Jim Hendry and the Farm System: Does He Know How to Use it?

Let me complain for a minute...

Cub fans often complain about the farm system never producing anything (full disclosure: I am a Cub fan). But perhaps what they really need is a general manager who displays some knowledge of it, or even the slightest willingness to learn how to use it right.

A couple things:

Jim Hendry traded Ted Lilly to LA for Blake DeWitt, right as Darwin Barney was ready to play second. But he'll tell you 'Who could have foreseen that one?' Well..

Jim signed Xavier Nady to play first/OF right as Tyler Colvin was big-league ready. They didn't expect him to be ready, either. But also..

Jimmy traded GREG MADDUX for Cesar Izturis, and Ryan Theriot easily beat him out for the job early that year (because to be a "defensive shortstop," you have to be good at defense). 

The real crime in this one, though, is that ultimately Hendry wound up trading a first-ballot Hall of Famer for nothing -- he later traded the completely useless Izturis (he couldn't hit either) to the Pirates for... cash.

And when Jimmy does count on the farm for something?...

After 2008, he jettisoned his entire bullpen to count on the kids (and sign John Grabow). I don't need to pull up any stats to point out how well that has gone (all I need to say is TEN MILLION to a certain Notre Dame football player who can sometims throw a fastball (but never knows where it's going)).

Worked out well for some former Cubs, though -- Scott Eyre went on to win a World Series with the Phillies later that year.

Wanna get really mad? Look up Michael Wuertz' numbers for 2009. Jim let him go for nothing, too (yet later re-signed a 57-year-old Bobby Howry).

Sure, Jim Hendry can spend some money and sign some obvious free agents -- Aramis Ramirez -- but he can also over-value others -- Derrek Lee, Soriano, etc. Sometimes I think he holds on to people -- Big Z -- because he has no clue how to flip them (ie. he doesn't know other teams' farm systems, either).

So when he trades a handfull of prospects away, we all have to sit and sweat that they're not the next John Garland (won a World Series) or Dontrelle Willis (sucks now, but did win a World Series). It might not be Sam Fuld -- but just how good is Hak-Ju Lee? Better than Darwin Barney?

The conclusion?

Complaining about Jim Hendry taking no notice of Casey McGehee is like bitching about George W. Bush stepping on your lawn.

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  • The Cubs will surely argue that their farm system surprising them is a good thing. In fact, how often have we heard the mantra that having, say, a glut of solid right-fielders is a "good problem to have."

    But it becomes a BAD problem to have when you consistently trade away useful pieces like Ted Lilly and Greg Maddux for guys who are going to sit on the bench.

    Is there somebody languishing in the minors who would have beaten out Carlos Pena at first in a fair fight, allowing Hendry to spend some money on the bullpen? We'll have to wonder...

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