You know, for years I've respected Jim Hendry. Oh sure, i thought he was overmatched, and in over his head at times. But he worked tirelessly to improve the team, supported his manager, turned Chicago into a preferred free agent destination again, and did get around eventually to vastly improving the Cubs farm system. While he certainly wasn't of the Schuerholz or Jocketty caliber, I felt like he was better than average, and improving.
Somewhere along the line though, I feel like he lost his way, or perhaps I just came to conclude that he lacks the chops; you know, the ability to handle the fine details, required to take your team from competitive to contender.
I think it was when he doled out relatively large deals to 1) Aaron Miles, 2) Joey Gathright, 3) Paul Bako, and 4) who can forget Milton Bradley, and came to regret them all. Why? Because someone told him that the club needs to get more "left handed.
For me, managing to let Curtis Granderson slip through his hands, and into a Yankees uniform was probably the last nail in the coffin. You've heard about it; Granderson to the Yankees, Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks, and Max Scherzer & Austin Jackson to the Tigers. There's some additional pieces and parts involved, but that's the meat of it.
On the face of it, it's a nice deal for just about everybody, although I'm left to wonder what Arizona knows about Scherzer that has them spooked enough to part with him this soon.
For the Yankees though, it's practically a fleecing. That you turn a LOOGY in Phil Coke, the serviceable Ian Kennedy, and a prospect of much hype, and even more debated talent level (Jackson) into Granderson is quite a feat. Given that they've actually been able to upgrade their outfield now, while reducing the money spent to boot is simply oh so New York.
Which takes us back to Hendry, who effectively been asking for the impossible, somehow got it, and blew it.
Let's see: "I need a young, athletic, left-handed, middle-of-the-lineup hitter who would be comfortable in Chicago, and can help chill out my clubhouse after the Bradley debacle. And oh, by the way, he needs to be able to fit into my modest discretionary budget for 2010."
Did I miss anything? And given the unimaginable opportunity to get that player he fumbles it, because reportedly, he won't part with 19 year-old Starlin Castro. Because, you know, the Cubs have such a storied history of developing young, raw, positional talent.
The stat guys and I have been in debate over this deal all night, and I'm sure I'll hear chiming in about Curtis's inability to hit left-handers, average reads in center, and down 2008. I say BS. This was a rare chance to acquire a cornerstone piece at bargain prices, saving the Cubs their annual foray into questionable free agent signings for at least a few seasons in the process.
Given that we all know that the Mike Cameron signing is right around the corner now, and at likely more for the next two seasons than Granderson will receive, and this is amateur hour; a textbook example of how not to run a major market franchise, just one offseason removed from Hendry's last lesson on this.
The Cubs under him just can't seem to get out of their own way, and I can't wait for a new steward to start leading them on a straight path.