Jim Hendry - Cubs General Manager
Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella discuss the upcoming 2007 Cubs season on WGN Sports Central during the first day of the Cubs 2007 Convention.
Image courtesy of The Cubdom Photo Gallery
Successes and Failures
Jim Hendry was promoted to Cubs General Manager on July 5, 2002. Since taking over the helm, the Cubs have had mixed results. In 2003, the club came as close to a World Series as any Cubs team since 1945, but after the fall of 2003, the club struggled for several seasons with a worse record in each successive season until the end of 2006. However, after not renewing manager Dusty Baker's contract, the resignation of long-time team President Andy MacPhail, and the significant increase in player budgets, the Cubs went from last to first in 2007. Through mid-June in 2008, the Cubs had the best record in baseball.
Hendry was born on July 27, 1955 in Dunedin, Florida. He attended Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama where he received a bachelor's degree in communications and journalism. Originally, he wanted to be a broadcaster, but he couldn't find a job. As a result, Hendry took a job as a high school teacher. Part of his duties also included serving as an assistant coach to the varsity team. After one year, and a summer spent in the Cape Cod summer league, Hendry became the varsity baseball head coach at Columbus High School in Miami. After three more years, Hendry was hired by Creighton University's athletic director Dan Offenburger.
Hendry moved to the Nebraska school in 1983 as an assistant coach, and a year and a half later was promoted to head coach when the current coach was fired.
After taking Creighton to the College Baseball World Series, Hendry found a position in the Florida Marlins organization where he worked under Dave Dombrowski for three years.
In 1995, Hendry was hired by the Cubs as the new director of player development. Over the next seven years, Hendry held various positions within the Cubs organization. In mid-July of 2002, Andy MacPhail decided to give up his role as General Manager and promoted Hendry, his protege, in his place.
In 2002, Hendry oversaw the final months of a struggling team that would finish 67-95. One of his first decisions as GM was to allow Bruce Kimm, an interim manager with the club to finish the season. Kimm was roundly criticised for granting Fred McGriff significant amounts of playing time so that the aging first baseman could achieve the 30 homerun mark for his fifth team. The Crime Dog was seen as taking valuable at-bats away from Cubs rookie Hee Seop Choi.
Following the 2002 season, Hendry convinced many of his critics that he was supremely qualified for the job. Hendry had the patience to wait for Dusty Baker to become available following Baker's run to the World Series with the San Francisco Giants.
That same offseason, Hendry managed the first of several remarkable trades during his tenure. Hendry traded unpopular catcher Todd Hundley to the Los Angeles Dodgers in return for Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek. The trade was seen as a salary swap at the time, but Karros and Grudzielanek played a major role in the success of the 2003 team.
In mid-season 2003, Hendry would strike again with another impressive trade. At the trade deadline, Hendry managed to swap Bobby Hill and Jose Hernandez for Pirate third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Furthermore, Hendry brought in Kenny Lofton and Randall Simon to shore up the bench.
On the last weekend of the season, the Cubs clinched the 2003 NL Central Division title, their first division title in 14 years. And, as the Cubs entered game 5 of the NLCS with a 3-1 series lead over the Florida Marlins, it appeared that the Cubs were on the verge of their first World Series appearance in 58 years. However, the Cubs dropped three straight and were eliminated from the post-season.
After the disappointing end of the 2004 season, Hendry addressed his roster again. He traded disappointing prospect Hee Seop Choi to the Marlins in exchange for Derrek Lee, and later sent catcher Damian Miller to the Oakland Athletics for Michael Barrett. On the free agent market, Hendry signed veterans Todd Walker and Greg Maddux.
Entering the 2004 season, most pundits believed the Cubs had the best roster in the National League, and many fans believed Hendry was one of the premiere general managers in baseball.
However, injuries took their toll in 2004. At one point, Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Alex Gonzalez, Mark Grudzielanek, Kent Mercker, Tom Goodwin, and Todd Wellemeyer were all on the disabled list at the same time.
Despite their early season struggles, many Cubs fans still felt that a healthy squad would charge back in August and September to take control of the central division race. And, on July 31, 2004 Jim Hendry stepped up to the plate with another monstrous deal. Hendry sent away Alex Gonzalez, Brendan Harris, and Francis Beltran to various teams in exchange for Nomar Garciaparra, Matt Murton, and cash. (The deal was complicated, here is a link explaining the Garciaparra trade.)
Cubdom could not have been more excited heading into the final stretch of the 2004 season, but many fans felt something was still missing, and indeed the ballclub self destructed at the end of the year. Broadcast personalities Steve Stone and Chip Caray had public spats with players including Kent Mercker and Moises Alou. These bizarre occurences included a phone call from Mercker (in the bullpen) to Stone and Caray while they were on the air, and reported threats against the broadcaster's on the Cubs plane. On the field, the team finished poorly, losing key games down the stretch and finishing 89-73 in third place in the NL Central.
Jim Hendry's Work Experience
1978 - 1983, Teaching and Coaching Baseball at Columbus High School in Miami.
1983 - 1991, Coaching Baseball for Creighton University. He was an assistant coach in '83 and part of '84 before becoming head coach in the second half of '84.
1991-1994, Worked for the Florida Marlins as an assistant to Dave Dombrowski. In 1993 he coached in the Gulf Coast Rookie League, and in '94 he coached for El Mira in A ball.
1995 - current, Worked for the Chicago Cubs. He was hired by Andy McPhail as director of player development. In 1996 he became scouting director as well. In assistant general manager in August 2000, and was promoted to General Manager in July 2002.
The Quotable Mr. Hendry
"The curse, the goat, all that stuff ... five more outs and it could have been put to bed for good. That's probably the part that's the most frustrating.
Jim Hendry and Buster Olney talk on the field prior to the Cubs @ Mets game on May 14, 2007 at Shea Stadium.
Image courtesy of The Cubdom Photo Gallery