Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Cubs

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Cubs, Cubans and Augies Oh My

You have to give to Jim Hendry sometimes, because it now seems that he is intent on getting the band back together. The only problem is that usually does not work in baseball. Lets look at the crop of players that Hendry has brought in and judge if they have a chance to make the team.

Augie Ojeda
Last Seen in Chicago:
2003
Career OPS: .633
Career UZR: 3.6
WAR: 2.1

Ojeda's value comes from defense, because he's had a negative value with the bat except with the Twins in 2004, of course that was a very small sample size of 72 PA. Last season Augie has an OPS under .500 while hitting just a .196. The only thing I see here is that Jim thinks he might provide depth to the system if Darwin Barney makes the big league club. If not, Augie will most likely latch on with some bottom feeder before calling it career. Did you know he's 36 now? Man, I'm really getting old if Augie is now 36.

Reed Johnson
Last Seen in Chicago:
2009
Career OPS: .748
2010 UZR: 6.9 LF, 0.2 CF, -1.4 RF
Career WAR: 8.6 (0.6 Last season)

Reed hit .262 last year in about 200 AB's, which isn't terrible, but it isn't great either. Fangraphs still like's his skills in LF, but he's replacement level or worse everywhere else. The problem with Reed is the Cubs have five OF's on the 40-man right now. Marlon Byrd (9.3 UZR) is not going anywhere in CF, and Reed's defense and the fact he hits RH has well doesn't help. Kosuke Fukudome, Tyler Colvin and Fernando Perez all look to have roles on the club. Perez is the question mark, but his speed might earn him a spot.

This is just a quick look at two options. I will be taking a look at the Cubs compared to the rest of the league pretty soon as the season gets closer.

In other news, it looks like the Cubs have signed two Cuban players to add to the A-ball club. It looks like it is a low-risk kind of signing to help fill out the minor league system after Jim Hendry made the Matt Garza trade, according to Bruce Miles.

In the News: Pitchers, Books and We Need Spring to Get Here.

Welcome to the slowest few weeks for a baseball fan. For the most part, teams are getting pretty close to setting rosters and it causes a delay in any type of news to report. Hence the lack of news when it comes to our beloved Chicago Cubs. I mean if I were a Bears fan, we could have a discussion on Jay Culter, but that is best left to Rob's rantings.


Headline: MLB Whispers: Twins Lucky to Retain Pavano

Quote from story:


Tom Gorzelanny grew while with the Cubs, thanks largely to time spend with Greg Maddux, and could have a long run with the Nationals. He will be missed if Carlos Zambrano goes back into the tank but GM Jim Hendry made a good deal to get three prospects (especially Double-A outfielder Michael Burgess) for a pitcher who was acquired from the Pirates alongside lefty reliever John Grabow. One of the benefits of the deal was opening a spot to evaluate pitching prospects Casey Coleman, Andrew Cashner, Jeff Samardzija and maybe even Trey McNutt. …


Reaction:

Hendry is taking a bit of risk, because I'm sure that Gorzelanny could have been dealt during the Spring as insurance. I guess he thought he could get more right now. Of course, my real feeling is that I'm tired of media members taking another shot at Zambrano. Yes, I get it that he can be a little unstable. He makes too much money, but I still think his upside is better than Gorzelanny. Other than that, there is little new news on the Cubs. On side note, I never thought that any team would be lucky to sign Carl Pavano after reading this book by John Fienstein: 


Living on the black


If you haven't read this book, you might want to pick it up. It follows Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina around for a season. There is some gold from "The Moose" about Pavano. By clicking on the link and buying the book, you will help support us here at GROTA. Please leave all questions and comments below.

In the News

It's been quite some time when I didn't have graduate school  to worry about all the time. Hopefully, I will be able to provide more commentary on things going on in the Cub world. One segment that I wanted to start was, In the News. Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far way (Arkansas), I was a sports writer for four years. I'm drawn to the media, because I was so heavily involved with writing and newspapers. Well, now that I'm just a teacher, and somewhat of a career student, it will be easier to produce a little more regular content other than the Gameday stuff, which gets boring somewhat.



