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December 8, 2010

Scott Boras

Jim Hendry

Carlos Pena


THE MODERATOR: Thank you all for joining us today. At the head table we have Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, Scott Boras, and the newest member of the Chicago Cubs, Carlos Peña, who today agreed to terms on a one year contract.
At this time we will have opening statements from Jim Hendry and Carlos Peña, and then we will be followed by a question and answer session.
JIM HENDRY: We are pleased to be here today. It wasn't any secret from the end of the season on that one of our top and most important priorities was to fill our void at first base. We were looking, certainly, to add someone from the left side, that not only was a quality offensive player with some power but also a good defender and a high-character young man.
We have certainly landed that. We have filled all of the essentials that we were looking for with Carlos. It was a very, very good week dealing with Scott Boras, and I think early on in the process, it became very evident that it was really the perfect match for both sides. Couldn't be more happy. It's not a secret that even in our better years, in the playoffs in 2007 and 2008, we lacked high power from the left side. That's hard to find. And usually when you find it, some of the marquis guys in the game, they stay where they are at for a long, long time.
So we feel very fortunate to add Carlos to the organization. Can't speak for him, but he feels really good about the situation, too. I've heard already from quite a few of our players how pleased they are, and I think it's a perfect match heading into the 2011 season.
CARLOS PEÑA: First of all, good afternoon to all. I'm extremely excited. What can I say? I'm very, very fortunate to be in this position to become a Cub. This is definitely a blessing. Obviously a team that I used to watch when I was a kid, from the likes of George Bell, being back in the Dominican Republic, used to watch him a lot.
Very excited just to wear the uniform. I kept on saying to my family, how I love Chicago. Every time I've visited it, it's one of my cities to visit so to be able to live there and play for this organization that has so much history and tradition; and the fans, so much passion for the game, I could not be happier.
I think it's an ideal situation for me. And I just can't wait to put the uniform on.

Q. Welcome to Chicago, first of all.
CARLOS PEÑA: Thank you.

Q. Why a one-year deal? Why did you guys decide it should be one year and not more than that?
CARLOS PEÑA: I think when I looked at all of my options, and the teams that were interested, I just thought this was the perfect fit for me. And I also like the fact that this is a platform year for me, you know, to come in, be part of a great organization, have the opportunity to just go out there and play my game.
And who knows? You know, after a great season, then the future will look even brighter. So I think it was a perfect situation for me, and I also know that they expressed -- the Cubs expressed extreme interest. And I want to be in a place where I'm wanted, and I definitely feel that they have faith in me.
I'm going to honor that.

Q. Although the power numbers were fairly good this year, the batting average was a little bit down; what contributed to that and how confident are you that you can bounce back next year?
CARLOS PEÑA: I'm extremely confident. I don't tend to look back on my failures and dwell upon them. I just feel that I've had a lot of adversity throughout my career and a lot of difficulties. At the same time, I have enjoyed a lot of successes, also.
So if anything, I think that all of those difficulties have made me stronger and a better player and a better person and a better man. So instead of dwelling upon that, I kind of embrace the fact that it was a difficult year and I should be a little bit more polished now after going through such -- after going through the fire.
So I feel like the Cubs get a more mature player, a player that's been through the ups and downs of baseball, and with an extremely optimistic and extremely excited, a great attitude towards the future.
So just like I said earlier, I just can't wait to put that uniform on?

Q. Was there an opportunity to go back to the Rays, and how do you reflect on how your career with them ended?
CARLOS PEÑA: I think there was among all of us, I think there was no secret to the fact that I really think very highly of Tampa Bay.
It's a team that's always going to be in my heart and I felt like I grew with that team. You know, the player that I am today, I have grown into that player with Tampa Bay. So Tampa Bay is a very special place; the people, the fans, the organization. But, you know, getting to this point in my career, I felt that I just had to be smart about the decisions I make. The Rays did not express the intense interest that I was expecting, and I obviously know that they have to be truly creative in their organization.
This, for me, was a no-brainer when the opportunity came about and the Cubs game me a chance. I immediately was extremely excited and we made the decision to go.

Q. Was the chance to work with the Cubs hitting coach and a chance to hit regularly in that ballpark factors in your decision?
CARLOS PEÑA: Absolutely. I looked at the whole entire position and Rudy Jaramillo is obviously very well regarded in this game. I know him from the past, with the Rangers, and I had the opportunity to work with him also when I came in to visit Texas when he was there. We always used to have conversations. So I'm very, very happy the fact that he's going to be my hitting coach. I looked forward to working with him and I know that he can help me. I know that we are going to work together and it's just going to make me a better player and a better hitter. I can't wait.

