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August 2009

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Cup O'Joe: Jim Hendry

Written by , Posted in General

Lou Piniella has gone on record saying that he will be back next year. With the new ownership in place sometime very soon, would it be a wise move to change general managers? Here are my thoughts:

  • Hendry has done a good job getting us to be a competitive team for the better part of this decade, with a few hiccups mixed in there. It’s actually been somewhat fun to be a Cub fan.
  • At the same time, while we’ve seen some success, we’ve also seen three playoff years of complete colapse. I count 2003 in that statement because of how grand they blew it against a Marlins team that we were better than. Obviously a GM can do only so much, but perhaps a change would help.
  • Long term contracts that include no trade clauses, while helping to bring in big name talent, has also locked us in pretty heavy to an aging payroll.
  • Changing GM’s this year, while it might be best from a team standpoint to get a new voice and decision maker in there, might not be the wisest move considering it will take whoever is the new choice awhile to get acclimated to the position, which would put him at a disadvantage for this off-season.

Just a few thoughts on the issue. I’d like for you to weigh in as well. Oh yeah, and the Cubs won yesterday 9-4 if anyone cares. Milton Bradley and Koyie Hill combined to go 7-for-7. No serious, I’m not kidding, take a look.

  • MJ

    I rambled on about this in one of yesteday’s posts. I am quite happy with the job Hendry has done over the past seven years. Three playoff appearances, is pretty impressive, considering he’s had some terrible teams mixed in there, that he turned around in a year.

    I think he got too worked up over the six playoff loses in the past two years, and Lou’s demand to be more left handed. Last year’s offense was the best in baseball, there was no need to change it up that much. Baseball is a finicky sport, a team can win 100 games and fall flat in the playoffs, it’s just the way it is. You have to create a team that will get you there, and then hope they can get hot once they’re in it.

    As dumb as it may sound, I measure success in baseball by playoff appearances. It means the organization is getting the job done, and things just haven’t fallen into place at the most important time.

    Has Hendry handcuffed this team with back loaded contracts? Yes. But one never knows what organization may be interested in any of them, or which player may decide it is time to move on, and give up his no trade clauses, and we don’t always have all the info on how those contracts are structured, we can only guess.

    Hendry’s proven that he has a good eye for what the team needs, and fills it with the best available players. Sometimes he’s had to overspend, but what GM in baseball hasn’t? I like his agressive approach, it just wasn’t in the cards this year.

  • cap’n obvious

    This year’s team just wasn’t built to contend. Hendry made decisions with Lou without thinking about the obvious injury situations that have always seemed to present themselves. No backup 3B? 3 middle infielders who couln’t reach the cookie jar when stacked on top of one another? A leadoff hitter who swings and misses more than anyone else in the league? (Dave, if that’s untrue, please let me know the true winner), and finally, the free agent signing for the year was a career malcontent and arguably baseball’s biggest cancer and worst citizen. Rob over at http://www.goatriders.org/ hits it right on the head today with his rant on Milton.

    There were just way too many holes and way too many questions unanswered on day 1 of spring training for this team to have been anything but another playoff also-ran. Kevin Gregg as closer? Marmol? One has the stuff and no brains, one has the brain and no stuff. I am leaning toward Sherm’s take that the Cubs should re-sign Harden and make him the closer next year. Maybe he won’t be so injury prone when only asked to throw 15 pitches at a clip. He certainly gets the strikeouts.

    I think Hendry’s time has come and gone, and hope the new ownership just starts with a clean slate. I’d say keep Lee, Aramis, Theriot, Lilly, and Harden, then see what they can get with the rest.

  • Seymour Butts

    As pointed out, we do have to give Hendry credit for raising our expectations due to the team being in the playoff hunt with unusual (for the Cubs) frequency. Unfortunately GM’s feel the need to tinker even if they win a WS. Though this last off season tinkering has accompanied a bust, how foreseeable was it? Pond Scum a.Miles was around a .300 hitter last year, hitting most of the time ahead of PooHoles. Was it foreseeable that he would be such a donut hole? probably not. Wood was expecting (and got) a big pay day. Hendry did not feel it would be money well spent. He was right. Derosa was a solid part of the team and important back up at multiple positions. I may be able to find out at camp, but suspect he was traded as a prelude to a Peavy trade that fizzled. Gregg was not i anybody’s mind a good signing, even at the time, but what else was available. I thought he was coming in to be a set up man for Marmol, and would have been ok with that. But Gregg was very good in spring training and won the job. He later became Gregging Gregg.
    And Uncle Milty… though many feel him not qualified to carry Adam Dunn’s ball bag, he has a history of being an offensive producer (pun intended). He has not until very recently shown that. His behavior has been good by his standards, and his defence better than necessary.
    Had even half of the current roster put up career average years, we would be sitting pretty good. But they suck Gregg Gregg collectively, and here we are.
    The fault is with the players.
    Coaches and GMs often pay the price for player lassitude, but it’s hard to fault Hendry (except for Gregg), so keep him. Hopefully a new owner will free up the usually free wheeling Jim this next year.

    Oh, and who ever said give Alf a put up or shut up year was dead on.

  • I did most of this discussion yesterday, so I’ll try to keep it brief. Hendry deserves the credit for the team’s success the past few years. He deserves credit for pillaging the Pirates on multiple occasions (this year’s trade is still out for judgment, but I like it now). He deserves credit for signings like Ted Lilly and Mark Derosa. More credit for the guts to not bring back Kerry and call Prior a sunk cost eventually. But he also deserves blame for Miles, Bradley and others who have flat out not worked out.

    Pond Scum a.Miles was around a .300 hitter last year, hitting most of the time ahead of PooHoles. Was it foreseeable that he would be such a donut hole? probably not.

    Actually, yes, he should. Miles has one good year on his resume, the 2008 season, where his OPS+ was a whopping 99 (just a hair under average). As you said, it was hitting in front of The Machine. So there’s reason for caution there. More caution was needed when you see that his BABIP was a career best .342. Most would call that unsustainable. Prior to that, he was consistently a mid-70s OPS+, even while in Colorado. He is now 32 and we have him for another year. There were signs that it was a fluke season, yet they were ignored.

    Again, Hendry has done well. But he’s done worse most recently. Maybe he gets this offseason to fix the holes that were created. But if the team is still sputtering along midyear of 2010, it’s time to let Hendry go.

  • If I am the owner I sit down with Hendry and give him the initial benefit of the doubt. He has done some very good things for the Cub organization but this past off season was disastrous. We are in contract hell and they are Hendry’s contracts.

    If as an owner I am willing to eat some contracts, dump and move on AND Hendry agree’s with the parts that need to be moved I keep him and proceed to dump, trade and remold this team. If Hendry wants to stick with certain players and live with the remainder of their contracts I then need to make a change in the GM position.

    In short, if philosophy and plan of actions are similar between the new owner and Hendry he will stay. If not he will be replaced. Do I want him replaced? If the new owner wants to regroup and Hendry doesn’t then I want him replaced. If Hendry understands the need to regroup then I would like him to stay.

    Bradley doesn’t seem to happy playing in Chicago. Maybe he will ask out of town? He could follow Jacque Jones to the Newark Bears where no one will bother him. Most of the Newark Bears fans are more interested in getting into the jumper and dippin dots than the actual baseball being played.

  • silk

    I think Hendry’s been solid, no reason to get rid of him.

    Doc, +1 for the dippin’ dots reference