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I suspect that if Jim Hendry were an avid investor in the stock market, he probably wouldn’t have too much success. You see, in the market, you have to anticipate moves. You need to see where the market is going to be in 6, 12 months, not where it is right now. You can’t simply react to every latest craze (though you can sometimes ride the wave for a little bit, but I digress).

The reason I say this is because being a reactionary has been Jim Hendry’s MO for the last several years with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs lacked a leadoff hitter one year, so Hendry hastily signed a poor fit leadoff hitter to a gigantic contract (Alfonso Soriano). The Cubs had a few games of bad luck against right-handed pitching, so Hendry decided he had to dump a righty or two and get a lefty in the lineup (Milton Bradley (switch hitter)). Then the Cubs had a bad clubhouse guy, so Hendry decided to go out and grab as many “good” clubhouse guys he could find.

That’s all fine, but it reflects a guy who is merely reacting to the needs of his club, and not anticipating them before they percolate to the surface. And when it comes to Milton Bradley, Hendry should have anticipated what happened – but to hear it from him, nothing would have gone wrong if Bradley had just hit better in April.

“Offensively, he was the right guy. It wasn’t like we didn’t do our homework,” Hendry said Thursday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “If he’d have hit like he normally did the first couple of months probably a lot of the issues wouldn’t have come out. He was probably our best player in spring training.

“I remember having some chats with Derrek Lee and Aramis [Ramirez] during camp, and they were thrilled to have him. He just got out of the gate so poorly and just didn’t handle that lack of success well. He had always been a good hitter and really good the couple years before we got him.”

Bradley was coming off the best season of his 10-year career after batting .321 with 22 home runs and 77 runs batted in for the Texas Rangers in 2008. He signed a three-year, $30 million contract before the 2009 season, giving the Cubs’ lineup a left-handed bat. His volatile temper was even thought to be a good thing, bringing some energy to the Cubs clubhouse.

But Bradley got off to a rough start, batting .118 in April. The Cubs suspended him for the rest of the season in September for his conduct. He finished his only season as a Cub batting .257 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs.

The Cubs traded him to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Carlos Silva and cash in December. They have added several players with reputations as good clubhouse guys such as outfielders Marlon Byrd and Xavier Nady, Silva and Kevin Millar, but Hendry said that is the norm while Bradley was the exception.

“Until Milton we had always had [good character players] so it wasn’t like a U-turn in philosophy,” Hendry said. “We’ve had a great bunch of guys here for a long time, and we still do. Obviously, I made the mistake of trying to fit in the perfect type of offensive player. Obviously when that didn’t work the other issues came out. It was fortunate we put it behind us but [signing good character guys] wasn’t a conscious effort.” ESPN Chicago.

Bradley was a disaster waiting to happen no matter how he hit in the early season. The guy hasn’t lasted more than a full season anywhere he’s been in the last half decade. There’s a reason for that, and it has nothing to do with how he hit early in the season.

I’m sorry if it seems like I’m continuously ragging on Jim Hendry, but it frustrates me to hear him espousing this kind of revisionist history in an obvious effort to stump for continued employment after 2010. I hope the Cubs win in 2010, I truly and painfully do. But it’s becoming more and more clear that, if they should win this year, it will be in spite of Jim Hendry’s recent efforts, not because of them.

  • Cardfan

    I would normally refrain a Hendry post. As I read through it, though, something struck me. What could it be? Hmmmm…

    Knee-jerk reactions to public pressure – check
    Failure to consider long-term implications of current decisions – check
    Willingness to over-extend the budget on programs (MB) that have demonstrated erratic or negative return – check
    Half-assed acceptance of responsibility followed quickly by justification and revisionism – check

    It makes sense now – JIM HENDRY FOR CONGRESS!

    • Ace

      HA! Spot on.

  • Gargantua!

    I do not recall your saying that Bradley was “a disaster waiting to happen” before the signing.

    • Ace

      Would you care to look at what I did say? I assure you, Bradley was not even close to my choice for the Cubs.

      • Gargantua!

        If you complained…it was a bare whimper.

  • KB

    You can rag on me if you want someone who was looking forward to Bradley joining the team. I knew he was an excellent hitter, and since we had the most pleasant, mellow clubhouse in MLB, it seemed like it’d be good to add a little fire.

    I still think all of the above is true. I think Ace left out the biggest knee-jerk reaction in this whole sordid tale: dumping Bradley, dumping $20 million dollars, and replacing his bat with a far less effective alternative….all because Bradley whined to the press a little bit.

    Didn’t Abe Lincoln coin the phrase “Don’t swap horses in mid-stream”?

    • Gargantua!

      I hate the end results with Milton Bradley. I would have far preferred our staying with him for this year…seeing if he could turn things around…to the garbage we ended up with.

      That said…do we really know the internal machinations? Are we certain that Bradley wasn’t making things impossible for the team? Were players reacting to the idea of his being with the team? Was Lou? Was Bradley telling the media that he wanted to stay, while telling Hendry that he wanted to go?

      We’re not flies on the wall. We don’t know the answers. Some are looking for provocative answers, and never leave any room for Occam’s Razor.

  • KB

    I see your point, but if you’ve ever spent any time on a sports message board, then you already know that that is Excuse #1, whenever a front-office guy that you like makes an absurdly bad move.
    “Hey, we have no idea what REALLY goes on behind closed doors.”

    I would say, based on the past, and on having read extensively about baseball for decades, that the above quote is true maybe 10% of the time.

  • BT

    KB, you don’t have to be on a sports message board to figure out what was going on in the clubhouse behind closed doors. Simply pay attention to the fact that NOT ONE SINGLE GUY stuck up for Bradley when the Cubs traded him. Reactions from the players ranged from indifference to almost shocking exuberance when he was dealt. Have you ever seen that before? EVER? This isn’t guesswork. This isn’t Excuse #1. This is simply a matter of paying attention to what is right there in front of your face.

    • Ace

      BT’s right. Although, all it does to me is make me all the more angry that Hendry ignored that looming problem when he signed Bradley in the first place.

      • Gargantua!

        No…KB is right.

        I do probably need more time on a message board… ;)

        • Ace

          Only I know your true identity, Garg.

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