Goatriders of the Apocalypse

The Anti-Piniella Post

About eight months ago, Jim Hendry was faced with a choice. After giving Chicago four of the worst years imaginable under the ...uh, the "guidance" of Dusty Baker, Jim was given the task of hiring a new manager. He considered a number of options. From Ryne Sandberg to Lou Piniella, the options were numerous and Cub fans were optimistic that he'd make the right choice.

Jim Hendry didn't make the right choice.

I'm not saying I hate Lou Piniella. Far from it, he brings a lot to the table that Dusty Baker didn't. He doesn't take crap from his players, he actually seems angry when they lose, and he talks a lot about fundamentals in a way that Dusty never did.

And yet, there was this other guy available who wanted to manage for the Cubs. This was a guy who, in his first year as a manager, won the Manager of the Year award. He was able to get maximum effort from his team while getting that same team to like him. Joe Girardi wanted to manage for the Cubs.

Instead of Joe, the Cubs got a guy who vocally criticizes his players, who hasn't seemingly done anything to fix his team's mental mistakes, and who is allegedly already losing his team in June. I can't help but wonder if Girardi would've been a better fit, as we'd originally believed back in October.

Anyway. The Cubs won again yesterday, taking two of three from the Brewers. That's great news. It's nice to see that even a dead-to-the-neck-up ballteam can beat a first place squad like the Brew Crew.

They did it behind the arm of Carlos Zambrano (depicted above during his legendary fight with Michael Barrett), who just maybe had a turning point after having hit rock bottom last week when he pummelled his catcher. The Cubs next play the Braves - for the second time in a month - and we'll see how they do. Keep your fingers crossed, and hope that Girardi will still be available once Lou is long gone.


Girardi's overrated, Kurt. The Marlins are doing just as well without him as they were with him.

Which brings up the major point. It's HENDRY who is the problem, not whomever's put in charge of the team on the field. Girardi had success in Florida because they have good scouting, good drafting, and good player development. They don't hold on to players until after their value has been sucked dry; they deal them when their value is high, so they at least get foundation pieces on which to build. This is pretty much the EXACT opposite of how the Cubs under Hendry are run.

This is also why Fredi Gonzalez is enjoying success in Miami. I would think that the stark contrast between Lou and Dusty and the fact that the results on the field are more or less the same would make this rather obvious. I wanted Girardi,too, and I wasn't crazy about the Piniella hire either, but I've re-evaluated my opinion after having watched this crap on the field.

John McGraw himself couldn't help this team. Certainly Joe Girardi would be going batshit right now if he were here. This is an ORGANIZATION problem.

Right on!


The team is flawed

You got a car with four hood ornaments and no engine.This is all on Hendry.

Oh, come on Kurt.

"Cubs got a guy who vocally criticizes his players, who hasn't seemingly done anything to fix his team's mental mistakes"?

We all used to slate Dusty Baker for refusing to criticise his players, and all of sudden we're having a pop at Lou for doing the opposite? Which would you rather? And as for the team's mental mistakes, what's Lou supposed to do? Make them take mental practice before games? I wasn't the greatest fan of this hiring, but you're really scratching around for criticism here.

And, also... what Mike said.

On the contrary

I'm all about Lou calling out his players who do badly... but I haven't seen Lou do anything to FIX THINGS. Until then, he's screaming into the dark. Doesn't accomplish much, and it aggrevates his players.

I recently wrote about a situation in which Piniella followed Aubrey Huff into the showers, screaming his head off at the guy for a poor game, or perhaps for simply a poor at bat. Answer me this, Tonker and Mike: did that accomplish anything? Did Huff become a better player because he got chased naked into a shower by a red-faced maniac?

What I'm really wondering is, did Piniella make him take extra practice the next day? I want to know if Lou is actually making these guys take the extra practice, as he said he would at the Cubs Convention. Based on consistently poor fundamentals, I'd suspect that he hasn't.

Fixing Things

It was Jim Hendry's job to fix things. Instead, he just ran around spending money like a sailor on leave, with no regard for legitimate roster construction.

You can't keep repeating the same mistakes and hope one person at the top can fix things. I hated Dusty Baker, but it's becoming clear that the problem with this here house is the foundation--it ain't whe windows. Dusty, Lou, and the theoretical Girardi are just painters--Hendry's the architect. Changing painters doesn't suddenly fix the fact that the house is tilting to one side.

