Goatriders of the Apocalypse

When will it be time to start cleaning up the mess?

Question: if this season is toast, what good does it do to maintain the status quo and allow Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella their jobs?

Elaboration: This season isn't toast -- not quite yet.  I know that Rob made the bold claim that teams don't do 180's, despite the fact that the '09 Rockies, '03 Marlins, and -- most pertinent -- the '07 Cubs would disagree with him.  So this entire article is more rhetorical than anything else.

But when do we raise the white flag, surrender on the season, and look to 2011 to rebuild? 

Personally, I'd vote for June 1.  If the Cubs are battling it out with the Astros for the bottom of the division by June 1st, then it's over.  Or if they are 10 games out of a playoff spot, or 10 games under .500, it's over.  At that point, I no longer see the need to defend Lou Piniella or Jim Hendry.

GROTA contributor Sayers40 has voiced the opinion that no good would come from replacing Hendry or Lou, because it's a) not what a top team/organization would do and b) no good would come from it.  While I really enjoy reading Sayers' take on things, I've got to disagree with him here for a few reasons.

First -- top organizations do not flinch when disposing of broken parts.  If the Yankees were done for by the end of May, you can bet you'd see Joe Girardi on the breadline.  If the Red Sox looked like they'd been assembled by an incompetent oaf, with income-heavy, useless players eating up the team's payroll, you can bet that Theo Epstein would be getting a job elsewhere.  And they wouldn't wait until October to do it -- good organizations never sleep, not even when they suck at winning.

Second -- if the Cubs do indeed fall out of contention, as they appear to be doing in rapid order, do you really want Jim Hendry around to rebuild them?  This team will not be able to get better if he's steering the ship, because he has clearly demonstrated the inclination to crash us into Soriano-shaped rocks.

Hendry has already demonstrated a failure to build the farm system -- and, sorry Starlin Castro lovers, but he has just a bit more plate discipline than Corey Patterson, and while he doesn't swing at balls the way C-Pat did, I'll believe in his success when I see it -- he has demonstrated an inability to build a team without spending gobs of money on players with limited shelf-lives, and he has not done anything to convince me that he knows how to fix things. 

Therefore, the Cubs need to consider making a few moves.  If, on June 1st, they are out of it, they need to consider axing Hendry, appointing a temporary successor at GM, and possibly even removing Lou Piniella unless they are comfortable with keeping him as a lame-duck manager.  Then they need to consider expelling the valuable parts of their bloated team -- Ryan Dempster, who will never be more valuable than he is right now, Ted Lilly, who is unlikely to return anyway, Aramis Ramirez, who is on the wrong side of 30, anybody and everybody who has value should be up for trade. 

But, sadly, no matter who takes over, no matter what magic they can work, the Cubs are likely stuck with Soriano, Fukudome, Silva, and Zambrano (although I bull-headedly refuse to consider Carlos Zambrano to be a problem).  These contract albatrosses will continue to weigh the team down for parts of the next decade. 

Hopefully, then, the next Cubs GM will somehow figure out a way to build around them.  Since that's a pretty tall order, the Cubs definitely can not afford to hesitate on their search to find that guy, whoever he is.  But one thing is clear -- that guy is not Jim Hendry, and the sooner Hendry is removed from his decision-making responsibilities, the better. 

The "it’s early" crowd seems

The "it’s early" crowd seems to be ignoring two very important things

1) No one is really saying the season is over. Everyone is merely claiming...

2) There is very little to no indication that change is even possible.

Our Offense is producing extremely similar to the last 7 months (people seem to forget our offense was bottom-5 OPS+ last season as well). Our BP is getting hit like a AAA BP should be expected to, and is somehow even providing BB/K rates better then last year with a very realistic .296 BAbip so its not like they are just unlucky. Our rotation is once again being asked to carry the club - and while they have performed so far, no one out there would have expected this group to produce like the 2009 version.

So sure, its great to hold out hope that things will just magically get better. But for change to be possible there has to be aspects which can actually get better. Where exactly are these dramatic changes going to take place when we are basically performing exactly like they should have been expected to? (Or even better really because of the rotation exceeding expectations)

And that is the thing; this clubs early struggles were predictable, to say the least. That is why it is so difficult to take, and that is why a huge chunk are voicing their frustration and anger - its a giant "I told you so" to an organization that seems unconcerned and apparently uninterested in fixing known issues.

