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Cubs' Jim Hendry speaks

7/13/2009

From David Laurila's recent interview with Jim Hendry ($):

    DL: When the decision was made to sign Milton Bradley, were you, [manager of baseball information Chuck] Wasserstrom, [assistant general manager Randy] Bush, and Lou Piniella all on the same page regarding his value?
    JH: It was one of those things where we were looking for the best possible hitter, left-handed or switch, and if you're going by the statistical analysis way of looking at it, he fit the bill perfectly. He led the American League in on-base percentage and almost won the batting title; he played in the All-Star Game. He was exactly what we were looking for. Unfortunately, right now his production hasn't been what it was last year. We looked at all of the other people too, and felt like, in our spot, in right field, that he was the best fit.

    DL: Your background is more scouting-oriented, while Wasserstrom's is more statistical-analysis based. Are you finding that the two of you generally come to similar conclusions regarding the projectable future performance of players you look at?

    JH: Absolutely. At the end of the day, I make the final call, but we put months into that decision. Obviously, what [Bradley] did the last couple of years, offensively, was exactly what we were looking for. Of course, they're not all robots and they don't always do what you want them to do. We had eight guys in the All-Star Game last year, who are [with] this team right now, and I don't know if any of those eight are going to make it this year. It's hard to put your finger on that and predict.

Eight All-Stars is a lot, and the figure is correct: Geovany Soto, Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, Bradley, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, and Carlos Marmol.
It's probably worth mentioning that Soto and Fukudome were rookies -- and Fukudome was not playing well last summer, at all -- while Bradley and Dempster both were big surprises. Still, it's fair to say that a lot of Cubs are playing worse than just about anyone expected. The Cubs figured to be one of the best teams in the National League. Instead they're 43-43, and it's appropriate for Hendry to make reasonable excuses.

This, on the other hand, would scare me a little if I were a Cub fan:

    DL: Are defensive metrics an important part of your evaluation process or do you rely primarily on scouting?
    JH: It's scouting for me. People scout players and they rate their defense, and that's what I go by -- and the personnel that we have in our own dugout.

If Hendry really has no regard for the use of defensive metrics, he begins every single decision-making process at a disadvantage, because defense comes into play not only when evaluating fielders, but also pitchers. My friend Rany Jazayerli -- more from Rany later today, by the way -- has suggested that the Cubs could be the National League's Red Sox, if only they had good and stable ownership.

I'm sure that would help. It would also help if the Cubs had a general manager who's not stuck in the 20th century.