Seriously, Kurt, this is misguided anger. You arrows should be pointed in Hendry's direction. Is it Lou's fault that his roster has 4 left fielders but no right fielders and, until Pie was called up, no centerfielders? How can he get production out of players if he's handcuffed by the number of positions on the field? This team was put together with a rotisserie mindest. Hendry's covering his ass for the fact that his farm system and player evaluation have been nothing short of busts, and now he hopes that by spending money like the Yankees and Red Sox, that suddenly these flaws will disappear? Please. This team would be doing no better with Girardi at the helm.

God dammit I guess I'LL have to write the anti-Hendry piece, except for the fact that nobody wants to read people bitch about a team that's won three out of four. I'll save it for when Jimbo's assemblage of misbegotten toys flounders again. In the meantime, Go Cubs.

But don't you understand?

Hendry is already dead to me. And soon, he'll be gone.

But if Lou is all bluster but no delivery, then he won't help next year's team, either. We're stuck with the guy.

Tonker's got it right.


I don't live in Chicago anymore so I get Cubs games on MLB Xtra Innings. Quite often I have to listen to the other teams announcers but it surely gives you a little different insight.

Mental practice is has more to do with the players desire to improve than anything the coaches can do except bench their ass.

A Milwaukee broadcaster was commenting on a play made by converted infielder, now centerfielder Hall. He noted that Hall like Soriano was struggling at the beginning of the year but has improved quite a bit. He explained that he had witnessed after Hall's slow start that Hall would occasionally pull out a little piece of paper to look over before an opposing hitters AB. He came to find out that the little piece of paper had hitting tendancies for the opposition. That says it all. If A guy needs to improve, he'll find a way to get better if he gives a shit and isn't some primidonna.

On the contrary

My point is that Girardi demanded - and received - a quality effort from his players while not coming off as an asshole.

Dusty Baker was too laid back to apparently give a damn.

Lou Piniella is so wired up that I worry he'll stroke out every time the Cubs lose a close one.

Girardi strikes me as a guy who might fall into a happy middle - the players like him and play hard for him. I've been told that he isn't the best strategical mind, but neither is Piniella.

All that said, I'm giving Lou his chance as promised back in November, but so far I'm disappointed.

"All that said, I'm giving

"All that said, I'm giving Lou his chance as promised back in November, but so far I'm disappointed."

Honestly now, Kurt, did you really have a choice? Did you wonder, "You know. I'm thinking of not rooting for the Cubs next year because of the guy they hired to manage their team. Ah, what the hell, I'LL GIVE HIM A CHANCE."

Frankly, that's an empty sentiment. You would have been rooting for the guy to succeed if his name was Benito Mussolini.


... Mussolini, eh? Why, I like the cut of his jib, perhaps he's the man for us. If only he'd cut those sideburns.


By the way...

... either the Miller Park radar reads fast, or Carlos' velocity was back with a bang yesterday. He topped out at 98 and was regularly throwing in the mid 90's. That's more like it...

I was wondering about that

How the hell does a guy lose velocity and suddenly have it come back like that?

Carlos is a strange, strange cat.

I need to agree with

I need to agree with everybody but Kurt: Pinella isn't the problem.

And, the longer this team continues to struggle, the more I'm realizing that *gasp* Baker wasn't entirely the problem either.

It IS an organizational problem, with Hendry leading the march across a field of land mines.

For one, Hendry has not instilled discipline and better play throughout the minor league teams. This is evident by the fact that the Cubs have very few guys from the minors succeeding at the major league level, or are ready to make that jump.

Second, Hendry keeps f*cking up the big league team each winter with his inability to keep from stocking up on half a dozen players at a single position (2nd base last year, right field this year), among other things.

Hendry needs to go - although I think that's pretty much a given with the team being sold - and the Cubs need somebody competent to take his place. Somebody who will get serious about development and fundamentals at all levels of the organization.

Clifford Floyd

Kurt, You're an idiot. You're the same guy that fell in love with Matt Murton. How'd that work out for you?

Get a profile, my anonymous friend

Well, A. Goat, I sincerely believe the old baseball opinion that a young player needs to play every day or else not be in the majors. I believe Matt Murton - whose track record is impeccable, except to idiots with agendas - would be performing very well if he was an every day starter. That he isn't an every day starter is impacting his performance.

I also believe that criticizing from anonymity is cowardice.

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award