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updated: 1/7/2011 4:36 PM

Could Hendry have more Cubs moves to make?

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  • The Cubs gave up several prospects for Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Garza, who won 15 games last season.

    The Cubs gave up several prospects for Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Garza, who won 15 games last season.
    Associated Press

 
 

Stop blaming Jim Hendry.

That's the best advice I can give you if you're a Cubs fan and you don't like the latest deal.

If the prospects sent to Tampa for Matt Garza live up to their billing in the majors someday, the Cubs will have overpaid in a big way.

And if "ifs'' and "buts'' were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas. And Karl Pagel would have broken Roger Maris' home run record, and the Cubs wouldn't be into their second century without a World Series.

Prospects are prospects -- sometimes excessively hyped for the purpose of trade value -- and major league starters who win 15 games and pitch 200 innings in a tough division are an entirely different story.

The Cubs gave up some big names from their system, but those kids are anywhere from a year to three years away from getting to the bigs -- if they ever get there at all.

That's why they call them prospects.

In the meantime, the Cubs now have a surplus of starters and that gives them yet another opportunity to shop Carlos Zambrano to the Yankees, who are still looking for help.

And it means they can still use Andrew Cashner in the bullpen if necessary, something quite likely considering Kerry Wood's injury history.

It's worth remembering as well that Hendry's best deals have been the kind where the rich Cubs stole from the poor teams that could no longer afford successful players, and Garza is now arbitration eligible and under control by the Cubs for at least three more years.

But if this deal doesn't look good a year or two from now, Jim Hendry will take all the blame -- and he shouldn't.

This is on Tom Ricketts. He continues to employ Hendry, who's merely doing his job, which is to try to win immediately so that he can keep his job.

If that's a bad formula, then it's Ricketts' fault. If it seems to fly in the face of all Ricketts has said about building an organization and promoting the future, that's Ricketts' problem, too.

He gave Hendry the keys and the GM is driving the team in the direction he must at this point in his Cubs career.

Where this actually takes the Cubs is open for debate.

Garza is a solid No. 2 in a rotation without an ace. He's a flyball pitcher coming from a pitcher-friendly park and a team with a terrific defense, to Wrigley Field and one of the worst defensive teams in baseball.

Even if Garza turns out to be the ace they seek, which is possible, it would seem the Cubs are still a step below the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers, so you wonder if Hendry has more in mind.

He might as well, rather than get stuck between the talk of a future, and trying to win today.

That's as old as the game itself, as many before Ricketts have come along and voiced the desire to build from the ground up, only to be swept up in the notion that Cubs fans can't understand the concept and won't pay to see it.

Of course, they've all been wrong. If someone someday would simply tell the fans the truth, most would be willing to wait for the finished product.

Instead, the Cubs are hoping an aging and sometimes crippled core of veterans can rediscover the magic of some years back, and give the Cubs enough production to make another run.

If it doesn't work, Hendry will at least know he gave it a shot.

And if those kids come back to haunt the Cubs, Tom Ricketts will know that all he had to do was just say, "No.''

• brozner@dailyherald.com