvin could be moved to first next season. Colvin played that position in high school and in his first couple years of college, but he hasn’t done a thing at that position in six years. He would have to go to the Arizona Instructional League just to start the process of preparing for that position change.
Manager Lou Piniella said after the Lee trade that a team meeting was eminent.
“Yeah, we’re going to have to [have a meeting],” Piniella said. “We’ve lost some good people in here over the past three weeks or so. We’re going to have to sit down and talk about it as a team.”
In the meantime, according to Piniella the Cubs may recall first baseman Micah Hoffpauir from Triple-A Iowa.
“We can mix and match over there,” Piniella said. “We can give Hoffpauir some playing time.”
Further illustrating how young the Cubs roster has become over the past couple of months, the team used six rookie pitchers in Wednesday’s game. That’s the first time in Major League history that a team has used six rookie pitchers in one game before September call-ups.
Of the team’s 25-man opening day roster, the Cubs have 16 players remaining from opening day.