Goatriders of the Apocalypse

GROTA End of the Year Roundtable: Part 1

 We here at GROTA have been sluggish with our posting as of late, but we've been working behind the scenes to produce an end of the year round up. We will post these as often as we can get them written. Have comments? Post them below and let the discussions begin. The questions were given by the all the writers and I combined them into some kind of unifying bond.

Ok, here is part 1 of the end of the year round table. It's pretty lengthy, due to the longwindedness of many of our writers.

1. The 2010 Cubs were flawed from the start. Aging veterans combined with an inexperienced bullpen led to a disastrous start to the season. Who is more to blame, Jim Hendry, Tom Ricketts or Lou Piniella?
 AJ: Gotta be Lou. Tom’s job is to keep the team profitable, and Jim’s job is to get Lou the players he needs (I guess signing John Grabow over Matt Capps was probably his biggest mistake this past offseason, but that Milton-for-Silva trade is a decent counter).

Meanwhile, Lou’s job was to get the most out of the roster of players he was given, and it seems he failed to do that. Why not ask Aramis to consider a DL stint after two months of putrid hitting (look at the difference his 15 days off finally made!)? Why continue to hit a struggling Derrek Lee third in the order? Why keep a hot young bat in Tyler Colvin’s on the bench? Why bat your OPS leader in Geo Soto 8th?

Having said that, Lou was an incredible manager for this team, and just what we needed after trusting Dusty for too long. But after three years of varying disappointment, it appears Lou was going through the motions from day one of the 2010 season. I wish he had retired sooner.

Sayers40: The problem with the 2010 stems from a commitment made by Jim Hendry and the Chicago Tribune trying to increase the value of the Cubs after the putrid 2006 season. Hendry sold out big time trying to turn the team into a champion. It worked, in so much as it got the Cubs into the playoffs of 2007 and 2008 but we have been paying for it since.

Rob: Ricketts is just the owner, and a first year guy at that.  He allegedly has "baseball men" in charge of the on-field product, so even though he's a big Harry Caray-glasses wearing doofus, he can be excused from this ass-whipping.

Hendry overestimated the quality of his pitching prospects, his so-called "proven" veterans, and even his experienced core guys like Theriot.  However, a career lifer like Mike Quade was able to take the same team (minus DPLee and Theriot a/k/a Bunny Foo-Foo) and finish the year strong.  Whether this speaks for the untapped potential of the Cubs roster, or the stinkiness of the rest of the league, I don't know, but it was overwhelmingly damning to the job that Lou Piniella turned in since the 2008 Playoffs.

I honestly believe Lou felt the 2008 team would win a pennant, if not the World Series.  Something inside him died after that, and he put the team on auto-pilot.  He could not possibly have been less interested in earning his money the last two years, and for that, he deserves the blame for the abortion that was the 2010 Cubs.

Mike:  Well I can't believe this is Ricketts fault.  He's not making the roster.  I'm going to give this 50/50 to Lou and Hendry.  Jim's gotta find a better way to put this pen together.  It can't be the way it was in April, and it can't be handing out big multi-year deals to guys like Grabow, Remlinger, and Eyre.  There's got to be a healthy medium.

Kurt: As an architect, you hire the greatest building crew in the world, but if you give them cardboard and plywood, they won't exactly build something amazing.  I can't blame Lou Piniella for getting too little out of what little he had.  I can't blame Tom Ricketts for a hire that occurred back in the days when he was a still watching games from the bleachers.  (I can blame him for keeping that hire around, though...)

The failures of the 2010 Cubs center squarely on the shoulders of one Jim Hendry.  Hendry has had an awful long time to build a team the right way (ie., through developing a deep and rich farm system) and he's been given the bankroll to fill holes with talented names.  He has done neither.  Instead, he's just pissed away a decade of top draft picks and he's signed incredibly talented (but undeniably flawed) "superstars."  This is the not-surprising end result.

Peter: There is very little blame that can be directed away from Jim Hendry after this season.  From the start of the season the holes in the team were both glaring and damning: we had no bullpen, the roster was filled with declining veterans, and key roles were being filled by young and unexperienced talent.  While the development and performance of the latter may have some bearing on Lou's view of young talent, the fact is that Big Jim built this team.  As they say, if you make the bed have to lay in it.

Chris: Say what you want about Lou, but in the end the ax needs to fall on the GM. I know bad managers can lose games, but players win and lose. Jim Hendry is the man behind the curtain and the problems are right there for him. There is just too much money tied up in very few players. Jim gets his third chance to rebuild, but I don't see how he can build another winner as the Cubs are constructed. He's at fault with this mess and he probably won't survive the next season.

But what about...?

I blame Kurt for never updating the damn Zambron-O-Meter...

The Blame Game

Jim Hendry won't be getting any ticker-tape parades from me, but I do cut him some slack --- he had to live within the limits and demands imposed by Tribune Company some years ago. And I don't think he got a free hand to spend Rickett's money this year to try to turn things around.

It's clear that the team peaked in 2008, and Hendry HAD to have understood that he was staffing for a "window of opportunity". That explains why he pulled the trigger on the Bradley deal. I think that's why Pinella, and not Girardi, was selected as the Manager in 2007. But I also think that Lou P understood that, too. When he saw how things went in 2009, and realized how they were shaping up for 2010, I think he had the best intentions, but his heart just wasn't in it --- he knew what was going to happen. That said, he should have resigned, rather than just go through the motions. He should have played the young guys more --- and there's no excuse for the way he handled the DLee / ARam situations.

So, since I think that there's MORE THAN ENOUGH blame to go around, I'm going to assign BOTH of them 100% of the blame ...

Hendry bears this blame

Cruller Jim built this roster. He's responsible. I don't blame him for the big money deals to Soriano, Z, Ramirez and Lee. They were all stars when signed, and the deals only meant that Hendry had to be smart with his remaining payroll flexibility. He was anything but smart. Hendry's big money deals to Fukudome, Bradley (and now Silva the Hutt), AAron Miles, Jeff Samardzija and John Grabow have handcuffed this team. This team will struggle again next year, waiting for Fukudome, Ramirez, Grabow and Silva to come off the payroll. If Hendry wants to do something positive this offseason, he should eschew sticking an expensive band aid over 1B (Adam Dunn), and accept that this team is not built to win in 2011. Instead, sign Castro to one of those 6 year, below market deals with a handful of team friendly options tacked onto the end. The time to save money on Castro is now, while he's still at least a year removed from arbitration.

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