Looking back at troubling times with former Cubs GM Larry Himes

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Greg Maddux / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Larry Himes loses a Hall of Famer and Cubs legend in Greg Maddux

Himes’ other great baseball crime was, of course, the Greg Maddux debacle. His failure to sign Maddux, who had become a free agent after the 1992 season, ranks with Brock-Broglio, Bartman, and Dave Kingman singing the seventh inning stretch as horrifying memories from which only senescence will rescue us. Here’s a detailed account of the clown-car negotiations, told largely from Himes’ point of view.

The keyword in the article is “murky” – even today it is impossible to determine why the Cubs failed to sign Maddux. Was it the money-grubbing pitcher? The egomaniacal agent? The abrasive and chaotic GM? The clueless ownership suits who thought sacrifice flies were insects killed to appease angry gods?

That these questions cannot be answered with certainty even years after the event is an indictment of ownership and the front office. An organization worth the name does not let critical, franchise-altering decisions like this simply disappear into a morass of denial.

There should have been a coherent approach to Maddux, agreed upon in advance by all relevant levels of the management chain. Perhaps the right-hander still would have left – indeed, perhaps the Cubs would have made a deliberate, carefully thought out decision not to pay him – but instead one of the most important decisions in Cubs history was carelessly left on the floor for the cat to chew.

Himes Raids the South Side

Himes did trade the moldering remains of George Bell for Sammy Sosa, and this is still a handy stick with which to poke Sox fans. At one time it looked like this might partially offset the Maddux debacle. But with Sosa’s complicated legacy, even this victory is showing some rust.

Himes had much less draft success with the Cubs than he had with the Sox. None of his draftees achieved double-digit major league career WAR production. And his 1994 draft … well … you have to see it to believe it. Ten pitchers in the first ten rounds – it’s less a draft than a cry for help.

Next. A lot of these guys rank among our greatest Cubs ever.... dark

Whatever Himes’ skills were, Cubs ownership understood and used them poorly. In retrospect the Cubs’ rudderless mediocrity for much of the 1990s seems almost inevitable. Fortunately, no major league teams today are similarly misman- wait, what?