Maybe it will be the most important decision Piniella makes as Cubs manager, and he nailed it. If even 75 percent of his decisions in the manager's chair are this on the mark, maybe this really can be the Cubs' year.
As for Hendry, look, we know the Cubs haven't won a World Series since Adam and Eve were three, but come on.
Still, answering the cell phone while hooked up to the heart machines? That surely can't be a doctor recommended act.
"It shows how much he cares," Cincinnati GM Wayne Krivsky said. "He has a passion for winning, for putting a winning team on the field for the Chicago Cubs. That's Jim. He's very aggressive, very creative and very smart."
Smart will be listening to whatever his doctors tell him from here on out, for his -- and, by extension, for the Cubs' -- own good. Smart will be taking his medication and maybe changing his eating habits and, yes, not even coming close to relying on Mark Prior in the rotation.
"Everybody likes Jimmy," Colletti said. "Hopefully, it's just something that came and went. Besides the baseball part of it, Jim is just a great guy. Everybody enjoys being around him."
That's one reason Piniella signed on as skipper, and it's one reason why free agents from Alfonso Soriano to Mark DeRosa to Lilly have followed his Pied Piper wooing this winter. The Cubs and Wrigley Field are a draw, but Hendry is the point man on the recruiting front.
So far, it must be like a carnival ride for Piniella. Remember how Tampa Bay lured him from Seattle in part because the Devil Rays promised the skipper they would spend some money to help establish a winner?
The Cubs spent more in one week -- in landing Mark DeRosa (three years, $13 million), Henry Blanco (two years, $5.25 million) and Soriano (eight years, $136 million) -- than the Devil Rays did during Piniella's three years there combined.
All told this winter, the Cubs have spent $272 million on free agents -- including more than $250 million for Soriano, Aramis Ramirez (five years, $73 million) and Lilly (four years, $40 million).
Nothing tells the fans "I love you" like a fistful of blank checks. And nothing sets rival clubs to chirping like an unvarnished spending spree.
What did the Cubs listen to in the lobby this week? Lots of smart aleck comments from their rivals. There were even several jokes from rival executives -- once they knew Hendry was OK -- that the GM's heart might have started fluttering because of all of the dough he's been tossing around.
Indeed, Hughes said, the Cubs' contingent here heard an awful lot of razzing this week -- most good-natured, some not -- mostly along the lines of, Sheesh, you guys got ANY money left?
"People are aware we're doing a lot of things," Hughes said. "For awhile, we were driving the bus for the whole industry. That slowed down when other people started making their moves. Before that, we were out there, we were the targets. Which is a better position to be in than being out there with a pop gun saying, 'How can they do that?'"
He added: "We knew we were going to be active this winter. And to be active, we knew it was going to cost us cash."
As Hughes said, when you win 66 games in a season, you've got a lot of heavy lifting to do before the next campaign arrives.
Win or lose, whatever happens for the '07 Cubs, after Hendry's scare this week, you can't accuse them of not having heart.
"Knowing the person, I'm not at all surprised or amazed at what he was able to do," Hughes said of Hendry's closing on the Lilly deal from the hospital. "He is so focused on what has to be done. The reason it took awhile to get him to the hospital (Wednesday) was that he thought it was more important to worry about the Rule 5 draft and trade talk."
Hughes said Hendry needs only three or four hours of sleep a night, and then "the noodle goes off and here we go again. He's writing stuff down, making deals in his head."
After dominating winter personnel moves the way a snowplow moves along a snowy road, the Cubs finally swung and missed Thursday when pitcher Gil Meche, another of their free-agent targets, agreed to the latest outrageous contract: Five years and $55 million from, of all folks, the Kansas City Royals.
Undoubtedly, from somewhere under his hospital covers, Hendry already was plotting a run at Jeff Suppan, or Jeff Weaver, or Plan C or D.
"He's doing good, he really is," Piniella said. "He's just relaxing. He's taking it easy. He expects to go home Friday."
All believable, except for one thing. Relaxing as he tries to restore the luster to the Cubs?