Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Cubs Convention 2009

Some of this is from a comment I left to one of Kurt's recent posts, but thought I'd include here as my own commentary/noodlings/things I heard.

THING THE FIRST: REED JOHNSON - I think it was him - well, trust me, you just need to see a photo. ZZ Top Impersonator? Saddam's long lost cousin? Noah? Cat Stevens? Bluebeard the Pirate? You tell me. When he walked into the Kathy and Judy (WGN radio) panel, people just HOWLED. The commentary had me laughing so hard the tears came to my eyes.

I wish I had thought to bring a tape recorder. Kaplan absolutely grilled Hendry (Piniella wasn't at the panel otherwise I'm sure the question would have been directed at him) about why, if we're so concerned about winning, there isn't more calls to bunt, even if it's the clean up man. (I think the implication was that these guys are getting paid a hell of a lot and should know the basics like bunting for the team's good.) I really can't recall the exact wording of the question, and don't mean to imply any commentary of my own regarding his question. I hope WGN puts up audio from the convention on their website. If they do, I would really recommend listening to that one. (I guess it's a damned if you do, damned if you don't type of scenario, however. My question would be, why not sub in another player who CAN bunt if the situation demands it. If the game is on the line, do it.)

Lots of questions from the fans in the audience (in ANY panel that had Hendry it seemed like) about the trading of both Kerry and Mark. Just an observation: many people were not happy about it. I got a little bored with the phrasing of the "questions" however: "Do you really think [x] trade was a good idea?" Jaysus, what do you expect Hendry or Lou to say? "No, I think it was a horrible idea, but looks like we're stuck now!" I mean, just say you think the trade blowed if that's what you really want, but don't ask a question to which you already know what the answer will be.

One thing I didn't necessarily like: Hendry saying he was holding off on long-term, big $ deals until ownership is settled. Not that I'm disagreeing with the principle behind that, but I thought the talk was all "we're not worried, we're not worried"? This sounds like worry to me.

Also dislike (now that I'm thinking about it) the implication in the media (see today's Sun-Times for a quote by Hendry) that it was just the women who had their panties in a twist about the DeRo trade. I.e., we're all mopey over him just because the "handsome man" is gone. This is the same type of idiot logic that says women will buy any baseball product as long as it's pink. I've got plenty of eye candy left, thank you very much (Rich Harden, I'm looking at YOUR posterior), *IF* that was all I was worried about. I dislike the DeRosa trade for other, less hormonal reasons. If Hendry really wants a PMS show out of me, I can give it to him no problem.

It was my first convention. The auto lines were stupid long, horribly managed (at least the one for Stage A I was at on Saturday). Assuming I go again, I'll just stick with the panels next time. Was disappointed Ron was only there for the OC, really. Heard he wasn't feeling well. Hope it's not serious.

My picture upload is taking forever today. Here's a link, but it might be a work in progress for a while. http://flickr.com/photos/17986186@N08/sets/72157612676209851/

Thanks a million, DB. If

Thanks a million, DB. If I'd known you were going, I would have asked - nay, demanded - daily updates from you.

In my personal experience, the convention has outgrown the venue, the lines are way, waaaay too long to be worth it, and the money is in the panels. And I agree with you - I think people are upset because DeRosa was essentially the MVP of the team in '08. I still agree with the move due mostly to my faith in Fontenot, but I can understand why people are frustrated.

Thanks

My updates would probably have been very poor! Like I said, next time - audio recorder!

They very well could stand to have it in a bigger venue now. That, or they need to curtail ticket sales to keep it at the Hilton.

The panel with Pat Hughes, Len and Bob (Ron was also supposed to have been there) was interesting when they started asking "how would you manage [x] situations]" type of questions. Soriano in the leadoff spot was an unsurprising topic of conversation, as was Lee's annoying GIDPs. Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, the GIDPs were one of the reasons Kaplan went off about bunting.

Hendry and the entire management's keyword seemed to be "balance". I'm feeling far too cynical about it to get into that without just blathering on. Suffice it to say, I'll believe it when I see it win us everything.

Alarm bells are already sounding about Harden's shoulder. I was at the panel where Hendry was talking about "how strong" his shoulder is due to the training regimen he's been doing, but that he's probably going to get 25 starts. Hendry said that's probably not what Harden would agree with (since 25 isn't the full season's worth). So again, problems with saying one thing when something else is clearly going on. It's already hit the papers here that Harden has a slight tear in his shoulder. Instead of surgery, they went with the strengthening program. He hasn't even started throwing off a mound yet. Harden, obviously, maintains he'll be ready for Spring Training. Ay ay ay. I'm really not looking forward to all the wanking that's going to go on in regards to this. I just want him to be healthy, end of story.

bunting

It's interesting that the Cubs were an offensive juggernaut last season and they're critiqued for not bunting enough. I thought Lou's willingness to not impart his will on the flow of the offensive game played a noteworthy role in the offensive output.

Honestly, what % of bunts are even successful at moving the runner over? With rare exception, a sac bunt makes me absolutely cringe.

If you want to say something positive about the bunt, you can say that when Tony LaRussa tried to impart his will on the game when the Cubs were on the ropes late in the season, a botched sac bunt got Brendan Ryan thrown out at 3rd and helped the Cubs win the game and stop the bleeding.

Sweet Lou

I read where Lou was looking to do something different with his managing style in the playoffs. He's reading leadership books and wants to take a different approach than just "letting the players play." Really?!? Like he's thinking of actually coaching in the playoffs. He's been coaching for like 25 years and he just now is getting around to leadership books?!? Maybe that is where the bunting will come in.

I think the biggest mistake

I think the biggest mistake you can make is changing things up for the playoffs. It's more intense already, suddenly trying new things will do nothing but put pressure on the players... and I'd suspect that most managers don't read leadership books. Sounds like BS PR to me, or at least I hope so.

What the Cubs need to do is put their players in position to win in April. Find a winning formula with no exploitable weaknesses and run with it all season long.

And, lastly, this concept of "bunting" is just ridiculous... the Cubs were one of the best offenses in baseball last year. Why the hell would you start a new strategy with the best offense in baseball which, in summary, guarantees more automatic outs.

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