Randy Bush was named Special Assistant to the General Manager in January, 2005. Essentially, he is a major league scout. He is also a former major league player. Bush spent 12 seasons with the Minnesota Twins, attending college at the University of New Orleans prior to becoming a second-round draft pick in 1979. From 2000-05, he was the university’s head baseball coach. He and his wife and children still take up residence in the city.
Members of the Minnesota Twins' 40th Anniversary All-Time Team pose for a picture Saturday, Aug. 12, 2000, after being introduced prior to the Twins' game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Minneapolis. Members seated from left are Greg Gagne, Gary Gaetti, Earl Battey, Frank Viola, Tom Kelly, Jim Perry, Jeff Reardon, Al Worthington and Randy Bush. (AP Photo/Tom Olmscheid)
Thus, it’s only natural that Bush plans special visits around the Iowa Cubs whenever they’re in town. The 47-year-old former outfielder/first baseman, who originally hails from Delaware, isn’t in town long, though. Among the major league cities on his scouting radar are: Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Boston. He has made stops at all three destinations this year.
New Orleans marks the first stop in which Bush will make to scout the Cubs’ minor league affiliates.
Inside The Ivy: “Special Assistant to the General Manager” -- what duties does that entail exactly?
Randy Bush: We’ve got four assistants to the GM: Keith Champion, Ken Kravec, Gary Hughes and myself. For the most part, what we do is major league scouting. From the first day of the season, we all have a schedule worked out to where we’re all covering different games and different teams, typing out reports that are sent in every day so that the General Manager has a very current, updated system of reports on all major league players. When he talks about improving the team during the season, maybe through trade possibilities or guys that are going to be released, we’ll have current information on them so that he can make a decision that is best for the Chicago Cubs.
Inside The Ivy: What areas do you scout?
Randy Bush: Some of the teams that I cover are Boston, the New York Yankees, Philadelphia, Washington, Texas, and even Seattle. Those are teams that I have a primary responsibility for.
Inside The Ivy: All right, go ahead and shoot me down -- which players have you and the Cubs eyeballed in those cities?
Randy Bush: Well, if there were any in particular, you know I couldn’t say. Occasionally, Jim Hendry will tell me to bear down on a couple of guys, but mostly, our job is to scout a whole team.
Inside The Ivy: So what brings you down to the minors?
Randy Bush: Not only are we scouting other teams, we’re scouting our system as well to make sure we’re evaluating everything correctly to know what we have. One of my duties is to see our system, which includes Iowa.
Inside The Ivy: Who do you like best on the Iowa team this year?
Randy Bush: One of the guys everyone is obviously high on has been Felix Pie. He’s 21 years old. He’s a very young player and is really getting adjusted to playing at a high level of baseball. He’s going through his growing pains, but we really like him and think he’s going to be an outstanding major league player. He has the so-called “five tools” and the ability to do a lot of things on the field. You can look at a lot of guys on this team and see them having a role on the big league club. Ryan Theriot has been up and down and just needs a chance to play up there. Casey McGehee could be a very good role-type player there. The guys just need an opportunity once they get up there.
Inside The Ivy: When do we consider bringing up a surplus of the guys you just mentioned?
Randy Bush: There’s a lot that goes into that. Number one, you want them to be ready to go. They have to be ready, but also there has to be an opportunity to play. That’s just as important.
Inside The Ivy: You mentioned Pie earlier. A couple of scenarios here -- one, let’s say he gets hot and starts getting his average up to around .290 or .300. At what point do the Cubs consider giving him a look there?
Randy Bush: At that point, you might feel like he’s ready, but it’s still about opportunity. It’s not going to do him any good to go up there and sit the bench. When he goes up, he’s got to play.
Inside The Ivy: Whose decision would it be to make sure that happens?
Randy Bush: Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker both work together. They both think alike and they talk every day, several times a day, about decisions that need to be made concerning the ball club. It would be a joint decision. You’d certainly want him to play every day. It’s all about him getting his at-bats and recognizing pitches. For him to sit on the bench anywhere, it’s not going to help him.
Inside The Ivy: Now let’s say he struggles and dips down to about .240 or .235. At that point, do you have to consider sending him back to Double-A, where he had less than half a season a year ago?
Randy Bush: I don’t think so. First of all, nobody expects that to happen. He’s had enough success at this level to know that he can play here. He was going through a little rut where he knew he would have to adjust. There are pitchers here that probably are on average six to seven years older than him. They have a lot more experience and know how to pitch. He’s going to have to adjust to them the way they’ve adjusted to him, and he’ll do that.
Inside The Ivy: Rich Hill is a guy that hasn’t proved he can play every day in the majors, but he seems to be getting his confidence back here. In turn, how much confidence does the organization still have in him?
Randy Bush: We still think the world of Rich Hill. He’s going to pitch in the big leagues for a long, long time. Some pitchers, for whatever reason, take a little longer to figure it out. He’s already proven with the success he’s had at Double-A and Triple-A that he has tremendous major league stuff. The biggest thing is just to keep his composure and his confidence. Once he does that, he’s going to be fine. It’s just growing pains and we think he has a great, great future.
Inside The Ivy: The Cubs have always been very reliant on their scouts and one of the things I wanted to ask you about was your take on the “Moneyball” movement. How, if any, has it affected your surroundings?
Randy Bush: Our philosophy has always been to take the best player available with the highest ceiling. Tim Wilken, our scouting director, in conjunction with Jim Hendry, both agree not to eliminate any player from any pool of candidates. Most organizations do it that way and truth be told, Oakland probably does as well. I think the book got a lot of play because the author interpreted some things the way he wanted to. The reality is, those organizations continue to take college, high school and junior college players, regardless. You don’t want to eliminate any pool of talent as part of your philosophy and I think any organization would agree with that.