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Memo to Jim Hendry: This Is Your Fault

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IMay 1, 2009

HOUSTON - APRIL 06:  Milton Bradley #21 of the Chicago Cubs flips over after missing a fly ball against the Houston Astros on Opening Day on April 6, 2009 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.  The Cubs defeated the Astros 4-2.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

On February 11th, three days before Valentine's Day, I expressed my lack of love for what I felt was an empty spending spree by Chicago Cubs' General Manager Jim Hendry.

We're now one full month into the baseball season, and I have the underwhelming feeling I was right.

Back in that piece, I noted that the Cubs were saying goodbye to Mark DeRosa, who had a better season in 2008 than Milton Bradley's career best. Yet the Cubs were going to bank on Bradley to fill the heart of their order.

I mentioned that, considering both age and resume, the deals Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu received were significantly more logical than the one Hendry gave to Bradley early in the free agent period.

While Dunn and Abreu haven't lit up the stat sheet yet, they have at least played in half of their new team's games. The same can't be said for Bradley, who is already appealing a suspension.

I also looked at the Cubs pitching staff. In February I asked for a legitimate fifth starter to either come in as a free agent or to emerge from the existing roster. While Jon Garland was a name I dropped back then as a possibility, but I am comfortable with Sean Marshall.

Marshall is a player I have been begging the Cubs to commit to as a starter for three years—seeing very little difference between his stuff and 17-game winner Ted Lilly except the size of their contracts. There's no reason to think Marshall couldn't play the same role in the rotation in two or three seasons.

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However, the Cubs' bullpen is a wreck and there is one move that I pinpoint as having the potential to have been a band—aid on the issue.

When the Cubs moved Felix Pie to Baltimore for Garrett Olsen, a young left handed starter, the majority of onlookers thought it was a domino move in an effort to land Padres starter Jake Peavy. Looking back now, Olsen would have been a nice option in the bullpen as a second lefty to Neal Cotts.

Cotts has struggled, and looking at the pieces the Cubs had in play on the right side of the mound coming into Spring Training (including the now-departed Chad Gaudin), the addition of Aaron Heilman has made little impact relative to what a second (or first, depending on your opinion of Cotts) competent lefty would have in the bullpen.

It absolutely looks like Hendry took the division crown for granted this winter, and was trying to put together a roster that had October in mind more than April through September.

Now, with St. Louis seeing another solid start from Kyle Lohse and Albert Pujols being the jedi he is, the Cardinals don't look like they're going to disappear this year.

And while most fans assumed the defections of Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia would sink the Milwaukee Brewers, a healthy Yovanni Gallardo has proved to be the young ace they thought he would become.

So, as we look to May as the start of the second month of baseball on Chicago's North side, I am going to emphatically point and wag my index at Hendry for having the worst winter in baseball.