Ricketts backs Hendry at convention

The new owners of the Chicago Cubs made one thing clear Saturday in their first give-and-take session with fans at the team's annual convention: General manager Jim Hendry is here to stay.

The Ricketts family, who took over ownership of the team in October, praised the job Hendry has done for the Cubs despite the criticism he took in the media and from fans for the signing of Milton Bradley.

"What a lot of people don't see is the tremendous amount of progress that has been made in the organization over the last few years," Tom Ricketts told the crowd of assembled Cubs fans at the Chicago Hilton & Towers. "We have a lot of very talented guys coming up through the system. Jim has built an incredible scouting organization. He has brought in some of the best coaches in baseball.

Ricketts went on to defend the moves Hendry has made as GM.

"It's easy to second guess free-agent decisions," Ricketts said, "but the fact is, from an organizational standpoint, the team is heading in the right direction and you're going to see the fruits of that in the next few years."

Ricketts also praised the hiring of Rudy Jaramillo, who he called "the best hitting coach in baseball," and four-time Cy Young Award winner Greg Maddux as Hendry's special assistant. Ricketts called Maddux "one of the best baseball brains in the history of the game."

"I think [Hendry] is doing a good job," Ricketts said.