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   1. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 07, 2007 at 09:14 PM (#2565727)
Well, it will take quality, committed ownership. Without it, we have to hope that in one of those occasional years when the Cubs stumble into the playoffs that they'll actually get hot and win it all.
   2. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: October 07, 2007 at 10:16 PM (#2565884)
Wonderful post, dJf. I feel much the same way about the Leafs ( I haven't seen a title win for any of my favourite teams either, not since I was 5). One silver lining - the Cubs have money. That helps.
   3. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: October 08, 2007 at 01:36 AM (#2566642)
Keep the faith DjF. I fell in love with the Boston Red Sox as a 10-year-old playing on a Little League team called the Red Sox in Wadsworth, Ohio, during the Summer of ......... 1978.

After 1978, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1995, 1998, and 1999, I finally had my "They're NEVER going to do it" moment in the aftermath of the 2003 ALCS. Chicago Cubs: 2008 World Series Champs?

My Red Sox may never win another, but flags truly fly forever and I'll always have my 2004 World Series DVD!
   4. Lassus Posted: October 08, 2007 at 01:50 AM (#2566692)
oh please
   5. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 08, 2007 at 02:48 AM (#2566828)
Keep the faith DjF. I fell in love with the Boston Red Sox as a 10-year-old playing on a Little League team called the Red Sox in Wadsworth, Ohio, during the Summer of ......... 1978.

You poor thing! In the 30 seasons since you've had to endure a sub-.500 record six times!
   6. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: October 08, 2007 at 02:53 AM (#2566835)
It's always darkest before dawn. I'm sure a lot of Red Sox fans felt the same way after the 2001 season. The Cubs have tons of money. It'll eventually happen.
   7. base ball chick Posted: October 08, 2007 at 03:18 AM (#2566871)
oh honey, i'm sorry.

i understand you depressed right now, but you getting a new owner, you got a HUGE fan base and will have lots and LOTS of money and louis a LOT bettern dusty and it IS baseball and youneverknow
   8. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: October 08, 2007 at 03:40 AM (#2566887)
They'll be good again next year. And Indiana has a pretty good football team this year.
   9. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 08, 2007 at 04:00 AM (#2566904)
I've long made a joke: Only one thing happens to die hard Cubs fans - death.

Off the ledge, Mike, off the ledge. I have no idea what future ownership holds, but a change opens up possibilities.
   10. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 08, 2007 at 04:41 AM (#2566928)
Keep the faith DjF. I fell in love with the Boston Red Sox as a 10-year-old playing on a Little League team called the Red Sox in Wadsworth, Ohio, during the Summer of ......... 1978.

I appreciate it, but there's something I want to clarify --

I didn't mean to write this as some sort of reaction to this year's playoffs. I meant to confess to something far deeper.

It isn't this year that has caused me to lose faith -- at least as it applies to a World Series. I lost faith in a World Series sometime in 1985 or so. Truthfully, I wonder if I even had it in the first place.

As a Cubs fan growing up in the '70s, I don't recall ever thinking "this team will win the World Series." I may have said something to that effect when I was 2 or 3, but I certainly don't remember saying it and don't recall that feeling.

Instead, for the most part I just took it as a given that the Cubs were a major league team that wasn't especially good. Winning the World Series (or even making the playoffs) wasn't even a blip on the radar screen. I mean, I'm sure that I figured it *could* happen, but it wasn't something that I ever measured my enjoyment against. I just enjoyed the baseball experience and hoped that this was going to be one of those days that my heroes would win. I just liked to watch them play, loved to visit the ballpark, hoped that this day would be one in which my heroes would win.

(In following the Rays a few years ago, one of the most enjoyable aspects of it is that I largely feel the same way about the Rays today as I did about the Cubs in the '70 -- namely, that they had all sorts of talent and reason for optimism, but I don't seriously think they'll be any pennants flying over/in Tropicana Field.)

