No one wants to be a giant pessimist about their team.
The Cubs are trying hard to send their fans in that direction though.
On a day where Lou Piniella said that he would be retiring after this season of managing the Chicago Cubs — and who could blame him, really? — the Ricketts’ family also announced that Jim Hendry would be retained for next season.
Now, part of me thinks that this is a stupid idea, but the other part thinks maybe this is more of a punishment for Hendry. A sort of, “If you don’t clean your room, mister, you’re going to bed without dessert!” situation.
Because THAT, my friends, is the only way this move makes any sense.
It is understandable and even admirable to be loyal to your staff and management in owners. One probably would say that is something that is missing in sports nowadays, that the quick hook to managers/coaches and general managers any time anything goes wrong is one of the biggest problems in sports. It doesn’t allow teams to form an identity.
Hendry has been the GM since 2002. He made the big moves in 2003 that not only brought us the NL Central Division title, that got us 5 outs away from the World Series. He absolutely stole Aramis Ramirez from the Pirates — he has only been the most consistent bat in this lineup for the past 7 years. The Kenny Lofton deal for a bag of wet hammers was also critical to that teams’ success.
And you can say one thing about Hendry, but he was never afraid to make a deal to help the team. That hubris brought Nomar Garciaparra to Chicago in 2004. While the deal didn’t work out, the best player the Cubs gave up was Brendan Harris, a utility infielder for the Minnesota Twins. It is definitely a deal you make again, even knowing what happened with NOMAH.
The problem is, that hubris and confidence has led Hendry to make many criticizable trades and free agency signings. On one hand, many of these deals and signings led to two straight division titles in 2007 and 2008. On the other hand, the Cubs still haven’t won a playoff game since game 5 of the Marlins series in 2003.
The Ted Lilly signing was one I was EXTREMELY critical of in 2007 — Now, Hendry looks like a genius there as Lilly has been the clubs’ most consistent starter of the past four years (and amazingly enough, one of the leaders in wins in the majors over that time frame).
The even BIGGER problem is that that might be the last great move that Hendry has made. He signed Alfonso Soriano (looking like an albatross); gave Rami 75 million dollars to play 100 games per year (I LOVE Rami, but he is a health risk every season now); He made Carlos Zambrano one of the highest paid pitchers in the majors…to throw for AAA Iowa (I guess all you can say there is…oops); he’s made moves that brought in and subsequently shipped out Mark DeRosa, leaving Mike Fontenot as our starting 2B and Ryan Theriot as our starting SS (another oopsie); He brought in Jacque Jones, Juan Pierre, Craig Monroe, Milton Bradley, Kosuke Fukudome, et al — completely hamstringing the budget until at least 2012 with immovable and untradeable contracts.
And while I admire the loyalty, and admire the Ricketts’ essentially hitting Hendry on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper and saying, “Clean up that mess,” I think this was the perfect time to part ways.
There will be a new coach and presumably a new coaching staff.
Why not a new front office too?
And send Ronnie Woo-Woo out the door with them too…Follow paulmbanks