So Cubs president John McDonough (henceforth JM) gave a interview on Silvie and Waddle's show this morning. Though short, it was an informative and interesting piece and both Silvie and Waddle did a nice job of pressing JM on certain issues (the Zell rumor, Z's contract) without being forceful and abusive (Mike North, I'm looking at you). All in all, a nice piece. For those who missed it, I'll try to parse a little recap with four main categories: the possibility of trades, Zambrano's contract situation, the closed door meeting, and some miscellania. Let's get to it. Oh and a podcast of the interview will be here: http://stations.espn.go.com/stations/espnradio1000/show?showId=middays later on today.
1. On the Zell rumor and the possibility of trades before the deadline:
--JM firmly stated twice that Hendry will "have no handcuffs" nor any "additional red tape" to add to this team via trades, so long as those trades have the potential to "better this team for today, as well as in the future." JM was very firm on this point, that Hendry has no more restrictions this year than he has had previously. JM also reiterated that "no one at all" above himself is making any baseball decision for the Cubs.
--JM said the Zell rumor "has no merit" and that nothing of that nature has ever happened. He also said the Jones trade was nixed because "without naming players or salary numbers involved, both sides could not agree on the terms of the trade."
--When pressed on the question of adding salary in a trade, he said Hendry would be on with Waddle and Silvie later on this week and "he's better equipped to answer that question." For whatever that's worth...
2. On Zambrano's contract and possible free agency:
--JM says the nogotiations were not sidelined after spring training, nor was a deal dropped because pf the sale, but that "these are delicate situations." According to JM, "negotiations are ongoing" and Hendry and Z's agent "have a very good relationship and communicate on regular basis," though JM made a point of saying he was not involved in those communications.
3. On the closed door meeting with Lou:
--JM says he thinks "we got off to bad start with Lou" and that while Lou was surprised by fan expectations and intensity, the organization and the fans were shocked by the failure of the new free agents and the team as a whole to gel and play well from the get-go. JM said the meeting was initially intense, but once everyone was on the same page, it became "pretty light banter."
--JM says he's happy with the job lou has done, thinks he's done a great job, so on and so forth.
--The corked bat clubhouse rumor that Fred Mitchell "broke" in his obvious all-star break stupor "amazed" JM and "while I was in a different capacity with the team at the time," he never heard of any phone call of that sort, nor of any mass bat exodus from the clubhouse, nor did he think MLB would do a team the courtesy of calling ahead. He said it appeared that Mitchell was printing an unattributed rumor from someone "well-placed" in the clubhouse, but as it was unatttributed, he "would lend that rumor no credence." I agree.
--There has been no agreement with the City of Chicago re; regulating foot traffic behind the bleachers, should Bonds come to town with homerun record unbroken. JM says he's sure the City and the Cubs would be able to come to some sort of agreement and develop an adequate plan, should the need arise.
--TMOTTBG will continue as is, because JM feels like there's still "no right answer" to the question of what to do with the stretch after Harry died. "Ron will continue to play a big role, as he's sort of become the face of the franchise." Oh joy. At least we won't see Pippen up there again.
--On Stoney back in the booth should Brenly take the cincy job: "To my knowledge, Bob hasn't been contacted, but everyone knows Steve and I are very good friends and I respect him very much, but until something happens, I'm not really going to comment on that...it would really depend on the scenario."
So, that's that. I hope he's telling the truth about Hendry's freedom to deal and I don't have any reason to distrust JM as of yet, so I'm taking a wait-and-see approach here. Hendry and JM are going to have to prove it to me...and they had better sign Z, because that price tag is going up by the day, hometown discount be damned.
In light of JM's comments, what do we think, Cub fans?
- Is JM being totally honest?
- Will this club add significantly at the deadline?
- Can the Cubs rid themselves of the dead weight they're carrying on the bench?