Americans are struggling in these difficult economic times, but perhaps nobody is hurting more than Cubs GM Jim Hendry, who has been instructed by new team owner Tom Ricketts to only overpay free agents by 30 percent this off-season, a drastic cut from recent seasons.

“This is going to be tough,” said Hendry on the eve of baseball’s Winter Meetings in Indianapolis. “Under Tribune ownership, I could bid against myself and overpay a guy 120 to 150 percent without any repercussions. What’s a GM to do? I’m not Billy Beane here.”

While the Cubs GM has left a legacy of fleecing the Pirates of their young talent and signing one-dimensional, surly, or oft-injured players to lucrative and lengthy free agent deals, he is being forced to shift his strategies under the new fiscally responsible Cubs regime.

“Aging veterans, that’s the key,” said Hendry. “I’m not talking about players who are just barely past their prime. I’m talking guys who have been out of the league at least five years. Ruben Sierra for four years at $11 million per is a bargain. It makes me wonder if he still has an agent I can call to make that offer.”

From the November 2009 issue by Jeremy Barewin