Cubs Terminate GM Jim Hendry; What’s his Legacy Among Cub Nation?



We knew this was coming, just a matter of when. The Chicago Cubs today officially fired General Manager Jim Hendry, naming Assistant GM Randy Bush as his interim successor. Owner Tom Ricketts issued a statement saying that the search for Hendry’s long-term replacement has already begun.

Hendry, 56, was named Vice President/General Manager on July 5, 2002 and departs as the third-longest tenured general manager in the National League. He is the GM in franchise history to oversee three post-season clubs (2003, 2007, 2008) and is the first Cubs general manager to lead the franchise to consecutive post-season berths.

Of course, that accomplishment is a little bit inflated given:

1.) the Cubs prodigiously futile history. and 2.)  the fact that Hendry ruled in an era of playoff expansion, only a handful of Cubs GMs had that advantage. 3.) He had the benefit of building teams with additional payroll; as the Cubs spent a lot more money on players during his era, than in previous regimes.

Hendry was the third-longest-tenured general manager in franchise history behind John Holland (1957-75) and James Gallagher (1940-49).

Overall, Hendry’s legacy is one of mediocre over-spending. His clubs went 749-748 during his time, and he signed the most expensive player in Cub history, Alfonso Soriano. The deal looks like a tremendous albatross today. But Hendry was also responsible for the Kosuke Fukudome and Carlos Zambrano deals, expensive liabilities that hold the club back. Overall, Hendry lasted a season or two longer than he truly deserved. His high point probably came in 2004.

After a surprise NL Central division title in 2003, and an iconic 5-outs-from-the-World-Series showing in that postseason, Hendry had the greatest off-season in Cubs history. Hendry added star players Greg Maddux and Derrek Lee to that winning club. Unfortunately, the St. Louis Cardinals ran away with the division, but Hendry pulled the trigger at the trade deadline to land Nomar Garciaparra. On paper, they should have won the wild card by a large margin, but instead choked it away down the stretch.

The ’08 team Hendry built won close to 100 games; but choked massively in the postseason.

Prior to the Cubs, Hendry spent three seasons in the Florida Marlins organization (1992-94) and eight seasons as the head coach of the Creighton Blue Jays, where he was named the 1991 National Coach of the Year after leading Creighton to a third-place finish in the College World Series.

Bush, 52, has been the assistant general manager with the Cubs for the last five seasons. He joined the Cubs for the second time on January 26, 2005 as a special assistant to the general manager and was promoted to assistant general manager December 20, 2006. Bush also worked for the Cubs in 1999 as minor league hitting coordinator.

A two-time World Champion with the Minnesota Twins (1987 and 1991) as a first baseman/outfielder, Bush played all 12 big league seasons with the Twins from 1982-93 after being selected in the second round of the 1979 Draft.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports 

He does regular weekly radio spots in Chicago and Cleveland and has appeared on live shows all across the world from Houston to New Zealand. You can follow him on Twitter

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