Today in the News:
Headline: Milton Bradley arrested in L.A.
Quote from story:

Police in Los Angeles have arrested Seattle Mariners outfielder Milton Bradley for allegedly making threats against a woman, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Bradley, 32, was taken into custody at 10 a.m. local time Tuesday and was taken to the Van Nuys, Calif., jail, where he was booked for suspicion of making criminal threats, a Los Angeles Police Department officer told the Times.

Reaction:

Sadly this comes with little surprise with many of the Cubs fans here at this site and probably Ranger, A's, Indians, Dodgers and Padre fans either. Bradley is troubled, and probably should have stayed in Texas where he played well a couple years ago. Crazy just looks better in Texas. Come on, their Manager kept his job after getting busted for cocaine. Bradley's antics, until now, were never close to that. Well, other than that TV announcer thing, but that guy had it coming. In all seriousness, I hope Bradley can find peace one day, because that's just no way to go through life.

Headline: Cubs Sign Marshall to two-year deal, while agreeing to terms with Tom Gorzelanny.

Quote from story:

Gorzelanny, who will take a physical exam Wednesday in Washington, received $2.1 million, a raise from the $800,000 he made with the Cubs last year.If Gorzelanny passes the physical, the two teams will make official a deal that will send the left-hander to the Nationals for three minor-league prospects. Washington would then pay the pitcher's salary.

Garza, whom the Cubs obtained in a trade with Tampa Bay earlier this month, agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.95 million, up from the $$3.35 million he made last year.Marshall, who has a home in the north suburbs, gets a two-year contract worth $4.7 million. He'll earn $1.6 million this year and $3.1 million in 2012.

Reaction:

Wait a minute here. Didn't the Cubs trade Gorzellany yesterday or the day before? I guess that trade is not quite done. One or two things are holding it up. First, it is possible that the Nationals forgot they were trading for the lefty and found a way to back out of the deal once they realized the Cubs would have to release him before the start of the season. So, why give up three guys. Bruce Miles did have a nugget saying that Tom would take his physical today.

One last thing:

Does anybody have any good references to help the understanding of advanced metrics for baseball? I dabble in some of them, but I didn't know if there was a good site that really breaks each one of them down. I would like to to start using more of those figures in my analysis on this site, and I wanted a good starting off point. Please leave any comments about this in the comments section.

Tommy Go-Go gone

ESPN's Bruce Levine is reporting that the Cubs have traded left-handed pitcher Tom Gorzelanny to the Nationals.

The articles says the Cubs are receiving three prospects (two pitchers and an outfielder) in return. No word on whether any of them have a sweet Tumblr blog.

As Levine points out, this now leaves James Russell as the only lefty on the roster with the potential to be a starter. Happy Monday.

Pick 13, Sam Fuld hangover, journalistic hubris

The Cubs announced a new ticket plan today titled the "We have Starlin Castro so for the love of God come watch him play" Plan...errr...I mean, the Pick 13 Plan.

Each package guarantees one ticket to two of three home series with the Yankees, White Sox, and Cardinals. You get to choose the other 11 games a la carte style. By the way, if you choose a package featuring the Yankees, you are guaranteed a ticket to a Diamondbacks series.

Year Two.

Got a Sam Fuld hangover? A tall glass of Fernando Perez can cure what ails you.

The 27-year-old was acquired from Tampa in the Garza trade in what essentially amounted to a spit swap of aging outfield prospects. At best, Perez is a decent defender without much of a bat who will probably be nothing more than a 4th or 5th outfielder, but let's just say he's a triple-threat of sorts...

Twitter. Tumblr. YouTube.

Get on-board the Perez bandwagon before all the Wrigley floozies proclaim him the next prince of Theriotistan.

Both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Daily Herald printed a photo of Joaquin Benoit instead of the newly-acquired Matt Garza in their Saturday sports sections.

This embarrassing mistake was eventually attributed to an error in the cutline written by the AP photographer who took the picture. Sure, whatever.

What's really disappointing amidst the confusion is the journalistic hubris on display by The Bright One's Joe Cowley. Cowley, known for his general asshattery, tweeted the following prose on Friday night in regards to his paper's superior coverage of the Garza trade...

"Trib Dictator, you keep running a section like this an you'll be guessing my weight at some carnie in a few years. Stay hot."

As a famous dead English guy once said, "How much easier is it to be critical than to be correct." As long as you can blame the photo guy, it seems pretty easy.

That being said, does GROTA have a photo guy?

