Time finally ran out for Jim Hendry, who was fired as general manager of the Chicago Cubs after too many questionable decisions and too few victories.
“It’s professional baseball … if you don’t win enough games over a couple of years, you can’t fight change,” Hendry said Friday in an emotional news conference atWrigley Field.
Assistant GM Randy Bush will take over the job on an interim basis while the Cubs search for a permanent replacement, the team said.
Hendry, 56, said Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts notified him July 22 that he wouldn’t be retained. He indicated that was one factor in deciding not to trade away veteran players at the deadline, figuring he should leave those decisions to his successor.
“We’re here to win games, and in the last couple of years, we didn’t win enough,” Hendry said. “I will leave here with nothing but gratefulness for being part of this organization for 17 years. Not many people get a chance to do that.”
Hendry called Ricketts “a fine man” and said he expected to retain a close relationship with the team’s chairman.
Rickett said the “culture of accountability” in the organization led to the decision and they need “different perspectives.”
“We just didn’t win enough games,” Ricketts said, echoing Hendry. “Nothing should diminish Jim’s tenure here. We won three division titles while he was here. … Jim is truly a first-class individual and we’ll all miss seeing him here in the office.”
Ricketts said the search for a new GM “effectively begins today” and that Bush would not be a candidate. He said there was no timeline or deadline for naming a successor. Ricketts said he would consult “industry veterans” in his search and that the new general manager would report directly to him, not team president Crane Kenney.
“We’re going to keep it as a very private process,” said Ricketts, adding that he would not be addressing any rumors that might arise along the way.
Ricketts said the decision was made in consultation with his siblings, who make up the board. Why did he let Hendry continue after being fired?
“At the moment I decided we had to make a change, I just thought the right thing to do, particularly given how much I respect Jim, was to just let him know,” he said. “In the conversation, i said ‘Look, we have work to do still. We had a good draft- a great draft- and we need someone to focus on making sure that those players get from that draftboard to our organization, and we have a trade deadline coming up.
“So I asked Jim if he would be able to keep executing his job for the next few weeks while we get through those hurdles, and he agreed to. He’s been terrific. He’s worked hard the last couple of weeks. I think it’s really a credit to his character that we were able to operate under that awkward situation and do as well as we have done.”
As for what qualities he will seek in the new GM, Ricketts listed player-development skills and a strong baseball analytical background. Hendry was not a proponent of sabermetrics.
Ricketts said that during the middle of July, he just felt “it was time to move on.” He said the right thing to do was to inform Hendry immediately, but the two men agreed that he should stay on through the trade deadline and the signing of the team’s draft choices.
“He never missed a beat; it’s a credit to his character that we were able to operate the way we did and get the job done,” Ricketts said. “We had the trade deadline coming up and I didn’t think it made any sense to change horses in mid-stream.”
Ricketts indicated that the new general manager would determine the fate of first-year manager Mike Quade, who has a year remaining on his contract. He also said he would like player-development executives Oneri Fleita and Tim Wilkin to stay on.
Quade said he received no advance notice of the change and said of Hendry, “I’ll miss him a lot.”
Asked about his own job status, Quade said, “This is not a day for me. I have no time to concern myself with me on a day like this. … My future is the furthest thing from my mind on a day like this.
article by Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune