The headline question is a bit like asking, “should Mike Quade be named as a coach on the All-Star team?” Which is, of course, so ridiculous that it barely bears noting, much less answering.

Oh. Wait.

So, perhaps the question is worth asking: should Cubs not only retain current General Manager Jim Hendry at the end of the season, but ink him to an extension beyond 2012?

I’m sorry. I can barely ask that with a straight face. And, yet, that is the premiss of Gordon Wittenmyer’s most recent article – which now comes before you for fisking. Unsurprisingly, it’s a very disappointing effort, full of ridiculous assertions, misleading support, and an indefensible conclusion.

Take it away, Mr. Wittenmyer (what follows are selected excerpts, but they preserve the essential flow and argument of the article):

Cubs ownership not only should keep general manager Jim Hendry through the end of his contract next year, but they should consider an extension.

Talk about a Sun-Times exclusive.

The ever-present ‘‘Fire Jim Hendry’’ crowd never has been louder than it has this season as a team with no expectations still has managed to underachieve. Hendry is being blamed for everything from back-loaded contracts and a lack of pitching depth to J-Lo’s breakup and the high price of gas.

A Sun-Times exclusive, indeed. And that’s the idea, folks. Wittenmyer wants you reading this not because it’s a reasonable, well-thought-out analysis. He wants you reading it because it’s so far out there that no one else would suggest it.

Folks blame Jim Hendry for his failings as GM for a variety of good reasons. Back-loaded contracts? Yes. He offered them, they’re hurting the team, so it’s fair game. Lack of pitching depth? Again, Hendry constructed the team, the lack of depth is hurting the team, so it’s fair game. And then Wittenmyer tosses in the (unfunny) nonsequitors about J-Lo and gas prices as a cheap way to undercut legitimate criticisms? As if blaming Hendry for failing at the very things he’s paid to do is the same as blaming him for ridiculous things that are obviously outside of his control? Weak sauce, bro.

But the fact is, this is still the guy who assembled the final pieces of the 2003 team that came within a routine play at short of reaching the World Series, the same guy who rebuilt the team into a back-to-back division champion in 2007 and 2008 and the same guy who rebuilt a scouting and player-development system that finally is starting to produce impact position players for the first time in decades.

You do know that the most recent of those decades has been presided over by Jim Hendry, right? “How can you fire this teacher for failing to graduate any students over the past decade? A couple of his students are just now starting to approach passing test scores!”

And, keep that “rebuilt the 2007 and 2008 division champs” thing in mind. You’ll need it later.

Lost in the fan and media disgust for a team that looks like it might reach 100 losses are the strengths Hendry brings to the job in general, and specifically with the Cubs, looking ahead.

And don’t bet the house that the next GM will be an improvement, especially considering the cast of baseball newbies and wannabes who figure to be making that hire. Considering some baseball insiders believe Josh Byrnes and Ned Colletti would be near the top of the Cubs’ list, head-hunting fans might want to be careful what they wish for.

By now, I think folks are willing to accept just about anyone else. No one is “betting the house” on an improvement. We simply know we’ve seen enough of the current regime. It’s like when the Cubs kept trotting James Russell out there to start. Was it guaranteed that someone like Ramon Ortiz would do better? Of course not. But was it time to try? Absolutely.

Despite Ricketts’ professed respect and admiration for Gillick, this week’s Hall of Fame inductee is similarly employed already with the Philadelphia Phillies, he lives in Seattle, he’s 74, and he has said he has no desire to be deeply involved in day-to-day operations of a team. It doesn’t seem a fit on his end.

And despite an outside source last week suggesting that White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn would soon be hired by the Cubs in some capacity, high-level Cubs sources shot that one down, too.

First of all, what, because two names that have come up might not be good fits to replace Jim Hendry, the Cubs might as well just keep Hendry? Two names out of literally dozens of known and unknown candidates?

Second of all, no one is credibly suggesting Gillick as a GM candidate. Everyone discussing the Gillick rumor has him pegged as an advisor for the transition to *someone else* as a new GM. We know he’s not a fit as GM, Mr. Wittenmyer. But you really blasted that straw man!

