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.

Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery could share Cubs’ rotation spot in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Mike Montgomery #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).

Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.

Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.

Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.

Michael Bourn to miss four weeks with a broken finger

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 6:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles looks out of the dugout as he waits to get on deck to bat during the sixth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 6, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Orioles’ center fielder Michael Bourn is expected to be sidelined for four weeks while he rehabs a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck. Bourn broke the finger while playing catch with a football after a spring training workout.

The veteran outfielder re-signed with the club earlier this week on a minor league deal and was prepared to compete for a bench role this season. He’s in line to receive a $2 million salary if he makes the major league roster and can make an additional $3.5 million in incentives based on a set number of plate appearances. Now, however, his chances of cracking the roster out of spring training look considerably diminished, as his current timetable gives him an approximate return date of March 25 if all goes well.

Bourn had an impressive, if short-lived run with the Orioles following his trade to Baltimore last August, batting .283/.358/.435 with two home runs and a .793 OPS in 55 PA. While still somewhat removed from the totals that brought him an All-Star nod with the Braves in 2012, his defensive chops should give the Orioles some depth in center once he’s healthy again.