No, I'm not talking about his tab at the local donut shop ... looking back since Hendry first started to work for the Cubs, he has had his hand in every draft since 1995. When he became the GM in the middle of the 2002 season, his duties certainly would have changed at that point, but if there has been one person responsible for the organizational strategy toward development, then it would be Hendry.
In terms of his track record with pitchers, we could call it a success but only perhaps because a few Cubs pitchers have actually run the gauntlet and succeeded in the major leagues. However, his draft picks are spotty at best and he especially has a horrible track record with hitters. I pointed it out in a recent article and I'll say it again - the last Cub batters who had a long-term positive effect were Raffy Palmeiro and Mark Grace. There have been others since then who stayed in the majors for a while, guys like Rey Sanchez, Jose Vizcaino, Jerome Walton and Dwight Smith banged around the league for a while, Rick Wilkins played for 7 or 8 years, but none were stars, and none had more than a handful of good years.
Over in the SB thread, Goat Reader NEXTyearNOW says "that isn't fair, the rays have had the first pick in the draft for 10 years." It's true, but there have been plenty of teams - the Braves in particular - who've done better than the Cubs since 1995 and also fared better in terms of their talent pool. What's more, there have been 5 seasons since '95 in which the Cubs lost 90 games or more. Theoretically, that makes for plenty of chances to get it right, at least once. Here's how it looks:
1995 - RHP Kerry Wood - 4th overall pick - I can't argue with this pick as Wood was a good Cub and could've been a great one if his arm had stayed intact.
1996 - RHP Todd Noel - 17th overall pick - He never got above A+ ball, and he flamed out in 2000.
1997 - RHP Jon Garland - 10th overall pick - It's too bad Ed Lynch dealt him, because Garland has been a pretty decent player throughout his career.
1998 - OF Corey Patterson 3rd overall pick - Corey was Jim's first hitter ever chosen in the 1st round of a draft, and he demonstrated a lot of traits we'd see from so many other Hendry prospects - athletic without a hint of discipline.
Taken after C-Patt: OF J.D. Drew, OF Austin Kearns, SS Felip Lopez, 1B Carlos Pena, RHP Brad Lidge, LHP CC Sabathia
1999 - RHP Ben Christensen - 26th overall pick - Another pitcher, another bust. Put it in perspective - Hendry's batting 50-50 in pitchers chosen as of 1999.
2000 - SS Luis Montanez - 3rd overall pick - Just remember, this guy was chosen in part because they knew he'd sign for cheap. Montanez is now an Oriole who finally saw his first taste of major league action this past year, where he batted .295 in 112 at bats. In his last year with the Cubs, he was in Iowa and he batted .224 in 245 at bats with an OPS of .652.
Taken after Montanez: OF Rocco Baldelli, 2B Chase Utley, RHP Adam Wainwright
2001 - RHP Mark Prior - 2nd overall pick - Man, it's hard to criticize Hendry for this pick. Back when the draft was upcoming, there was a lot of debate as to whether or not the Cubs should've gone with Teixeira, but obviously they went with the Wuss instead.
Taken after Prior: RHP Gavin Floyd, 1B Casey Kotchman, RF Gabe Gross, 2B Mike Fontenot, SS Bobby Crosby, SP Jeremy Bonderman, SP Noah Lowry, 1B Mark Teixeira
2002 - RHP Bobbie Brownlie - 21st overall pick - When last seen in the Cubs organization, Brownlie went 0-3 with a 10.81 ERA in Iowa. Since then, he's bounced around between the Indy leagues, Cleveland, and the Nationals minor league teams.
Taken after Brownlie: SP Jeremy Guthrie, RF Jeff Francoer, SP Matt Cain
2003 - OF Ryan Harvey - 6th overall pick - Hmm. Jim Hendry had been involved in the Cubs drafts and farm system since 1995 by this point, and yet, Ryan Harvey is only the 3rd hitter taken under his watch. Harvey - who has never drawn more than 25 walks in a season - is 23, had his first taste of AA ball last year, and is a career .247 hitter in the minor leagues. Like Dolly Parton before him, Harvey looks rather ... busty.
Taken after Harvey: OF Nick Markakis, LHP Paul Mahom, LHP John Danks, 3B Ian Stewart, CF Lastings Milledge, 2B Aaron Hill, CF Brian Anderson, RF David Murphy, SP Chad Billingsley, LF Carlos Quentin
2004 - No First Round Pick
2005 - LHP Mark Pawelek - 20th overall pick - 4 years into his tenure within the Cubs organization, Pawelek is 6-12 with an ERA of 3.86 and he's yet to get above Low A ball. It's too soon to call him a bust, but he's not exactly atop many prospect lists anymore.
Taken after Pawelek: CF Jacob Ellsbury
And at that point I'll stop, because it's a little too early to call 2006 pick Tyler Colvin a bust, especially since he was in the Top 10 of our latest Cubs prospect list.
Anyway, as they say hindsight is 20/20, but I can't get over Hendry's inability to develop a hitter. Geovany Soto was the exception, and he wasn't drafted - he was found.
Maybe throughout the next week or two, we'll also look into the other draft rounds, depending on how easy it is to find that information. We can compare Cubs 2nd round choices with those of other teams, and onward into boredom or something more interesting springs up.