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Article updated: 12/7/2010 7:50 PM

GM Hendry believes Cubs can turn things around quickly

By Bruce Miles

ORLANDO -- Despite a 75-87 record this year and his team missing the playoffs for the second straight season, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has stayed away from the dreaded "R" word: rebuilding.

Hendry reiterated Tuesday at the winter meetings that the Cubs could get back into contention with just three or four moves.

"I felt real good about the way we played the last six weeks," he said. "If you just go back on a one-year look, Cincinnati and San Diego were not contending teams at all in '09. They put a great finish together and got some production and fine pitching out of younger people.

"They carried that into the off-season, made some nice additions. ... You looked up, and one was a division champ (Cincinnati), and one really played tremendous right down to the last couple weeks of the season."

In other words, Hendry sees some parallels with his own club.

"I like the coaching staff that Mike (manager Quade) put together. I like our young pitching that's coming.

"I think with a few additions, we could be right back in the thick of things. Just go back to the last 4-5 years. We won two divisions (in 2007-08). Everybody was handing us the division the next year. In '09, St. Louis won. Everybody was handing them the division before we started last year St. Louis and nobody was close. Cincinnati won.

"The difference between 10 or 15 games a year with a few improvements and the right kind of guys and the right kind of guys getting after it, things can be fixed rather quickly."

The target areas include a left-handed hitting first baseman, a starting pitcher and bullpen depth.

The Cubs also are counting on third baseman Aramis Ramirez coming back from a down 2010 and players such as Geovany Soto and Marlon Byrd continuing to play well. Hendry also is counting on young shortstop Starlin Castro and pitchers from their farm system, especially Andrew Cashner, continuing to develop.

"The target areas for the Cubs have been no secret the last couple of months," Hendry said. "We need a first baseman, and we'd like to add a little more pitching. You tinker with the bench a little bit as the winter goes along. Just with those additions, I think we'll be a lot better club."

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