Jim Hendry

The folks in the fine city of Park Ridge (Maine East, represent!) have found their window to try and remove the "Jim Hendry Way" signs that Cub fan and all-around criminal Rod Blagojevich put up on Northwest Highway. 

Schmidt said the request is nothing personal against Hendry, a Park Ridge resident, but the city never wanted the signs mounted in the first place.

Schmidt later added that he can't believe Hendry signed Milton Bradley while putting on his White Sox hat.

Speaking of Park Ridge, back around 2005, Jim Hendry walked into my Dad's bicycle shop in Park Ridge on Devon Avenue. My Dad, never a shy fella, immediately let it be known that his son writes for some website on the Internet about the Cubs. For whatever reason, Hendry didn't immediately bolt out of the place, but made some joke about how he hopes I write nothing but nice things. I can't be sure if my Dad would have even known the name of the website. As anyone who has met my father over the years would expect, he sold two kids bikes to Hendry (no, Hendry did not overpay) and scored Hendry's cell phone number out of it with the promise that if I ever wanted tickets, just ring him up. I think I went to the well about two times over the years, a game in San Francisco in late 2005 that I wrote about here and another in L.A. in 2006, which I believe was the infamous Derrek Lee wrist break game, although I went to two games that series and can't recall which one I paid for and which I didn't.

There's not much I can relate about my two brief phone calls with Hendry, the first was more enjoyable than the second as the meeting with my Dad was fresher in Hendry's mind. I just recall both times the cell reception being poor on his end and the sense of a man that had more important things to do. By the second call, the rules changed where you were taxed on giving away free tickets and he made it clear to me that was a bit of an issue if I wanted more than one game. Being a man that just prefers to pay his own way, I decided it best not to trouble him anymore after that point. There were many times that I considered how I'd approach him about doing an interview for TCR, but for various reasons that never happened and as time passed, I just presumed he wouldn't know who I am, nor can I be sure where the phone number is in my house.

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This sounds like an article about a Cub fan's primal desire to bring back an old Cub to manage the team next year. Maybe, maybe not. Consider it an invitation to speculate about the next Cub GM and the first few trades the next Cub GM will make. The key to my thinking is that Tom Ricketts said the next GM was coming from outside the organizaton as in: the club management desparately needs a breath of fresh air.

That's where Sandberg comes in. In 1981, new Cub ownership, aka The Chicago Tribune, brought in GM Dallas Green from the Phillies organization only one year after the Phils won the 1980 World Series. Green raided the Phils for players he had some hankering for. His first trade (12-8-81) was sending pitcher Mike Krukow to the Phils for Keith Moreland, pitchers Dickie Noles and Dan Larson. A year later (1-27-82) out went Ivan DeJesus (SS and current 3B coach) and in came oldster, Larry Bowa and youngster, Ryne Sandberg.

If we are to believe the media speculaton about the top GM candidates, we should be looking at the Red Sox, Rangers, Braves, White Sox, Yankees, Rays and Giants for that first trade.

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This is one of those times I wish I could adjust the headline size so it could fill the whole front page.

Anyway, ninja Hendry finally bit the bullet as Ricketts wasn't kidding when he said a major announcement was coming. Hendry says he was informed as of July 22nd that he wouldn't be retained for next year.

"He never missed a beat; it's a credit to his character that we were able to operate the way we did and get the job done," Ricketts said. "We had the trade deadline coming up and I didn't think it made any sense to change horses in mid-stream."

Followed by this little quip...

Hendry, 56, said Cubs Chairman notified him July 22 that he wouldn't be retained. He indicated that was one factor in deciding not to trade away veteran players at the deadline, figuring he should leave those decisions to his successor.

That, along with just naming Randy Bush as the interim sort of defeats the whole purpose of keeping him an extra month, but who am I to question the reasonings of billionaires.

Now that the trade deadline is behind us, what are Cub fans supposed to pay attention to? The games?! I tried that earlier tonight, and I'm sorry I did.

