Daily Herald
Hendry, Cubs agree to four-year extension
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 10/20/2008 11:57 AM | Updated: 10/20/2008 8:20 PM

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It was pretty clear Monday what Cubs chairman Crane Kenney thinks of his general manager and his ballclub.

"We really feel like we have the organization in the condition that it should be in for a major market," Kenney said in announcing a four-year contract extension for GM Jim Hendry. "Everyone knows what job we have left to do. I wouldn't trust it to anyone but Jim going forward.

"We try not to lose sight of the fact we won 97 games for a reason, and that is the nucleus of this team is pretty (darn) good."

So it was against that backdrop that Hendry got his extension, one that will keep him with the Cubs through the 2012 season, or as long as the still-to-be-determined new owners of the team want him.

The 53-year-old Hendry has been GM since the middle of the 2002 season, compiling a record of 537-513 (.511) and three National League Central titles.

The Cubs, however, have yet to reach the World Series.

"We're going to do whatever we can to kick that door in and eventually win a world championship," Hendry said. "That remains our goal, and none of us should rest until that's accomplished."

The Seattle Mariners contacted the Cubs seeking to talk with Hendry about their GM job, but Kenney said no. The Cubs continued hammering out a deal with Hendry even though the team has been for sale since Opening Day 2007.

The final hurdle was for Tribune Co. czar Sam Zell to sign off, something he did either Friday or over the weekend.

"It wasn't extremely difficult," Kenney said. "Let's face it, we have an odd situation with the team being for sale and has been for sale for some time."

Hendry, who has been with the Cubs since joining them as director of player development in November 1994, said he had no desire to go elsewhere.

His task is to get the Cubs over the hump and into the World Series for the first time since 1945 and to win it for the first time since 1908. The Cubs lost to the Florida Marlins in the 2003 National League championship series. In both 2007 and this year, they were swept out of the first round.

The Cubs brass is gathered in Mesa, Ariz., for the annual organization meetings. One of the first issues facing Hendry will be to decide whether to pursue the re-signing of free-agent pitchers Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood.

The Cubs may have an easier time getting that done with Dempster, who won 17 games. Wood, who recorded 34 saves this year after moving to the bullpen from the rotation, may be seeking a multiyear contract, and the Cubs may want to offer only a one-year deal or a one-year deal plus option years.

"I had a lot of talks with Ryan - not dollars and cents talks - during the season," Hendry said. "Ryan knows we want him to stay here. He's never expressed a desire that he wanted to leave. We have not had formal conversations yet. But I expect to speak with Ryan's agent and Ryan himself, possibly, in the next week or so."