The Schlillter Splitter is No More

Well, I really thought this post would be in Rob's wheelhouse, because a guy with a questionable name was claimed off waivers from the New York Yankees.


I noted a while ago that Kerry Wood put the Cubs 40-man roster at 41, when he signed. It turned out that Kerry actually wasn't added to the roster until last week. That, probably, gave the Cubs time to work out a trade for one of their players, but the other clubs were biting. So, the Yankees put in a waiver claim for the aforementioned Schlitter and brought the 40-man back to 40-men, so to speak.

On other Cub news, Matt Garza was coming, but then he wasn't according to Sun-Times and ESPN sources. I just don't see it happening. The Cubs probably want to trade Vitters, because they realize he's not as good as once suspected. The problem is the Rays have a pretty good one manning the hot corner.


Hopefully, we here at GROTA will start ramping up the content as we inch closer to the season.

Kid K? Well, A Middle Aged Version Close to Return

This is news I can get behind, and it really made my morning as I read that Kerry Wood, AKA Kid K, might be returning to the Chicago Cubs. Wood has always been one of my favorite Cub players and it hurt a little when we let him walk two years ago to Cleveland. while the Cubs turned to Kevin Gregg. 

Gregg pitched well at times, but a terrible weekend in Florida doomed him and the Cubs slim playoff hopes. Wood and the Indians struggled and it was evident that both sides had made a bad choice. This season, Wood was finally shipped to the Yankees, where he turned in two really solid months of pitching.

If Wood has turned the corner and can avoid long stints on the DL, the Cubs get a perfect pitcher to help secure the back end of the bullpen. With Carlos Marmol closing, Wood and Sean Marshall take over the 7th and 8th inning duties. The Cubs never found a Right-handed counterpart to Wood last year, and now the Cubs have a few opitions. Andrew Cashner will likely be be used in the 6th and 7th innings, which might be perfect for his development in low-pressure situations. The Cubs will likely trot out the ghost of John Grabow some, until they finally waive him or find a DL spot for him.


Now, the Cubs will likely be forced to trade or release somebody, because the Cubs have 40 players on the 40-man roster.


Here is just some quick speculation on the 40-man:


Starters


Carlos Zambrano


Ryan Dempster


Carlos Silva


Tom Gorzelanny


Jeff Smardzjia


Randy Wells


Andrew Cashner?


Dempster, Zambrano, and Silva are probably going to start. Other signings pending, that leaves the Cubs with four guys with two spots. Wells probably has a leg up, but I would think that someone is going to get dealt before the Wood signing is made offical.


Relievers


Marmol - Closer


Marshall - 7th/8th


Wood - 7th'/8th


Cashner - RH


Grabow - LH


That leaves two spots for the likes of James Russell, Casey Coleman, Brian Schlitter, Jeff Stevens, Esmailin Caridad, Thomas Diamond and Macos Mateo. Not to mention the Biobic Arm of Angel Guzman.

My guess is that Cubs at least try and give Grabow a chance since they are paying him four million dollars this year.


What do you guys think? I love the Wood idea, so I hope it is finalized.

Things I'd like to see from the Cubs this offseason.

This will be a disjointed post. It will encompass all sorts of issues facing the Cubs during this offseason, including personnel, role decisions, and contract decisions. Lets jump right in.

From a management perspective, the Cubs' house is in order very early in the offseason. The new Cubs manager is an Alpaca (he has alopecia). Jumbo Jimbo gets at least one more offseason to fix his own messes. The Ricketts family now has a year of ownership under its belt, and I do believe they have a vision that goes beyond the mens room piss-troughs. At the field level, the Cubs are a team in transition. All time great Cub Derrek Lee (yeah I said it) is gone, as is Terrible Ted Lilly. Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, and Carlos Silva are all in the last year's of their respective contracts. I don't expect any to return in 2012. The window to win with the old guard has slammed decidedly shut, which is why the first move the Cubs should make is....