— I heard a recorded interview with Derrek Lee on WGN Radio early this evening in the run-up to the Cubs/Rockies game. David Kaplan asked Lee about Ryan Theriot, and Lee described him as "a grinder." In that moment, I came up with my own definition of a grinder. It's a guy who plays hard enough to occasionally make you forget that he's not very good.

By all accounts, Ted Lilly will be an ex-Cub by Saturday's trading deadline, in which case tonight's start at Houston will be his last for the team. Signed in December, 2006 after finalizing a deal with Cubs GM Jim Hendry moments before Hendry underwent an angioplasty, Lilly will go down as one of the GM's savvier acquisitions.

After all these years, I should know better than to underestimate the Cubs' ability to screw things up, but each time they do, I am somehow sickened anew. This 10-week, all-expenses-paid farewell tour of the National League granted to Lou Piniella is just the latest example.

"It's just disappointing, I guess, to think you have a team where everybody in here thinks you can still do it and you can't. You'll never know what could have happened."

So said White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura to Phil Rogers of the Tribune on August 1, 1997, the day after Ventura's bosses completed the so-called "White Flag Trade," in which the Sox shipped three of Ventura's veteran teammates to San Francisco for six minor leaguers, all while Ventura's team—52-53 at the time—sat just 3 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians.

"This team had a chance, and it didn't seize it. It was hard to look at this team and feel very confident. I wasn't interested in finishing second in a poker hand."

UPDATE:

Phillies (47-41) @ Cubs (40-50)

Phillies lineup v. Ted Lilly (3-8, 4.08; 1-4, 6.43 all-time v. Phillies)
Rollins 6, Victorino 8, Werth 9, Howard 3, Francisco 7, Ransom 5, Ruiz 2, Valdez 4, Blanton 1

Cubs lineup v. Joe Blanton (3-5, 6.41; 0-0, 2.75 all-time v. Cubs)
Theriot 4, Colvin 9, Lee 3, Ramirez 5, Byrd 8, Soriano 7, Castro 6, Soto 2, Lilly 1

 


— According to Bruce Levine, Carlos Zambrano had a 25-pitch throwing session in Mesa, following the completion of his anger-management counseling. Zambrano and the Cubs are supposed to decide next week where Zambrano will be headed for his rehab stint.

— Paul Sullivan wrote that Jim Hendry and Ted Lilly got together before last night's game to discuss Lilly's future. Lilly, who will start this afternoon's game against the Phillies' Joe Blanton, was awful in his last two starts before the break, against the Reds and Dodgers—5 homers, 18 hits and 14 ER allowed in just 10 1/3 innings.

Though it sounds like Jim Hendry truly couldn't care less, it's the first day of the Ari Kaplan Era at Wrigley Field. As for the game on the field, mlb.com reports that Randy Wells is looking at today's start against the A's as hitting the reset button on his thus far rocky season.

The irony, of course, is that Wells's employers might not be able to overlook the past quite as easily: since the beginning of May, the righty is 0-5, 6.47. His first-inning troubles have been especially ugly. In 13 Wells starts this year, opponents are hitting .357 against him in the opening inning and Wells's first-inning ERA is a Grabow-esque 11.25. (Stats from Baseball-Reference.com.)

(Apologies in advance if the readings from my crystal ball prove faulty. It's something about the neighborhood. Even the cable reception is erratic around here.)

 

by Paul Sullivan, Tribune Reporter
2:17 p.m., CDT, May 6, 2010

PITTSBURGH – If you thought that watching his team lose to the perennial doormat Pirates, 9-3, on Wednesday night and plummet into the NL Central basement was the toughest thing Jim Hendry has ever had to do as a baseball man, an hour after the game you were proven wrong.

Hendry informed the assembled media and all of Cub Nation that he was firing his good friend and Cub manager for the past 4+ years and 526 games, Lou Piniella.

