The Jim Hendry Firing: In Their Words

You may have noticed that I haven’t leapt to write Jim Hendry’s epitaph or whip up a list of possible replacement candidates. That is not without reason.

Everywhere you turned last night and this morning, there is another media blowhard, thoughtlessly pontificating on the Cubs’ future GM and tap-dancing on Jim Hendry’s professional grave. The former is premature. The latter isn’t particularly classy.

I’ve wanted Jim Hendry out as GM as much as, and for as long as, just about anyone else. But yesterday was a crummy, sad day for a lot of people. It’s one thing to drop some comments about how excited you are about a change finally coming at the GM spot (I appreciated all of your comments here – a nice balance of excitement and respect – and I made my thoughts known on that front in yesterday’s EBS); it’s another to let that swell of excitement overwhelm your better professional instincts.

There will be a time for an exegesis on the end of the Hendry era (mine will probably come early next week), but that time is not mere hours after a shocking announcement. Doing that leaves you with a product that is two-thirds hasty garbage, and one-third spiteful attention-seeking. If that means I miss out on some eyeballs (which would probably roll back in their sockets if I churned out the dreck I’m reading from most everyone else today), so be it.

For today, I’ll let everyone involved do the talking.

Tom Ricketts: “At the moment I decided that we had to make a change, I thought the right thing to do, given how much I respect Jim, is to let him know. He never missed a beat, and it’s a credit to his character that he was able to operate under that kind of awkward situation and do as well as we have done. Nothing that’s happened today should diminish Jim’s great legacy as general manager of the Chicago Cubs. Three division titles during his tenure, a winning record from what I see on the press release, and we would like to thank him for his great service. We’ll all miss seeing him every day at the office, for sure.”

Mike Quade: “This is not a day for me. [My future is] the furthest thing from my mind. You work for a guy, he’s a friend. This is a tough day for all of us. But I have no time to concern myself at all with me on a day like this …. Everybody lost a good friend today …. My friend won’t be my boss, but he will always be my friend.”

Ryan Dempster: “He’s responsible for every single person in here. He’s a really good person and good man and he was let go because we didn’t do our job on the field. He’s been a big part of my life and gave me the opportunity to play for the Chicago Cubs and that’s something I’ll always be grateful for. It’s tough for us in the locker room, I’m sure it’s tough for the coaches. I’m glad we won today because I know he’d be happy for us. It was a tough day and a tough thing to hear that sadness. He doesn’t have anything to be sad about because he did a great job in every aspect. Everyone was thankful to go out and play for him …. He did a lot of great things here. And he always had the best interest of the Cubs first. If you showed up on time and you played hard, he had nothing but good things to say about you. We’ll be friends a long time after baseball is over with.”

Kerry Wood: “It’s a sad day for me. It caught us off guard. But he said his peace and it was good to hear from him. Our relationship isn’t going to be over …. He’s not a typical GM.”

Alfonso Soriano: “He tried to do what’s best for the team. He’s very honest with the players. He does what’s best for the players and what’s best for the team, too …. It’s very sad for Jim and for the players because we love him.”

Aramis Ramirez: “We didn’t play the way we should play and a lot of veteran guys are making a lot of money and not performing like they should and someone had to pay the price. The players are responsible. Jim doesn’t play. He signs guys and brings in guys and puts this guy in this position and gets the manager and the coaches. The bottom line is to get the job done between the lines and we didn’t.”

Marlon Byrd: “Of course we got him fired. That’s a definite. Think about the teams he put together. He put together some great squads. Look what he did this year. He went out and he got Matt Garza and Carlos Pena and then he brought [Kerry Wood] back with no budget. Not many GMs could do that. We had all the players here this year, but we couldn’t get it done for him. We all feel bad about that.”

Randy Wells: “This was a tough day. Besides my short stint in Toronto, Jim was the only general manager I’ve ever played for. I like him more as a person than anything. To see him choked up – I’m not going to lie, the team and myself personally got a little choked up, too. To spend that much time with somebody, it’s tough to see them go.”

And Jim Hendry, himself: “In his heart, [Ricketts] wanted it go to better. He didn’t take over this franchise looking to think [I] would be a short-termer. It’s big business. We’re here to win games, and the last couple years, we didn’t win enough of them …. I will leave here with nothing but gratefulness to have been to be part of an organization for 17 years. Not many get to do that. Not many get to be the GM for nine [years] without a World Championship. I got more than my fair chance to do that. I’m disappointed in myself that we didn’t do it in the first five to seven years when I thought we could.”

