Section 242 was kind enough to invite me once again to the Jim Hendry luncheon yesterday. Hendry was incredibly candid last year, and I was pretty much a dick and took advantage of that by writing about some of the stuff he said. I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal because only about eight people read the blog at that time. But then some other sites picked up the post and spread it around, so now I feel guilty. I felt even MORE guilty when Hendry mentioned it at the beginning of this year’s speech, referring to HJE as a “fictitiously-named” blog. If anyone has any idea what that means, please let me know.
Anyhow, if you’re looking for me to give away secrets again this year, I’m not going to. It was selfish and disrespectful to do it last year, and if Jim catches wind of THIS post, I apologize. But I do want to point out a couple of things that are not detailed, and I assume not confidential, but that give you more of a hint of what a cool guy Jim Hendry is.
First, Hendry is a hell of a public speaker. He really commands a room. He is relaxed, well-spoken, and funny. At one point, some dude asked the idiotic question, “Would you ever consider doing a “Bring Your Pet to the Park” day at Wrigley? Without missing a beat, Hendry said, “Can they hit?”
Second, it takes some balls to give a group of fans access to you as a general manager. Keep in mind, there are some dumb-ass people who root for the Cubs and who would have no greater desire than to tell off the general manager of the team, even though he assembled a team that won 97 games last year. To allow those same fans to ask questions in a candid environment is pretty awesome, and I doubt it’s something that a lot of other general managers would do.
Third, Hendry didn’t shy away or pass the buck for the disaster of an ending that was the playoffs last year. Hendry was the first to say the lack of left-handed hitting was his own fault. That was admirable, since it would have been very easy (and absolutely true) to say that the very good team that he assembled just happened to suck ass during the playoffs.
Fourth, I want to clear up one thing that isn’t confidential since it’s pretty much been covered in the mainstream media. But I am convinced a little more detail will help explain arguably Hendry’s most confusing offseason move. I know it made me happy to hear. A lot of people are wondering why Hendry didn’t bring back Kerry Wood. Trust me when I say Hendry would have loved to bring back Wood, but couldn’t do a three-year deal. Here was the basic sequence of events:
- Wood wants a three-year deal.
- Hendry realizes that with the amount of time Wood has been on the DL in the past three years, an additional three makes no sense for the club.
- Hendry trades for Kevin Gregg.
- Hendry signs Ryan Dempster.
- Wood announces that he would have taken a one-year deal with the Cubs.
- Hendry can’t afford to sign Wood because of the money now committed to Gregg and Dempster.
Hendry and Wood joined the organization the same year, and it was easy to see that Hendry was sad to see Wood go, and he had nothing but nice things to say about him (and Mark DeRosa, for that matter).
The luncheon was once again an awesome experience. Thanks to Section 242 for inviting me again this year, and thanks to Jim Hendry for agreeing to do it, even though I couldn’t keep my big mouth shut last year.