Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Lou Piniella

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/managed/grota/drupal/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.

What I would do at this moment

No preamble, no skewering of Lou Piniella, no moaning about how poor the offense is (and it is) or how much quality pitching we are wasting (a quantity that is greater than zero, but less than some people would have you believe)

I would only make one roster move - put Ramirez on the DL and bring Chad Tracy back up to play third.  I would never, EVER tell Mike Fontenot that he is the starter.  He could be hitting .978 in his role, and the minute you christen him the starter, he's going 0-for-5.  I would start Colvin in RF, and make the Fooker the 4th outfielder, rotating amongst the three positions.  Nady would pinch hit, and like it.  Jeff Baker can stay until Ramirez gets better.

My lineup, based on what we have on hand today:

2B Theriot
SS Castro
CF Byrd
RF Colvin
LF Soriano
3B Tracy
1B Lee
C  Soto

I would line my starters up Lilly-Wells-Z-Dempster-Silva, resisting the temptation to promote Silva.  He's fine where he is, feasting on the other guys' back-of-the-rotations.  Marmol closes, Marshall is my 8th inning guy until further notice.  Gorzellany is my long man.  Grabow and Caridad definitely have to do some minor-league rehab before we re-install them.  Russell is my LOOGY, Stevens and Cashner and (gulp) Howry (who hasn't given up an earned run as a Cub) do the dirty work.

Our best prospects get critical reps, and in the process, we will LOOK a bit more energetic than we have.

At least we won't have to report that the middle of the order is hitting a combined 0-7 every day.

Apocalypse When?

My story as a Cubs fan has been detailed all over this blog, and in other places, so I'm not going to bother retelling it now. But what you should know about me is this: I am a life-long Cubs fan who has, at times, been passionately driven by nothing more than a Cubs World Series victory.

The key phrase in that last sentence is "at times." Last season I felt barely involved in the Cubs, despite writing about them every single day, and this year is no different. So they're floating at around 10 games under .500. So Aramis Ramirez can't bat Ryan Theriot's weight, and Derrek Lee is looking his age. So Alfono Soriano has the defensive range of a lead box. So Carlos Zambrano is pitching out of the bullpen.

Okay -- fine. That last one still makes me sick to my stomach.

And yet, I don't feel too upset by any of this. I'm not losing sleep over the Cubs' woes. I don't feel angry. God, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I mostly don't care.

In my 30 years, I've lived with a long-lasting, pervasive belief that the Cubs will win the World Series someday. I still believe that. I belive it will happen soon -- before I am 40 for sure. Then again, when I was 20 years old, wouldn't I have been shocked to know the Cubs'd still be titleless a decade later?

It will happen; only it's not going to happen soon. Just look at the facts -- the Cubs have tried to buy their way into contention for a few years now, kind of like the Yankees. Except the Yankees have a history of burying bad, big contracts with new bad, big contracts. When Player X stops producing 4 years into his 8 year contract, the Yankees just go out and buy Player Y and keep on winning. The Cubs can't do that.

Not to mention the continued questionable production of the farm system. Geo Soto may or may not grow into the stud we saw back in 2008. (Things are looking good.) Starlin Castro may or may not be a shortstop slightly better than Shawon Duston was. Same with Josh Vitters.

Despite being owned by a rich Cubs fan (who, you'd think, would be super competitive and extremely hungry for a title), the Cubs are being run by the same people, in the same way as they have been for the past few decades. That model doesn't work. Jim Hendry doesn't have the skills necessary to be a game-changing GM, which is unfortunate for the Cubs since he's been in a position of authority for more than a decade now. A decade!

We have seen in the past that teams turn around their fortunes on a shockingly regular basis. It's entirely possible that the 2011 Cubs will be much, much better than their '10 counterparts. But for that to happen, the Cubs will need to do the following:


(What, you thought there'd be more? That's all they need!)