Jim Hendry was not a successful GM with the Cubs, but he was a classy, good man until the end. That part, I’m sure, will be remembered fondly and missed.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

39 responses to “The Jim Hendry Firing: In Their Words”

  1. TheBigMustafa

    He was a good GM.

    He grew the franchise as much, or more, than anyone in its history.

    Some big wins…some big risks…some big failures. Such is the resume of most winning GMs.

    Time to move on…I agree with the change…but, I hate it.

    And…he is a good GM.

    1. Toosh

      Wrong. With the Cubs’ resources and HIS payroll, to be barely above .500 is inexcusable.

    2. Jebecker

      I don’t think that he was horrible with trades he had some good ones (Lee, Ramirez) and some bad ones. But he was absolutely appalling at FA signings. I don’t want to go over which ones were bad because that is too depressing and I can’t go over good FA signings because there aren’t any…

  2. Jeff

    I think if you look, a lot of the commenters agreed with you Ace. I was expecting the celebrating and dancing, but there was a lot of respect and praise thrown Jim Hendry’s way yesterday from some guys here that have been pretty harsh on him, including myself. I think all of us look at this team as a family and we look at ourselves as part of it. Above all of his mistakes, even if we thought his reasoning was crazy at the time he made some moves, you could tell he wanted to win as much as the fans did. I would have liked to see him stay on in some role, but I’m sure that could be awkward for him and the new GM, so I wish him luck. This situation also sheds a little light on his reaction to the Carlos Zambrano blow up. It had to be hard for a guy who had been through so much with Zambrano, only to watch him quit, while Hendry’s sitting in his office trying to help the team, even though he didn’t have a job anymore. It’s kind of crazy, Hendry’s been a part of the Cubs for the majority of my life, it’s definitely a different feeling without him in charge.

  3. greg

    Posts like this are why you’re my favorite Cubs writer

  4. Spencer

    I was going to post under the original Jim Hendry getting fired thread but I decided to read this article first and I’m glad I did. Don’t get me wrong, I think the change at GM was necessary and will help the Cubs in the long run, but it is always a bit awkward whenever you see someone in any profession lose their job and have a bunch of people celebrate about it – especially someone as classy as Hendry who clearly cared a lot about the Cubs and his players. Yes, the change was needed. Yes, we all are looking anxiously to the future. But I just think it’s important to keep in mind that it’s never fun when someone loses their job, and I’m glad that this post brought that to everyone’s attention. Kudos, Brett.

  5. Fishin Phil

    I will admit to some dancing on my part. I think the joy is more about the change itself than the downfall of Jim Hendry. Say what you want about some of the moves he made, but the way he stuck around to help sign all the draft picks was pure class.

  6. BAMF

    Bottom line is that his job was to win, he didn’t do it. As great of a guy as he may be, Ricketts made the right choice. The Cubs need to infuse some new blood into the organization and this is the first step. I don’t think anyone is faulting Hendry on his intentions, this is purely results driven. It was probably some of these same buddy connections that may have clouded Hendry’s decision making skills. This issue stands though that he made decisions that created the current situation. People in his position get paid big money and are expected to win. When that doesn’t happen, he (as unfortunate as it may be in our society) is ultimately to blame. It’s not like he wasn’t given the resources to win…Cubs had the third highest payroll in baseball. Yes, some of the players he signed had monumental collapses, but still signing them was ultimately his decision. In fact, I commend the new ownership on tightening up his budget…who knows, Cubs might have been sitting with Adam Dunn for 5 years. If you want to feel sorry for anybody, feel sorry for the lifelong Cubs fans who have passed without ever having the honor or bragging rights that come with a championship, not Jim Hendry.

  7. Brian

    When I initially saw that Hendry was fired I jumped out of my chair for no real reason other than just excitement. It was quite the scene in the office. Like the majority of commenters here I have great respect for Jim Hendry because he was a professional and was good at his job.

    Sure he made some bad choices with huge contracts. The part I did not like about Hendry that always bothered me was his lack of advanced statistics.

    Despite no championship ring to serve as proof of a successful tenure with the Cubs he has certainly kept the Cubs interesting and alive for us fans.

    The Cubs should look to put Mike Rowe in for GM because this is definitely a dirty job.

