Love Letters From Pronk is an ongoing series where Pronk shares his love for somebody connected to the Cubs. Sometimes funny, sometimes weird, Pronk likes to make 100% sure people know that they are loved, and best expresses that through gushing letters. Today's pick: Former Cubs General manager Jim Hendry
Jim Hendry was the Cubs general manager from 2002-2011. In that time, he oversaw 3 Cubs playoff teams, and a couple of contention years. He isn't always remembered fondly. He made some solid trades (Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez), a couple of mistakes (Dontrelle Willis), but overall kept the Cubs in contention most of his years at the helm.
Thank you for putting together some solid Cub teams. Your moves were certainly not always perfect, but a lot of times were logical and helped the Cubs compete. Honestly, most of the "mistakes" you made were ones that looked much worse with 20/20 hindsight. You make moves that should work out, but just don't for whatever reasons.
There was the Aramis Ramirez/Kenny Lofton trade. The Derek Lee trade. You signed Starlin Castro and drafted Javy Baez. Unloading Todd Hundley for Grudzeilanek and Karros. signing Ted Lilly. Signing Ryan Dempster. Signing Marlon Bird. The Dontrelle Willis trade and Soriano deals get a lot of flack, but neither one of those was really that bad on paper. You hit a lot more than you missed. An injury or two less, and the Cubs could have gone all the way.
Honestly, I don't think the Cubs win it all without some of the moves you made. While the team obviously needed to go through the rebuild, you left plenty of building blocks for the Epstein regime to play with. Namely two of our favorites: Javy Baez and Willson Contreras. A few of your players contributed, and many others had value as trade material, leading to the right moves being made.
Honestly, I think you did a fine job and put the Cubs in an "on paper" position to compete most years. injuries might have messed with some of those years, but you kept the Cubs in a place to compete. There were very few bad years with you at the helm, and that's worth praise. The Cubs didn't just flip from being loveable losers to winners. There was a season where the culture of winning began to grow. You planted a lot of those seeds.
Baseball is a tough sport, with 29 teams having disappointing seasons every single year. That doesn't mean that everyone in the organization failed that year. Much more often than not, you made the right moves. After 1998, the Cubs made the playoffs three times in nearly 50 years. They then made the playoffs three times in your nine years. That's a rousing success story. Well done. You lit the fuse that led to bigger and better things.