Seriously. Fire Jim Hendry. Let Lou Piniella ride off into the sunset. Dispense with their talented, expensive, over-30 players. Roll the dice on some younger guys with a ton of potential. But, most important of all, the Cubs need to get a guy in the front office who is a fearless, hungry, baseball genius.

I'm talking about somebody who, first and foremost, seeks any advantage to win. That means rolling the dice on picking up undervalued players whose significant skill-sets are only obvious when considering little-known statistics. That means ridding the team of anybody who is even remotely cancerous. That means being unafraid to mouth back at the media, to shout down angry fans, to awe us all.

These guys are rare, but they are essential. When I look at Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella, what I don’t see are Type A personalities with an overwhelming passion to win. Maybe they used to be, back in the day, but not anymore.

Ironically, then, I will not be passionate about the Cubs until the Cubs are passionate about winning. The window has closed on Jim and Lou. It’s time to let somebody else have a shot. Until then, it’s a whole bunch of insignificant thunder.

On testy fans, some truly God-forsaken fans, enormous BABIP and why it is time to fire Lou

Looks like it got a little fiesty around here this weekend.  That will happen when your favorite team looks hopeless.  Let me try to sum up this mediocre weekend with the mediocre weather in this sometimes mediocre blog:

- First of all, my sympathies for the fans of the Pirates.  I got the chance to speak with many of them last fall.  Rum Bunter Tom holds us Cub fans up as the picture of loyalty because we pack our park every day, and his own (wonderful) park is mostly empty. 

You're wrong, man.  Most of the people in our park are either families from Iowa on their yearly pilgrimage to the yard, or twenty-somethings from the neighborhood visiting the world's biggest beer garden.  There are some die-hard blue Kool-Aid sippers, and a few of us loyalists who are dying inside the past two seasons.  But your fans WANT to believe, they get hooked year after year with the ARams and the Jason Bays and the Nate McLouths and now the Andrew McCutcheons.  I literally feel terrible knowing that by this time next year, the stiff at first base (Jones) will be making huge bucks and McCutcheon will be playing center for the Red Sox or Rays.  If any fans in the entire world deserve to be disloyal, it's your own.  Don't be so hard on your fellow Pirate fans.

- Besides Castro, Marmol, Soto and Colvin, (who in my mind are totally untouchable), the only other Cubs that would have any trade value are Lilly, Wells, Theriot, and in the right situation, Zambrano.  Z would be a trade deadline move, and it would require United Nations-level negotiations from all parties in terms of clauses, money, roles, and return.  We really don't want that trade to happen.  Not because we love Z so much anymore, but unless his teammates absolutely despise him, which they don't appear to, even this washed-out abortion of a team does not need that kind of distraction.

I think Lilly is the man most likely on the move.  That wouldn't be my personal choice, because I think he hates losing, can't stomach it, and we need more of that around here.  But Wells is a bit too young and resembles a young Greg Maddux a bit too much for Hendry to deal.  Theriot doesn't really have anything specific that other teams really want.  He can hit in the National League, and that's pretty much it.

- Even though I have no candidates in mind to replace him, my pick to be traded for even a bag of balls would be Derrek Lee.  I fully expect his production to increase with the temperature, and to me that's the problem in a nutshell.  It got prickly around here about Lee, and the thing I find so frustrating about him is the fact that he is held in esteem by his teammates as the leader, the barometer that everyone else tries to emulate.

And if THIS is the guy that is the pulse, then we need a pacemaker.  A true stud hoss leader would not struggle in April and May every year.  A real big man would not have spent the last five years taking walks in key clutch situations, leaving the heavy lifting up to Ramirez.  And now, when it is obvious that there is something physically wrong with ARam, a real leader steps up in the time of need and performs.  And if he is going to second-guess his manager, he doesn't do it meekly, mealy-mouthy.  If he doesn't like his guy mixing the order up all the time, then gatdammit, say it like a man!  Don't give us that "well, it's his team" crap. 

