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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Furcal close to signing?

Here is where I’d normally make a sarcastic comment about the reliability of my local newspaper, but I’ve been pretty absent myself lately so I’m going to let it pass.  Rumor has it our offer is the best one on the table, with the Braves unwilling to match and the Dodgers considering a counter.

Scott Lange Posted: November 30, 2005 at 04:14 AM | 179 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Dan The Mediocre Posted: December 01, 2005 at 08:25 PM (#1755423)
You may be crazy, but I completely agree.

I think I may be crazy too.

Of course there was no word on how Dusty would feel if there were a platoon, which is an important omission.
   102. Neil M Posted: December 01, 2005 at 08:26 PM (#1755429)
Dusty might have used the phrase "big year," but I don't recall for sure

He did. He said that he'd originally been offered a 3-year deal but asked for 4 as he thought it would take that time to shape the Cubs into contenders. He said that 2003 had been unexpected and 'out of the blue'. I guess he sees 2006 as being the time to judge the club that he thinks he has built. Thus the 'big year' quote.
   103. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: December 01, 2005 at 08:26 PM (#1755430)
I'm not in Chicago anymore, so I don't know, but is there seriously a notion that the Cubs need a winning season in 2006 after the White Sox won it all?

My feeling was always that nothing short of Wrigley Field being torn down could hurt the Cubs' bottom line. Maybe I'm too far removed from the situation, but the White Sox don't seem like a huge threat to the Cubs' attendance or profit margin. If anything, 2005 helped the Cubs, by increasing interest in baseball in general in Chicago.
   104. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 01, 2005 at 08:52 PM (#1755494)
Here's a verbatim transcript of a few Q&As;:

North: "Ok. Now -- give me your strongest point as a manager and, in your opinion, something you need to work on."

Dusty: "Aww, Mike, I don't know man. I can't -- I don't know."

North: "How about this -- you've been accused of not handling a pitching staff."

----

North: "Well, I'll tell you what -- you, you know what, Dusty -- it has been an aggravation to you -- you said you weren't a Messiah, you know what I mean?"

Dusty: "Yeah. I mean I said that when I came there. I also know -- I also know that I'm a winner and that I came there to win and I'm gonna win and this was my point and purpose for coming there in the first place."

North: "Now this is the last year of your deal, right?"

Dusty: "Correct."

North: "How big a year is this for you -- not that, forget -- you got the money and stuff like that --"

Dusty: "It's not about the money."

North: "Right. Here's the deal. How big is it a year for you that you got to get this team back on track -- you got to do what you said you were -- basically you were gonna do when you were hired?"

Dusty: "Right, well uh I mean it's a huge deal for me. It's a huge year for us, a huge year for the Cubs, for Jim Hendry, for my coaching staff you know for Cub fans all over. And -- and I know this and I have been in this situation many, many times and it seems like the bigger the year, for whatever the reason, you know, the better my teams do.

"And also Mike -- I am not worried, not one bit, cause you see I just know, in my heart, that I got the faith -- That's why I wanted this fourth year, you know, because when I first came here, I was offered the three years, but I wanted that fourth year because the Cubs had lost 97 games before I got there and I said 'OK this could take 3-4 years.'

"Had no clue what we were going to do what we did in year number one -- I mean no clue. I mean, basically, it happened backwards. You would think that next year would have been the first year. But you know you can't control these things.

"And so the thing about it is that our guys are hungry, our guys are gonna be in shape, our guys know what we have to do, and uh -- hopefully we can acquire -- you know, some players that are winners, some players that are sound before they even get there."
   105. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: December 01, 2005 at 08:56 PM (#1755501)
some players that are winners, some players that are sound before they even get there.


I don't think it takes much translation to interpret this.
   106. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 01, 2005 at 08:57 PM (#1755504)
is there seriously a notion that the Cubs need a winning season in 2006 after the White Sox won it all?

Depends what you mean and whom you ask. Most of the local (heck, national) media thinks there is "increased pressure to win" now that the White Sox won. Your guess is as good as mine what "pressure" means, what "winning" means, and what will happen if the Cubs don't do it.

OTOH, I think most Cub fans want to see the team improve and make a good run at the playoffs, but I don't think anyone is demanding a World Series or expects that attendance will suffer if they don't get there.
   107. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: December 01, 2005 at 09:00 PM (#1755510)
Depends what you mean and whom you ask. Most of the local (heck, national) media thinks there is "increased pressure to win" now that the White Sox won. Your guess is as good as mine what "pressure" means, what "winning" means, and what will happen if the Cubs don't do it.

I just don't see that the White Sox' accomplishment does anything to the Cubs at all.

If the shoe were on the other foot, I could see that the White Sox would be in serious trouble, but Chicago is a Cubs town. The Cubs will be fine.
   108. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 01, 2005 at 09:06 PM (#1755530)
I just don't see that the White Sox' accomplishment does anything to the Cubs at all.

Neither do I, really. Hendry was asked about the "increased pressure" once -- maybe instead someone was speculating about whether to ask Hendry about this -- and said something along the line of "I feel pressure every day -- it's what I do -- and when you're putting in the effort that I do every day, to suggest that you can somehow give more of an effort than I am already doing is insulting."

