Evaluating Hendry With WAR

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The Data

For WAR numbers and transactions, I am using Baseball Reference exclusively. There may be errors in my math, and that could change some results.

By my calculations, since November 2002 Hendry’s Trade WAR score is a total of 35.9. That means, more or less, that over the past 8.5 seasons Hendry has added roughly 36 total wins to the Cubs via trade. I don’t know how that compares to any other GM because I have not yet done the math. But still, that’s in the ballpark of 4 wins a year. That’s not too bad for a guy reviled by many Cub fans as the worst GM in the history of baseball.

However, that does not tell the whole story.

On November 11, 2006 the Cubs flipped Jon Leicester for Clint Brannon. Following that trade (which has a WAR score of 0), Hendry’s total WAR score sat at 58.9. Over half of that number was due to his two best trades as a GM. On July 23, 2003 Jim Hendry turned Bobby Hill, Jose Hernandez, and Matt Bruback into Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton (net WAR so far of 25.4). About four months later, he fliped Hee-Seop Choi and Mike Nannini for Derrek Lee (net WAR of 18.3). No one argue that those deals were anything less than sheer genius.

However, by the start of the 2009 season, Hendry had made his four worst trades which combined for a WAR score of -28.6. There were plenty of other moves in that window as well, some of them positive, but those four drug his net WAR score down like a lead balloon. I am guessing that no one reading this will be able to name those four trades without looking them up. In fact, I’d be very surprised if any of you even remember the two worst ones.

Hendry’s four worst trades as measured by WAR, so far, are:
January 5, 2008. Angel Pagan is dealt to the Mets. Net WAR (to date) is -9.1.
December 4, 2007. Omar Infante and Will Ohman are trade for Jose Ascanio. Net WAR is -5.2.
December 7, 2005. Juan Pierre is acquired for Ricky Nolasco and two other pitchers. Net WAR (to date) is -4.9.
January 9, 2006. Corey Patterson is dealt away. Net WAR is -4.4.

Did anyone guess that the Angel Pagan and Omar Infante trades were Hendry’s two worst? Did anyone even remember that Omar Infante was ever a Cub? In fact, of those four trades, the only one that is usually mentioned as a bad one is the Juan Pierre deal. I was surprised that is only this third worst (so far). A large reason for that is the strong 3.3 WAR Pierre put up while with the Cubs.