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.

Marlins option Tom Koehler to Triple-A, recall Hunter Cervenka

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Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.

Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.

Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.

Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are interested in Pat Neshek

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At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.

Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.