- Look, what is most wrong about the 2010 Cubs right now is motivation.  People are taking plays off, or whole innings off.  What does Carlos Marmol's enormous BABIP tell you?  What it says to ME is that, when he steps out on the mound, the rest of the team is not getting to any balls that are hit.  Marmol is not giving up homers, so the balls that are hit are in play.  Now, either the rest of the team are a) letting up or b) all tensed up by the situation. 

Regardless, it is indicative of a totally unprofessional attitude that pervades this team.  The thing Ryne Sandberg always stressed, and the reason why a man with average talents went as far as he did, was because he played every play the same way, all out.  The mistakes he made were physical, and although he was as fiery as a Jello pudding pop, his example rubbed off on certain teammates, which made them somewhat better than they were physically required to be.

Now, I'm not bringing Ryno into the mix here because I want him to take over the Cubs.  I'm not sure he is a long term solution to anyone's managerial situation, because being single-mindedly focused is just one attribute.  The guy the Royals just canned was basically Ryne Sandberg without the Hall-of-Fame career.  But the one thing I do have to admit, grudgingly, is that although I personally declared the season dead last week, and have no reason to believe that this .420 team is going to turn it around...

...the Chicago Cubs are still in the hunt.

It is obvious, though, that if we just leave things alone, as is, nothing is going to happen.  It is totally plausible that Ricketts and Hendry have seen the wild moves Lou Piniella has tried have not worked.  They may choose to do nothing, but I honestly believe they are not THAT lazy.  Maybe so.  Ken Rosenthal expresses what I have heard several times on the national level, that a change is needed, and it could be Ryno (which I say: ugh) or Trammel (Lou once won 116...Alan once LOST 119) or Bob Brenly, which actually kind of speaks to me. 

Me, personally, I'd like to see us trade Lee for a bullpen arm, put Z back in the rotation, put Dempster in the pen (because his last four outings have been worse than Z's last four outings as a starter, and Z has simply sucked in the pen) and see if that doesn't freshen things up a bit.  Who plays first?  Who cares...give Colvin a mitt.  Bring up Hoffpauir.  Play Nady there.  Bring back Chad Tracy.  The Great Jason Dubois is still in the organization.  Whomever, the Grand Master Plan HAS to include bringing in someone new at first base for 2011.  Let's see what else we have in the pipeline, before we overpay this winter for somebody external.

Either way, fact is: the rest of the division seems to be cooperating, making us seem not quite as bad as we really are.  Standing pat is a poor option.  We need more leadership, and more accountability throughout.  Ricketts family - make it happen!

We just need somebody to step up here...anybody.  To paraphrase Dean Wormer, Quiet, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life. 

Approval Ratings Time: Whaddaya think of the job Lou's done so far this year?

5 points - The guy has been stellar.
0% (0 votes)
4 points - He ain't perfect, but he's darn good.
7% (2 votes)
3 points - He's what you'd call a "replacement level" manager.
27% (8 votes)
2 points - He's made a number of mistakes that have cost the team wins.
37% (11 votes)
1 point - Every game, I find myself saying, "Dang it, Lou!"
17% (5 votes)
0 points - This team would be better off being managed by a macaque.
13% (4 votes)
Total votes: 30

Reader Blog: Week five awards

Well, that's as bad as it gets. At least, I hope that's as bad as it gets. A 1-5 road trip against the Pirates and Reds in which the Cubs got outscored by 20 runs despite winning a game by seven. Looking at the current standings, the best team the Cubs have played all year is the Washington Nationals, who are 17-14 (same record as the Mets). And yet the Cubs are just 14-18 and have been outscored by their opponents overall. The ship is sailing in the wrong direction, to put it mildly, and Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez (hitting a combined .184) are at the helm.

Ryno of the Week: Perhaps I'm just caught up in his first-ever major league game fireworks, but then again, Starlin Castro did drive in six runs in one game while the Cubs scored 10 runs in the other five games on the road trip combined. Castro committed an error as well, but that's the kind of week it was--even the good players weren't that good.