"There's no two ways about it. This stinks," said an emotional Hendry, "but after a very disappointing season last year and the awful start we've had this year, we're going to have to take the team in a different direction. Alan Trammell will be taking over the ballclub for the rest of the year, and I know that he and the other coaches are going to do everything humanly possible to turn this thing around.

"There's still time to make this a special season, but the ballplayers have to start doing the things they're capable of. I know that, Alan knows that, and the ballplayers know that."

Though we're in early June, the Cubs are still very much in the thick of the division race (mathematically, at least), and Milton Bradley's bone-headed play in right field didn't cost the Cubs a victory on Friday or even a single run, the symbolic potential of this play is truly awesome.

Gordon Wittenmyer in his Sunday Sun-Times article extolled the virtues of Cubs trainer, Mark O'Neal. It's a really nice piece explaining how valuable an athletic trainer can be to the ballclub. Beyond the obvious treating of injured athletes, the job involves organizing effective treatment protocols, reviewing medical histories and records and something as simple as honest communication of his medical opinions to both the athlete and management after assessing all this medical input. It took some time but he's created a sense of trust of his judgement from athletes and management.

The line between keeping the manager and GM fully informed and not betraying a player's confidence is not a tough one to walk, O'Neal said, as long as it comes with honesty, straight talk and the confidence he and his staff know what they're doing.

Everthing Arizona Phil writes in the comment section is worthy of a Best of TCR article. But this Best of TCR writeup is to show that I can find a post when news is particularly thin (beyond those gimme's from our TCR guru in the desert). Thanksgiving weekend is usually a desert of baseball news unto itself. Thus to brighten our tumbleweed desolate weekend, my long time friend, The E-Man steps up with a summary of Bruce Levine's ESPN AM-1000 saturday morning "Talking Baseball" weekly radio show. Enjoy (except for the part where he says that my season tickets will be more expensive). Take it away E-Man:

Just heard Hendry on WMVP this AM with Bruce Levine.

Jimbo came on the show...

- no slam dunk with Marmol as closer. He is not "set to close", but it is Lou's decision. They (Marmol/Gregg) may share duties. One may close more in the beginning of the year than the other.

The sale of the Cubs is still up in the air, delayed due to the economic crisis and Joe the Plumber trying to figure out what net income means. That isn't stopping the Cubs from doing business though. They already extended Piniella before the playoffs started and it looks like Jim Hendry might get three more years or at least three more years worth of paychecks from the Chicago Cubs.

Kenney has previously said only that he would put his recommendation of
a Hendry extension "on a tee'' for new ownership. But sources indicate
that position has changed, possibly because the worldwide financial
crisis may have devalued the franchise while making it highly unlikely
the team will be under new ownership before the start of the 2009
season.

One source indicated that a three-year extension is being discussed and could be completed soon.

Nothing is official yet, but the link above goes on to say the Mariners, the only team searching for a GM this offseason, asked the Cubs for permission to speak to Hendry about their vacancy and were turned down. Hendry had a an option he could exercise for 2009, but was a little weary of being a lame-duck GM with the pending ownership change. 

The Cubs being in a state of prosperity on the field and I'm sure on the accounting books, probably couldn't be happier with Hendry right now, thus the extension. 

I know Hendry has his enemies around here, I mean 2005 and 2006 were bloody awful, but I'm all for the extension. He didn't hit every ball out of the park the last two years, but
under his watch and with the people that he's surrounded himself with, he's responsible for the  best Cubs team most of us have ever seen
and the best team in the NL in 2008...at least on paper. And while that seems like a hollow achievement, it's actually the one every GM should strive to accomplish - to put together the best team out there year after year and make the playoffs. As the playoffs taught us all this year, anyone can win or lose a 5-game series, no matter the tremendous difference in talent, so just get there and hope the cards flip the right way for you. The Cubs are now in that position and a large part of that is due to who Jim Hendry has traded for, signed, listened to and hired. 

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