As I sit back and enjoy Monday night’s victory, (it’s ten minutes since the “old Marmol” just closed the game) I keep coming back to the same thought. This is the fourth time in the past six years that the Cubs have been “in it” going into August. I think it is time to thank a certain individual. For all of the bad trades, near-misses on free agents and near-misses on the field, Jim Hendry has been integral in putting a competitive team on the field for the past six years.
Sure, he deserves some criticizing for a few moves, but in the end, do the Cubs really miss Dontrelle Willis?
No one is perfect, but as far as general managers go, Hendry has done quite a job. Hee-Seop Choi became Derrek Lee. Bobby Hill and others became Aramis Ramirez. He spent the money on Alfonso Soriano and wisely did not on Barry Zito.
At the time, how much flack did he take for the Mark DeRosa signing? The super-utility stud gives Lou Piniella so many options from the manager’s perch.
From acquiring Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin, to developing Ryan Theriot, Geovany Soto and Carlos Marmol, to Carlos Zambrano’s long-term deal, The Hendry has built a solid baseball team.
In late March and early April, the conversation centered on who would play center, Felix Pie or Sam Fuld. Remember that? Reed Johnson and Jim Edmonds have been key additions. Simply put, Johnson makes at least one crucial play a game. How about that slide in the seventh inning Monday night to break up the double play? He is a fundamentally-sound baseball player. And Hollywood looks pretty good in blue pinstripes.
Andy MacPhail wanted too much for Brian Roberts. If he pulled the proverbial trigger on that trade, the Cubs probably would not have had the prospects to acquire Rich Harden. He wanted Brian Roberts, but he did not allow the Orioles brass to take him to the cleaners.
There are very few teams that have been as competitive as the Cubs this millennium. He has won more division titles than any other Cubs general manager … two. Granted it is a small number, but he is responsible for improving the team.
It appears that he has access to more money than his predecessors, but he is using it wisely, for the most part. With Bob Howry having a tough year, Gaudin’s acquisition was a great addition in a great trade.
Many have been critical of his moves, but with the addition of Tim Wilken, the minors are producing at a rate not seen in years. His free agent signings have been a success and while the Faithful clamored for Joe Girardi, he picked Lou Piniella. And I think it is safe to say that has worked out okay.
As you sat back and enjoyed the victory on Monday, you may have thought of something else, but this is what went through my mind. I am guilty of drinking the kool-aid a little too often, but it is only fair to give the man his due thus far. Every deadline he makes something happen. Matt Murton may not have panned out the way Peter Gammons and others thought, but Harden could be responsible for putting this team over the top.
If you do not like him, that is your prerogative, Bobby Brown. But I think you have to give him his due. He has done well and put a competitive product on the field more often than not since taking over the position.
Mr. Cuban will have a lot to think about while putting together his front office next off-season.
Thanks, The Hendry.
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Stay Classy Cubs Fans!!!!