I agree with this.
   109. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 01, 2005 at 09:08 PM (#1755533)
As far as attendance goes, I don't think it means much of anything. It might have a small dent at the end of the year, but tickets will already be sold. If another lousy year does impact anything, I'm hoping it might be 2007 attendance.
   110. Sweet Posted: December 01, 2005 at 10:24 PM (#1755682)
CBS Sportsline sez that Furcal now isn't expected to sign until "this weekend or later," although the story includes the same quote from his agent that they hope to have made a decision by Monday morning.
   111. Sweet Posted: December 01, 2005 at 10:40 PM (#1755704)
Probably stating the obvious here, but the Dodgers's failure to land Giles (despite offering him almost $2 million/yr. more than the Padres) really has the potential to screw up Hendry's plans. It certainly makes them more likely to bid high on Furcal; it also increases the likelihood that Bradley will remain a Dodger.
   112. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: December 01, 2005 at 10:58 PM (#1755722)
Most of the local (heck, national) media thinks there is "increased pressure to win" now that the White Sox won. Your guess is as good as mine what "pressure" means, what "winning" means, and what will happen if the Cubs don't do it.

I'd guess that the "pressure" will come from the media. If the Cubs scuffle through another 75-80 win season where they look as horrible as they did for most of last year - lack of effort, lack of fundamentals, just crappy crappy baseball - the criticism of Dusty and Hendry is just going to continue to escalate. If Ozzie Guillen can come in to the South Side and help build a winner from a team with a lesser fan base and less money to throw around, why can't the Cubs do it?

The White Sox built a lot of their team through successful trades and FA signings. Why can't the Cubs do it?

The White Sox have promoted some successful position players from their system who became contributors. Why can't the Cubs do it?

Frankly, I don't see that the Cubs have done much of anything to improve this year over last year. Adding a few veteran arms to the bullpen isn't going to be the thing that turns them from 79 wins to 90+ wins - these guys they're signing aren't Mariano Rivera, Goose Gossage, and Billy Wagner, and odds are they won't be that much more effective than the innings we could have gotten out of the crop of guys we used last year, plus Williamson for a full season and maybe Aardsma if they think he's ready to make that step. And "winning" isn't going to be a .500 season. The Cubs are going to have to be in serious contention for the playoffs this year - basically 2003/2004 races down to the last week if they can't clinch it sooner. That's particularly true if the White Sox are able to hold off Cleveland and Minnesota next year and make the playoffs again. It's been a long time since the Cubs were relegated to second class status in Chicago baseball - for all their struggles over the past few decades, the White Sox have generally been right there with them, sucking. But if the Sox turn into perennial contenders and the Cubs turn into the $100M team that can't win more than 83 games, that's going to be a big deal.

If this is how the offseason continues, I think the media's just going to have a field day when this team stumbles out of the gate and finds itself in 4th place by the first of June. That's where the pressure is going to come from - the questions asking why the guys running the White Sox are (basically) so much smarter than the guys running the Cubs? And I welcome them - maybe they'll force a change, either force the owners to start ousting guys from the front office and the dugout *or* force the current regime into some new ways of thinking. I'd be happy with either one.
   113. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 01, 2005 at 11:21 PM (#1755753)
If the Cubs scuffle through another 75-80 win season where they look as horrible as they did for most of last year - lack of effort, lack of fundamentals, just crappy crappy baseball - the criticism of Dusty and Hendry is just going to continue to escalate. If Ozzie Guillen can come in to the South Side and help build a winner from a team with a lesser fan base and less money to throw around, why can't the Cubs do it?

If the Cubs go nowhere this year, I definitely agree there will be folks calling for Hendry's and Dusty's heads, but I truly don't think the White Sox will have much to do with it -- they didn't last season. Instead, it will be just a movement to get the idiots out.
   114. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 01, 2005 at 11:24 PM (#1755757)
Regarding the interview, Dusty said some decent things, but spouted his usual idiocy on others. I really wasn't surprised by much, though it does seem -- as much as I doubted this -- that he does view Mabry as a bench guy like Macias, not a platoon guy like Hollansdworth.

What really ticked me off, though, was the portion of the interview in which Dusty was saying that he played Holly over Murton (and presumably Dubois) because "Hollandsworth had a track record [and] we knew what we thought he could do based on the half a season he had the year before."

I appreciate his comment that he is not running a tryout camp, but if his whole basis for concluding that Holly was the man for the job was his role as a PH/part-time started for two months in 2004 -- overlooking the previous 9 years until then -- that says quite a bit.

It also explains his fascination with Neifi. Neifi was good for 67 PAs in 2004 and the first 71 PAs in 2005. If he had only played to his normal self in September 2004 and April 2005, and timed those key 140 PAs for, say, August, one would think that he would no longer be with the team and may not have gotten those PAs in the first place.
   115. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 01, 2005 at 11:34 PM (#1755776)
Also note his opinion on career years -- that he doubts they exist. So recent performance is uppermost in his mind when he is evaluating a player.
   116. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 02, 2005 at 12:31 AM (#1755858)
Most of the local (heck, national) media thinks there is "increased pressure to win" now that the White Sox won. Your guess is as good as mine what "pressure" means, what "winning" means, and what will happen if the Cubs don't do it.

I'd guess that the "pressure" will come from the media.


Well, it sure as hell isn't coming from the higher-ups in the organization.
   117. paytonrules Posted: December 02, 2005 at 02:08 AM (#1755953)
I like this part:

Dusty: I try to stress fundamentals every year, but some guys come over from other teams who don't. A lot of these things should be known even before you get to MLB, but it's something that's going around. My teams in the past, especially before I got to Chicago, we're very strong and we didn't beat ourselves.

So what he's saying is that it's not his fault - the other teams don't stress fundamentals - and the reason that things were okay in SF was that they never ever ever ever got new players from other teams. Just the same roster - year after year.

I also like his quote about Rich Aurillia and Shawon Dunston - I think he feels more than just a desire to play older players, he feels an obligation. If you give him two players, and one is experienced, he HAS to play the experienced one. It's not a matter of choice.

