General manager Jim Hendry looking for ways to make Cubs better

Updated: November 12, 2007, 8:07 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- General manager Jim Hendry's mission this offseason is to make the Cubs a better club than the one that was swept in the first round of the playoffs.

He expects to have the finances to do so.

"We'd like to add some speed and more left-handed hitting in the outfield and keep an eye on pitching," Hendry said Monday after the Cubs traded Jacque Jones, their starting center fielder in the second half of 2007, to Detroit for utility player Omar Infante.

"It will be a daily stay-on-top-of it. ... We'll try to show up in spring training with a lot better club."

The Cubs could turn to the young and talented Felix Pie in center with Jones gone and will pursue a left-handed bat in right field after declining an option earlier on veteran Cliff Floyd.

Reports have said the Cubs could be interested in free agent Japanese players like pitcher Hiroki Kuroda or outfielder Kosuke Fukudome.

Hendry said he'd been assured by team president John McDonough he will be allowed to spend what is needed to make improvements, even though the Cubs are up for sale.

Hendry called it a "fair situation. "No matter what the final number is, I feel confident we can add two or three pieces to the puzzle before spring training."

Last offseason, Hendry went on a $300 million shopping spree to rebuild the team, led by an eight-year, $136 million contract for Alfonso Soriano.

Under manager Lou Piniella, the Cubs won the NL Central before Arizona beat them in three straight in the division series.

Hendry said it's no secret the Cubs could like to re-sign Kerry Wood, who made a surprising recovery from shoulder problems to join the bullpen. Wood was 1-1 with a 3.33 ERA in 22 appearances and has spent his entire career with Chicago, winning Rookie of the Year in 1998.

With closer Ryan Dempster expected to get a shot at joining the rotation, Wood would be a valuable member of the bullpen, even though he spent the majority of his career as a starter.

"If Kerry at the end of the day wants to be here, he'll know we want him here and hopefully we'll get something worked out," Hendry said.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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