The Chicago Cubs fired general manager Jim Hendry on Friday after another disappointing season that will add to their historic World Series championship drought.
The Cubs announced the move before a game with the rival St. Louis Cardinals and said assistant GM Randy Bush will serve as interim general manager.
"First and foremost, we just didn't win enough games," said owner Tom Ricketts, who announced the decision. It's time for a "fresh approach in our baseball leadership and our search begins immediately."
The 56-year-old Hendry was named general manager in July 2002 and he spent 17 years overall with the organization. He paused several times to compose himself while talking with reporters.
"Not many get to be the GM for nine without a world championship," he said. "So I got more than my fair chance to do that. I'm disappointed in myself that we didn't get it done in the first five to seven years when I thought we could. I'm very thankful for the way I've been treated."
Asked about Ricketts, Hendry said: "I think he understood that we probably weren't going to be great the way things were set up. Moving forward there are a lot of huge decisions that have to be made this offseason and I think that if I was the one making them and they all didn't work out, then the person after me would have to wear some of those for longer."
The Cubs went into the All-Star break 18 games under .500 and that's where they were Friday morning, 18 ½ games out of the National League Central lead. Much of the attention has focused on manager Mike Quade, who got the job last October after leading the Cubs to a 24-13 record late last season on an interim basis after Lou Piniella abruptly retired.
But the lineup was put together largely by Hendry, and not much has gone right for a team that hasn't won it all in 102 years.
Pitcher Ryan Dempster got in a shouting match with his manager, the disabled list has been crowded with Cubs and Carlos Zambrano — who criticized his own closer early in the year — was banished from the team for a month after walking out of the clubhouse on a night he surrendered five home runs.
Hendry tried to bolster the lineup and drew some buzz by bringing back one-time ace Kerry Wood with a one-year, $1.5 million deal to be a setup man for closer Carlos Marmol. Yet fat contracts for Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez have always had fans wanting more from their stars, and the only move the Cubs made at the trade deadline last month was dealing outfielder Kosuke Fukudome to Cleveland.
It wasn't always this way: Hendry was behind deals in 2003 to bring Ramirez, Kenny Lofton and Randall Simon to the Cubs, pushing them into the NLCS. They came within five outs from the World Series.
Simon, who got in trouble after playfully whacking one of the racing sausages at Miller Park with a bat that year before he joined the Cubs, told the Chicago Tribune at the time: "I want to thank Jim Hendry for believing in me. Coming here was one of the best things to ever happen to me. "
And the next year, Hendry landed pitcher Greg Maddux and traded for Nomar Garciaparra to set the Cubs up for another playoffs run — only to watch them blow the wildcard lead in the final week of the season.
Over the years, Hendry hired veteran managers Dusty Baker and Piniella, hoping to mold the perennial losers into regular contender, but handed out big contracts to underperformers and at one point brought in Milton Bradley (three years, $30 million) for a brief, explosive stay in Chicago.
Hendry's clubs went 749-748 during his time as general manager. He joined the Cubs in November 1994 as the club's director of player development and later served as scouting director before being promoted to assistant general manager.
Before that, Hendry spent three seasons with the Marlins and eight seasons as head coach of the Creighton Blue Jays, where he was named the 1991 National Coach of the Year after leading Creighton to a third-place finish in the College World Series.
Bush, 52, has been the assistant general manager with the Cubs for the five seasons. He played 12 seasons with the Twins and won two championships (1987 and 1991).
Previous post in Sports
Next post in Sports