Today, the dream of many Chicago Cub fans has come true. General Manager Jim Hendry was relieved of his duties with the ball club. For the remainder of the season, Randy Bush will take over the day to day duties of the General Manager job. While the firing was expected to come sooner or later, the timing of the move seemed a bit off.
In press conferences by both Hendry and Tom Ricketts, we discovered that the decision to fire Hendry was actually made on July 22, almost an entire month ago. However, Ricketts decided to keep his lame duck General Manager on board the extra month in order to get the ball club through the trade deadline as well as aiding in the signing of the draft picks. Not a bad idea in terms of aiding to sign the draft picks he helped scout, but the question comes into play when discussing keeping him on through the trade deadline.
Many fans were outraged when they heard that the decision was made prior to the trade deadline, and Hendry was allowed to continue to be in power to make trades, which never came. Hendry explained away the lack of trades to his knowing he would not be retained, and not wanting to leave his replacement with the results of whatever trade he made. Fans then wondered why Bush could not make the trades for him, but you would likely get the same situation, one lame duck General Manager making moves that a new one would have to live with and work around. Bash him if you will, but knowing he is going to be fired he could have made deals that could have screwed up the franchise for years to come, more so than they seem to be now, but he was very professional in how he handled his job.
In the Ricketts version of why no trades were made, he alluded to the reasoning of there were no trades which made sense for the ball club moving forward. He might have been covering for Hendry, and trying to allow him to save a little bit of face, but whatever the reason, more veterans were not traded before the non-waiver trade deadline.
In all honesty, firing Hendry when the actual move was made, makes absolutely no sense. The only plus of this move being down now, is to give the ball club an extra month to search for the perfect replacement. Hendry should have been fired at the end of last year, which have allowed the Cubs to begin their attempts to return to a form of respectability. However, that move was not done back then, and he was kept around to make a trade which saw us trade away four prospects did a lot more harm than good, no matter what Matt Garza is able to give us in his time here.
Starting now, Ricketts will begin to search for Hendry’s successor, but will keep everything he does a secret. He said this was a private matter and would not be responding to any of the rumors that may be floating around, such as the idea that New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman might be an option. So if you are waiting for a lot of names to be thrown around by the media, you may get your wish, but with no confirmation of even an interview coming out of the Cubs camp, that will only be written off as pure speculation.
While fans will be celebrating this move for quite a while, you can not argue that Hendry may actually have been the best General Manager the Cubs ever had. No other General Manager ever was able to bring the Cubs to the post season three years, and Hendry did so in his first six years.
At the same time though, you could also put him into the discussion of the worst General Managers in team history. No other General Manager ever put the Cubs in as big of a hole as Hendry did, even though a fair amount of blame can be shared with others. Former Cubs owner Sam Zell ordered Hendry to break the bank and former team President John Mcdonough put the finishing touches on the Alfonso Soriano deal and even added a year or two to the tail end to entice him to accept the offer. However, Hendry was the General Manager at the time, so this all falls on his plate.
Congratulations Cub fans, you got your wish. Just one question comes to mind, now what? Your other despised targets on the Cubs management team remain in power, and will likely be there until at least the end of the season. Mike Quade and Crane Kenney are both still hanging around. In all likelihood, Quade will also be shown the door at the conclusion of the season, so you will have to live with him for another month. Kenney on the other hand, may not be leaving his position anytime soon. But I guess Cub fans should be happy and willing to take what they can get.
This is the beginning of the change you have all been waiting for. The man mostly responsible for the mess the Cubs are in is gone, and a new man will soon be in charge. The road he must travel down will not be an easy one, as he has a rather large mess to clean up. First, he must find a new manager; at least assuming Quade is gone at the end of the year as is expected. Then, he must start dissecting the roster, figuring out which players to keep and which to cut out.
Whoever takes the reigns, just have a little patience. I know that after 103 years asking for patience is asking a lot, but this mess might be too big for a one year cleanup mission. Are you ready for what could be a long winding road back to respectability and a team that can be a constant contender? I sure hope so.