Jim Hendry Explains His Spending Proclivities with the Cubs and Other Bullets

hendry and zambranoReason number one I’m glad the Super Bowl is over? Writers can stop declaring that Colin Kaepernick was almost a Cub like they were the first person in the world to look at his draft history. Mooney wrote it first. Respect.

Reason number two I’m glad the Super Bowl is over? Pitchers and catchers report in less than a week.

  • There were a couple profiles on former Cubs GM Jim Hendry recently. The first, from Ken Rosenthal, is a modestly interesting look at his early days scouting in the Marlins’ system. The second, an article from Gordon Wittenmyer, includes a relatively candid admission from Hendry that confirms much of what we believed about the final years of the Tribune Company’s ownership: “We had some huge contracts and we tried to win in a hurry when Tribune was going to sell the club, and when you don’t finish it off with a ring, it’s easy to say, ‘Well, you neglected this or that.’ If it would have worked, it would have been great. But that’s not the way we ran things for years …. In a perfect world, especially when you have good finances behind it, you can take a long time and steadily keep building it and pick and choose your ways to go about it in free agency. That’s the ideal way to do it, and it looks like that’s the way Tom and Theo are going about it.” In other words, the spending binges of the 2006/2007/2008 era were driven by a top-down policy from the TribCo in an effort to prop up the value of the Cubs before a sale. We’ve all long suspected this, but it’s surprising to hear Hendry confirm it. Making money available to be spent by your GM is one thing (a very good thing), but mandating that large sums be spent (on backloaded deals) isn’t always a good thing.
  • Here’s the thing, and I hate saying it because I really do believe Hendry is probably a very nice guy and a very smart baseball man: if Hendry doesn’t want the blame of having buried the Cubs beneath the weight of some awful contracts in the late-2000s, he also doesn’t get the credit for those 2007 and 2008 playoff teams. Because, without the big money deals to Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Derrek Lee, Jason Marquis and others, the Cubs probably don’t make the playoffs in 2007 and 2008. Either you took the shot in 2007/2008 and missed, while accepting the pain that comes with taking that shot; or you were forced to do things that you didn’t think were in the best long-term interests of the organization, and they almost worked. We can’t have it both ways when we remember the Hendry era.
  • Baseball America offers a very early Draft preview, discussing the generalities of what’s to come. Remember: there’s an entire season of amateur ball to be played before the Draft in June. So very, very much can change.
  • Bill Simmons wrote a long piece about PEDs, and about the things we think but do not say. In short, Simmons says it’s ok for us to be suspicious of virtually every professional athlete, and to discuss that suspicion openly without fear that we’re going to be ripped apart for doing it without any hard evidence. Agree? Disagree? If Alfonso Soriano has another great year in 2013, are you going to be OK with people openly discussing whether he’s clean simply because he had a good year at 37?
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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