Chicago Cubs: Jim Hendry’s legacy with the team lives on in two All-Stars

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Theo Epstein built this team from the ground up, well, most of it. Believe it or not two key pieces of this Chicago Cubs core came from a man who has been heavily criticized over the years.

It is going to be fun for Chicago Cubs fan to watch Javier Baez and Willson Contreras start in the 2018 MLB All-Star Game. Both guys will be making their All-Star debuts, which adds another accomplishment on their resumes. Thanks for these two Theo…oh wait…he did not bring these two here.

Thanks for these guys go to former general manager Jim Hendry. Baez (25) and Contreras (26) are essentially the only remnants from the Hendry era in terms of players. It is weird to think about, considering they have a championship under their belt and are part of the core. In the end, some of Hendry’s work did indeed help them win it all in 2016.

Javier Baez was part of Hendry’s last draft in 2011, while Willson Contreras was signed as an international free agent back in 2009.

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To put this into perspective, these two have been in the Cubs organization longer than Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and any current active player on the Cubs roster. Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ had not even been drafted yet when they entered the organization. Heck, Contreras was signed before the Ricketts family even owned the Cubs.

A positive impact of Jim Hendry’s work today.

Cubs fan do not often look at the Hendry era in a positive light. In fact, it was a pretty complicated era. It is often summed up with massive contracts, little farm development and no World Series.

From 2003-2011, his team won three division titles (2003, 2007, 2008) and only one playoff series. Everything crashed for the final time in 2010-2011 when his team, with a massive payroll, got old and they went from contenders to chilling with the Houston Astros in the NL Central basement. Outside Starlin Castro, the future seemed so bleak near his end.

The Cubs never reached the Promised Land under his guidance. His final attempt to contend in 2011? Sad. Regardless, he worked very hard for this organization.

Giving massive contracts to guys like Alfonso Soriano was part of him trying to win, and doing what the Tribune wanted him to do. They waned a winner so they could up the value and sell the team. It worked for two regular seasons but they never went anywhere after that.

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Credit has to go to him for finding Baez and Contreras. There were a number of farm guys in the Hendry era that never worked out, but Theo Epstein saw the value in these two, and it has payed off.

Ironically, Hendry’s legacy lives on through prospects. That contrasts pretty starkly with the strategy he employed as the leader of the organization.

Again, thanks Jim.