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.''