Goat of the Week: It's nice to have options, I guess. I'll go with Randy Wells, who lasted just two horrific innings against the second-worst offense in the National League and raised his ERA from 3.45 to 4.86. It was not a good week for Cubs pitching in general, but Wells' game was over before it started.

Lou Piniella gets a special dishonorable mention for leaving Ryan Dempster in yesterday instead of going to Sean Marshall with Joey Votto coming up. Lou warmed Marshall up, Dempster got into a first-and-third situation, a power-hitting lefty came up, Lou went to the mound, and ... Marshall stayed in the bullpen. While Dempster served up a three-run bomb. Nice call, Lou.

Dishonorable mentions: Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Justin Berg, John Grabow

Brandon also writes at Wait 'til this year!  Check him out over there!

Take it away, Lou! (Game Recap: Cubs few, Pirates a bunch)

Today's recap is brought to you by Lou Piniella and Randy Wells, courtesy of quotes lifted from Carrie Muskat's latest article.


"It wasn't a good series and today wasn't a very good game -- three errors," Piniella said. "We didn't pitch good today, we didn't hit good and we certainly didn't play good defense."

"It's hard to win when you don't score many runs," said Piniella.

Piniella said he'll have a little talk with the players prior to Friday's game in Cincinnati.

"I'll say something tomorrow," Piniella said. "What am I going to say? You should be able to look in the mirror pretty easy after something like this." "I would think, out of the 28 games we've played, our starting pitchers have given us a chance to win in 20 of them, maybe a couple more," Piniella said. "That's a pretty nice percentage. I can't remember too many games that have gotten away from us early."


"It's terrible," Wells said. "Unacceptable. Everything I've ever preached about why I'm successful, what I do to be successful, I totally got away from.

"I came in too cocky, too confident," he said. "Warming up in the bullpen, I don't think I missed a pitch. I'm laughing, joking around with [catcher Geovany Soto] before the game. I went out there and was all out of whack and let it get out of hand.

"When we needed a win the most to stop the bleeding, I got lackadaisical, wasn't on top of my game.

He didn't even take a breath in his monologue.

"That's pretty much all that happened," Wells said. "I can't throw strikes with the fastball, can't get ahead of hitters. You're flipping [bad] sliders in there, and not throwing strikes with your best pitch, which is your changeup, and that's the kind of stuff that happens. It's time to get back to work and have a reality check and realize what my job is here and what my main focus is, and that's to win ballgames.

"All that other [nonsense], [being] 3-0 and pitching for the Chicago Cubs doesn't mean [anything]," he said. "I'm here to win ballgames. As far as I'm concerned, after tonight, I'm no better than anybody. It's time to get back to work and have a good side."


Kudos to Carrie for some excellent quote-getting. Her full recap is available at the Cubs' website. 

We feel your pain, Cub fans, because it is also our pain. 

I know that, justifiably, Rob has emotionally quit on this team.  I can't say that I blame him.  I also can't say I've yet to be emotionally invested at all. 

But.  Are the Cubs "done?"  Can Jim Hendry start breaking the team apart, selling them for scrap, and building for next year?  Or for that matter -- can they just fire his ass already?

The answer is probably "no."  It pains me to write this, but I believe the Cubs are good enough to play .500 ball for most of the year.  They might even rattle off some serious winning streaks every once in a while.  Some days, they're going to blow out teams by 10 runs.  Other days, they're going to get shut out worse than a geek on prom night. 

But remember what I said at the beginning of this series ... the Cubs were closer in record to the Pirates than they were to the Cardinals.  Now, the Pirates are closer to the Cardinals than the Cubs are.  St. Louis is bound to run away with it (damn you Poo-holes!) but the rest of the Central may be a season-long cluster-bomb. 

