Thursday, January 12, 2006

On The Couch

Yesterday, Greg Couch went to town on Jim Hendry. This page's opinion of Jim has ranged from warm support (acquisitions of Nomar and Lee) to down right disgust at times (failure to add to bullpens in 2003 and 2004, passing on Tejada, Thome, Beltran, and holding on to prospects too long). Well, Couch summed up WHY frustrations are felt with Hendry. And he paralleled Hendry's work with that on the South Side of Chicago:

Over the years, the Sox took significant chances, failed, took significant chances, failed, took significant chances, won the World Series.

The Cubs signed Jacque Jones, didn't want to overpay for Furcal, didn't want to give up too much for Tejada or lose those hot prospects.


The Sox blow all their prospects in an attempt to win now, now, now and again. And the Cubs? They sing the same tunes:

Don't want to overpay. Don't want to lose prospects. And darn the luck, they finished second in the running for the big deal.

They didn't get Furcal because they didn't want to overpay? They are still below last year's payroll and also have a huge new revenue stream in the expanded bleachers.

Jim, when are you going to spend the money?

"We're in a situation where if the right opportunity comes along, we can still...''

Cubs fans already can finish that sentence.

The Cubs still have money to spend and prospects in hand. And the Sox have a World Series. The Cubs' true colors stand out even more now with the Sox as the background.

This is the real point of why Jim Hendry's reign is looking more and more like a failure. This page has called it the "gutsy move." Jim never really made one until this year with the acquisition of Juan Pierre, and the overpayment there was more likely do to having to makeup for the Furcal Fiasco than truly being aggressive in getting Pierre.

What's really scary is that Andy MacPhail is letting Hendry continue to run the ship without a contract extension. Despite asking a really stupid question in his column today, ("skeptics should ask themselves this: Who were the last GM and manager to have the Cubs within five outs of the World Series?" Answer: Who were the last GM and manager to blow leads in two consecutive years and then waste the highest payroll in team history on a sub-.500 team?), Mike Kiley correctly notes:

What the situation seems to demand is a forceful stand by Tribune Co. bosses. Go ahead and give Hendry and Baker their extensions in February or March, before the season gets under way, so that the leadership will be viewed as setting a tone.

That's a far more courageous approach than delaying the extensions until any public furor can be muted by tacking them on to a winning streak. If you like this team -- and many critics don't -- say so by rewarding Hendry and Baker now.

Well, courage doesn't mesh very well with TV ratings and profits.

More importantly than the message a contract extension would send, does Andy MacPhail really want a GM with a short-term time horizon (and desperate to save his job) holding the keys to the long-term needs of the organization? Isn't a desperate GM more likely to do something crazy, like trade a Felix Pie for a Kevin Mench? Or sign a Jacque Jones for three years?

Dusty Baker aside, Andy MacPhail needs to resign Hendry now or let him go. In fact, this should have been done months ago.

In this page's opinion, Hendry should not be retained. However, so long as Andy MacPhail stays in the president's seat, keeping or firing Hendry is irrelevant. This page has a severe lack of trust in Andy MacPhail's ability to hire the appropriate GM.

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