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   1. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 24, 2006 at 02:27 PM (#1915834)
Giving multi-year contracts to Jacque Jones, Bobby Howry, Scott Eyre, and Neifi Perez accomplishes none of these goals. That's the frustrating part.
   2. Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate Posted: March 24, 2006 at 03:20 PM (#1915899)
I curse the missed opportunities.

* For the money the Cubs frittered away on fungible spare parts like Neifi Perez and Scott Eyre, they could have more than made up the difference between what the Dodgers are paying Rafael Furcal and what the Cubs (reportedly) offered. Meanwhile, is there anything in particular that Neifi Perez offers that makes him worth paying 4x as much as, say, Ryan Theriot?

* Luis Castillo ended up going to the Twins at a bargain-basement price. Maybe he's due for a breakdown in the not too distant future, but he's probably got at least one more ~.400 OBP season in him. Acquiring him would enable Hendry to deal Walker from a position of relative strength, or use him as a super-utility man, or something, and satisfied Dusty's compulsion to put a no-power middle infielder in the two hole, whether or not it makes sense for him to be there.

* Likewise, Milton Bradley was just sitting out there. Sort of a sociopath, of course, but if Dusty's reputation as a good clubhouse manager has any basis in reality, there is simply no better place for him to have ended up.

(etc.)

The Cubs spend way too much time making PR moves. The bullpen was not fantastic last year, but its travails were sorely exaggerated relative to the big problem -- the fact that the Cubs had a totally dysfunctional offense apart from D-Lee's career year. Talk radio caller types always blame the struggles of bad teams on the bullpen, because bullpen successes are (by def.) anticlimactic while its failures are spectacularly memorable. So signing a few gold-plated middle relievers is a (relatively) cheap 'n easy way to look like you're Doing Something, without ever actually having to make a high-risk, high-reward move.

For better or for worse, the Cubs are tapped into the Joe Sixpack zeitgeist. The front office, like the fans, want desperately to believe that winning is 100% a function of effort and heart and scrappiness and team unity. No level of sucking is inexcuseable for the Neifis of the world, because he's giving his all out there and outperforming his (ludicrously low) expectations. But even when Sammy Sosa was hitting like an avatar of Ted Williams, he was being ripped for selfishness on the talk shows et al. because he was hitting homers instead of laying down bunts.

Blah.
   3. diehard4life Posted: March 24, 2006 at 03:52 PM (#1915956)
I agree pretty much with Randy. Too many layers to sort out.

a cute brunette sat next to me, wearing a Grace jersey).
the Cubs are tapped into the Joe Sixpack

I'd offer the following options:
1. Get out before you get emotionally or financially entrenched.
2. Enjoy the hotties, sun, and beer.

I'm on plan 2. Any success above and over .500 will be a gee whiz season the trib can make glossy coffee table books out of.
   4. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 24, 2006 at 04:04 PM (#1915975)
I think the Cubs' offense and pitching were equally big problems. And considering that the whole modus operandi of the Cubs has supposedly been to have adequate hitting and great pitching, that means that the pitching has underperformed expectations more than the hitting.
   5. rr Posted: March 24, 2006 at 04:27 PM (#1916011)
“If no one minds, I have a small question : what is the general consensus, if any, about what the Cubs should be doing? Should they be trying to compete this year, with a hopefully healthy Prior and Zambrano,

Neutral about then Cubs, but read about them a lot here. Here's my .02:

As long as Baker is around, I think the Cubs are going to be "going for it." The team as presently constructed is not old, at all, but the core is made up of guys in their primes, so I think it is clear the team is built to win now.

As to what they should do, I think they should go for it. As roughly one zillion people have pointed out, if they got into post-season with Prior and Zambrano healthy and hot, they could go all the way.

However, as roughly two zillion people have pointed out, the current management does not seem to recognize the problems with the team all that well, and seems to make personnel decisions largely based on Dusty Baker's personal biases.
   6. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: March 24, 2006 at 04:35 PM (#1916020)
I curse the missed opportunities.