So, as the Battle for Second Place begins, we must ask: can the Cubs win?

"What kind of baseball are you playing?"

Yes, in this past series Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez and John Grabow all did their part to kill us, and yes, worry about the three of them is appropriate at this time.  However, based on past performances, DLee will come around, probably soon.  I am still not convinced that ARam isn't recovering from some kind of illness, which results in the lethargy he is showing at the plate.  As for Grabow, WYSIWYG.  He is a 4-plus ERA guy, one that throws with his left hand.  I did and still do believe that he belongs in a major league bullpen, but not for the salary he is currently making, and certainly NOT in the 8th inning Holder role.

A loss in April counts exactly the same as a loss in August or any other month, so do be concerned that a healthy amount of our team's financial resources are devoted to three men who are not getting the job done.  But you know who else isn't getting the job done?  Someone who, frankly, scares me much more than DLee or ARam or even Grabow.

The dude with the enormous gut wearing number 41 is really making my head swim lately.

Up until the end of 2008, I unconditionally backed our manager Lou Piniella.  When he opined that we lost the 2008 NLDS because of a lack of left-handed hitting was when I first started to question his acumen.  Last year, perhaps, even God could not have won a division with the combination of injuries and unmotivated individuals on the Cubs.  But it appeared that, rather than bashing himself off of the bugzapper, Lou chose to disengage, to lay low and not fight the strong tide of negativity that washed over us. 

Yeah, he called Milton Bradley a piece of feces, and he more than likely induced Jim Hendry to eventually suspend said sack of schist.  But his evasive actions were nowhere close to sufficient or effective, and frankly I don't think he did a good job of managing the Cubs last year.  I think he gave up, he acted like a doddering old fool, and entering this season, I needed to be convinced.  I need to be swayed, because right now, I don't think he is the man for the job anymore.

Last week, he sent his highest paid pitcher to the bullpen, and coincidentally we then swept the Brewers and beat the Nationals in our first game with them.  For those of you who declared "Ah, Lou is a genius.  He sent a message to his team, and they responded," let's play a game.  Look at my thumb. 

/blogger uses his other hand to whack you upside the head

Gee, you're dumb.  We wond those games because Jeff Suppan, Doug Davis, Dave Bush, and Brian Bruney really suck.  It wasn't because Uncle Lou put the fear of God in his players.

And now, we have another example that supports the notion that he ought to be fishing for grouper back home in Tampa.  On a team who has been notorious the past 180 games for piss poor situational hitting, in the bottom of the 8th, down a run, man on second, no outs, and a 9-for-9 closer in the other team's pen...and it doesn't even OCCUR to him to bunt the runner to third? 

No, he's going to let his team swing away.  The same team who, yes, has inflated RISP stats from their dalliances with a pathetic Brewer pitching staff, but against everyone else has froze up tighter than Sister Mary Margaret's nunhole?  In every sport in every country in the world, at the end of games, you Play for a Tie at Home, and a Win on the Road.  The stats bear it out.  Move Byrd to third, so with one out a hit, a fly ball, a wild pitch, a Christian Guzman error, a brain fart by Big Donkey Dunn, any kind of incident, we have a tie game, we don't have to see Matt Capps and have 300,000 weenies lament that we should have signed him last year instead of Grabow.

Know what?  I agree.  Capps is the superior ex-Pirate reliever over Grabow.  However, with even an average replacement-level manager (WORM?) this team should be over .500, even without the Great Matt Capps.  But instead we have a guy who is livid (and when Lou gets pee'd, he starts calling everyone Sir, like he's some sort of reform school kid) because he does not regard having a runner at third with one out in the 8th inning of a close game to be an acceptable situation.

No, he'd rather sit back and expect the Chicago Cubs to win the game with clutch base hits.  Since the only guy on the team with a demonstrated track record of situational hitting is currently walking around with his shirt hanging off his body and hitting less than his wife's weight....any responsible, intelligent baseball manager would actively and explicitly order moves designed to get that tying run over the plate by any means possible.  Then, and only then, after the game is tied, then the manager can sit back and hope for divine providence in the form of clutch hits from unlikely sources.