Q. You called it a platform year. I'm sure you had some multi-year offers, too. Were you wanting just to have a one year with any team you went to just to get back in stride?
CARLOS PEÑA: I had some opportunities to go multi-year, some multi-year opportunities. However, I just thought that to play for the Cubs was my preference.
When I looked around at the teams that were interested, which to me, it flatters me to see how much interest there was. I still thought that the Cubs was my best option. I love the city. My family loves the city. I think we have a pretty good chance at winning. I have all of the confident in the world in the team that we have, and I believe that's even going to get better.
We have a park; the history, what can I say? It's truly one of those teams that when you're a kid, you kind of dream about playing for (smiling). Like I said earlier, when I was ten years old, I used to watch George Bell, Ryne Sandberg, Dunston, Andre Dawson. It was a regular thing at home and very happy to be part of this ballclub.

Q. Why did the one-year deal appeal to the Cubs?
JIM HENDRY: I think the longer Scott and I got into it, and looking at the situation and knowing that Carlos wanted to come, I think it was a mutual respect are type of decision, good for both sides.
It was no secret, and Scott and Carlos made it apparent, that there were other multi-year deals. I think it's one of those where it was the perfect match. I think when you have the type of past that he's had, he's had such tremendous power numbers the last four years, and obviously there was a regression in the batting average type of statistic; but when you have a guy of high character like this, that's what you want, to overcome adversity.
So we felt strongly that he could do that, and we are hopeful that he has a really good year and continues the process forward with us. So to come to the type of agreement that might have been fair for both sides, longer term, I think it would have been probably not the right thing to do. I think very strongly that he's capable of rebounding and putting up a huge year. That would be great for the Cubs and that would be good for him.

Q. Could you talk about, did Greg Maddux get involved in this, and Scott going up against someone that was one of your clients? Talk about that.
JIM HENDRY: Greg has obviously been very helpful to me in this last year, and his role with us has continued to grow. I don't think it takes Jim Hendry to tell anybody how special he is and how good he could be at whatever he wanted to do in this game. He certainly was involved. I can't speak for Scott, but we didn't look at it ever like going against anyone. It was very positive, very good, amicable, mutual consensus that it was the perfect fit.
So it was a matter of putting our heads together a little bit on the finances and getting it done. We never looked at it like, you know, Greg is on our side and he's not on Scott's side. We didn't ever look at it like that. I don't try to approach any negotiation like that. Try to make up our mind which player we want and try to be as fair as possible until we get to the conclusion.
SCOTT BORAS: This contract, really, the premise of it was a lot like what we did last year with Adrián Béltre and the Red Sox, You have a quality organization and they had a fit and a need, and you also had a player that had exhibited extraordinary abilities. I think everybody in the game knows that when a man can hit an average of 35-plus home runs over the past four seasons and has a lifetime average that is 40 points above what his prior seasons was, that the metrics will make the adjustment and the average of both his power will be present and certainly with also the presence of Rudy Jaramillo who worked with Carlos when he was a younger player really had all of the flavor of what we call a pillow contract.
There's a lot of comforts. It's a one-year situation. It's a dynamic that you can't really expect the marketplace to address; the values of Carlos's ultimate abilities, and also, the issues of what happens to Major League players during every career, and that is they have seasons where they have maladies that arise in the short term.
As far as Greg Maddux goes, when he walks into the room with Jim Hendry and knowing that he began with the Cubs and to see a man have a career like he had where -- it's just very special that a man can do things on his own terms in the game of baseball. Because the game itself is the tiger; it's the force; it's the thing that removes you in many situations from the game.
But Greg has so many abilities and so many aptitudes; so to see him walk in the room and sit across from you, it's really a feeling of great reward, for all of us, because the game should be about people like Greg Maddux and every time he is in any facet of the game, teaching, working with the team, growing the game, it allows the game to be its optimum.
So experiencing that with him was really, knowing him since he was 18 years old, it was a very special day.

Q. You're a very thoughtful person. On further reflection, did you have any further ideas on why you kind of had the down year you did and why you struggled as you did last year?
CARLOS PEÑA: I think as we go along, as players and as hitters, when we have success in the league, I think pitchers will make adjustments. Teams will make adjustments, and they will zero in on that hitter a little bit more.
But at the same time, I think as hitters, we must also make adjustments, and sometimes we make them a little bit too drastically, and maybe sometimes over think things.
I think when I look -- that's why I kind of love the situation, because I know that going back to Rudy and working with him, kind of going back to basics, going to what's natural to me. Because that's where I started. I started with the Texas Rangers and Rudy was there and I know his philosophy.
I'm excited about it. I'm excited about what the future holds. I'm wiser. I'm more mature. I'm stronger, if anything, from the difficulties that I've had to go through in the past. So I kind of embrace that, and I'm grateful for that, if I were to tell you the truth. I'm grateful for the difficulties that I've had to overcome. I'm a better player and a better person because of that.
I look forward to the future with a lot of optimism.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you all for joining us.

End of FastScripts

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