Hendry still has moves to make. He needs a center fielder and a veteran right-handed reliever.
But as the old year faded away, Hendry was fielding calls from reporters daily about persistent rumors that ace starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano was being shopped.
Zambrano, who is signed through 2012, has a no-trade clause in his contract, and his agent repeatedly has told those same reporters that the Cubs have not contacted him about waiving that clause.
Zambano’s record fell to 9-7 with an ERA of 3.77, and he has spent most of the offseason in Chicago working on his conditioning.
As of now, Zambrano is one of only three established starting pitchers with the Cubs, along with right-handers Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells, who was a rookie in 2009.
The Cubs insist they’ve not been shopping Zambrano.
–1B/OF Micah Hoffpauir will be trying to break spring training with the big club for only the second time in his career, and at age 30. Hoffpauir was somewhat of a disappointment in 2009 after he made the opening-day roster. He played in 105 games, batting .239 with 10 home runs and 35 RBIs, but he was sent to the minor leagues in August. Hoffpauir, a left-handed batter, figures to back up Derrek Lee at first base and fill in at left and right field. He’s not graceful in the outfield, but he holds his own, and he’s more than serviceable in the field at first base.
–RHP Mitch Atkins, the Cubs’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2008, will be in a bullpen mix that features a lot of youngsters. Atkins had a rough go of it at Class AAA Iowa in ’09, his first full year of Class AAA ball, as he went 8-12 with a 6.58 ERA. He made two relief appearances for the big club in the middle of the season. The Cubs view Atkins, 24, as either a back-of-the-rotation starter or as a long to middle reliever.
–OF Tyler Colvin figures to begin the season at Class AAA Iowa. Colvin, the Cubs’ first-round draft pick in 2006, played his 2009 season at Class A Daytona and Class AA Tennessee before getting a September call-up. He spent time in Class A because he was coming off Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, and the Cubs wanted him to start the season as a DH. Colvin appeared in six games for the Cubs, going 3-for-17 (.176). The Cubs said he was up only because they had several injuries to outfielders at the time. In other words, read nothing into the call-up as far as 2010 is concerned. Colvin said “eating” would be among his winter activities. He’s 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, but he looked smaller than that at the end of the season.
–RHP Rafael Dolis was added to the 40-man roster this offseason, and he’ll get a good look in spring training before most likely being optioned to Class AA Tennessee. Dolis, whom the Cubs signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2004, missed the 2008 season after undergoing elbow surgery. He came back in 2009 to go 3-9 with a 3.79 ERA in 27 games, 25 starts, at Class A Daytona.
–The Cubs took a flyer on RHP Thomas Diamond, claiming him off waivers from Texas in September. Diamond, who had struggled since coming off Tommy John surgery in 2007, had an impressive winter league campaign in Mexico. He went 2-0 with an 0.64 ERA, allowing eight hits in 14 innings. His control turned around, too, as he walked three and struck out 15. In the minor leagues with Texas in 2009, he was 2-3 at two stops with a 4.20 ERA. He gave up 55 hits and walked 44 in 55 2/3 innings, but the Cubs said they believe his health had turned around. He might get an invitation to spring training with the big club.
BY THE NUMBERS: 16-22 — The Cubs’ record in one-run games in 2009. One reason for the sub-.500 record was that the Cubs scored 707 runs in 2009, compared to 855 in 2008.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “The biggest perception that was probably inaccurate was that we couldn’t do anything until Milton (Bradley) was gone. So we have to do a good job of filling those two or three holes that we still have with solid decisions.” Hendry, on being able to finish his offseason work.