Pretty much sums it up.
Mr. Jim Hendry. I am one happy Cubs fan that you’ve made your way out of town; however, you can leave the head coach you hired around for a while to help rebuild the team. You were fired July 22nd, but helped the team get through the trade deadline and the only move you made was to move Kosuke Fukudome, for a couple of mediocre relievers? Nice work chief. Glad you stuck around for another month; you helped out the team _so_ much! Alright, alright, I will admit, I’m impressed that a good number of their draft picks got signed including first rounder Javier Baez, Trevor Gretzky, and Shawon Dunston Jr. (can anybody say SHAWON-O-METER!!!). I will give you that and that only. Only because the Ricketts family allowed you to go over slotted bonus demands and spend on the players, they were able to be signed. More players needed to be moved off the roster to make room to audition the young kids in the minor league system.
I could go on and on about how Hendry hurt the Cubs over the years, but I don’t want to bore to death. He made some good moves, plenty of bad moves, and couple of head scratchers. Sure, he helped create some playoff teams, back-to-back teams at that, which has been no easy feat for the Cubs over the years. He’s often traded off a lot of what little farm talent they had for a mediocre veteran to graze the pastures of Wrigley to ease into the decline of their career.
Randy Bush, the assistant General Manager promoted to interim GM, should do more than a fine job finishing out the season. I truly hope he calls up a few young kids to get a taste of what is to come for them. I’d like D.J. LeMahieu, Brett Jackson (tearing up AAA), Rebel Ridling (.304 20 HRs 74 RBIs at AA), Ryan Flaherty, and maybe even Josh Vitters to get some work with the big league team this year. As you may or may not have noticed, these are all fielders and not pitchers. The pitchers in the farm system are either not ready, or not good enough at AAA. It’s been struggle for the pitchers this season, especially in Des Moines. Kyle Smit, Nicholas Struck, Jay Jackson, and Robert Whitenack (assuming he comes back from Tommy John surgery) all have a shot at contributing in the years to come, but their time is not right now. The Cubs are doing fine in regards to their minor league development, but it will get better with a new GM in town next season.
The Ricketts family has said they’re going to shop outside the organization for the new GM. There are a few interesting GMs that could be able to be had. Billy Beane, Brian Cashman, Theo Epstein and others have had their names tossed as possible candidates. One thing for will be for certain; the Ricketts will be hiring a big time, big name GM to replace Hendry. Think about the potential with the team, and to be the famed GM that ends the Cubs drought as World Series champions. I would like to point out hat Mr. Epstein was the man who broke “The Babe Ruth Curse”. Who’s the man for the job? I’m not for sure. All I know is the Ricketts want to win and they’ll pay to have the best available GM on the market to lead the team.
This all leads me a bigger point i need to make. Mike Quade was hired this past season to be the full time skipper of the Cubs for the next three seasons. Will he be fired at the end of the season and join Hendry on the unemployment line? I sure hope not. With a few exceptions Quade has done a fine job managing this band of misfits and under achieving veterans. Have you ever seen the movie “The Money Pit” with Tom Hanks? Yeah, that’s the Cubs current roster. If only could cover up Alfonso Soriano with a rug and trap Tom Hanks in his hole. That would make my day. Carlos Zambrano can be the pissed off raccoon in the dumbwaiter. There have been a few growing pains with Starlin Castro, including the recent lapse in concentration when he wasn’t paying attention when James Russell started the inning. Quade can’t help all the errors the Cubs have had this year. He’s only been out managed few times, and left a pitcher out one batter to many a few times. The biggest mistake was the squeeze play that Quade missed. There hasn’t been many times where I didn’t agree with his call to the pen, or letting a pitcher get that last out.
