Hey Kurt! I Think Jim's Been OK.
Keith's comment on Kurt's recent board games update was spot on. I'd like to add to that senitiment by pointing out the highlights of what I think has been a successful offseason thus far for Jim Hendry and the Cubs.
First, though, I should address the one move that clearly has the most potential to look like a disaster for the Cubs: Jose Ceda-for-Kevin Gregg. Ceda was a Top 5, sometimes considered "untouchable" prospect for the Cubs, featuring a fastball consistently in the mid-to-high 90s. In return, we got kind of a crappy closer, whose ERA benefitted from a strangely low HR/FB rate in 2008. Let's hope this doesn't turn out to be as awful a deal as many sportswriters think it might be.
Now on to the successes. Before the Winter Meetings started, I for one saw a distinct possibility that Hendry might sign Abreu or Ibanez. I mean, come on, typical Cub move, right? Pay too much for a big name that's old and on the decline?
But Hendry didn't do that. He was reportedly uninterested in Ibanez, and presumably Abreu, for the same reason we here at GROTA were - poor defense. I'm guessing that's the same reason he hasn't really gone after Dunn yet (although the entire Adam Dunn market has been reallly, really quiet lately, so who knows what's happening there).
Not signing a free agent right fielder who can't play right field? Well done. Not giving up our entire farm system for Jake Peavy? Good decision. Generating interest in a player with sizeable salary and blocked youth behind him, who furthermore had a career year in 2008? Nice. Avoiding Ibreu, retaining Vitters AND Pie AND Cedeno AND Guzman AND Hart AND Marshall instead of moving at least five of those guys for Peavy, and gauging/raising the trade value of Mark DeRosa have all been solid moves.
He's also identified someone that people at GROTA have generally accepted as a legitimate target to fulfill a Cub need. Milton Bradley is athletic, a competent defender, led the AL in OPS last year, and hits from both sides of the plate.
There's nothing Jim Hendry can do to convince Bradley to sign before the Red Sox and Angels address their needs on offense. Bradley, like a boatload of other free agents, is waiting for Mark Teixeira to sign with a team. Once that deal is done, everything else will fall into place. Hopefully, that leaves us in a position where all we have to do is outbid the Rays.
So yeah, I think Jim's done OK for himself so far. And I won't really change that stance unless we miss on Bradley AND Dunn.