SIGN STARLIN CASTRO TO A LONG TERM EXTENSION.
This should be a no brainer for Hendry, which is precisely why I doubt it'll get done. The Cubs should be beating down Castro's door with a long term extension that would eat up Starlin's arbitration eligible years, with club options that would keep him off of the free agent market.Starlin was promoted to the majors for good on May 7, 2010. Unless the new CBA does away with "Super Two" status, the 2012 season will be the last year that the Cubs will have Castro for the league minimum salary. The time to sign him to an extension is right now, when the Cubs can lock in substantial long term savings in exchange for security on the player's part. 6 years, $30M, with 2-3 club options at $10-$12M sounds about right for a player who has less than a full year of service time. This would guarantee the Cubs the right to Starlin's best years, and save them a ton of money that can be invested elsewhere. Once the club guarantees its future with its best player, it's time to look to 2011. The Cubs have an opening at 1B which they should fill by....

SIGNING CARLOS PENA TO A 1 YEAR CONTRACT.
The Cubs have nothing in the pipeline at 1B, so they'll be acquiring their starter through free agency or trade. I like Pena for a number of reasons.

1) Pena is likely to be underpaid next year no matter where he signs. Pena had a superficially ugly season, posting a .196 batting average which was anchored by a .222 BABIP. He also failed to hit 30 home runs for the first time since 2006, when he spent substantial time in the minor leagues. Pena has a career OBP of .351 and a career slugging % of .490. A Scott Boras client, Pena may accept a 1 year, incentive laden contract to allow him to rebuild his open market value for a larger payday in 2012. He could provide a handsome return on investment next season with a return to form.

2) Pena is an average 1B. He's no "Rodan", but he fields his position well. I see the acquisition of a decent 1B as an investment in the team's future. Starlin Castro is still learning his position, and he will continue to make mistakes as he grows at the major league level. If for no other reason than to protect the kid's psyche, it behooves the Cubs to acquire a 1B who will be able to corral some of his errant throws. Castro is the Cubs future, and the team should do everything in its power to help him develop.

3) For those of you who put stock in such matters (Rob), Pena has a reputation as a Jim Thome type clubhouse leader. He's both extremely well liked and vocal, and could join Ryan Dempster as the de facto clubhouse leaders.

4) Pena is left handed. The Cubs have lacked a left handed power threat for what seems like decades. Pena makes the offense far more dangerous against right handed pitchers, whom the Cubs continue to struggle against.

5) He's not Adam Dunn. No offense to the Big Donkey, but his signing would be a huge setback for the Cubs. Dunn is a better hitter than Pena, but they are remarkably similar players. Unlike Pena, Dunn is said to be asking for 4 years, at more than $10M per year. The Cubs are only now starting to dig out from their stable of long term, big money contracts to declining veterans. Dunn just turned 31, and his is the kind of body that frequently ages quickly. He's the type of player a team adds when it's one piece away, not 5 or 6 pieces away. This team is just not built to compete for a world championship in 2011, so signing a guy long term who's best days are likely behind him doesn't make much sense.

With Pena in the fold, the "Tyler Colvin to 1B" concept goes out the window. The Cubs still need to figure out exactly what they have with Colvin, which is why they should....

INSTALL TYLER COLVIN AS THE EVERYDAY RIGHT FIELDER.
Colvin might be the Cubs' long term left handed power threat. It will depend on his ability to learn the strike zone at the major league level. Tyler's rookie year was extremely impressive, but I'm still not convinced that he isn't the next Jeff Francoeur. Hopefully, the Cubs will have the patience to give Tyler 600 plate appearances in 2011. If he's really the player he appeared to be this past season, the Cubs will realize substantial savings in free agency that can be invested elsewhere. In a development/consolidation season, it's worth finding out exactly who Tyler Colvin is, and what his future is with the Chicago Cubs. Of course, the Cubs already have a left handed RF on the roster, who would stand to lose significant plate appearances to Colvin if he's no longer "the starter." Many fans are calling for the Cubs to trade Fukudome. Not I. The best way to utilize him is to....

ROTATE KOSUKE FUKUDOME THROUGH ALL 3 OF SPOTS AGAINST RH STARTING PITCHING.
Trading Fukudome is unlikely to net the Cubs anything of value. They'd need to swallow at least half of the $14.5M salary before they could move him at all, and they won't get much more than minor league roster filler in return. His is just a bad, bad contract. However, it's a sunk cost, and a bad contract does not equal a bad ballplayer. The Cubs should utilize Kosuke so as to realize the most return on their investment. Fukudome has a career wOBA of .351 against right handed pitching, which is 11% better than the average hitter. Both his career OBP and his career slugging are significantly higher against righties than against lefties. Considering the Cubs struggles against right handed pitchers, Fukudome SHOULD be playing against right handed starters.