[The] direction [in which the Ricketts family takes the Cubs] should include Hendry, whether fan politics make that a tough sell or not.

The decision isn’t about this year. In fact, everybody involved saw this coming. Maybe not 21-games-under-.500 horrible, but the suits knew these bad contracts would come home to roost and probably lay an egg.

Former owner Tribune Co. spent lavishly on curb appeal leading up to their 2007 for-sale announcement, knowing that the next owner would pay the bills.

There! Did you catch it? Wittenmyer has the temerity to, in one breath, credit Jim Hendry for assembling the back-to-back division winners in 2007 and 2008, and in the next breath use the building of those teams by “the suits” as a defense of Hendry in the subsequent years when the very contracts upon which those championships were built decimated the franchise. Tell me, Mr. Wittenmyer: did Hendry put those contracts together, or did “the suits”? You can’t have it both ways, protest as you might.

Wittenmyer goes on to make a mealymouthed defense of Hendry, without so much as a mention of Hendry’s tenure – one of the longest in baseball with his current team, at over nine years – or of his significant financial resource advantage in the NL Central. To ignore those two key elements of this issue in an exposition about signing Jim Hendry to an extension is the equivalent of malpractice.

With apologies to Mr. Wittenmyer, this article is pure, unadulterated link bait, and nothing more (i.e., writing a contrarian piece in the hopes that others online will disagree and link to you to generate traffic – it’s unseemly, it’s low hanging fruit, and, as this very post indicates, it works). It disappoints me. Even as a lowly basement blogger, it’s something I would never do. And I expect at least the same ethical compass from professionals like Wittenmyer.

I can’t even begin to accept that he actually believes half of the garbage in the piece, let alone the *absurd* conclusion. Could someone make a plausible argument that Hendry should be allowed to finish out his contract in 2012? Sure. I haven’t seen it, but I’ll allow that possibility. But to argue that he should be extended? Now? No. You don’t actually believe that, Mr. Wittenmyer. No one who can speak in complete sentences could believe that.

I suspect Wittenmyer, or someone with whom he works, had an idea for a nice off-day article: defend Jim Hendry. That’ll get ’em riled up.

Checkmate, Mr. Wittenmyer.

Enjoy the bump in traffic that the article will no doubt generate. But I hope you can also stand the commensurate drop in respect.

  • Fishin Phil

    I always thought Wittenmeyer was a blithering idiot, but he has now proven it beyond the shadow of a doubt.

  • Dean

    Maybe Wittenmeyer should be fired before Hendry for this garbage. Glad I read your article than wasted my time with what Wittenmeyer wrote.

  • Cubs Mom

    If the Cubs re-sign Hendry, that will 100% assure they can have my 4 season tickets back. THAT will be the straw that breaks this camel’s back!!!! Kenney can be shown the door along with Hendry too!!

  • Fishin Phil

    I think from now on any time someone references a Wittenmeyer article, they should be forced to put an * next to his name.

    Something like this:

    Gordon Wittenmeyer* reports that the sun may rise in the west tomorrow morning.

    *Same idiot that suggested Hendry be signed to extension.

    • RoughRiider

      The sun never moves. It’s in the same place over Wrigley Field. All the time.

      • CubFan Paul

        the sun never sets on the cool my friend!

  • MichiganGoat

    Idiotic ramblings equals controversy, traffic, and readers. Why does the modern newspaper allow such nonsense to get published.

  • CubsFanatic

    If Hendry is signed to an extension, then I think there will be enough Cubs fans with torches in the streets that it could be seen from space. Not to mention Wrigley would be more empty than the Nationals stadium.

    • EQ

      I can understand keeping him through next year for the remainder of his contract, I don’t agree, but would sort of understand… but an extension?? wow. that’s ridiculous.

  • Toosh

    Ricketts hasn’t shown me anything yet to make me think he knows what he’s doing, so if he kept Hendry around for 2012 and beyond it wouldn’t surprise me.

  • Jeff

    Gordon Wittenmeyer is the Jim Hendry of the newspaper world. He comes up with a decent article every now and then, but he spews such b.s. sometimes that you can hardly believe he still has a job. Hendry has had a couple of nice trades, but he makes moves and says things all the time that make you wonder why he still has a job. I am not usually one to lash out angrily at people, but; TAKE A BREAK FROM FLUFFING JIM HENDRY AND GO EAT YOUR OWN A**HOLE GORDON WITTENMEYER.

