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Jim Hendry joined fans Friday
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04/04/2002 5:12 pm ET 
Jim Hendry joined fans Friday
Hendry covered wide-range of topics
By Amy Sternig /

VP Of Player Personnel Jim Hendry joined fans for an online chat Friday morning. (MLBAM Photo)
Ahhh the smell of the hot dogs, the brisk wind off the lake, the peanut guy outside the park. It's another Opening Day at Wrigley Field for the Chicago Cubs.

Vice President of Player Personnel Jim Hendry joined Cubs fans for a live, online chat Friday before the game. Check out the transcript of the event!

Roger Richardson: Why do prospects like Prior go to AA instead of AAA? Isn't the competition more equivalent at AAA?
Jim Hendry: The reason Prior starts in Double A is because its a very high level to skip Daytona and a lot of the younger prospects go through AA. Good place to gain experience and see other good young prospects on the way up. After a reasonable amount of time we'll probably send him to Iowa as well.

akanadsuank: Will Alou start today?
Jim Hendry:  As we speak Moises is seeing Dr. Schaeffer and sometime after the game we will decide if Moises will go on the DL or play sometime early to late next week. If not 100 percent we will not rush him. He's had this injury in the past and we want to get an uninterrupted season from him.

DLowinger: When Flash Gordon is healthy again what is going to happen with the two closer situation?
Jim Hendry:  We certainly are anticipating Flash being able to come back. No time frame on it. Evident in spring we had to make an addition to the bullpen. If Flash comes back and he's healthy, it gives Don a lot of options. Lot of established people who can pitch in the 8th or 9th. It's a decision Don will have to make when he returns.

trash1023: Any plans to bring up first baseman Hee Seop Choi this year?
Jim Hendry:  Because he missed so much time last year, it prevented him from being ready at this point. Needs at least a half year in Iowa. If all goes well, we think he's a guy that could be ready at any time and certainly by next year.

cubz2134: What prospects do you think highly of, that are not talked about allot?
Jim Hendry:  We like a lot of people that aren't as well publicized. SS Nate Freese missed half of last year with broken thumb. He's an exceptional defensive player. We have two exceptional hard-throwing guys in Sanchez and Guzman. Also JJ Lansing was MVP in Northwest League last year -- he has a quality bat. And of course Nic Jackson had a great year -- going to Double-A this year. He was our fourth pick in 2000. He's very good and we feel not that far from the big leagues.

BackDoc: We've heard all through Spring Training and the beginning of the year about our questionable bullpen. I'm just curious, why weren't Van Poppel or Weathers signed. I saw Weathers pitch the other day for the Mets and he looked great?
Jim Hendry:  We had a lot of concerns last year about our BP and turned out to be one of our strengths. They were both free agents and Van Poppel signed with the Rangers before the deadline was even established. We will get two draft picks for both. He ended up with three-year deal over $9 million. We did not want to go that far out at his age. And we did not anticipate Flash getting hurt. But we did pick up Alfonseca and we have some quality guys at Iowa who we think can come up and make an impact.

Whosier: If you could give a number this year ... How many games will the Cubs win without you being disappointed?
Jim Hendry:  It's awful hard to put a number on exact wins. We feel if we stay healthy we'll be a contending ball club. We'll be much stronger when Moises plays every day and Mueller comes back. With Prior not too far away, and if Alfonseca does what he always does and Flash comes back ... it's a matter of staying healthy. Those guys will make a huge difference if we make a run at the post season or not (Moises and Mueller).

trash1023: Will Mark Prior be used as a starter or a reliever when he first comes up?
Jim Hendry:  Mark Prior will definitely be a starting pitcher for us whenever he comes up. He has exceptional command of his fastball and he will have three ML pitches. He's a big strong kid, who can maintain his stuff during the game. Has a chance to be a high-end rotation starter.

newshound17: How much of Alfonseca's "disagreement" with the Marlins' trainer affected your decision on selecting him? Do either of you or Coach Baylor have worries concerning his weight?
Jim Hendry:  Alfonseca's situation with the Marlins trainer never entered into our minds. Larry Rothschild was (a former coach at Florida) and we had a direct handle on the type of person he was. I was also with the Marlins and knew him as a younger player. We had enough background that that one incident would not deter us from taking him.

mjaeky: Jim, was Kenny Lofton ever a consideration?
Jim Hendry:  Obviously everyone in the game knows Kenny is a quality player. But once we acquired Moises, we felt it was time for Corey Patterson to play. Part of being a quality organization is bringing players up and letting them play when it is time. No better way to break Corey into the Big Leagues that playing between Moises and Sammy.

