New Direction For The Cubs?


General manager Jim Hendry has always had a rocky reputation with Cubs fans. When it comes to Hendry, he is either hated or loved. There never appeared be a middle where fans are indifferent about the Cubs’ general manager. But after the first two months of the 2011 season, Hendry’s seat may be hotter than it ever has been during his tenure with the Cubs. But the idea of firing Hendry is no longer a topic that is only discussed by fans, now, the sentiment is starting to be mentioned by both local and national reporters.

One local reporter that has a reputation of being very objective in regards to the Cubs is the Daily Herald’s Bruce Miles. In his latest article, Miles asks the question “is it time for the Cubs to consider a regime change?” Miles puts aside his personal relationship with Hendry, and analyzes whether or not Hendry should be relieved of his general managerial duties.

"If you listen to talk radio or read any of the baseball-related sites on the Internet, including the Daily Herald’s blog, Chicago’s Inside Pitch, the populist answer would be a resounding yes.And you know what? Those voices might be right.Cubs general manager Jim Hendry is doing something few major-market GMs get to do: rebuild for a third time. Daily Herald"

The Cubs have indeed been very generous to Jim Hendry. As Miles pointed out, Hendry was given the chance to rebuild the Cubs three times during his regime. The first from 2002 to 2003, then 2006 to 2007 and 2008, and now the 2011 season which is perceived to be a rebuilding season. The issue with this is that Hendry has failed in his attempt to rebuild the Cubs. The Cubs did not win the World Series in 2003, and suffered the same result in 2007 and 2008. Besides Hendry’s idea of rebuilding is not the traditional rebuilding that might be expected. Instead of rebuilding from within the organization, Hendry opted to go the spending route and try and buy a championship. Though it is unfair to credit the Alfonso Soriano signing to Hendry, that does not answer for the Milton Bradley or Kosuke Fukudome signing. With the Cubs having money available this winter, if given the opportunity, Hendry will probably once again rebuild by spending big.

"The Cubs, on the other hand, have a record since ’03 of 685-663 for a winning percentage of .508. The ’08 team was the only one in that span to win at least 90 games.More damning to the Cubs is the record in that same period of the Florida Marlins, a team that has had player payrolls and attendance figures a fraction of that of the Cubs.The Marlins’ record since ’03 is 688-661 for a winning percentage of .510. They beat the Cubs on their way to winning the 2003 World Series. Daily Herald"

The fact that the Marlins have a better record than the Cubs since 2003 is enough to prove that Hendry’s strategy is not one that a successful baseball organization would follow. What do the Marlins do that the Cubs don’t? Simple. The Marlins actually develop their farm system and rebuild from within the organization. Hendry has yet–at any point in his tenure–to be willing to follow a plan that would entail some form of a youth movement. That type of managing usually does not translate into being successful. Even the Yankees and Red Sox have followed a blueprint that allows a big market team to be successful while still utilizing their farm system.

The debate will likely play out for the entire season as to whether or not the Cubs should fire Hendry. At this point, I would not anticipate Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts firing Hendry at any point during the season. Though, if the Cubs continue to be on the downward spiral that they are currently on, it would be hard for Ricketts not to fire Hendry this off-season. The aforementioned reasons against Hendry would be enough to fire him, now, all that is needed is the final authority from Ricketts himself.