We’ve picked on Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry a lot this season. And deservedly so. The Cubs are eleven and a half games back in the National League Central Division with the third worst winning percentage in baseball. Despite their miserable record, they have the sixth highest payroll in the league.
After trading away right-handed pitcher Chris Archer, outfielder Brandon Guyer, catcher Robinson Chirinos, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and outfielder Sam Fuld to the Tampa Bay Rays for Matt Garza and two other Minor Leaguers this past offseason, Chicago’s system is devoid of almost anything resembling MLB ready talent. Their reckless disregard for giving up draft picks in order to sign free agents hasn’t helped this situation at all, and as they move toward what should be a rebuild season in 2012, Hendry, contracted to the end of next year, remains the overseer of the team.
Danger! Danger! Danger!
The idea of having a general manager desperate to save his job in control of a team in need of rebuilding is an incredibly dangerous scenario heading into the final week before what could potentially be a very important trade deadline for the Chicago Cubs.
Making matters worse are reports like these:
Hendry believes in the strength of the organization, that the scouting and player development departments are building a pipeline that will flow more and more talent to Wrigley Field. He doesn’t see this as a long-term rebuilding project. He knows how quickly everything can change.
“That’s the way the game is now,” Hendry said. “The Pirates were (34 games) back a year ago. They did a nice job. Some of their younger players are playing well. They had a few real quality acquisitions in the winter that clicked. And you’re right back in it.
“Everybody in the preseason was ready to hand everything to the Reds or the Cardinals and all of a sudden you got a good four-team race.”
Presumably, Hendry made these comments with a straight face.
Strategies consisting of hoping for good luck because good luck befell someone else seldom end up working out. As bad as the NL Central is, and considering that a team that wins 85 games this season could easily be its top dog, it’s pretty bad, the Cubs are still far behind the Brewers, Cardinals and Pirates.
Of course Hendry, as long as he’s in charge in Chicago, is sort of in a no win situation. Do what the franchise needs and he admits failure, stave off a rebuild for another year and he pushes the franchise into an even worse place. Either way, I can’t see the team’s current GM remaining at the helm much longer.
As Bradley Woodburn summarized in his excellent piece on Hendry and the Cubs:
With the Cubs’ advanced resources and lackluster division, a progressive, intelligent, and capable front office could quickly make the Cubs into long-term, consistent contenders.
But presently, the Cubs franchise is in a state of disarray. It is time, right now, for the Cubs to move on without Jim Hendry.