Cubs’ GM Hendry fired a month after decision was made
By Toni Ginnetti Sun-Times Media August 19, 2011 11:52PM
The Cubs’ ugly season was the deciding factor in dismissing Jim Hendry, who stuck around for the trade deadline and draft signings. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
COLVIN LIFTS cubs
Tyler Colvin’s RBI single in the 10th inning off Octavio Dotel lifted the Cubs to a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday.
Geovany Soto led off the 10th with a single off Dotel (0-2), advanced to second on Marlon Byrd’s sacrifice bunt, and scored on Colvin’s hit to center field. — AP
Updated: January 23, 2012 3:30AM
CHICAGO — The next Cubs general manager must share a commitment to player development as the cornerstone of the team, be in tune with the newer statistical aspects of baseball analysis and be someone “from a winning culture’’ who can infuse that into the team.
Those declarations Friday from team owner Tom Ricketts were not an indictment of fired general manager Jim Hendry, who was terminated Friday after 17 years with the team in an unusual delayed dismissal. In fact, Ricketts praised Hendry for his dedication and commitment to the team. “Nothing should diminish Jim’s legacy,’’ he said. “And we thank him for his great service.’’
But Ricketts decided last month Hendry’s nine-year tenure as general manager should end, telling him on July 22 of his decision. Hendry agreed to stay on through this week to complete the signings of the team’s June draft picks and to get through the July 31 trading deadline, the two men said.
Hendry and Ricketts kept the matter secret, with Hendry only revealing it Thursday night to his family and Friday morning to his scouting staff, the players and manager Mike Quade in a closed clubhouse meeting.
“He was very, very honest and a classy guy,’’ a sometimes tearful Hendry said. “At that time we decided it was best to stay on (temporarily.) We had a (signing) deadline coming with the draft choices (from June). I apologize not telling anyone sooner. It was a little tough at the end. Maybe it was the best kept secret in Cub history.
“I don’t leave here with any problems,’’ he said. “Tom Ricketts is a good man. We just didn’t win enough ball games. That’s the bottom line. This is professional baseball. He did what he had to and treated me great the last two years.
“There are a lot of major decisions that have to be made this off season. If I was the one making them, the person after me would have to be wearing it,’’ he said of the firing with one year worth an estimated $2 million remaining on his contract.
Ricketts said the decision to keep Hendry in place for a month was in the best interests of the team, adding Hendry’s relationship with some of the draftees was an important factor. The team has committed some $20 million this season to the organization’s development program and draft signees.
Hendry was able to make only one July 31 move, sending Kosuke Fukudome to the Cleveland Indians. Both Hendry and Ricketts said there were no other moves that became viable for the team.
“I did feel some of the (bigger) decisions are for the next guy,’’ Hendry said.
The team’s terrible season became the bottom line in the decision, said Ricketts, whose family took ownership of the team last season.
“First and foremost, we just didn’t win enough games,’’ he said. “We need to look at those kinds of results.
“Our goal is to win the World Series,’’ adding there is a need now to bring in “some fresh ideas.’’
While assistant GM Randy Bush will hold the interim position, Ricketts said he will not be considered for the job.
Ricketts said the search begins immediately for Hendry’s successor with no set deadline. But he acknowledged the decision to release Hendry now with one year remaining on his contract was done to get the process in motion.
The team’s organizational meetings are held in October, a likely target date, but free agent movement takes place a week after the conclusion of the World Series. Ricketts said if there are decisions to be made on personnel before a GM is in place, he would consult with the baseball operations people still in place, such as player development director Oneiri Fleita and scouting director Tim Wilkin.
Ricketts stressed his family wants the organization to develop a single-minded approach, from the minor leagues through the major league team, adding he will look for someone with experience. But he didn’t rule out considering a young assistant GM.
“The GM will be responsible for the baseball operations,’’ Ricketts said. “The results are his and he owns them. They have to be able to have the freedom to hire the people they feel will give them results,’’ he said, including the field manager.