Want to know the true difference between the Phillies, the last 2 NL pennant winners and the Cubs? Scouting and drafting, despite the fact that genius Jim Henry was Head of Player Development prior to being named GM in 2002. Notable Phillies draft picks, last 15 years:
1996: Jimmy Rollins
1998: Pat Burrell, Ryan Madson
2000: Chase Utley
2001: Ryan Howard
2002: Cole Hamels (what a 3 year period!)
2003: Michael Bourn (ok, hes not great at all but Phils flipped him in a deal for Lidge, who was great some of the time during good years)
Meanwhile, Cubs first round and other notable picks over same time period:
1998: Corey Patterson (no comment), Dave Kelton 2nd round (22 MLB ABs)
1999: Ben "Bean Baller" Christensen was 1st rounder (never played in MLB); in fact, nobody of 50 drafted that year played in more than 20 MLB games (amazing); Only exceptions: Hee Seop Choi also signed as amateur free agent in 1999 (at least Hendry hoodwinked someone else on him; career 240 hitter with sub 800 OPS); Marmol as another free agent signing in 99 only thing to salvage the year (but again, doesnt help Cubs DRAFT track recored)
2000: Luis Montanez, SS of future in 1st round (200 AB in MLB, .229 hitter), Bobby Hill 2nd round (never should have played); only decent player was Dontrelle in 8th round but proved to be flash-in-pan and success didnt come with the Cubs.
2001: Best year by far in recent memory, but not saying much and still not very good: Mark Prior (ouch), Andy Sisco (2nd round; bust), Ryan Theriot 3rd (so-so regular), Geo Soto (11th round): might be an above average regular (too early to say); Ricky Nolasco (4th round) might end up best one of 01, but Cubs needed Pierre instead. Felix Pie (another bust) also signed as amateur free agent in 2001.
2002: Bobby Browlie was 1st rd. neither he nor any of the first 6 taken by Cubs that year ever made the Show; Randy Wells, late round pick was the best one but it is too early to say if he was a one-year wonder.
2003: Ryan Harvey 1st round pick (never played in MLB); best player from that draft maybe Casey McGhee, now Brewers 3B (still not star or anything close)
2005: maybe most amazingly horrible year yet; drafted 50 guys in 2005, no hitter has ever made MLB and only pitcher to make the show was Donald Veal, career stats: 0-1, 7.16. Equally amazing, 2005 made 4 straight years of Cubs first round picks never playing in the majors.
2006: maybe too early too tell yet but first two picks were Tyler Colvin (4th OF at best probably) and Jeff Samardzija (probably should have never made MLB); none of other 50 guys drafted have played in MLB
While the Phils were drafting and developing the core of an NL pennant in Rollins, Utley, Howard, Hamels, etc. the Cubs were wasting time and money on a bunch of also-rans. Without exagerration, the Cubs haven't developed an All Star caliber everyday player since Mark Grace and even he isn't on the level of a Rollins, Utley, or Howard. How does Hendry still have a job?