  8. Valerie

    Hey Brett — Thanks so much for posting such a thoughtful blog on Hendry but just posting what others have said. I hadn’t heard or read what the players thought about Hendry, and frankly reading what you put together made me a little sad for them; they’re realizing that what they do has consequences not just for them and the fans but for peoples’ jobs. The players should be busting their butts when they go out on the field, every single day… Hopefully this will be a small reminder to them of that.

    Anyway, thanks for putting together a wonderful blog.

  9. Caleb

    Great stuff.

    And, for what it’s worth, I was out and about in st Louis last night (I’m officially moved now) and even the cardinal fans i was hassling had some nice things to say about hendry. They also told me to fuck off each time i asked them to replay the 10th inning again on tv, but still.

  10. Nomar's Left Glove

    I think that most people here can, at least, respect the spirit in which he did his job. I don’t really think that he did that great of a job, by and large. It’s not an attack on him personally, it seems that most people who worked for him have great respect for him. I mean to say that three playoff appearances in nine years with one of the highest payrolls in the NL, while destroying the farm system, is not great. I’m glad he’s gone and I’ll be glad to see Quade and Riggins gone too.

  11. RoughRiider

    I think everyone that has read this blog over the last few months know that I supported Hendry with few exceptions. With all the blogs and comments I’ve read this year I fully expected to see Hendry vilified. I was saddened by the firing but glad to see that your blog and most of the comments were classy. I salute you and my fellow commenter’s on the way they comported themselves.
    I look forward to the day that a new GM and Manager are hired and can feel a sense of excitement in the future of the Cubs. I remain, as probably most Cub fans, skeptically optimistic. I also know that history says that when you change GMs and Managers there is almost always a clean sweep of the entire organization and that it takes 3 to 5 years to see results.
    I just hope I’m not one of BAMFs “lifelong Cubs fans who have passed without ever having the honor or bragging rights that come with a championship.” (WORLD SERIES)

    1. ron

      RoughRiider, I have been thinking about this comment all day and I hope that they win one soon for you too. The internet is a crazy place and I just want you to know that some times a win is more than a win and whatever you may be going through there are people out there and if you ever make your way to Nashville let me know. I don’t follow blogs, this is literally the only one, so that says a lot for the content and the commentaters. Anyway, good luck, and I will cheer even more hard for you.

  12. ME1963

    I am sure Hendry is a quality individual…but he did not bring a winner.
    If I was one of the players I would hate to see him go too…Hendry made a lot
    of them very wealthy while performing at a mediocre level.
    Thankfully Ricketts is a strong leader who is willing to make tough decisions.

  13. Lou

    You took the right angle, Brett. I just wish others in the media would have done the same. Still troubled by the confidence Ricketts is taking in Crane Kinney. One sports media outlet is putting the Cubs culture up there with a country -club environment. Don’t know if I’d go that far. But I just have to wonder if all this celebratory exuberance is the correct reaction. But I appreciate you not letting your emotions influence an immediate reaction on your part.

  14. philoe beddoe

    I hope the Chicago writers quit the drum banging for Rick Hahn of the White Sox….that would suck…
    I know someone who played for Hendry at Creighton and had Hendry stand up in his wedding, probably why I have been willing to give him a pass, but Hendry also did come in with a flurry of success I had never see with the Cubs. Anyhoo, this guy says that Hendry was such a great guy and he was obssessed with getting that World Series so much so that his health and life took a huge turn for the worse. That obssession I think clouded his judgement in his last four years as GM. Soriano, Milton Bradley are the two biggest mistakes that I would hold him accountable for, and the fact that our system has consistently developed pitchers that get hurt….Prior, Wood, Guzman, Brownlie, Cashner, Whiteknack,….either bad luck or we don’t know how to handle pitchers….

    I am just hoping for an experienced guy who will hire Ryno….coouldn’t make a better PR move for 2012…change is good…

    1. Robbo

      I’d still like the full story of the Soriano deal to come out. Rumor has it Hendry was offering Soriano a 6 year deal but in effort to make a big offseason splash, sell more tickets, and inflate the percieved value of the Cubs prior to selling, Sam Zell and then-President John McDonough went above Hendry and signed the deal for 8 years to make sure they didnt lose out on Soriano by only offering 6 years.

      Hendry still had other FA signings that didn’t pan out and some bad drafts that didnt produce much star-caliber talent, but it seems to me he shouldn’t be on the hook for the Soriano deal.