It does reinforce what I've been saying to people who think Neifi will play part time. Remember that Dusty/Hendry think Neifi is good!
   118. Mess with the Meat, you get the Wad! Posted: December 02, 2005 at 02:10 AM (#1755959)
but if they have furcal neifi is obsilete, well more so then he already is
   119. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 02, 2005 at 02:13 AM (#1755963)
So what he's saying is that it's not his fault - the other teams don't stress fundamentals - and the reason that things were okay in SF was that they never ever ever ever got new players from other teams. Just the same roster - year after year.

Yeah, pretty much. This was one of the other things that ticked me off -- it was/is Dusty's assumption that if a guy didn't learn fundamentals before arriving at Wrigley Field, it isn't Dusty's job to teach them.

This afternoon, Boers & Bernstein were ripping Dusty for this, pointing out. Their point was that guys like Paul Konerko and Jim Thome can bunt, while Aramis Ramirez can't and no one cares. I agree, though I also am not worried if Ramirez can bunt -- I'm more concerned about his ability to run the bases.
   120. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 02, 2005 at 02:17 AM (#1755968)
I also like his quote about Rich Aurillia and Shawon Dunston - I think he feels more than just a desire to play older players, he feels an obligation. If you give him two players, and one is experienced, he HAS to play the experienced one. It's not a matter of choice.

Actually, this ticked me off too, but for a different reason. Dusty acted as if he had no say in the matter whatsoever -- that he really wanted to play Aurelia and that Brian Sabean was shoving Dunston down his throat.

Rubbish. For him to say that he could only play the hand he's dealt really ticks me off when you consider that he had/has perhaps the key decision in shaping that hand in the first place. Most likely, Dusty told Sabean that he needed a veteran in the role and couldn't rely on Aurelia.
   121. Neil M Posted: December 02, 2005 at 06:10 PM (#1756686)
Well, it was Dusty yesterday. Today it's Hendry's turn. He's on the Score at noon, Chicago, today.
   122. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 02, 2005 at 10:05 PM (#1757254)
The mp3 should be on the website -- I've only heard clips so far, and nothing particularly interesting or revealing.
   123. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: December 02, 2005 at 10:46 PM (#1757326)

Rubbish. For him to say that he could only play the hand he's dealt really ticks me off when you consider that he had/has perhaps the key decision in shaping that hand in the first place. Most likely, Dusty told Sabean that he needed a veteran in the role and couldn't rely on Aurelia.


Then Dusty is both the GM and field manager for the organization and Sabean might not deserve blame for individual decisions but needs to get some courage and do his job. Same goes for Hendry.

Dusty is paid to manage the ballclub. He doesn't even necessarily have the power to make playing time decisions--ultimately the GM is his boss and if s/he has an opinion on playing time they should make that known.

If Hendry did this, maybe Dusty would complain, maybe he would quit. But ultimately if it's hurting the franchise, it's Hendry's job to not be a chickenshit and dictate. If he's too scared to do that, then like a lot of GMs, he's trying to run a social club and not a major league ballclub.
   124. HMS Moses Taylor Posted: December 02, 2005 at 10:48 PM (#1757333)
Funny you should mention it like that, E-X. You live in Chicago, you must be familiar with the situation. How many times have we heard Hendry talk up a guy and Dusty refuse to play him?

Or, how about Hendry saying Dempster should close in ST last year, but Dusty put him in the rotation.

I think it's obvious Hendry is running a social club.
   125. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 02, 2005 at 10:51 PM (#1757336)
Murphy: I'm not going to ask you about whether you feel more pressure because of the Sox -- you told Paul Sullivan that it's no different and you always put pressure on yourself.

Hendry: What the Sox did was terrific and they deserved to win. When you win 79 games, it doesn't matter who wins -- you feel pressure.

Murphy: Why does everyone think you overpayed for Howry and Eyre, the two statistical best in holds?

Hendry: We did not have a great year in the bullpen. We had some kids that got better -- Ohman, Novoa, and Wuertz. We thought we wouldn't get B.J. Ryan, so we targeted Howry and Eyre. Both of them are great against both LH and RH hitters. Maybe we paid a little higher, but look where the market has gone since, especially the Ryan deal. We're happy we resolved this by Thanksgiving -- who knows what it'll look like at Christmas.

Murphy: I'm confused about the fundamentals. Dusty said in September that when the team is bad, it's not fair to blame any one department. You also said that, not to blame anyone, but there are a lot of things that make you look like you are not prepared properly. Why did you bring the entire coaching staff back?

Yesterday, Dusty told North that you need to continue to stress fundamentals throughout the year, especially when you get guys from other teams who may not know fundamentals (SEE DUSTY TRANSCRIPT ABOVE)

I understand Dusty, but someone has to teach someone, and the coaches are all coming back. Did you consider there is a problem? Who teaches the fundamentals?

Hendry: I made the decision that the coaches, collectively, were still capable of doing a quality job. Other than Speier, who who did a terrific job coaching 3B, this is the same group we had when we played so well fundamentally in 2003.

So I felt that, collectively, we all had a bad year and you can start at the top with me. When you win only 79 games, we're all accountable, and to single out one coach just to make a move or to put all the blame on Dusty, I felt was the wrong thing. I felt that in the second half of the summer, none of us were pleased with the results, there is no excuse for it, and we're certainly not going to tolerate only winning 79 games again.

Murphy: Come March, every organization has a guy in charge of the camp --

Hendry: -- Dick Pole runs our --

Murphy: Does he sit down with you in January or February and say "Look, on Day 1 when they report, we're going to work on bunting." How does that work?

Hendry: Basically, it's a very well run process. There has never been a problem with how we run our camp. I can promise that fundamentals are stressed every day. We're all aware how we play certain days last year. Dusty's not gonna call out certain players who do things wrong fundamentally. I can promise there will be a string emphasis on fundamentals every day in spring training and we all will be on top of it on a daily basis.

