Again and again, I'm reading about the mess of Jim Hendry's massive contracts. Don't get me wrong, I shudder as much as the next Cub fan any time I think of Alfonso Soriano's contract. Setting that one aside, however, my sense is that Hendry's free agent signings have more often been bargains than busts. But I wanted to really look into it.
Over at fangraphs, they have a nice feature at the bottom of each player card which translate WAR (Wins Above Replacement) into dollar values. Using those valuations, I thought I'd compare Jim Hendry's major contracts with their actual value.
Gregg Maddux 2004-2006 Value $37.3; Cost $24; Difference +$13.3
Aramis Ramirez 2005-2006 Value $31.6; Cost $19.5; Difference +$12.1
Michael Barrett 2004 Value $9.9; Cost $1.6; Difference +$8.3
Alfonso Soriano 2007-2008 Value $36.5; Cost $30; Difference +$6.5
Derrek Lee 2006-2008 Value $32.3; Cost $39; Difference -$6.7
As you see, through 2008 Jim Hendry has done fairly well, better than I'd expect. On the other hand, some of the worst contracts are ones still going. Looking these over, once could definitely make the case that Jim Hendry under Andy McPhail was a supreme bargain hunter. On the other hand, Jim Hendry loosed of Andy McPhail has been in the playoffs more often.