Chicago Sports Mob

Cubs Fans Should Blame Jim Hendry, Not Ricketts

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The Ricketts ownership of the Cubs hasn't exactly been overwhelming in its first year or so. Pitchers and catchers are still about 2 months away, but that hasn't stopped Cubs fans from expressing their aggravation at the current state of the club. That's fine. But don't misdirect it at the Ricketts family. Most of the blame should be attributed to the architect of the club, GM Jim Hendry.

I made a joke the other day that Carlos Pena's agent asked for $9 million and Hendry countered with $10 million. The Pena signing is yet another example of Hendry over-spending and likely over-bidding for free agents. Though half of his salary is deferred until 2012, it's still $10 million. Which isn't to say that Pena won't jack 40 homers as a Cub. It's to say that he could be hitting them for far less than what he's being paid.

Hendry is probably best known for his shrewd trades in obtaining Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee. But if you look at his trade history, he hasn't made a significant trade in over 5 years, with the possible exception being the Tom Gorzelanny trade from 2009.

But the most damning pieces of evidence against Hendry are found in his free agent acquisitions, and his willingness to hand out big dollars and no-trade clauses. There have also been occasions where you have to wonder who Hendry was bidding against, and how skilled he is at contract negotiation.

Front and center in all this is Alfonso Soriano's deal. An 8-year, $136 million deal that remains an albatross to the Cubs. This was a horrible signing, made worse by Hendry relenting and giving Soriano a no-trade deal. Add to that the Fukudome and Bradley (turned into Carlos Silva) signings -- and perhaps the Zambrano deal -- and you have over $60 million invested in those players for the upcoming season.

This is not to say that Hendry hasn't made good signings. Dempster and Lilly turned out to be great moves. But you just can't miss on those big, long-term contracts as much as Hendry has. And then on top of that the no-trade clauses? Brutal. Huge long-term deals are for superstars and aces -- period.

Hendry also has a proclivity to overpay middle-relievers. John Grabow will be getting $4.8 million for 2011, wrapping up a 2-year, $7.5 million deal. Grabow had an ERA over 7 last year. Even before that, he was a decent pitcher but not spectacular. You could easily find someone just as good for much less. Bob Howry is another example.

So don't get angry with the Ricketts family. The Cubs payroll will still be over $100 million for 2011. Blame how it was spent, and how bad contracts and no-trade clauses prevented the Cubs from getting better and making moves.

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2 Comments

Aisle424 said:

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Who currently employs Jim Hendry? He isn't going to fire himself.

Matt Lo Cascio said:

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True enough, but I meant as far as the current club has been composed.

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