Murphy: I read a report that said you'll get a 2-year extension and that you'll give one to Dusty. Do you agree?

Hendry: I don't know where that came from and it's not something I worry about. I've never asked for a contract.

Murphy: Who would orchestrate the Dusty extension?

Hendry: I have no idea and I don't think there is anything to it. It's not something to dwell on. We keep hearing about September quotes and October quotes and I think it's time to move forward.

Murphy: No it's not -- I'm going to respectfully disagree. It's not time to look forward until you can solve the problems that happened last year, and since -- including you -- the same group is coming back, the fan is saying "why should I look forward to next year with the same guys all back," unless I hear something.

Hendry: Well we've got some new players already and everyone knows we'll be aggressive in December, but don't worry about contracts and things like that -- that's really insignificant.

Murphy: Yesterday, Dusty talked about the fact he wanted a four year contract (SEE DUSTY TRANSCRIPT.)

This really upset me for two reasons. First, he said he needed a 4th year because it was a four-year project. Did the Cub fans know when you hired Dusty Baker that it was going to be a four-year retooling project? If so, why weren't there more young kids played in the first two or three years?

I don't like hearing the skipper saying things went backwards the first few years -- I've been waiting 97 years just to win and he says we won too soon?

Hendry: We can sit here and dissect everyone's quotes. Dusty and I have a good relationship, we're gonna get better, we're gonna win more games. To sit here and comment on taped interviews and quotes form the papers --

Murphy: -- He wasn't misquoted. I didn't edit the tape --

Hendry: I think everyone was surprised we did so well in 2003 and I think we were loaded to do much,much better in 2004.

Murphy: Let me tell you this: I think you should have won 89 games last year. With the injuries, and the team you put together, had that team done different things -- be it batting order, fundamentals -- I think you put together an 89-win team, which is what the Astros had last year.

Hendry: Well, I thought we should have been better, but we weren't and there is nothing we can do about it, so I have to take the responsibility for my share of it also. 79 games isn't acceptable, and it won't be acceptable again as long as I'm here, so we gotta do better?

Murphy: By the way, with the new bleachers in place in LF, will the wind currents be different? (Hendry laughs.) Now seriously, have you thought about this -- in April and May, when the wind blows in out of the north, it stops those fly balls. Will the wind knock it down?

Hendry: If we pitch it and field it good enough, we'll win our share of games.

Murphy: Next time I got to find out if the amphetamine ban will affect day games more or night games.
   126. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 02, 2005 at 10:55 PM (#1757339)
The interview was much more revealing and at times combative than I would have expected. Murphy began the interview by reading quotes from Sullivan and Kiley columns as well as playing snippets from Dusty's interview yesterday, and Hendry really didn't want to be questioned about it.

I wouldn't exactly call it a cross-examination, but it was close at times and Hendry really bristled at the idea of follow-up questions.
   127. HMS Moses Taylor Posted: December 02, 2005 at 10:58 PM (#1757349)
Dusty's not gonna call out certain players who do things wrong fundamentally.

Certain players? WTF??? I mean, we know this, but to hear Hendry acknowledge it and not see it as a problem. We all know who those certain players are (veterans). If no one says anything, how can they improve?

BTW, way to go Murph. I always pictured him as a push-over and was never impressed by anything he's done. That interview was outstanding. And it completes the burying of Hendry's GMing abilities in my mind. It made me feel just as negative about the team as how positive Dusty's interview made me feel.
   128. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 02, 2005 at 11:00 PM (#1757354)
Rubbish. For him to say that he could only play the hand he's dealt really ticks me off when you consider that he had/has perhaps the key decision in shaping that hand in the first place. Most likely, Dusty told Sabean that he needed a veteran in the role and couldn't rely on Aurelia.

-- Then Dusty is both the GM and field manager for the organization and Sabean might not deserve blame for individual decisions but needs to get some courage and do his job. Same goes for Hendry.

Dusty is paid to manage the ballclub. He doesn't even necessarily have the power to make playing time decisions--ultimately the GM is his boss and if s/he has an opinion on playing time they should make that known.


I don't know what you've been watching, but when Hendry says that Dubois will be the starter and Dusty says he's the one who makes out the lineup and plays Hollandsworth, I think Dusty's making the playing time decisions -- especially where, in the past, Hendry has said on several occasions that he'll defer to Dusty's discretion regarding lineups and on-field tactics.

As for Aurelia, Dunston, et al., I'm not saying that Dusty called the shots in SF and made all the personnel moves, but my point is that he wasn't exactly an innocent bystander either. Maybe Billy Beane sits outside the dugout and treats Ken Macha like a puppet, but I've never heard this to be true about other GM/manager relationships and I'd be quite surprised if Sabean was totally ignoring what Dusty had to say when he acquired Dunston and Sanchez.
   129. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 02, 2005 at 11:04 PM (#1757365)
Dusty's not gonna call out certain players who do things wrong fundamentally.

Certain players? WTF??? I mean, we know this, but to hear Hendry acknowledge it and not see it as a problem. We all know who those certain players are (veterans). If no one says anything, how can they improve?


The problem with transcripts is that certain comments that came off like misstatements or throwaways look more significant than they really were.

I knew this one would be brought up. The general context was Hendry reassuring that fundamentals would be stressed and are an important part of training camp. He did say that "Dusty's not gonna call out certain players," but either he misspoke or (more likely) I think Hendry's real point was to say that Dusty's not the kind of guy that will scream at someone in the middle of a ST game (he might have words behind closed doors, or perhaps another coach will talk to the player).
   130. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 02, 2005 at 11:13 PM (#1757380)
BTW, way to go Murph. I always pictured him as a push-over and was never impressed by anything he's done. That interview was outstanding. And it completes the burying of Hendry's GMing abilities in my mind. It made me feel just as negative about the team as how positive Dusty's interview made me feel.

