The Chicago Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry may have had the most underrated offseason in 2008. First let's highlight some of the most important moves he made.
The biggest splash the Chicago Cubs made this offseason was signing Kosuke Fukudome out of Japan. Fukudome had a strong showing in the World Baseball Classic and has been a proven leader in Japan for years. He is the left hand batter the Chicago Cubs line up so badly needed. He also plays right field which was a spot the Chicago Cubs needed to fill. And after a few seasons of fundamentally poor baseball Kosuke comes with the experience and hard work on the fundamentals that we need.
In my opinion the next biggest offseason move was the signing of former Chicago Cub John Lieber. Lieber didn't make the starting rotation for the Chicago Cubs out of spring training but has handled the relief role with professionalism. Unlike Chicago Cubs 5th starter Jason Marquis, who early in spring training said if he wasn't going to start the Chicago Cubs should trade him. Lieber in the bullpen gives the Chicago Cubs a lot of options. He can be the long relief guy for now, can spot start if needed due to injury, and can set up some potential trades down the line. As we all know Marquis is only decent in the first half, and after the All Star break it will be nice to know that the Chicago Cubs can turn to Lieber if needed.
The last move I'll mention is the signing of Reed Johnson. He was picked up very late in Spring Training after being released by the Toronto Blue Jays. He was originally signed to back up Chicago Cubs youngster Felix Pie in center field. He was definitely going to be played against left handed pitchers where Pie struggles. through the early going of the season though Chicago Cubs manager Lou Pinella has played him more then expected. He has been swinging a great back and always plays the game hard.
All in all none of these signings this offseason were of blockbuster caliber. But I believe before all is said and done Chicago Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry's moves will prove to have been the most valuable in all the major leagues. Hopefully the team he has put together, along with the potential moves he's set himself up to be able to make will put the 2008 Chicago Cubs deep into the playoffs!