Of course we can not ignore the fact that Hendry has mismanaged his contracts, roster management and minor-league system for years, leading to and greatly compounding most of today's issues. This of course makes it much harder for him to correct the issues he has created for himself. But that sure didn't stop him from continuing to make the same mistakes, and that is a huge part of the issue here.

Side note, its been reported that its not Gorz coming out of the rotation when Lily returns. Apparently Silva will be the newest BP arm, although we can hold onto the intriguing, and extremely amusing, thought that it might be Zambrano until official word.

Looks like it's Zambrano.

Looks like it's Zambrano. What a horrible, awful, hopefully job-costing decision.

Well, looks like I spoke too

Well, looks like I spoke too soon and well, wow...

So 18M/per over 3 more years (BigZ) headed to the pen with possibly 18M/per over 5 more (Soriano) to the bench in the near future?

Yeah, that should cost almost anyone their job.

Why....

The reason why axing Hendry during the season would be bad is because who would take his place?

Randy Bush would be the interim choice but really, isn't that more of the same? No, I think you allow Hendry and Oneira Fleita (director the farm system with a name I can't possibly spell) to make decisions now where it comes to possibly trading Derrek Lee and Ryan Theriot (the Cubs only 2 marketable trade candidates) if they are out of it.

I believe we'll see nearly a brand new core of management brought in after the season....

... unless, playoffs baby!

Good news and bad news everywhere.

BTW, despite this discussion, it doesn't matter. Hendry is not going to be fired in season whether you want me to be or not.

I don't feel comfortable

I don't feel comfortable letting Jim Hendry be responsible for unloading the few valuable players on the Cubs. Since he is almost certainly not likely to be back after this year, letting him make decisions with long-term impacts would be -- at the very least -- counter-productive. And that doesn't even take into account the very likely possibility that any decision he makes will be heavily scrutinized, criticized, and may be seen as flat-out bad.

If the Cubs are going to undergo any degree of rebuilding, if they are going to move prospects or veterans, then they cannot allow Jim Hendry to be responsible for those moves. He's cost the team enough already.

Possibly the best thing they could do is fire Jim on-or-around June 1, promote a temporary replacement, and spend the next month interviewing and courting long-term replacements. If the Cubs have the next GM in place by July, then he has a month to make a few rebuilding/restructuring moves.

Unless some extremely talented, currently-hired GMs are possibly available this winter. But I suspect that the next Cubs GM is going to be a highly-toted guy currently out of work, or a boy genius who's never GM'd before (of the Theo Epstein mold). Why leave poison management in positions where they can have toxic effects on the team when there are better options available?

Couldn't agree more. How can

Couldn't agree more. How can you logically let the guy you are canning for poor decisions make decisions which will shape the future of your club? Answer, you cant!

And really, I am curious if that is why Hendry has yet to trade for a bullpen arm. He was talking to at least Tor and SD pretty early in spring, prior to Guzman going down I think. Why has it taken him now like two months or more to pull off a trade for a reliever? Is it possible that he has been told he cant deal prospects? And all off-season he had his back against the wall, pinching pennies to sign guys. I mean, we lost out on Capps and he didn't make much of anything, relatively speaking. But last week Ricketts says money is available to buy an arm? (well, "fill our need" which, duh on what he meant)

I wouldn't be surprised if Hendry isn't really close to getting his walking papers right now. Especially after the PR nightmare created today when Lou kind of threw him under the bus by putting a still-owed 3 year, 54 million supposed "ace" pitcher in the pen - we are the brunt of countless jokes and it was even a late-day announcement missing most of the sports talk shows.

And I personally wouldn't be surprised if they aren't going to try and pry Towers out of his new assistants job with the Yankees. DePodesta is another fairly prominent name out there that could possibly be available if they target a more known name. Both know MadDog from San Diego, and I have had a feeling ever since day one that his hiring had some connection to an eventual move involving one of the two. That is personal speculation though, and possibly wishful thinking on my part.

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