Mineral143: Have you been surprised with the play of young Corey Patterson?
Jim Hendry:  We have seen Corey since his high school days in 1997 and he never had a snag til last hear. The people who saw him last year had no idea how good a player he was. He's a good athlete with a solid work ethic and is a good human being. As rookie he will have his ups and downs but over the long haul he is going to be a very, very good player.

KFarnsworthFan44: Why did Bobby Hill go to AA, was he doing that bad at spring training?
Jim Hendry:  He went to Triple-A and he'll be playing in Des Moises. He's battling the flu this week but he will be in the lineup every day the next couple days. He had a very good spring and almost made the ball club and is certainly someone we would go to this season if need be.

toddschu: What is your response to a common criticism of Baylor that he leaves pitchers in too long (e.g., allowing Fassero to stay in and lose the first game against the Reds)?
Jim Hendry:  That's not a criticism we find valid. I think the pitching staff was our strength last year. The rotation had a great year. Lieber, Bere, the call up of Cruz, Woody til he went down. We did a good job of mixing the rotation up with the fine bullpen. That criticism is something we would not pay any attention to.

trash1023: I was very happy to hear the Cubs got Moises Alou, but rather disturbed to find out that we lost Gutierrez, Young, and Rondell White with nothing in return. Can you explain these moves?
Jim Hendry:  We were extremely happy to get Moises and we did not pursue him until we lost Rondell to a very high-priced deal with the Yankees. Both Andy and I felt he should take it. He's a wonderful guy and great player when healthy. Once we turned our attention to Moises, it worked out well. Andy made a hard run at Gutierrez. Probably offered him more than he would receive yearly. But then we had an opportunity to acquire Alex Gonzalez and get a great young player signed for several years there.

stevensc76: A question on Felix Sanchez LHP. I heard that he touched 98 MPH. Where is he at this season and do you have any thoughts on him to provide? Are there any other LHP to look forward to in the future?.
Jim Hendry:  Oneri Fleita our farm director has told me he saw him touch 97 if not 98 and he's always in 94-95 range. He's our highest-level lefty in arm strength. Steve Smyth led the southern league in ERA last year and if had not gone down with a shoulder injury he would have been here this year. But he's way ahead of scheduled in rehab and will be pitching in May. Also lefty Aaron Kraiwec in Dayton.

RyCubsFan: Have the Cubs considered trading for a catcher? Ivan Rodriguez?
Jim Hendry:  We feel right now our situation at catcher is fairly solid. Hundley has shown he's more back to the old Todd. Joe Girardi is a terrific guy and fortunate enough to have Machado who helped out when Todd was on the DL. We traded a decent young catcher Ryan Jorgenson in the Alfonseca deal. But lots of clubs don't have a lot of depth or prospects. John Stockstill our scouting director I am sure is going to use some of those extra picks on a catcher in the Draft. We feel Todd will have a solid a year and Joe is the perfect guy to go along with him.

roenick: With Corey Patterson's start does he still figure to hit in the lower third of the order once Mueller comes back, or stay up top?
Jim Hendry:  That will be a decision Don will make when Billy comes back. Billy was an ideal No. 2 hitter -- .320, switch hitter, moves runners, gets bunts down. But the advantage with Corey behind DeShields is exceptional speed. Don will see how Billy looks after he comes back -- compared to last year -- and see how Corey comes along.

cubz2134: Do you think Sammy Sosa will break the single-season home run record or Hank Aaron's career home run record?
Jim Hendry:  I have learned the last four or five years to not discount anything Sosa is capable of doing. He's had a terrific run the last three or four years. Puts up tremendous numbers, plays the game hard and right every day. But there's no telling how many HRs he'll hit in the future. We are very lucky to have him here and if he continues to do what been doing he'll have tremendous career numbers.

Cubs2003: Over the off-season, new Iowa Cub Shawn Sonnier underwent shoulder surgery for two or three different problems. What's his current status and when will he be able to pitch in a game?
Jim Hendry:  Sonnier is a pitcher we valued as near the top of the organization in the Royals' minor league system. He piitched well in the Arizona Fall League in 2000. We felt he was a solid gamble to take. We certainly traded Tucker to make room salary-wise for Moises and for Corey to play. Our doctors felt Sonnier's recovery will be 100 percent or close to it. I do not anticipate him pitching any games until the late summer or Fall League.

Jim Hendry:  Thanks for joining me today. And go Cubs!!

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