That's where I am. I think it boils down to player valuation problems - the Cubs seemingly have no idea what they need, what they don't need, and where the problems are. They had very specific needs going into 2004, and going into 2005, and going into 2006, and generally did nothing about them. They spend half of their time trumpeting how great the minor league system is and how they're going to build a Yankees-like dynasty on the backs of homegrown players. The other half is spent saying that you can't trust what kids do in September, you don't want a lot of young arms in the bullpen, you want to make sure X or Y is comfortable so you limit his playing time, etc. And then you back it up by signing a truckload of mediocre veterans.

Either we're a veteran team - in which case you go out and get the best available vets, not half-assed signings like Jones and Perez and Hollandsworth and a bunch of aging relievers - or we're a young team and you let the kids mature and grow by giving them the opportunity to play. The Cubs seem to be trying to stake out some middle ground by picking a little from A and a little from B and it's failing miserably. They want veterans because that's what Dusty (and maybe Hendry) likes, but they satisfy that itch by picking out seemingly the worst possible options, guys who are being cast off by their old teams because they stink. They want to develop useful young players from within, but only if it doesn't come at the expense of a veteran's playing time. What's the point of developing a lot of young arms, then releasing them when they're out of options or flipping them for PTBNL because you don't know what to do with them and you've filled half the bullpen with overpaid guys in their mid-30s?

And that's all aside from having a public presence that makes them one of the least likeable bunches around. Whether it's players complaining that the broadcasters are too nice to the opposition, or Baker complaining that the fans have no right to boo players on the other team, or Wood and Steve Stone yapping at each other in the press, or the team's fetish with burning bridges with guys as they leave town (or before they leave town, just to make sure whatever trade value they might have had is destroyed)... everyone just needs to shut up already.

The franchise is just a mess. Yes, injuries haven't helped things (and that's another area where there seem to be all kinds of problems that other teams don't have), but the player personnel moves have been just as bad. It's like a team that wants to contend every year but doesn't know how to do it, so they'll go out and make a bunch of stopgap signings in hopes of something working. Then, if it fails, the next offseason they'll turn a bunch of the roster over again and try a new strategy. If that fails, then another one, and another. You look at the dominant teams of the 1990s - New York and Atlanta - and you see a core of homegrown talent supplemented by high-profile veterans acquired by trade and free agency. The Cubs have done neither, and that's why they're doomed to continue in this stretch of mediocrity until someone figures it out.
   7. diehard4life Posted: March 24, 2006 at 06:08 PM (#1916213)
El Chupacabra got it 100% right. We are trying to do too many things halfas$'d. When we do pick a direction, it's just PR hotair.

-We're really about speed and manufacturing runs...yes 2005 another banner year for stranding guys.

-We're buidling a farm system...oh you can have a known bluechip now for whoever you have leftover in spring training.

-This team is built to win...We are gonna platoon mulletsworth and DuBois until the all-star break and hope like hell we can find someone to trade for.

This is the difference between happy times in 2003 and now:

The franchise is just a mess. Yes, injuries haven't helped things (and that's another area where there seem to be all kinds of problems that other teams don't have), but the player personnel moves have been just as bad. It's like a team that wants to contend every year but doesn't know how to do it, so they'll go out and make a bunch of stopgap signings in hopes of something working.

If Crusty/Hendry really were McGuyver, we'd have something from all the duct tape, bubble gum, bailing wire, and shims made from empty Olde Pile cans.

Also like Chupa said, now the fans are angry. Not just because fellow losers SOX (Both) won, because we didn't and then they feed us BS. Like keeping Wood up so long. We were out of "the race" by all star break last year.

I'll throw out a little optimism, It's Friday...

If Arms get healthy, and hitting and D do a decent job, then we may have a shot.