    • Brett

      Jim Hendry just held a press conference to urge the Sun-Times to ink Wittenmyer to an extension.

      • Jeff

        I want the theoretical Jim Hendry contract extension press conference to be held at Wrigley and all fans allowed to attend for free. I can only fathom that the mayhem would occur.

  • NECubsfan

    J-lo broke up?

    • Caleb

      I know, right?

  • pfk

    Bravo! An outstanding takedown of Wittenmeyer’s article. Very well dissected and exposed for the drivel it is. No question in my mind, you are the best at writing about the Cubs.

    • Brett

      Wow. High praise, pfk. Thanks for that.

  • Vince

    Steve Stone for G.M. and Bob Brenley for Manager.

    • TWC

      I understand the sentiment — really, I do — but that would be an absolute clusterfuck of ego.

      • miggy80

        I can Imagine it now. Big Z would have to smash there heads together. Bob Stone for GM!

    • Hogie

      They could announce the games together too!

    • Ryan

      Steve Stone wanted to trade Aramis Ramirez for Cesar Izturis. He’s a buffoon.

      • Brett

        Jim Hendry actually traded Greg Maddux for Cesar Izturis…

        • Fishin Phil

          That should have been grounds for immediate dismissal.

  • Sam

    If Hendry gets an extension I don’t know if I could continue to be a cubs fan.

  • Caleb

    He says, “Lost in the [whatnot] by [peeps] are the strengths that Hendry brings to the job in general, and specifically with the Cubs, looking ahead.” I felt like that was a setup to the listing of strengths that would follow. Nope- nothing.

    I’m not an expert on the general manager job, how it relates to the team’s performance, or how Hendry “does” at his job. I just don’t know. Like most fans, I can see results and who is accountable. Does Hendry have a lot of strengths in his position? I don’t know. Would most other GMs have made similar decisions and acquisitions, ultimately leading to the same type of performance? I don’t know. Did the Tribune pressure Hendry into offering over-sized, long term contracts that would crush us in the long term just to make the team look shiny in the short term? I don’t know. Is the team filled with lots of talent but riddled with bad luck? Who knows- though I suspect that has to be at least partly true.

    I’m willing to admit everything I don’t know. Which is, of course, lots. But GW’s final argument is only “Hendry MIGHT be the best answer to turn things around.”

    Technically, sure. He MIGHT be. Lots of things MIGHT be. Darwin Barney MIGHT hit 20 homers next year!

    So it seems GW said, essentially, “We might want to keep Hendry because he has some strengths that I’m not going to mention.”

    Hard to argue, easy to ignore.

  • ry

    For one wittenmeyer is an idiot and also must be a huge sox fan!

  • Cindy Crawford

    As much as I’m ready to see Hendry go (let’s send him off with a box of donuts- he won’t miss a thing), do you think our chances of signing Pujols or Fielder go down without him. He’s apparently a great ‘people-person’… Something to consider I guess

    • Brett

      Eh – even if players think he’s a swell guy, that just can’t be a reason to keep someone on as a GM. I’m a great people person – my mom totally loves me. But I doubt I’d make a good GM.

      For guys like Pujols and Fielder, money – and the opportunity to play on a winner – will talk. Not the personality of the GM.

      • Cindy Crawford

        Thanks- that’s exactly what I was hoping you’d say. We’re definitely on the same page here… Also, Wittenmyer is a gypsy

  • Toosh

    Exactly. Also, let’s imagine that every player he’s ever met thinks Hendry’s the greatest guy in the world. Where has that gotten the Cubs during his tenure?

  • TSB

    I think Gordon Wittenmyer is just trying to be provocative to gain publicity and readership. sort of like that sports writer that wanted Cal Ripkin jr. to voluntary end his playing streak to keep the record in New York with Lou Gehrig

  • Ol’CharlieBrown

    I think it would be just awful to have Hendry sign an extension. I don’t think players sign or don’t sign with the Cubs just because good ol’ Jim Hendry is such a swell guy that they just can’t resist. I think that the only player it could jeopardize us signing would be Pujols. Most likely, Pujols is going to go where the contract of his liking is or take slightly less to stay with the Cardinals. But he does seem to have a good relationship with Hendry which could have some effect on his signing with us.

