Or: Offensively Obvious Statements About Baseball
Welcome to Part 3 of the 4 part "fix the gawddamn team" series that I'm writing mostly as an exercise to get back into the swing of things. (Hey, it's been, like, years since I last regularly blogged. Not every post I write can be a total PWNage of dopey statements and activities.)
In this episode, we will take a closer look at how Jim Hendry's incompetence has, essentially, decimated the Cubs organization for more than a decade, making him an even greater villain than Larry Himes, who once told a future Hall of Fame Cubs pitcher to cram said pitcher's thumb up said pitcher's ass, while simultaneously contributing to a future Hall of Fame Cubs right fielder's unhappy exit to Boston, as he forced a future Hall of Fame Cubs second baseman into early retirement by regularly arranging blind dates for said second baseman's latino-loving wife.
...having re-read that last sentence, maybe Jim Hendry wasn't so bad after all.
In any case, onto...
The Shortlist Part 3: Purge, Purge, Purge
Jim Hendry, oh how my scorn rages for you like a wild fire. You oversaw key aspects of the Cubs organization from 1995, when you were hired as the director of player development, until 2011 when you finally were cut free from the position of General Manager, which you assumed in 2002.
Look at it another way. In whole or part, Jim Hendry has been either voicing a key opinion or making the final decision on every Cubs prospect to come through the organization since before Bill Clinton familiarized himself with Monica Lewinsky's vagina. If Jim Hendry's tenure as a Cub was a person, it'd be a high school sophomore right now, trying to score drugs and get laid.
Hendry has overseen 17 Major League Drafts. In that time, he's selected approximately 900 players to wear the Big Red C. Not to mention the probable hundreds of players he signed undrafted from overseas scouts. So it's probably safe to say that Jim Hendry has put his name on somewhere on the contracts of more than 1,000 baseball players who, at one point, dared to dream that they had the "right stuff" to play in Chicago.
In the past 17 years, pretty much every team has probably developed or drafted at least one Hall of Famer or, if not that, then certainly half a dozen - or more! - perennial All Stars. Jim Hendry drafted, signed and developed a pack of perennial disappointments. The best picks on his list include heartbreak kids Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Corey Patterson, and so-on. Even the guys who've "panned out" have been erratic or, compared to their peers, pretty shitty overall. Carlos Zambrano, Geovany Soto and, yes fans, even Starlin Castro have been sparkling at times but middling on average. However, there have been a few journeymen players out there that came from the Cubs system - Sean Marshall, Ryan Theriot, etc.
You'd think that if a GM had 1,000 darts and a wall of names, he'd statistically do better than Jim Hendry has. It is, frankly, humiliating that he's failed so tremendously. It's also indicative of a greater problem. After all, surely Jim can't be this bad at picking players. Certainly some of his picks should've done better than they have. So what the hell is the problem? What's keeping these guys from developing?
Oh - it's still Jim Hendry.
See, Jim Hendry not only signed off on all the picks, he also certainly played no small part in hiring the coaches who developed them. And Jim seems to have had very peculiar ideas about what makes a successful major leaguer - specifically, this concept of tools and aggressiveness that we've all come to know and loathe. Players are not taught to take a pitch. Thus, even the most "talented" Cubs prospects - guys like Castro, Josh Vitters, Ryan Flattery, and historically guys like Ryan Harvey never pan out. Most of these guys failed to ever walk even as many as 40 or 50 times in a season in their minor league careers.
So, even though Hendry is long gone, his rotund shadow still looms over the Cubs organization. The next Cubs GM needs to literally go over every single coach, manager, scout and dingbat on the payroll and make serious considerations as to that person's future. Because, frankly, Hendryball is an undeniable failure. If the Cubs ever hope to develop the next Mark Grace - yes, that's what we've come to, wishing for a hitter who can merely be good enough to play for a decade or so - then they'll need to start by ridding themselves of all the Hendryites.