Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Piniella goes to bat for Hendry in the wake of Bradley's suspension

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MILWAUKEE -- Unless a general manager puts together a World Series-winning team on his watch, he usually will be remembered most for the deals that went wrong. That means Jim Hendry faces a tall task in separating himself from the Milton Bradley signing.

When the Cubs identified a left-handed-hitting right fielder with pop as their biggest offseason need, Hendry had three free agents to consider. He showed mild interest in Raul Ibanez and no interest in Bobby Abreu. The man Hendry wanted all along was Bradley. Keep in mind, Bradley's former team, the Texas Rangers, got more out of him than any of the other five clubs he had played for, but Texas was willing to offer only a one-year deal.

Hendry swept in with a three-year, $30 million offer and Bradley was ready to slip on a Cubs cap. Bradley didn't even last a full season with the Cubs, and this will go down as one of the franchise's worst signings. It's certainly in a neck-and-neck race with the December 2000 signing of catcher/infielder Todd Hundley, who got a four-year, $23.5 million. At least Hundley lasted two seasons, though he hit a combined .199.

Hundley, who had his own run-ins with fans, was one of the many stains on Andy MacPhail's resume with the Cubs. Bradley belongs to Hendry, who at least gets credit for admitting he made a mistake by sending Bradley home two weeks before the end of the season.

''I don't think anybody's a miracle man where things work out all the time,'' manager Lou Piniella said Monday. ''In this business here, when things don't work, somebody's going to take some heat. It's unfortunate. This guys [Hendry] is the same guy who put together the team that won 97 ballgames and he did a hell of a job. When things don't work, well, you've got to point them at somebody. It's unfortunate in this business, but that's the way it works.''

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The disaster of signing Milton Bradley only masks the disasters of signing Soriano and Fukudome previously. How many more "Mulligans" are we going to give Hendry?

Hendry has proven his inability to make any meaningful trades, been unable to straighten out his scouting department to be able to draft position players that can develop into solid major leaguers and has presided over a minor league system that lacks the ability to develop major leaguers, provide meaningful instruction or ingrain basic fundamentals.

Nice guy, but a lousy GM working within a major market while having the advantage of having more money to spend than most of his collegues to get the job done.

The Bradley and Fukudome signings are definitely black eyes on Hendry, but I am sick and tired of hearing that Soriano was. As of right now, he is overpaid, but when he was a free agent he was the most sought after guy out there and every single fan applauded the "aggresiveness" that Hendry had when he signed. A few years later, and we all expect Soriano to be something more than he was all along? The guy is never going to hit .300, and age catches up with every speed guy in the game. Feel good that( when healthy) you are going to have a premier power hitter that can carry the team. Last time I checked, there was only one Pujols in the league, so expecting everyone else to be that guy is an impossible thing to do. Calm down Cub fans, injuries hurt this year, wait 'til next year is a cliche, but for these Cubs it is a more promising one than ever before.

To the poster who claimed that everybody cheered the Soriano signing - I said that the Soriano signing was the kiss of death since day one.

Soriano's 40 steals in his last season with Washington was not what it appeared to be - he only gained a net total of 3 bases that year despite his stealing binge, and he deliberately revved up his legs in the last year of his deal so he could get the big money from a sucker franchise like the Cubbies. And he can't play a lick of defense in the outfield (or anywhere else for that matter - he's a freakin' DH, at best).

He was also a lifetime .280 hitter at the time he signed with the Cubs (oops, he's now at .278 and falling), who strikes out so often and drops so many fly balls that he's actually a liability from a statistical standpoint. But what do I know - I'm only a world-class search engine optimizer and algorithmic mathematician who makes his living by understanding numbers. I'm not a Big League GM or anything like that, heck, you have to really KNOW the big picture to do well at THAT job - wink wink.

But I digress...

Piniella and Hendry are not going to get it done. This is a fact, and a little child can see it now. Hendry blew a big wad of cash to get Lou the pieces that Lou said he needed, and Lou can't win a five-game playoff series because he has no concept of winning baseball strategy.

Those are the facts. Milton Bradley is just a wart on a pig's face. Milton Bradley didn't create the face, he just diminished its aesthetic value. The pig face was the creation of Hendry and Piniella.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris De Luca published on September 21, 2009 11:01 PM.

Memory Lane with Cubs' Milton Bradley was the previous entry in this blog.

Cubs can see clearly now ... is the next entry in this blog.

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