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Saturday, August 20, 2011
Owner changes challenged Jim Hendry

ESPNChicago.com

During his last four years as the Chicago Cubs' general manager, Jim Hendry, who was fired on Friday, worked under three different ownership groups.

Hendry acknowledged in an interview with ESPN 1000's "Talkin' Baseball" on Saturday that the turnover was disruptive to carrying out his plans, but refused to us it as an excuse for his failure to win a championship.

"It was a little difficult, but at the end of the day you've still got to find a way to win more games than we did the last years," Hendry said on the radio show. "And certainly that's not Tom Ricketts' fault. I wish Tom would have owned the club two or three years earlier. I think we'd be in a lot more successful state now and I think moving forward it's going to be in good hands."

The Tribune Co. owned the Cubs when Hendry was promoted to the GM job in 2002. Sam Zell bought the Tribune Co. in 2007 and announced the team would be put up for sale in 2008. The Ricketts family was announced as the winning bidder in January 2009, but the sale wasn't completed until late October.

"Obviously I made a few mistakes," Hendry said. "We had a great year in '08 and then we did have a snag with the sale and everything on hold for a while. And it was difficult to maintain. ... Obviously the direction we were going, it was fast and furious for a couple years and then we had to wait until things settled down, until Tom got the club."

Hendry's Cubs won division titles in 2003, '07 and '08, with the 2003 team coming within five outs of going to the team's first World Series since 1945.

A potential trade for Jake Peavy in late 2008 was one deal that may have been squashed by the ownership transition.

"(It's) unfortunate that we couldn't keep going and add on a little more, but it was certainly understandable," Hendry said. "Tom hadn't gotten the keys yet, it probably took another six to eight months to finish it off. And the '09 club, which is often overlooked, was in first place by the trading deadline and obviously we were in a state of (limbo), you know with the sale up for grabs and not done yet and kind of in a frozen situation.

"It can't be, 'Oh, poor me, we didn't get to finish it the way we wanted to.' It's part of the business when you have a huge, huge organization, one of the marquee franchises in all of sports, that obviously the sale took a lot longer than anybody would have liked and I feel bad for Tom and his family that it took them two and a half, three years and obviously they went through a stressful time, too. At the end of the day, you don't have any excuses. You total up the 162 and you either won the games or you didn't."