The Oliver Stone in me says we are waiting around to win EXACTLY 100 years after the last time.
   8. Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate Posted: March 24, 2006 at 07:49 PM (#1916381)

If Arms get healthy, and hitting and D do a decent job, then we may have a shot.


Which you can truthfully say of at least 25 of the 30 teams in MLB.

--

I think that the big problem (and this more or less ties into what UCCF said) is that the Cubs really blow at exploiting market inefficncies, the biggest one of course being rookies in their auto-renewal and arbitration years.

If your system doesn't produce home-grown talent, you can either:

a) Get premium-quality guys in free agency and just accept the fact that you're going to need at least $150m a year to field a team of all top-line FAs (cf. Yankees);
b) Find some skill that is undervalued in the market and get underpaid guys who embody that skill (cf. A's);
c) Suck a whole lot, pick can't miss guys with high picks in the draft, and rebuild (cf. D-Rays), or
d) Overpay for middle-class guys in their 30s who aren't appreciably better than the products of more competent franchises' farm systems, and pray that they all catch fire in the same season.

While the Trib is willing to lay out a decent payroll, they aren't willing to pay enough for approach a to really work. Approach b probably requires more brains than are present at Wrigley or the Trib Tower. (Even if, frex, OBP was still significantly undervalued in the free-agent market, it doesn't fit in with the Cubs' fetishization of aggressive hitters who put the ball in play.) The fans and the press don't have the patience for approach c. That leaves us with a whole lot of approach d. Even there, the approach is kooky. We turned Jason Dubois into Jody Gerut into Matt Lawton into absolutely nothing and then signed a guy who projects to be about as good as, oh, Jody Gerut, only we're paying him $5m a year for three years to do so.

Until the Cubs manage to develop a championship-caliber position player or two in house (I am optimistic re: Murton, but he would be the first instance of doing so since the Reagan Administration), they're gonna continue to only stumble into occasional playoffs.
   9. Bobby Savoy Posted: March 24, 2006 at 08:25 PM (#1916458)
Injuries aside, two things symbolize my experience as a Cubs fan last year. I don't even remember the exact games, but the first is the game when Cubs pitchers failed to cover first 3 times when the ball was hit to the right side. The second was, with two outs, a crap-ass bloop single by Neifi from the left side, bringing Lee up to bat, and Neifi gets caught stealing second. Actually, that might've happened more than once...

I hope to god I'm wrong, but I don't see this year being any different from the last. I don't see Prior or Wood for any sustained time. I see Dusty playing musical chairs with LF, SS, and 2B for the whole year. I see more Sunday lineups with not enough Aramis and way too much Neifi. I see me being pissed off every other day and going on strike as a fan about the middle of June.

But who knows...Maybe Ramirez and Lee have monster years, and Pierre hits .320 and steals 50, and Prior wins 20, and Murton and Cedeno exceed expectations, and we fleece the Pirates again and get Bay and Perez for chaff at the trade deadline, and maybe some worm hole opens beside the batting cage in April and Dusty and Neifi (and Grissom, too) get pulled in, never to return. I guess anything's possible.
   10. diehard4life Posted: March 24, 2006 at 10:51 PM (#1916820)
This topic is great. I'm hopping for that worm hole. Or a miracle or a made for TV movie.

All we have is hope right now. Some suit in the trib tower is wearing a new $5,600 dollar suite compliments of yours truly.

We turned Jason Dubois into Jody Gerut into Matt Lawton into absolutely nothing and then signed a guy who projects to be about as good as, oh, Jody Gerut, only we're paying him $5m a year for three years to do so.

For a few weeks, I thought they might just leave old gate Q open for one of the Waveland ball hawks to come in a try out. I wonder how much money was pissed away with all those great trades.