Rotating Fukudome will help keep Soriano and Byrd fresh and healthy, will improve the OF defense on days that he is playing, and will ensure that he stays engaged during the season. On days he doesn't start, Fukudome is the first LH bat off of the bench. Kosuke should get 250-300 plate appearances, even though he isn't the "starter."

At this point, the Cubs would have 38 players on its 40 man roster. They'll need to make some changes to the 40 man roster during the offseason to make room for other additions, and protect their top prospects from the Rule 5 draft. Specifically, the Cubs MUST....

ADD CHRISTOPHER ARCHER, MARQUEZ SMITH AND BRANDON GUYER TO THE 40 MAN ROSTER.
All three of these players would be exposed to the other major league teams in this winter's Rule 5 draft if they are not added to the 40 man roster. Archer is the Cubs' top pitching prospect, and was the most 'projectable' player acquired by the Cubs in the Mark DeRosa trade. What he lacks in his ability to make the Trixies wet, he makes up for with a mid nineties fastball and a sharp, diving curveball. Last year, Archer pitched 142.1 innings split nearly evenly between High-A Daytona and AA Tennessee. He averaged a 3.16 FIP across those two levels with a K/9 rate of 9.45. He's got the chance to be great.

Marquez Smith is not likely to be great, but he might be the Cubs' next 3B. He's a little old for a prospect (26 in March), but he showed good patience and great power in AAA last season. At worst, he should serve as an Aramis Ramirez injury insurance policy, and an acceptable bridge to Josh Vitters. If he's a late bloomer, he could seize the starting job at 3B and hold it for years. It's worth finding, right?

Brandon Guyer is probably the Cubs' second best outfield prospect, after Brett Jackson. He's a speed guy who stole 30 bases in 33 attempts at AA Tennessee this past season. He plays all three outfield positions, although I can't find any data on his center field range. If he can play CF well, it certainly raises his value to the Cubs and other teams.

To make these additions, the Cubs are going to need to make some subtractions first. Koyie Hill and Micah Hoffpauir should both be DFA'd. If they clear waivers, keep them around, but they don't belong on the 40 man roster at this point. That leaves one roster spot available for the Cubs to make a selection in the Rule 5 draft, or for Hendry to give to the mediocre reliever he gives 3 years and $12M to.

You'll notice that my plan leaves no room for big changes on the pitching staff. This is intentional. The Cubs have more than enough quality arms to fill out their rotation and bullpen. The internal roles for a few of the Cubs pitchers are still undefined. Right now, the Cubs seem intent on using Andrew Cashner as a reliever. I hate this idea, and I believe the Cubs should....

GIVE THE #5 STARTER JOB TO ANDREW CASHNER.

Dempster and Los Dos Carloses are already penciled in for the first three rotation slots. Randy Wells probably gets the fourth spot based on incumbency, but I doubt he'll keep his position in the rotation all year. Based on last year's usage, the #5 starter gig probably goes to either Tom Gorzellany or Casey Coleman. GORZ did enough to earn the spot last season, and Coleman has an argument as well based on his late season audition.

The Cubs should disappoint them both, and give the job to Andrew Cashner. Cashner's physical skills are far better than either GORZ or Coleman. He's been a starter in the Cubs' system for a while now, and we know he can do it in the minors. It behooves the Cubs to give him the chance to be a starting pitcher in the majors. If his command and secondary pitches develop, he could be an Ace pitcher. That's worth gambling on in 2011.

Finally, there is the matter of the batting order. I'm a big Lou Piniella homer, but he lost some of my support this season by refusing to let the Cubs' best hitter bat in the middle of the order. The Cubs can improve their offensive output in 2011 by....

BATTING GEOVANY SOTO THIRD IN THE ORDER.
This is another one of those "should be no brainers" that will nevertheless not happen. Soto posted the highest wOBA of any Cubs hitter last year, and at 28 years old next season, is firmly in his prime. He is the Cubs best hitter, and he should be hitting third as a result. 