Anyway, back to the Cubs. I do remember, going to this game in 1977. I remember that they won the game and that my dad and I were thrilled that the Cubs had moved into first place in the NL East. It wasn't the first time this had happened -- I was alive for the '69 season and the team had June leads in '70, '73, and '75. I think my main feeling was simply that the Cubs might actually be a "good team." Heck, even then I don't believe I saw the Cubs as pennant contenders, but looked at their place in the standings as somewhat of a marvelous oddity.

The closest thing to "World Series faith" that I had was in '84. I wrapped myself all around that team, but even though I believed that they were the best team in the NL that year (I still believe that), the best I thought was that they were going to give the Tigers a run for their money -- maybe even win it if things went their way. When the Padres antichrist at first base hit that home run off Lee Smith, my balloon was burst and I don't recall ever seriously thinking they could/would *win* the World Series ever since.

Who knows. I've spent most -- nearly all -- of my life not thinking seriously about a Cubs World Series. To me, it's like thinking about winning the lottery or something -- it's a fantastic pipe dream, but it won't really be something I try to base my enjoyment upon.

Instead, I've happily rooted for the team to simply win -- win the next game, win the division, whatever. Just get to the next level, whatever it may be.
   11. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 08, 2007 at 04:48 AM (#2566931)
i understand you depressed right now, but you getting a new owner, you got a HUGE fan base and will have lots and LOTS of money and louis a LOT bettern dusty and it IS baseball and youneverknow

Thanks. Everything you say is absolutely true. I just can't seriously think it *will* happen. Something will stand in the way. Maybe the new owner will be thinly capitalized. Maybe the owner will hire a crappy GM, who brings in crappy players. Maybe everything will seem to go well, only to have something like Bartman or Leon Durham happen. Who knows.

It *could* happen, but just as a Vermont NCAA basketball championship isn't going to ever happen, neither will a Cubs World Series. It doesn't mean I shouldn't root for the team; it just means that when the Cubs bow out, it is truly, deep down, ok -- they weren't really going to do it anyway.
   12. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:00 AM (#2566937)
OK, someone has to do it.

All things considered, and in comparison to their peers of the last 25 years, the Tribune Company hasn't done a half bad job. What little success the Cubs have had - 5 playoff appearances and 2-3 seasons that were reasonably close since they purchased the team - is certainly more than they'd have had under continued Wrigley ownership.

The problem hasn't been "wanting to win", it's never been about payroll, and it really hasn't even been about spending the cash on the marquee players. Sure - failing any push for A-Rod (on the FA or the trade block) was a failure. Letting Maddux go in a snit was a failure. Still - they've set payroll 'records' at least twice that I can recall (Sutcliffe being award the first 2 mil+ contract and I believe Sandberg's last pre-retirement deal was likewise the richest at the time).

As you say, it's been poor decision making. Frankly, the Tribune's failures with the Cubs smell a lot like the falling fortune's of the mothership -- a staid corporation unable to grasp new concepts, innovate -- or even latch on to and co-opt the innovations of its competitors.

Will the Cubs benefit from a wild-spending, win-at-all, costs egomaniacal billionaire at the helm? I suppose it depends on whether that owner is a George Steinbrenner or a Peter Angelos (and whether that's an 80s era Steinbrenner or not).

I'm not ready to say "my lifetime" - but I do think it won't be under the current regime. I think Hendry sees 2007 as a success - I think he misses what this was, an overrated, ill-fitting team that benefitted from a Brewers team that needed another year to grow and a generally crappy NL. The real problem is that this team needs to blown up and rebuilt. Has there ever been a playoff team with LESS upside heading into the next season? Beyond possibly Rich Hill - it's hard to see where the Cubs get significantly better (Soto behind the plate, perhaps). Soriano shouldn't start really looking old for the money for another season or 2 - but one has to wonder if the quad was bad luck or a harbinger of things to come for an atheletic ballpler entering his early-mid 30s. Derek Lee is certainly a nice player, but I think we can probably now call 2004 a career year. Aramis Rameriz is what he is, a fine 3rd bat. No one on this team looks like they'll be appreciably better in 2008 than he was in 2007. I'm still not a Pie believer, but I would think even those that are would realistically say he's likely to have his ups and downs.
   13. baudib Posted: October 08, 2007 at 07:33 AM (#2566974)
You're right, the Cubs will never win.
   14. Phil Coorey. Posted: October 08, 2007 at 09:02 AM (#2566979)
I'd wait and see who buys the team.

