Cubs owner backs GM Hendry

CHICAGO -- Lou Piniella won't be back next season as the Chicago Cubs manager, but general manager Jim Hendry will return and lead the search for a new manager, team chairman Tom Ricketts said on Tuesday.

"Jim is our general manager full stop," Ricketts said. "He will be leading the effort to find our new manager for next year here and will be our general manager going into next year."

Piniella announced his retirement as Cubs manager at the end of the season after four years working with Hendry, who is signed through the 2012 season.

Hendry, the GM since 2002, has been scrutinized during a disappointing Cubs season for several big contracts with no-trade clauses given to players such as Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano and even Jeff Samardzija, who is pitching for Triple-A Iowa.

But Ricketts said everyone in the organization had a clean slate when the new owners took control in October.

"When we came in to this organization, I said our opening press conference that Day 1 was square one with everyone in the organization," Ricketts said. "I think from that day going forward we had a very good offseason. I think Jim delivered on bringing in some players who contributed a lot to this season, and we had a good offseason, no question.

"I think the second thing that gives me 100 percent confidence in Jim is that we have a good organization. The way you win consistently in baseball is to draft well, to develop players well and to bring those players up to the major leagues to give you the flexibility you need with payroll and trades. I think we have the organization in place. I have the highest confidence in everyone in our organization, and I think that speaks well of Jim."

Hendry turned the page on one of his biggest miscues when he traded Milton Bradley to the Seattle Mariners for Carlos Silva, who was one of the biggest surprises in the first half with nine wins. Hendry also signed the Cubs' lone All-Star, outfielder Marlon Byrd, as a free agent in the offseason.