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER.
Follow my plan, and the Cubs look like this to start 2011:

Against RHP
Kosuke Fukudome: CF/LF
Starlin Castro: SS
Geovany Soto: C
Carlos Pena: 1B
Aramis Ramirez: 3B
Alfonso Soriano/Marlon Byrd: CF/LF
Tyler Colvin: RF
Blake Dewitt: 2B

Against LHP
Blake Dewitt: 2B
Starlin Castro: SS
Geovany Soto: C
Aramis Ramirez: 3B
Alfonso Soriano: LF
Carlos Pena: 1B
Marlon Byrd: CF
Tyler Colvin: RF

Rotation:
Ryan Dempster
Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Silva
Randy Wells
Andrew Cashner

Bullpen:
Carlos Marmol
Sean Marshall
Jeff Stevens
Justin Berg
GORZ
Esmailin Caridad/Jeff Samardzija
John Fucking Grabow

Whew. That got long. Thanks for sticking with me, if you made it this far.

CONCLUSION.
I believe if the Cubs follow this plan, they will finish in fourth or fifth again next season, but they will make serious progress towards becoming an NL Central force, year in and year out. Way back at the top, I mentioned that I believed in the Ricketts, and that they do have a plan for this franchise. Tom has stated publicly that he wants to build the team through scouting and development, and I applaud him for that. I believe that this is the only way to ensure a competitive team, year in and year out. The Cubs should take their lumps in 2011, knowing that 2012 might be the start of something special.

GROTA End of the Year Roundtable: Part 3

Sorry for the delay of Part 3 of our epic Roundtable. Today's focus is on the lackluster 2010 Cubs. Sit back and enjoy. Part 4 will be up tomorrow.


 3.    What was your biggest disappointment in 2010, other than wins and losses?


A.J.: It was sad to see the team fail to innovate in the first two months, as Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez continued to struggle. And in Aramis’ case, it was worse than a struggle — the man just looked lost. I wonder how Byrd, Soriano and Soto would have responded if they were asked to hit, say, 3-4-5 while Aramis took his two weeks on the DL.


Sayers40: I was mildly upset about our first round draft pick. I realize that this isn’t something we really know about yet, but Hayden Simpson just seemed like such a leap and my feeling is that the future of this team is tied up in the ability to develop young talent coupled with going after free agents. I am very skeptical about the future of Simpson with the Cubs. I’m rooting for him, but as #1 draft picks go, I’d rather have had Anthony Ranaudo but that’s just me.


Rob: I had assumed Randy Wells was the kind of mentally tough pitcher that would hone his craft and take a step forward in his third season.  I had also assumed that Carlos Zambrano had finally regulated his online computer usage, his consumption of water, and now that his oldest daughter was watching the games and starting to feel embarrassed about her father's antics, that he would finally function as an adult and perform accordingly. 


The biggest disappointment, though, in my expectations for the Cubs continues to be Alfonso Soriano.  Many people forget that in 2006 he put up one of the all-time great statistical seasons, which is why he was given so much money for so long a period.  Each year since then, he has dealt with leg issues, and my hope is always that he is going to show up one of these years healthy and hungry and put up one more historical season.  I am now 100% convinced that it will never happen.


Mike: Geo Soto's continued inability to stay healthy.  Love the bat, but he's got to be able to get more than 340 AB.


Kurt: I was frankly crushed by the resurgence of Carlos Zambrano.  I really thought the guy was about two weeks away from ripping the foul poles apart with his bare teeth, and he had to disappoint us all by rebounding and giving us the most promising 1/4 of a season he's perhaps EVER had.  Where's the drama?  The hijinx and hilarity?  The bamboozles and tom-foolery?  I just don't get Carlos anymore!


Peter: The Carlos Zambrano Debacle.  Big Z traditionally just gets lit on opening day.  Like clockwork, he gets lit up and the team hits the panic button and throws him in the pen soonafter.  I just hated how all of it was handled from the get-go.  That being said, maybe it did some good with how he ended the season.


Yarbage: Jim Hendry's inability to get value from some of the guys when they are playing well. Hendry could have dealt Kosuke Fukudome when he was red-hot in May, but held onto him. Maybe, I'm naive in thinking he could have dealt him, but I think a lot of teams would have given him a chance if Hendry would have eaten most of the money for 2010. It's kind of like already spent money, so why not move him and open up a spot for Colvin. Other than that, it's the fact that Jim Hendry is getting a third chance at a rebuild. I think the Cubs are years off from actually contending for a title.

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.

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