What a week for the Chicago Cubs organization and their fans. After signing 18 of their top 20 draft choices to begin the week, and with Jim Hendry being fired as Chicago Cubs general manager today, there is reason for excitement among the Cubs fan base. Considering the magnitude of the Hendry firing, the analysis will be split between three separate posts. Part 1 will revolve around the comments that Hendry made in his farewell press conference; part 2 will focus on the comments made by team chairman Tom Ricketts; and part 3 will focus on the potential candidates for the Cubs general managerial job.
While the Hendry firing was officially announced today, in actuality, Ricketts told Hendry on July 22 that he would be fired. However sensing the affect that Hendry had on the Cubs draft choices, the Cubs chairman asked for Hendry to remain with the team until the August 15 signing deadline.
"“[Team chairman] Tom Ricketts told me July 22,” Hendry said during a news conference Friday. “He’s a very honest guy and a very classy guy. At that time, we decided it was best for me to stay on. We had a deadline coming up and a lot of draft choices that needed to be signed. I think we both felt that possibly me staying through that gave us the best chance to sign the rest of the players."
The decision to let Hendry remain with the team until after the signing deadline can fall under both a success and a failure. The part that should by no means be overlooked, is the impact that Hendry had on the Cubs prospects from the past draft. Hendry was the man that many of those prospects trusted and respected, therefore, imagine the damage that would have been done if several of those prospects did not sign with the Cubs because of an uncertain front office. That would have been devastating, considering the amount of talent that Tim Wilken and the scouting department has hit on in this past draft.
But to a lesser degree, it does confirm the theory that the reason the Cubs did not make more trades at the trade deadline was because of Hendry’s lame-duck status. The fact is Hendry did not want to trade any of the current Cubs players, seeing as he did not know what players the next general manager would want to keep. In comparison to succeeding at the signing deadline, this is minor loss for the Cubs organization. The way to improve the organization for the future was through the draft and player development. Thus, making the Cubs inactivity at the trade deadline a necessary sacrifice.
In the end, there were several factors that attributed to Hendry’s termination. Hendry admitted that his aggressiveness in certain cases may have led him to making some decisions that impacted the organization in a negative way. Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano are two names that come to mind. But to go along with some of the questionable roster decisions, it was the lack of success that did Hendry in. Despite having a winning record overall, the Cubs were far from that when it came to playoff success during Hendry’s tenure. They were five outs from the World Series in 2003, but have not won a single playoff game since then.
Now, I would expect the Ricketts’ view of the organization to take full affect. It is no secret that Ricketts intends to follow the Red Sox blueprint of success. That process begins with hiring a general manager that possesses similar qualities that Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein does. Rick Hahn, assistant general manager of the Chicago White Sox, could very well be that guy for the Ricketts’ family. From there, the development of the farm system will have to continue and keep an emphasis on player development. Once all is said and done, the Cubs could have an organization that produces quality players while still acting like a “big market” team in terms of free agent signings and trades. That should be reason enough for any front office official to be interested in the Cubs general manager post.