The fact that he got so pissed tells me that he is not only out of touch with conventional baseball strategy, but more importantly, out of touch with the abilities of his players and his team. 

You can make up your own mind on what conclusion I have just drawn.

One Way of Doing It (Game Recap: Cubs 8, Brewers 1)

Game Recap
We got a pretty good overview of what happened in last night's game from Wait Til This Year's entry: Demp was strong, offense was on, game wasn't close, Cubs win.

Instead of highlighting the box score, I wanna talk a little strategy.

Ryan Dempster pitched 7.2 innings last night, and I'm raising my eyebrow at the .2 part of that number. Demp had thrown 96 pitches over seven quality innings at that point, which I guess isn't really a whole lot. But after a few more Brewers came to the plate, all of a sudden we had two runners on and just one out, which motivated Lou to bring out Carlos Marmol for another four-out non-save.

Admittedly, the game wasn't close. Even if the runners Marmol inherited scored, the Cubs would have a comfortable lead. And with Braun and Fielder already on base, there weren't many real threats in the Milwaukee line-up left.

But for the sake of whining, I'm going to argue with Lou's approach on principle. This is what he did the last time Dempster started, and the team ended up losing -- and I attributed the loss to Marmol having to get four outs, and Marshall having to pitch the tenth inning instead of the eighth. Even last night, Marmol's ninth inning performance wasn't his sharpest ever.

In close games, I hope to see Cubs relievers getting a shot at their own innings, instead of having to clean up after starters left in too long by a crazy old guy manager.

Anyways, Cubs win. Super!

Whereupon Lou goes all in...the 2nd sign of the Apocalypse has shown itself

courtesy Pat Marvenko Smith
The first sign of the Apocalypse was Alfonso Soriano’s .750 Fielding Percentage.

The second sign of the Apocalypse follows from the Book of Revelations 6:3-4

{3} When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" {4} Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.

If the Cubs 2010 season was a poker game, Lou Piniella just went all in.

In retrospect, in nearly any equivalent situation, if you had five starters, and a sixth coming off of the DL, and a crucial need for arms in the bullpen, you would demote your worst starter to the pen. You’d send the guy to the pen who makes the shortest appearances in the games he starts. On the 2010 Cubs, that starter is Carlos Zambrano. Everyone else, even Silva the Hutt, has outpitched him this year. By a wide margin, and once again, when you discuss Los Dos Carlos, a wide margin is the only available margin.

It really shouldn’t make a difference that the man is, along with Soriano, the highest paid Cub. It shouldn’t matter that he is, now, the highest paid reliever in history. But all else is not equal. Not only is this move essentially unprecedented, and desperate, and dog-ass crazee, it also seems to drive down the trade value of Big Z. Yes, he has a no-trade clause, but the very teams that could afford to trade for him are the same teams he would gladly waive his clause for.

However, being demoted to the pen, and being used in a different manner, is no way to approach the concept of improving the team by using Z as trade bait.

So Sweet Lou is screwing over Zambrano AND his boss, Jim Hendry. As the guys on the MLB Network put it, Lou just drew back the curtain covering Hendry and basically saying, “Hey, boss, this is the crap you gave me. How are you gonna fix it?” I’m about to end two straight posts with pretentious quotes from authors much greater than I, but getting maudlin and philosophical is one of the two ways I tend to react to incredibly disappointing developments in my life. The other is to uncork the f-bomb battalion and start wildly smashing small, fragile possessions.

If this works, I’ll be the most shocked man alive. But if and when it blows up, it will be the last, and possibly the most memorable move of Lou’s long and colorful career. Lou is the Lamb, and Z is the red horse. Peace is about to be taken from the earth, and men will slay one another.

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. 

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award