Agreed on most counts. I like Murph, particularly because he's (a) a baseball fan first and foremost, (b) a Cubs fan, and not ashamed to say it, and (c) stat friendly -- he's not a sabermetrician, but he has no problem calling the BPro folks, interviewing John Dewan, etc. I do think he's a bit of a lightweight, most of his callers are idiots (though friendly), and that it's sometimes aggravating when he dwells so much on the past, but I generally like him (though don't listen a great deal).

He's also a bit of a lightweight and it's pretty rare that he challenges his callers, let alone his interviews, but I wouldn't consider him as much of a push-over as, say, Harry Teinowitz -- who is nothing more than a Pollyanna fanboy. Murphy will ask a hard question, but will usually give the interviewee all the rope he wants to answer it.

This interview was different. I think it's because Murphy is a Cub fan, first and foremost, and had a lot more personal angst built-up than he would if he was interviewing someone like Trent Yawney or Scott Skiles. I think Murphy actually wanted answers and wasn't just happy to hear Hendry's voice.
   131. Spahn Insane Posted: December 02, 2005 at 11:14 PM (#1757386)
I've been waiting 97 years just to win and he says we won too soon?

I always thought you looked youthful for your age, dJF, but never realized just how right I was.

Tell me another WWI story. :)
   132. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 02, 2005 at 11:21 PM (#1757396)
He's also a bit of a lightweight and it's pretty rare that he challenges his callers, let alone his interviews, but I wouldn't consider him as much of a push-over as, say, Harry Teinowitz -- who is nothing more than a Pollyanna fanboy. Murphy will ask a hard question, but will usually give the interviewee all the rope he wants to answer it.

As an example of this, see the question about whether Hendry overpayed for Howry and Eyre. Murphy basically said "other people question this, but I don't know why -- what do you think?"

If it were Harry Teinowitz, he wouldn't even ask the question, but would simply want to talk about how great the two pitchers are, regardless of salary.
   133. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 02, 2005 at 11:23 PM (#1757400)
Retro -- It was Murphy's comment, not mine. Actually, I thought it was the best part of the interview. I *really* liked the fact that Murphy tied in the idea of a four-year plan with the idea of not playing the kids in Years One and Two.

I'm surprised none of us brought up that point (we just said Dusty hates kids, but I don't believe we tied it into the fact that it was "a four-year project").
   134. Neil M Posted: December 02, 2005 at 11:40 PM (#1757420)
I *really* liked the fact that Murphy tied in the idea of a four-year plan with the idea of not playing the kids in Years One and Two.

I thought so, too. I'd like to have seen him pursue the point. I think if he'd let Hendry finish developing his answer rather than interrupting and jumping to this season's performance, he might have been able to come back with some decent supplementary questions but I guess time was limited and there was a lot to vent about.
   135. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 03, 2005 at 12:30 AM (#1757474)
I think if he'd let Hendry finish developing his answer rather than interrupting and jumping to this season's performance,

That's not the way I heard it, Neil.

See my summary -- Murphy asked the question (a good one), and Hendry ducked it by saying he didn't want to dissect answers from taped interviews and quotes from 2-3 months ago. When Murphy jumped in, it was only to say that he wasn't misquoting Dusty, but then Hendry went on to talk about 2006 and Murphy dropped the matter.

I don't really blame Murphy for jumping in, but I suppose in a perfect world he would have then steered Hendry back toward answering his questions about 2003-04. Hendry obviously didn't want to look backward, though, and when Hendry changed the subject, Murphy let him.
   136. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 03, 2005 at 12:37 AM (#1757479)
I don't really blame Murphy for jumping in, but I suppose in a perfect world he would have then steered Hendry back toward answering his questions about 2003-04. Hendry obviously didn't want to look backward, though, and when Hendry changed the subject, Murphy let him.

I think every interviewer has to ask the question of how much they really want the answer to a question versus whether they want that person ever to agree to an interview again.
   137. Neil M Posted: December 03, 2005 at 12:49 AM (#1757493)
Fair enough, dJf. Although, at this point I do think Hendry was returning to the question -

Hendry: I think everyone was surprised we did so well in 2003 and I think we were loaded to do much,much better in 2004.

- which comes after Murphy's comment about not misquoting Dusty.

I think our different interpretations may reflect a difference in expectation, possibly based on cultural differences. I know that here in the UK, a lot of media interviewing tends to originate from a debating approach. Frequently, the opening questions on any subject are merely there to seek out targets for more probing supplementaries. I guess that's what I'm semi-conditioned to look for.

Otherwise, I'd say that the 'youngsters and 4-year plan' question was the only one I wouldn't have expected to hear and Hendry's obfuscatory responses were also predictable.

I guess 13 years of listening to Margaret Thatcher and, now, 8 of Tony Blair have made me a tad jaded when it comes to media interviews.
   138. Neil M Posted: December 03, 2005 at 12:58 AM (#1757506)
a difference in expectation

By which I mean, I'm not used to expecting a straight answer to a direct question.
   139. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 03, 2005 at 01:13 AM (#1757517)
You're right, Neil. I played the interview back, and Murphy did cut off Hendry after the "much, much better in 2004 comment."

Still, my impression is that if he wasn't cut off, Hendry was going to add something like this:

". . . and we were in the thick of the race until the last week of the season, but the breaks just didn't go our way. Last year was quite a disappointment for us, but we've got some great help in the bullpen and we're going to be aggressive this month to improve the team and see that 79 wins doesn't happen again."