As a baseball mind, he’s up there with the best. Prior to the managing the Cubs, he managed almost 2,000 games in the minors, so managing a ball club is nothing new to him. He gets on his players when they’re not playing well a la the benching of Castro earlier this week. I sure hope he finishes out his contract, and helps these younger players coming up in the next two season. In the end, he’s going to be the rebuilding coach, and probably won’t have a good win/loss record as the Cubs manager, but he’ll have laid a lot of the ground work for the seasons to come. I would imagine that after Quade will be another big name manager. Will it be Ryne Sandberg? I’m not sure, but I would support that decision. Ryno would have to be willing to come back after getting the big snub when Quade got hired this season.
The last thing I want to address is the future of the Cubs and how I would personally go about things. Get these veterans on the field out of town at any cost. Soriano is going to make his money whether he’s batting or not. Bring him off the bench or to platoon in left. He’s not an everyday player anymore. Even though Marlon Byrd is the leader of the team, he should be moved in order to get a player or two for him. He’s been fantastic for the team, and has instilled his hustle work ethic into some other players on the team. If he’s not moved, he could be a great mentor for Brett Jackson, who should be manning center next season. Tyler Colvin can platoon left with Soriano, and Byrd can play right.
For the love of Pete, improve the pitching staff. First and foremost, get rid of Zambrano. I don’t care if you have to pay him $18 Million to sit on his couch and email his family enough so it hurts his forearms. He’s not a positive player on the roster anymore and doesn’t contribute at all. Matt Garza was a step in the right direction, but there still need to be 1-2 more pitchers added to make the rotation better. I like Ryan Dempster (as a number 3), Garza, Andrew Cashner, and potentially Randy Wells (as a number 5). The pen isn’t horrible, but could use some better arms. I like keeping Kerry Wood around as long as he can compete, and many know about my man-crush for Sean Marshall. Outside of maybe five to seven pitchers, their pitching is pretty thin in the minors. They will need to find somebody outside the organization to fill this hole.
Aramis Ramirez will probably finish out his contract next season with the Cubs. Actually, this is a good decision. Josh Vitters hasn’t quite developed like the team would want, but he’s been better this season, and could just need one more season before he’s ready for the hot corner. It makes no sense to try to get a replacement long term when Vitters is still probably your third baseman of the future.
Darwin Barney. I love the kid. He’s actually my second favorite player behind Sean Marshall. He plays the game very hard, and plays the game the right way. I just don’t think he’s got what it’s going to take to be an everyday player for the years to come and statistically contribute to the team. He doesn’t have much power and he doesn’t walk all that much. If the team gets their production from other players in the lineup, he could settle into a fine bottom of the order hitter. Realistically, he’ll fall into a utility role when someone better comes along.
Get rid of all this AAAA players playing at Iowa. Lou Montanez, Bryan LaHair and Scott Moore, I’m looking at you guys. There are better, younger players you’re blocking from progressing up the ladder. Yeah, yeah, yeah, LaHair is batting over .330 with a MiLB leading 34 home runs and 100 RBIs. He’s a AAAA Hall of Famer. I would rather see Ridling called-up next month over LaHair.
Finally, if you’re going to go after a big named player to take over at first base, please, please choose Prince Fielder over Albert Pujols. Fielder is left handed, cheaper, younger, and almost as good, power number wise, as Pujols. For being a tank of man, Fielder, has been more durable than Pujols over the past few seasons. Seriously, how is Pujols going to be worth $30 million when he’s 41? Let’s get real people. I personally, want to give Ridling and Justin Bour a shot before blocking the two completely with a big name signing.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis | Tagged: Billy Beane, Brett Jackson, Brian Cashman, Chicago Cubs, Cubs, D.J. LeMahieu, Javier Baez, Jay Jackson, Jim Hendry, Josh Vitters, Justin Bour, Kyle Smit, Mike Quade, Nicholas Struck, Prospects, Randy Bush, Rebel Ridling, Rebuidling, Robert Whitenack, Ryan Flaherty, Shawon Dunston Jr., Theo Epstein, Trevor Gretzky | 13 Comments »