    On a seperate note, I saw today that the Mariners have just lost their 12th straight game. I came here with the intentions of using their losing streak as a way to help boost us Cubs fans morale as it reminded me that our season could be worse. Then I thought to myself, even though they’re in the midst of a 12-game losing streak, I wouldn’t doubt they still have a better record than the Cubs. Sure enough they do. They sit at 43-55 while we sit at 39-60. At this point, I truly hope that the Astros pull past us in the standings. They are the only thing standing between the Cubs and the prestigious title of being known as the “Worst Team in Baseball”. Maybe it will be time for bold changes then. Once we hit rock bottom. Like they say, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

  • jim

    Hendsy – Kennsy – Riggsy – millsy – do they think we, the fans, are kindergarden students.
    Wittsy is an idiot !!!!! We lost all our youth in the Garza trade. All 5 could be up on the rays roster next season. Garza has to be a keeper because of this debacle. Tim “Wilksy” Wilken needs to go as he stated he would leave if Hendry is released. We had something like the #13 pick & he chosses a guy from an NAIA school in the low 100 category. Keep Flieta from the Dominican side & give him a promotion. Lets not forget the Bush-whacker”, asst GM who was Quade’s college room mate. Lets say good riddence to this fraternity of losers. Always remember, the day before the Pujols 2 walk-off homerun weekend Quade was quoted “BRING IT ON”. “Q” got exactly what he asked for from the fans. Keep the heat on these clowns everyday.

  • WiCubsFan

    Hendry needs an extension like I need a case of herpes

    • TSB

      Hendry IS a case of herpes

  • Jackson

    @CubsFanatic Wrigley Field will never be empty all the fags drinking all day will be there and Hendry must be fired it’s not all his fault but him and Quade better be on The out after this season and Cubs fans need to accept it’s time to rebuild (when all these bs contracts are up soriano, Z, Fukudome etc.) Hendry cannot rebuild a team because he will still try to be going for sorianos when the cubs need to rebuild. Bottom line Hendry and Quade are gone!! And btw Quade should not criticize his best player (Castro).

    • Brett

      Hey, man. I’m ok with one f word (fuck), but I’m not ok with the f word that you used. Please avoid using it. Thanks.

      • hardtop

        yeah man, that’s not right! the people you are referring to are called “douchebucket trustfunders”.

      • Michigan Goat


  • CC

    You know Ace, if it weren’t for the fact that Chicago has some of the worst sportswriters covering baseball of any major market, you’d probably be out of a job. Keep up the good work.

    • Brett

      Ha, thanks, CC.

  • BAMF

    Ultimately, this all boils down to accountability. There is a reason why the Cubs are horrible this year. There isn’t a player on the cubs that has been continuously under contract as long as Hendry. If the GM of a paper company can’t get his people to make paper, he is out of a job. If the GM of a baseball team (with one of the highest payrolls in the industry) can’t get his team to win he should be out of a job…not to mention that asshole Kenney. Maybe the Cubs should get some new blood into the front office…it ended up doing the Red Sox some good a few years back…remember Theo Epstein and the 86 year old curse of the Bambino? It is the tradionalist, non imaginative douche bags, such as Mr. Wittenmyer, that seem to be the basic underlying problem of the flacid mess that is the Cubs. Put Jim Hendry in charge of a small or mid market team and he wouldn’t have a fucking clue. Also, we should not forget to mention that this was the mind behind the thinktank that decided to pick Mike Quade over the obvious fan favorite Ryno. Not that I have a problem with Q personally, I just feel that if the fans show such an overwhelming support for someone such as Ryno (someone with just as much qualifications in my opinion as Q), give the man a shot…especially when you know the team you put together was bullshit. At least this would have shut up the assholes out there like myself. Bottom line is, old Gordon Whittenmyer had to be dipping for ink in his rectum to put this type of shit on paper. [End Rant]