  15. Brian

    Hendry seems like a great guy, very loyal and hard working, always doing what he thought would help out the team. But I think that was also his weakness, and, ultimately, his downfall. Hendry’s loyalty to his players and his emotional attachment to the team I think at times clouded his judgement, keeping or signing players who were past their prime and sacrificing the farm system in order to acquire players he thought would be in the club’s best interest. And, from his track record, it seems he looked at how to improve the Cubs in the short-term rather than how to improve them over the course of a few seasons. That led to the expensive, backloaded, payroll-clogging deals for players like Soriano, Fukudome, and Bradley, all of whom were over 30 when they signed.
    But, for all his faults, he was a good GM, and did make some very good decisions. But the bad deals tend to overshadow the good ones, mostly because the bad deals involved players with large contracts (and, in some cases, large egos).

  16. philoe beddoe

    I know I always sound like I am defending him…but remember the back-loading of the contracts was for the Tribune company as they knew they would not be owning the team when all of these contracts turned to total shit…

    don’t underestimate how much the length and difficulty of the sale hurt the Cubs, us fans, and the Ricketts themselves…a lot of variables here but it is definitely time for Hendry to go…

    1. MichiganGoat

      I do agree that being a GM through three ownerships can’t make your job simple.

  17. ry

    it definitely is refreshing to hear most of the players realize that maybe if they didn’t play like such shit, hendry might still be here! That should never go unnoticed; I wanted hendry out just as much as anyone but he definitely was not the sole reason.

    1. Matt Murton

      They’re baseball players, not idiots. Obviously you’re not trying to lose if your job description is “competitive athlete.”

      1. Toosh

        One does not preclude the other.

        1. Matt Murton

          Toosh-e my friend

  18. Jt

    So what did Randy wells say on his twitter that caused him to shut it down and say that his account had been “hacked”?

    1. TWC

      He wrote: “Now IS the time for bold changes. Suck it, Hendry.”

  19. KB

    Hendry was a great guy. So am I. But I’m not GM of a billion-dollar, underachieving sport franchise. If I was, I’d be expected to succeed, whether I was a warm, good-hearted fellow, or a belligerent jackass.
    Those are the stakes. I genuinely liked JH as a human being. But like Mel Ott, perhaps he wasn’t cut out for the dog-eat-dog world of trying to win in MLB.

  20. RoughRiider

    I think I should be the GM. If I get the job I promise to read this Blog.

  21. Coale

    What I like to see next year. Hire Rich Hahn as GM, he hires Sandberg and let Ryne bring in his guys. Can Cubs compete next year possiible depending on who they sign
    Lineup next year
    1B- sign Fielder he brings walks, power, good d, top 5 players in league
    2B-keep barney
    SS-Castro
    3B-I guess keep ARam
    C-Soto or trade him away n let castillo catch
    RF-let Colvin play
    CF-go after a leadoff hitter with speed, Id like Bourne, coco crisp id like to see to
    RF-let soriano go and trade for Morrison from Florida,

    SP- Is the problem we might have on weather we goin rebuild or contest
    If they serious they could make run at WIlson from texas
    Garza, Wilson, Dempster, Cashner n find another, Id also take erv santana from angles if cant get wilson, then you have 3 number 2 pitchers, maybe find another 2
    bullpen hasnt been bad this year

  22. Toosh

    Sounds like Ricketts is looking for an experienced GM first, assistants second. Also, Fielder is NOT a good defensive first baseman.

  23. Ralph

    I always liked Hendry up until 2011. It was nice to have an aggressive GM representing the Cubs. He made some good trades… Grudzielanek and Karros for Hundley. Bringing Clement over was a good thing even though it cost Willis (who probably would have never gotten a shot with the Cubs). Ramirez and Lofton for Bobby Hill and Matt Brubeck. Getting rid of Sammy. Looking back on every trade he made, I only wish that Nolasco was still a Cub. I know some of his free agent signings, no trade clauses, and urgency to be ‘more left handed’ leave a lot to be desired, but I actually loved his aggressiveness.

    1. Toosh

      Unproductive farm system, zero World Series. Keep up the good work, Jim. Somewhere else.

  24. Nomar's Left Glove

    There is a big difference between aggresively pursuing something aggressively, and some of the one-track minded deals he made. The cubs needed to get more left handed so we had to sit through Jeremy Burnitz, Jacque Jones, and Milton Bradley. Some times you have to conceed a little for quality. It seemed that sometimes his requirements trump his judgement, or at least cloud it.