Jim Hendry Must Go: Chicago Cubs Need a New General Manager
As I'm doing my ritual refreshing of my twitter page, I see my cousin re-tweet something that made me stop in my tracks.
Now it makes sense that the Giants would make a deal for a middle infielder. Shortstop Edgar Renteria is on the DL for the third time this year with a biceps strain. It would also make sense to go after Fontenot, who is more of a utility/part-time player, not a starter.
But the move also meant that Hendry has let go of the second part of the "Cajun Connection" which was the Cubs middle infield for the last four years.
While you could understand the Fontenot deal, being that he had reached his ceiling as that of a utility infielder and solid bench piece, the Theriot deal was unnecessary. Theriot being the type you never really want to trade as one of your fan-favorites and a solid firey captain. The deal was only made necessary because of the ineptitude of one Jim Hendry.
Hendry became the GM of the Cubs on July 5th, 2002, the middle of a disappointing season. He made a big splash in the off-season by hiring Dusty Baker away from San Francisco, then somehow managed to trade Todd Hundley to the Dodgers for Eric Karros and Mark Grudzilanek.
His biggest coup would come in July of 03, in what is still one of the most lopsided trades in Chicago Cubs history (lopsided in our favor that is) when he traded Bobby Hill and Jose Hernandez to Pittsburgh in exchange for Kenny Lofton and Aramis Ramirez, then after the injury to Hee Sop Choi, added Randall Simon through the waver wire.
These deals set up a 2003 season where the Cubs were just five outs away.
That winter he made another shrewd trade involving Hee Sop Choi going to the Marlins in exchange for Derrek Lee, then trading for Michael Barrett, and signing Greg Maddox.
Yet the Cubs still would not make the post-season again until 2007, when they were swept by Arizona in the NLDS. However, prior to that 07 season, Hendry signed Ted Lilly and Alfonso Soriano, and it was argued that he had overpaid for both players.
In 07 and 08 you couldn't say he did, as the Cubs for the first time in their history won two consecutive division titles and made it to consecutive post-seasons for the first time since 1906-1908.
They also went 0-6 in the post-season.
And that's where the bottom fell out for Hendry.
During the 08-09 off-season, Hendry traded Mark DeRosa, one of his best players in 07 and 08, to Cleveland for a bag of baseballs, then looked helplessly as the Indians traded DeRosa to their division rival Cardinals.
In a related story here in 2010, the Cardinals are 64-49, one game ahead of Cincinnati in the National League Central. The Cubs are 48-65, just 7.5 games out of the NL Central Cellar that has belonged to the Pirates since what feels like the dawn of time.
Hard to believe that only two years ago, this was the team with the best record in the National League, and the change didn't come from losing Soriano, Ramirez, Lee, or Zambrano, but from losing DeRosa, Edmonds, Reed Johnson, and gaining Milton Bradley.
The Bradley signing was when I knew the wheels had fallen off with Hendry.
Bradley was brought in to help the Cubs weakness, left-handed hitting. Never mind the fact that Adam Dunn was also available (and went to Washington for the same price that the Cubs ended up paying Bradley) and Dunn could've helped out by playing some Right Field and occasionally spelling Derrek Lee at first, and has always murdered the Cubs (Dunn's Wrigley Field Stats: .282 batting average, an OBP of .410, .651 slugging percentage, an OPS of 1.061, 25 HR, 46 RBI in 66 career games).
Dunn had even stated during the off-season that he wanted to play for the Cubs, according to a report from Phil Rogers:
Dunn, who has hit 40-plus homers in five consecutive seasons, is trying to convince the Cubs to sign him for the right-field vacancy, instead of the equally defensively challenged Bradley.
If defense was the reason for going after Bradley instead of Dunn, then this just shows Hendry's ineptitude, as its stated that Bradley was equally defensively challenged!
What happened? Dunn submitted his typical season, hitting .267 but with a .398 OBP, 38 HR's and 105 RBI, while playing in what's known as a pitcher's park.
Bradley was a distraction throughout the year and was even sent home with 15 games left in the season, playing in 124 games hitting .257 with an OBP of .378, hitting only 12 HR's and 40 RBI. He was traded to Seattle in the off-season, where the drama has continued.
After last year you would think that Hendry would begin the rebuilding process. New owner, and Lou's final year. But instead he thought that the team coming back healthy and the subtraction of Bradley (and addition of Marlon Byrd, who has been the Cubs MVP this season) would be enough. It wasn't.
Of course, The Rickett's family said that Hendry would be back for 2011 after Piniella announced his retirement in July.
Hendry shouldn't come back. He should've been fired after the disastrous Bradley over Dunn decision and the non-trade to not acquire Jake Peavy (who had also wanted to play for the Cubs like Dunn).
The Cubs hope in 2011 to reload, but what good is reloading if your trigger is broken? This season looks as if its a weak Free Agent class outside of Jeter and Pujols, who are sure to be retained by their current clubs.
Carl Crawford is the jewel, but there will be an intense bidding war for his services. Even if the Cubs do sign Crawford, that will not be enough to have this team contend next year.
Ramirez isn't getting any younger, nor is Soriano (who IS getting more expensive). Zambrano needs a change of scenery, and the Cubs need to build a farm system. Fans are getting tired of a team that is neither exciting to watch nor a contender, which the Cubs won't be.
Cubs fans are sophisticated enough to know that we'd rather wait another five years to build a true contender through shrewed deals and a revamped farm system. Rather, then to keep going into every season with an overpriced psuedo-contender that we know won't get it done in October if they're even fortunate enough to get there.
If only our GM was as sophisticated and smart, and if only he'd take notes from his former employer, the Marlins.
While the Marlins have had their struggles this season, the vision of the team is spelled out.
Lock up youngsters like Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson, and Chris Coghlan, along with prospects such as Mike Stanton and Gaby Sanchez. With that core, position yourself to be a true contender when the new stadium opens up in 2012.
The Cubs could use the same blueprint. They have the start of a good foundation with Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, Geovanny Soto and the recently acquired Blake DeWitt. That's Shortstop, Second Base, Catcher, and corner outfield in place, with an average age of 24.
The problems is getting rid of the high-priced players without letting go of that core. It can be done, but its also something that Hendry hasn't done since the Hundley trade, and most likely will not do.
Instead, myself and other Cubs fans would rather have a GM who will realize the limitations of this team and make the necessary moves. While alos having an eye towards the future, as opposed to the regret of the past that the Hendry era has brought us.
Tribune sold the team, and Piniella will retire at the end of the season. Time for Hendry to also be on his way out the door, so that the Chicago Cubs could have a new beginning.
Follow Thomas Galicia on twitter, @thomasgalicia. You can also find him on facebook.
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