Jacque is an x factor, If someone spots flying pigs, we are gonna like him, otherwise, we have Jody Gerut + Oakleys + "Hard Guy Additude" = guaranteed walk for the guy in fron of him. His additude will be interesting. It might get him uninvited from the Dusty Buddy picnics, which means no punch, cookies, or pony rides, and more musical chairs.
   11. Meatwad Posted: March 26, 2006 at 05:40 AM (#1918711)
what they need to do is put guzman and marshall into the rotation, both have looked good this spring, esp today. both went 4 innings gave up not hits andno runs
   12. mjs Posted: March 26, 2006 at 06:11 AM (#1918729)
Thanks for all the commentary, everyone. Even though I've lived in StL all my life, the Cards haven't really drawn me in that much. I've been looking for a team to root for and the Cubs are really near the top of the list.
   13. Dr. Vaux Posted: March 26, 2006 at 06:49 AM (#1918758)
In heaven's name, WHY?
   14. Jeff K. Posted: March 26, 2006 at 06:59 AM (#1918769)
In heaven's name, WHY?

Cute brunettes.
   15. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 27, 2006 at 11:52 PM (#1921703)
Don't know where to put this...

From another thread citing the SF Chronicle:

The A's next move is likely to involve utility player Freddie Bynum. The Cubs are believed to have strong interest, with Pittsburgh and Florida among some of the other possibilities.

WTF!?!?!?!?!?
   16. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: March 28, 2006 at 12:37 AM (#1921777)
You can't be surprised by that. We always have a bazillion utility guys who do a lot of things, none of them well. You just know Dusty is pained by the absence of Macias. We were mentioned as suitors for Graffanino as well.

Neifi and Hairson are utility guys, but you know he'd love another one. Screw things like viable bats off the bench - options are the key.
   17. diehard4life Posted: March 28, 2006 at 12:42 AM (#1921788)
You can't be surprised by that. We always have a bazillion utility guys who do a lot of things, none of them well. You just know Dusty is pained by the absence of Macias. We were mentioned as suitors for Graffanino as well.

Neifi and Hairson are utility guys, but you know he'd love another one. Screw things like viable bats off the bench - options are the key.


ITS FECKIN' Baseball not LEGOS CRUSTY!!!
   18. diehard4life Posted: March 28, 2006 at 12:44 AM (#1921792)
Cute brunettes.

I just sold some tix to one. See also Trixie. Cute, thin, wool jacket, fancy shoes, and trusty puma bowling bag purse.

She'll be there 8/3 and 7/20.
   19. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 28, 2006 at 01:29 AM (#1921863)
Bynum does have everything a Dusty could want: the power of Tom Goodwin, the plate approach of Neifi Perez, the defensive prowess of Jose Macias, and the utter redundancy of Lenny Harris.

Cedeno is hearing footsteps.
   20. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 28, 2006 at 01:33 AM (#1921871)
I just sold some tix to one.

Sold?

As in: not a barter transaction?
   21. Jeff K. Posted: March 28, 2006 at 01:35 AM (#1921875)
I just sold some tix to one. See also Trixie. Cute, thin, wool jacket, fancy shoes, and trusty puma bowling bag purse.

She'll be there 8/3 and 7/20.


Don't tell me, tell Mike.
   22. Rodder Posted: March 28, 2006 at 01:57 AM (#1921901)
Was it this cute brunette and former Mark Grace fan?

Link
   23. diehard4life Posted: March 28, 2006 at 03:23 PM (#1922519)
As in: not a barter transaction?

They were Thursday Day games which may or may not have any value, I was pleased to get face.

She seemed to want to get away from me as fast as possible. While I was looking a little haggard, I didn't think I looked creepy...

She probably thought, "I wonder why that old man had bleacher tix..."

All I can say is she is one more probable beaver shot in a skirt on the way up to the beer tapper...

One more girl posing with Ronny Woo Woo who thinks "Old Grand Dad" is aftershave...
   24. Meatwad Posted: March 29, 2006 at 10:04 PM (#1924686)
diehard, do you have season tickets?

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