I'm nearly certain that was where Hendry was going -- there were a few other times during the interview when Hendry made it clear that he wanted to talk about the future and didn't want to reflect on what happened in the past (see, for instance, the discussion of the coaching staff and the "we keep hearing about September quotes and October -- I think it's time to move forward" comment).

I don't think Hendry planned to respond to Murphy's original question, which was "if the plan was four years, why not play the kids more in the first two years?" He wanted to discuss 2005 and Murphy let him do it at that point, perhaps because he knew that he had already pushed Hendry's buttons.
   140. Neil M Posted: December 03, 2005 at 01:31 AM (#1757530)
I completely agree both with the direction you imagined that Hendry was taking and also with the substance of his hypothetical response. But I'd have let him go on and then asked why, when it was obcious that 2005 was a bust did the Cubs not take greater advantage of the situation to look at the kids - especially given that the unexpected success of the previous 2 campaigns (i.e. being in contention all season) had precluded them from doing so earlier.

No doubt he'd have given some B.S. about Murton and said something about Cedeno getting hurt, but at least the point would have been raised.

FWIW, I don't think Hendry wanted to talk about 2005 at all. I think he'd prepared himself to make a few non-committal, but positive remarks about the re-tooling, or whatever it is, that he's doing and I think Murphy wrong-footed him.
   141. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 03, 2005 at 01:34 AM (#1757532)
If I were to reflect on the Dusty and Hendry interviews, I think I was modestly pleased with Dusty's -- not because I expected him to completely change his spots or to reveal anything earth-shattering, but for the fact that he seems to understand that Mabry won't be the platoon starter (despite my fears). I'm not yet convinced that Murton has won the job and I'm still doubtful as to Cedeno's playing time, but those are other matters.

Hendry's interview was a real bummer to me, though. It doesn't make me think that Hendry has a real plan; if anything, he just reacts to what happened last year rather than looking forward and being proactive. He clearly seems to be flying by the seat of his pants, and I mean that in a bad way.

Furthermore, when it comes to "fundamentals," I don't obsess nearly as much as most of the local media. I don't care if Paul Konerko and Jim Thome can bunt, but Aramis Ramirez can't. I didn't care that Sammy Sosa didn't know how to give himself up and hit behind runners (even though he did). I also don't think that these issues are all that critical to winning baseball games.

Still, it does bother me that the Cubs seem to always run the bases horribly and frequently make mistakes like throwing to the wrong base -- mental errors more than physical ones. I know that this is a focus in spring training and I also know that the Cubs acquire guys from other organizations who make these errors.

There is nothing in Dusty's or Hendry's interviews to ease my concerns. Dusty seems to think that all he needs to do is make a few comments in spring training, but it's largely out of his hands. (Sadly, I think he might be right to some extent.) Hendry, meanwhile, seems to think that the 2003 team played good fundamental baseball simply because they won. I don't remember this at all -- Alou's baserunning was just as lousy in 2003 as it was in 2004.

Frankly, if you are concerned with "fundamentals" to any extent, I don't see how you could listen to these interviews and have any confidence whatsoever that the Cubs who remain with this team in 2006 will improve in any way.

I so look forward to the day these clowns are out of the organization.
   142. Neil M Posted: December 03, 2005 at 01:41 AM (#1757540)
Dusty seems to think that all he needs to do is make a few comments in spring training, but it's largely out of his hands.

I still remeber Baker being asked if he'd say anything after the game in which Williams, Rusch and Remlinger all failed to cover 1st on grounders to DLee.

His reply? 'That's Larry's job.'
   143. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 03, 2005 at 01:44 AM (#1757547)
But I'd have let him go on and then asked why, when it was obcious that 2005 was a bust did the Cubs not take greater advantage of the situation to look at the kids - especially given that the unexpected success of the previous 2 campaigns (i.e. being in contention all season) had precluded them from doing so earlier.

I agree. Murphy simply commented that "you put together an 89-win team" (I think he wanted Hendry to talk about what went wrong). If he had tied together the two thoughts -- asking something like "when it became obvious your chances were slim back in August, why didn't Murton and Cedeno get more time then?" that would have been a great question.

I don't think Murphy was going in that direction, though -- probably because he let Hendry change the subject and didn't realize that he could tie the two thoughts together.

If he did, my guess is that Hendry would have said that he thought he was in the race until early September.
   144. Neil M Posted: December 03, 2005 at 01:56 AM (#1757561)
dJf -

Again, I think you've called Hendry's hypothetical response correctly, although that would have raised questions about the off-loading of Lawton and Holly (or did he clear waivers?).

Anyhow, I think you would probably agree that the interview could well have yielded a lot more if it hadn't been for the time constraint.

It's 1 a.m. here, so I'm turning in now, G'night.
   145. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 03, 2005 at 02:11 AM (#1757569)
G'night, Neil. I agree that the interview might have yielded more (then again, it could have gotten more combative too), but I also think that in that 12 minute time span, I got as much out of it as I did in 30 minutes of Dusty Baker.

Frankly, I got more than I expected. Too bad it wasn't in a very good way.
   146. Neil M Posted: December 04, 2005 at 12:22 AM (#1758660)
Touring the blogs, some 'news' from WSCR 670 getting talked about.

1) - Furcal to decide by noon tomorrow.

2) - Cubs, Texas and Oakland discussing 3-way deal.

From Cubs to Texas: Wood (=6mm), Walker, prospect(s)

From Texas to Oakland: Soriano

From Oakland to Cubs: Zito

From Texas to Cubs: Mench

Looks all wrong to me.
   147. Neil M Posted: December 04, 2005 at 12:23 AM (#1758665)
Should read Wood (+6mm)
   148. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 04, 2005 at 12:27 AM (#1758672)
Looks all wrong to me.

