Jim Hendry, You Make Me Smile

I know it’s early, and it definitely does not warrant a War Hero piece, but so far, you have to tip your cap to Jim Hendry. Hendry has made some big decisions that have affected this team in a great way. Let’s face it, do you really want to be a GM? Seriously, why would you? You’re always under scrutiny, and you’re always the fall guy if the players and/or the manager under performs. Oh yes, and for all that responsibility, these same players and managers have salaries that put them about 80 tax brackets higher than you.

Look, I’m as cynical as anyone about the Cubs. There is a long way to go in this season and anything can happen. For the sake of a Cubs-related article here in the Saloon, let’s look at a few things up to this point and see where Hendry’s actions have had the most impact.

Brian Roberts: Sometimes it’s the decisions that you DON’T make that can be the most effective. Would Brian Roberts have given us a legitimate leadoff man? Absolutely. But having Roberts would have taken the bat out of Mark DeRosa’s hands, and he has certainly proved to be one of the MVP’s on the Cubs team this year. Sure, Mark would get some spot starts here and there, but so far, here are the comparisons between Roberts and DeRosa.

___________DeRosa______ Roberts
AVG ________.303 ________.284
HR __________8 ___________4
RBI _________34 __________22
OBP ________.391 _________.363
SB __________3 ___________18

Yes, I know that they hit in different spots in the order, but with Soriano returning to form, you’d have to say that there’s a good chance that we wouldn’t be where we are now had we pulled the trigger on the Roberts trade. Also, with the amount of MLB ready talent that the Cubs have in AAA and on their bench, that leaves us great options for making a run at a legitimate starter to add before the trade deadline, which Hendry has said that he’ll do.

Jim Edmonds: Gulp. Yes, I just typed that. I have as hard of a time as any liking this guy, and in all honesty, the best Edmond’s can hope for from me (you know, he HAS to care what I think) is tolerability. When you think about it, anyone could have gotten Edmonds, and since there was virtually zero risk in signing him, it was a (ugh) good move. Surely it can’t hurt having as many veterans as you can on the bench, particularly ones with rings.

Reed Johnson: Again, we were a bit tough on this guy when he arrived, but he has lived up to Chaim’s request just fine. Again, he really didn’t cost us much, only a measly $1.3 million for one year (obviously we’re in baseball mode, I’d do all kinds of nasty things for…well, I’d do a lot for that money). What is not to like about Reed? He’s a tough guy, he hustles, he plays stellar D, and you never hear him complaining about having to platoon.

Fukudome: What really needs to be said? Kudos to Hendry for landing this guy. And it wasn’t as if Hendry was the only guy pursuing him. Hendry fought, scratched, and ultimately paid to get this guy. You can’t tell me that his hustle and attention to details and fundamentals haven’t rubbed off on the rest of the team. You can argue that his numbers haven’t warranted his contract, but I’ll chalk that up to adjusting to the new pitching and ballparks. I believe his best is yet to come.

Lou Piniella: let’s make this easy. Our previous managers were Dusty, Rene Lachman, Bruce Kim, Jim Riggleman, and Tom Treblehorn. ‘Nuff said.

Keep the goodness coming, Jim.

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