Looking back at troubling times with former Cubs GM Larry Himes
Jerry Reinsdorf made it perfectly clear in the below comments, telling the baseball world why he had the locks changed on the White Sox GM’s office after the 1990 season. This happened after a season where the Sox added 23 wins from the previous campaign, finishing with 94.
"Larry Himes took us from point A to point B. He was very successful in getting us to point B. We need to get to point C. It’s our opinion that Larry Himes is not the best person to get us to point C — a world’s championship."
Keep in mind: Himes had tremendous drafting success on the South Side. He drafted two future Hall of Famers in Jack McDowell and Frank Thomas. He drafted Robin Ventura, firmly ensconced in the Hall of Gosh Darn Good. And three more of his draftees had double-digit WAR careers: Ray Durham, Alex Fernandez and Bob Wickman.
Obviously no one knew the fate of these players then, but Himes had clearly established a solid farm system and brought home 94 wins, which would have won the AL East going away that year. So how does a guy with these achievements get fired (er – sorry – not fired, exactly)?
Let’s move along to his Cubs tenure. The North Siders hired Himes as GM in Oct. 1991. The JIm Frey Cubs were, by then, leaking oil. Outscored by .25 runs/game in 1991, they had just three starting players with an above average OPS or ERA: Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson and Greg Maddux.
By the end of the strike-shortened 1994 season, the Cubs were shedding .44 runs/game and had just four starting players with above-average OPS/ERA: Sammy Sosa, Steve Trachsel, Anthony Young, and the doomed Kevin Foster. The axe fell on Himes that October. What went wrong?
"The slow-motion collapse of the Himes Regime was unlamented, bitter and nasty. Himes’ notoriously high-handed manner and cavalier management style had alienated personnel, particularly Mark Grace, Ryne Sandberg and ex-Cub Andre Dawson. His sloppiness in handling the Greg Maddux contract negotiations had allowed the greatest pitcher of our lifetime to leave town."
Ah, thank you Baseball Prospectus, that begins to explain things, If Himes “high-handed” his way out of his second Chicago GM gig, he probably did so from the first as well. But we’ve gotten ahead of our story.