Why the hell would cash-strapped Oakland turn Zito into Wood and Soriano?
   149. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 04, 2005 at 12:28 AM (#1758673)
Oops, read that wrong.

Still, I don't see Oakland turning Zito into Soriano.
   150. Neil M Posted: December 04, 2005 at 12:29 AM (#1758676)
They don't, Andere. Texas keeps Wood, according to the story.
   151. Neil M Posted: December 04, 2005 at 12:32 AM (#1758685)
Still, I don't see Oakland turning Zito into Soriano.

Me neither. Not exactly a philosophical fit.

And Zito trying to keep the ball away from Waveland might not be a pretty sight.
   152. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: December 04, 2005 at 12:43 AM (#1758719)
That's an interesting deal, depending on who the prospect(s) are. If nothing else, it frees the Cubs from the constant cycle of trying to plan around Wood's health.

Of course Mench does nothing to address the OBP problems and becomes another slugging hitter for the middle of the lineup who can't run or play defense (unless I've missed a memo). Zito would be... let's say an interesting fit for Wrigley. And Walker's departure means we get another year of Neifi Perez in the lineup whether or not the Cubs land Furcal.

I'm on the fence without knowing who we give up. If it's top tier pitching prospects, I'm unhappy. If it's some of these out of options bullpen guys who Dusty already seems to have soured on, then I'm happy.
   153. Neil M Posted: December 04, 2005 at 12:49 AM (#1758725)
I think Oakland may be in on the prospects, too, according to some reports. If so, I doubt they want the lesser lights.

Personally, gravely wounded though he might be, I'd be very sad to see Wood go. Always one of my favorites.
   154. J. Cross Posted: December 04, 2005 at 12:52 AM (#1758733)
I'm assuming Oakland is happy with Crosby and Ellis(.384/.477 last year) in the MIF and doesn't want Soriano's defense. Would they play him in the OF? Given the way he's hit the last two years I don't think Oakland would want him as a corner OFer. I know Oakland wants a RHB but that deal doesn't make much sense for them. Really, that deal just makes sense for Texas.
   155. J. Cross Posted: December 04, 2005 at 12:58 AM (#1758737)
Maybe, the A's should just sign Nomar to DH, let Dan Johnson play 1st and call it a day:

1. Kotsay cf
2. Ellis 2b
3. Crosby ss
4. Chavez 3b
5. Nomar dh
6. Johnson 1b
7. Swisher rf
8. Kielty/? lf
9. Kendall c

with both Loaiza and Zito in the rotation with Harden, Haren and Blanton they'd have a stacked pitching staff.
   156. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 04, 2005 at 01:03 AM (#1758746)
Soriano would be a good solution for LF if he were willing to play there.

I have to believe that Oakland would not part with Zito unless they were getting more in return. That means significant prospects from the Cubs. Do they have the guys to make this happen if Pie is untouchable?
   157. Neil M Posted: December 04, 2005 at 01:24 AM (#1758787)
The Score is now apparently attributing the story to Phil Rogers, from an article for tomorrow's Trib.
   158. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 04, 2005 at 01:35 AM (#1758806)
Soriano would be a good solution for LF if he were willing to play there.

I dunno. He'd be an awfully expensive, and would be barely qualify for "good".

I'm on the fence without knowing who we give up. If it's top tier pitching prospects, I'm unhappy. If it's some of these out of options bullpen guys who Dusty already seems to have soured on, then I'm happy.

I'm still unhappy.
   159. Dash Carlyle Posted: December 04, 2005 at 05:50 AM (#1759124)
The L.A. Times is reporting that Furcal signed w/ the Dodgers for 3 years, $40 million.
   160. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 04, 2005 at 05:59 AM (#1759145)
The Cubs are going to do something really stupid really soon. Like pay through the nose for Manny Ramirez.
   161. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: December 04, 2005 at 06:10 AM (#1759160)
Furcal's gone, and watch the reaction be how glad they are they've already locked up Neifi as a backup plan. That backup plan's going to get 150 starts.

There'd better be some pretty #### awesome OF upgrades in the works or we're looking at a 2006 team that's no better than the 2005 Cubs were (and that's assuming Lee puts up another 1.100 OPS season).
   162. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 04, 2005 at 07:44 AM (#1759230)
The Cubs are going to do something really stupid really soon. Like pay through the nose for Manny Ramirez.

Why would this be stupid? I'd rather they traded/paid for Manny Ramirez than futz around with the likes of Preston Wilson. At least it'd be a sign that they are trying.
   163. Spahn Insane Posted: December 04, 2005 at 06:08 PM (#1759542)
A Cedeno/Perez middle infield is in the offing. Along with a pisspoor outfield.

Say--that AL Central race looks like it'll be pretty exciting next year.
   164. Danny Posted: December 04, 2005 at 06:33 PM (#1759608)
Maybe, the A's should just sign Nomar to DH, let Dan Johnson play 1st and call it a day:


I'd rather have Frank Thomas, but I wouldn't mind Nomar. Also, the A's LF at this point is probably Jay Payton.

There's no reason for the A's to pick up Soriano. I'd argue he's not worth the $10M he'll get in arbitration at 2B, and he's worth far less than that in the OF or at DH. A bad contract for a redundant player is not exactly what the A's are looking for in return for Zito.
   165. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 04, 2005 at 07:44 PM (#1759718)
The Cubs are going to do something really stupid really soon. Like pay through the nose for Manny Ramirez

<strike>Manny Ramirez</strike> Alfonso Soriano.

A Cedeno/Perez middle infield is in the offing. Along with a pisspoor outfield.

