Thursday, April 06, 2006

My Beef With Jim Hendry

I've been thinking recently about why I have become disenchanted with Jim Hendry. Over the past few years, I have been a fan of Hendry. I thought bringing in Aramis Ramirez was a great move and I was excited when he traded for Nomar Garciapparra (although it didn't turn out so well). I also thought his signing of Bobby Howry and Scott Eyre this past off-season were very good. But things have changed. When I look at the Cubs roster and consider how much money the organization is spending, I'm afraid I can't give Hendry a very good grade.

As an aside, an Associated Press report has listed the total payroll for each MLB team. As you'd expect, the Yankees lead the way with a payroll of $198.6 million. Boston is second with $120.1 million and the Los Angeles Angels are third with $103.6 million. The remaining top ten teams are:

4. Chicago White Sox -- $102.8 million
5. New York Mets -- $100.9 million
6. Los Angeles Dodgers -- $99.1 million
7. Chicago Cubs -- $94.1 million
8. Houston Astros -- $92.5 million
9. Atlanta Braves - $92.4 million
10. San Francisco Giants -- $90.8 million

This list leads right back to my disenchantment with Jim Hendry. The Cubs spent the 7th most in payroll of all MLB teams, but they don't have any "big name" position players. The same can not be said of the the other teams at the top of the list.

The most notable example of what I am talking about is the NY Yankees. The Yankees have a perennial all-star at almost every position. In the outfield they have Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon and Gary Sheffield. At 3rd base they have Alex Rodriguez, SS Derek Jeter and 1st base Jason Giambi.

In Boston they have David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. The Angels have Vlad Guerrero and Garret Anderson. The Mets have Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran. And the Dodgers have Rafael Furcal and Jeff Kent.

Obviously, I didn't say anything about the White Sox. They are the exception. The White Sox don't have any really big name players, with the exception of Jim Thome, and he is on the downside of his career.

Look at the Cardinals. For just $88.4 million, the Cardinals have Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen and Albert Pujols. Who do the Cubs have?

Obviously, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramiz come to mind. They are both fine players, but they are not perennial all-stars. In fact, the Cubs do not have any perennial all-star position players on their roster. This leads me to my point.

To me, the Cubs seem like a mish mash of players rather than the result of a well thought out plan. Considering the amount of money the Cubs spend (and I could make an argument that they should be spending more), the fan base they have, and the need the team has to win a World Series, the Cubs should be better. The team should be stacked from top to bottom and they should have two, three or four shoe-in all-stars. There shouldn't be any question marks. Instead, the Cubs have question marks at shortstop, second base, right field (at least against left handed pitchers) and to a lesser extent in left field and closer. For a team like the Cubs who spend the kind of money they are spending, this should not be the case.

I have argued for some time that the Cubs should have a top-shelf shortstop. In the off-season, I felt that was the most pressing need the Cubs had. Hendry addressed the bullpen, right field and the lead-off hitter positions (all of which needed to be addressed), but he failed to sign or trade for a top-shelf shortstop and he failed to answer the other question marks this team has. Because of that, Hendry gets a "C" at best for his off-season moves.

I have a suggestion, as ridiculous as it may be, that could land the Cubs a player that is a great defensive shortstop and great hitter. More on that in a future post.


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