Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry was dismissed because the Cubs didn't win a whole lot in the last couple of seasons, which is why most GMs are fired. There isn't anything specifically "Cubby" about that. The Cubs lose, the GM gets fired, a new GM is hired, the Cubs lose, the GM gets fired ... it's the cycle of life. You could put almost any team's name in place of the Cubs, and it would still work.
But it wouldn't be a Cubs firing without something specifically Cubby. Things were looking bleak when this story broke, though. It seemed like every other GM-being-fired story from the past decade. Come on, Cubs. Can't you throw us something unusual and interesting?
Hendry said Tom Ricketts told him he wasn't being brought back on July 22nd!
Ah. Perfect. Now we know that things are right with the universe, that there's a natural order. The Cubs today dismissed their GM, who was fired a month ago. That's like the opening sentence in a Tom Wolfe book about the Cubs. It's poetry.
The lifeblood of a rebuilding/retooling franchise is the draft. Hendry was supposedly staying on to help with the signing of this year's draft class. Fair enough. It was an important job, and all of the credit in the world goes to Hendry for staying on after he was already fired. He could have done things to sabotage the franchise, like ask the moms of each draftee out on a date. Preferably via multiple 3:00 a.m. phone calls. If the Cubs didn't like it, and if a couple of draft picks didn't sign because of it, well, they shouldn't have fired him. At least, that's what I would have done. Keep that in mind, Baseball Nation.
No, Hendry stayed on to help one of the crucial parts of a team in trouble. But by doing so, the Cubs completely neglected one of the other crucial steps a rebuilding team has to take -- acquiring prospects for veterans at the trading deadline. It's not like the Cubs were going to flip Alfonso Soriano for Mike Trout, but they had some movable parts, such as Carlos Peña, Marlon Byrd, Carlos Marmol and Jeff Baker. They didn't move anyone but Kosuke Fukudome, who carried a suitcase stuffed with millions to Cleveland. Hendry wasn't worried:
"Everybody gets all (upset), 'If you didn't do something by 3 o'clock today, this is a disaster.' I don't put much stock into that. The guys we kept, for the most part, are guys that still have a chance to be involved next year. And if we do make a trade or two in August, that's no more or less significant than if we made them today."
That's pretty standard GM-speak. At least, it is until you realize that the quote came from somebody who was already fired. Re-reading it now, it's basically code for, "Hey, if the next guy wants to come in and trade some guys in a couple of weeks, he can be my guest. They don't want me touching anything. They even took my key to the supply closet. Now I'm out of binder clips. That's sort of my main concern now."
The Red Sox were reportedly interested in Jeff Baker, who is the exact sort of player the Cubs should have traded. He's 30, not a key part of a rebuilding effort, and his best attribute -- playing multiple positions -- is lost on a team that needs to find good players. But the Cubs held on to him. The Red Sox moved on, trading some interesting young players to the Royals for Mike Aviles.
Marlon Byrd isn't that much different than Hunter Pence. Heck, he's cheaper. He could have brought back a nifty prospect or two. No trade. Carlos Peña is going to be a free agent, and there were a couple of teams that would have liked his left-handed power. No trade. Carlos Marmol is a closer having a down year, but he's also signed for the next two seasons. Maybe the Cubs could have gotten something half as good as the Padres got for Mike Adams? No trade.
So, in the end, it was a GM firing, Cubs-style. They couldn't just do it like a normal team. They couldn't do it in May, when it was clear the team stunk, and they couldn't do it after the trading deadline because they didn't trust the guy they didn't fire earlier to make any more trades. It's amazing. It's fantastic. It's Cubs.