I doubt this. Well, at least the Cedeno part.

We'll see how this all turns out. Adding Furcal wasn't the worst plan in the world, and it didn't come through. I'm not terribly disappointed. Hendry was focused on this one thing, and at least it was settled before the Winter Meetings, unlike the Sosa situation which dragged on through January.

I'm not at all optimistic about how things are going to go this offseason, but I'm really not much less so now that Furcal is a Dodger.
   166. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 04, 2005 at 07:47 PM (#1759725)
I'm not at all optimistic about how things are going to go this offseason, but I'm really not much less so now that Furcal is a Dodger.

Furcal was at the least a player whose production matched his reputation. Do you think the Cubs are judicious enough to look for other players about whom this could be said?
   167. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: December 04, 2005 at 07:54 PM (#1759736)
Furcal was at the least a player whose production matched his reputation.

I disagree. Furcal was a player whose production was good, but because of the weak FA market, whose reputation this offseason is enough to make him paid Jeter/Renteria money -- he's not that kind of performer.
   168. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 04, 2005 at 07:55 PM (#1759741)
Furcal was at the least a player whose production matched his reputation. Do you think the Cubs are judicious enough to look for other players about whom this could be said?

I have few reasons to think Plan B, whatever that is besides trading half the farm system for the benefit of signing Alfonso Soriano to a FA contract, is any less judicious than paying Furcal $13 million/yr. As I said, I am not optimistic at all, but Hendry has pulled off some nice trades in his time as GM, and losing out on Furcal could easily turn out to be a blessing.
   169. Neil M Posted: December 04, 2005 at 08:06 PM (#1759763)
It's worth noting that Paul Kinzer is Aramis Ramirez's agent.

Even if Hendry lost out on Furcal, he made a good offer but, as important, refused to bid silly money. This might dissuade Kinzer from trying to jerk the Cubs around too much as and when Aramis's opt-out clause becomes the subject of discussion.
   170. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 04, 2005 at 08:42 PM (#1759841)
I have few reasons to think Plan B, whatever that is besides trading half the farm system for the benefit of signing Alfonso Soriano to a FA contract, is any less judicious than paying Furcal $13 million/yr.

I guess that's where we differ Andere. The rising revenues across the board will make salary dumps far less likely and the Cubs don't have that many chits to use in a talent-for-talent deal.

The pitching staff is fine where it stands right now and adding Furcal would give the Cubs a decent lineup; even with a crappy RF like Mench. I don't think that contract would have precluded Chicago from going after Bradley (which I would still consider to be the wisest course regardless of the extra money the team has to use on that position) and I don't see anything out there that offsets the difference between a Furcal/Neifi middle infield and a Nefi/Walker/Cedeno middle infield.
   171. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 05, 2005 at 02:47 PM (#1761412)
I guess that's where we differ Andere. The rising revenues across the board will make salary dumps far less likely and the Cubs don't have that many chits to use in a talent-for-talent deal.

I think they have plenty. Walker, Cedeno, Patterson, and a bunch of pitchers.
   172. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 05, 2005 at 08:44 PM (#1762032)
You're right; I take that back.

The Cubs have quantity but not quality. The other problem is that the vast majority of these guys need to be on the 40 man roster which will preclude any 4 for 1 trades.
   173. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 05, 2005 at 08:47 PM (#1762036)
BTW, I promise I'm not following you around the Cubs board trying to argue with everything you say, Andere.
   174. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 06, 2005 at 12:05 AM (#1762549)
The Cubs have quantity but not quality. The other problem is that the vast majority of these guys need to be on the 40 man roster which will preclude any 4 for 1 trades.

I think they have quality too. Only the teams in fire sale mode are looking to trade their best players. The Cubs have some big, flawed talent, and some good prospects to trade.

BTW, I promise I'm not following you around the Cubs board trying to argue with everything you say, Andere.

And I promise I'm not just being contrary.
   175. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: December 06, 2005 at 05:38 AM (#1763145)
From the latest Rosenthal:

The Cubs continue to push hard for Marlins center fielder Juan Pierre, but the Nationals' Brad Wilkerson could emerge as another option. Nationals GM Jim Bowden has long been interested in Cubs center fielder Corey Patterson, and the Cubs have a number of young pitchers who might appeal to the Nationals.

What's this? A guy on the right side of 30 who draws walks?

Obviously there's nothing to this rumor.
   176. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 06, 2005 at 05:40 AM (#1763152)
Wilkerson would be fantastic.

Jim Bowden is the league-wide panic button.
   177. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: December 06, 2005 at 05:51 AM (#1763162)
Of course, assuming Wilkerson even gets to the Cubs it's about 95% that he'll end up hitting 6th in the order, thereby wasting most of his useful OBP ability. He doesn't have the kind of speed necessary to hit at the top of the order.
   178. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 06, 2005 at 05:37 PM (#1763784)
From today's Tribune:

"Devil Rays right fielder Aubrey Huff, shortstop Julio Lugo and center fielder Joey Gathright, all of whom might be included in a multiplayer deal. Gathright is not the hitting talent of Pierre but is a good center fielder, and Lugo could fill the leadoff spot. Huff is a power-hitting left-handed hitter—an important ingredient—who is considered average defensively."

Actually, Gathright looks to me to be a younger, cheaper version of Juan Pierre.
   179. Andere Richtingen Posted: December 06, 2005 at 05:40 PM (#1763797)
Oh, and AJ Burnett is a Blue Jay. 5 years/$55 million is steep, but I wouldn't have screamed bloody murder if the Cubs had offered that. It's risky, but Burnett is a phenomenal talent. I guess if the Cubs are to throw that kind of money at a risky phenom, they should spend it on Prior and limit it to that.
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