No doubt about it now: Cubs should have fired Hendry

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hendry bradley.jpgThe Cubs finally got off their collective butts on Friday by pulling the trigger on the Milton Bradley-Carlos Silva deal and closing in on an agreement with Marlon Byrd, but let’s face it, they were better off when they were doing nothing. The offseason’s proceedings have only made it increasingly clear that Jim Hendry is not the right person to run this team.
It’s not so much Hendry’s eye for talent that’s the problem. He’s a perfectly average deal-maker, and he’s come up with a few gems for the Cubs. He might actually be better off with a small-market team, since it’s when he has money to spend that he really gets himself in trouble.
But Hendry isn’t the man to lead a rebuilding effort. He simply lacks imagination. Hendry’s M.O. is to focus one problem at a time and apply all of the available resources to fixing it. Everyone in the whole league knew that Hendry’s first priority this winter was to upgrade in center field, but that he’d only do it after trading Bradley. Because if he went out and signed Mike Cameron before Bradley was disposed of, he’d have lost all of his leverage and had to settle for someone like Silva in return.
Oh… wait….
So, now Bradley is gone, but so are Curtis Granderson and Cameron. That leaves Byrd, a 32-year-old who is average at best in center field and whose recent success offensively is largely a product of playing in Texas. He’s posted OPSs of 814, 842 and 808 the last three years, but his road OPSs those years were 715, 773 and 740. An Alfonso Soriano-Byrd-Kosuke Fukudome outfield is going to be an awful lot more expensive than it will be productive.
And the scary thing is that Byrd’s addition might be the biggest of the winter for one of 2009’s most disappointing teams. Hendry’s other two moves were to re-sign John Grabow to a contract that only Ed Wade would love and to decline to offer arbitration to Rich Harden, costing the team a supplemental first-round pick in next year’s draft. The Cubs may add another starter at some point, but it’s doubtful they’ll be major players in what’s left in free agency or in the trade market. This may very well be the team the Cubs will take into 2010, and as a result, both the Cardinals and Brewers should be feeling pretty good right now.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

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Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.

Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.