My lifelong team in Australia has not one the premiership since I have been alive, but I am still waiting. Go Souths!!!
   15. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 08, 2007 at 12:23 PM (#2566999)
All things considered, and in comparison to their peers of the last 25 years, the Tribune Company hasn't done a half bad job.

They haven't done nearly so good a job as to be considered half-bad.

What little success the Cubs have had - 5 playoff appearances and 2-3 seasons that were reasonably close since they purchased the team - is certainly more than they'd have had under continued Wrigley ownership.

Doing better than Phillip K. isn't exactly tombstone material.

From 1982-onward, the Cubs have gone 1999-2140. They have won one post-season series. They have 9 winning seasons to go along with 17 losing seasons. They've had back-to-back winning seasons once. They had three 90-win seasons (one of which had #90 come in a playoff for the wild card), and 7 90-loss seasons. They lost at least 94 games thrice, but only in 1984 did they ever win that many. These are not signs of a good ownership group. That they had this lack of success while willing to spend money on the team is in some ways all the more damning. They had no idea what they were doing.

They hired one manager who was ever rehired by another team, and he was never considered to be all that great a manager. And that was almost 25 years ago. They almost exclusively hired re-treads to run their squads. The only non-retreads they brought in were - God help us all - Jim Essian and Bruce Kim.

The last successful position player they developed was Mark Grace. Hopefully Soto can break that trend.
   16. villageidiom Posted: October 08, 2007 at 12:47 PM (#2567004)
I'm not at all emotionally invested in the Cubs. And I am certain they will win it all in my lifetime.

In your lifetime you've known no real success from the Cubs. The last time the team has had a prolonged run of success was in the 1930's. Since then, every 90-win season has been a blip among 77-win seasons. As such, looking back on history it's easy to dismiss their occasional successes as a fluke.

For the Cubs - or any team - to advance through the postseason with a flukey team, they need a lot of things to go their way. Either they need to get hot at exactly the right time - hard to do when you're playing against the best teams - or they need to get a ton of breaks in their favor. That's not a good plan for success, but that's what Cubs fans have had to deal with for far too long.

That said, there is nothing that can forbid them from building a non-flukey good team. Current management is not ideal, and current ownership is not awake; but both will change relatively soon. The new ownership will almost certainly not use the team as a cash cow, instead running it like a business and doing their best to turn it into a perennial competitor - because nothing brings in the bucks quite like winning.

Yes, I'm a Red Sox fan, and I've been very fortunate in the last few years. But the last few years are the product of new ownership. They've improved the stadium; they've gotten a lot of low-hanging fruit out of their TV network. They've used the team as a base for tangential development, buying up the real estate surrounding the park and developing it in an attempt to make the neighborhood as much of a destination as the park itself. But almost none of these things pays off for them unless they also make the team better. And that they have.

Have faith. It'll feel that much sweeter when they win it. And they will.
   17. Spahn Insane Posted: October 08, 2007 at 12:57 PM (#2567008)
You're right, the Cubs will never win.

How'd that karmic justice treat your boys last month, troll?
   18. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: October 08, 2007 at 02:49 PM (#2567138)
I was as certain as could be that the White Sox would never win so much as a pennant while I lived. I had no reason to think they would...every time they got to the playoffs, and that wasn't often, they got hammered. Lucky to win a game at all, and taking a series was out of the question. Sound familiar?

When they ousted the Angels in the '05 ALDS, I was over the moon. Then they completed the deal. I'm happy at least until 2061, when I'll be 100. You'll get that one day.
   19. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: October 08, 2007 at 02:53 PM (#2567142)
I don't disagree with your response, Dag --

I just can't help but wonder - does the blame for that performance lie with the suits at Trib towers, or, with the Greens, the Lynches, the Freys, the Himes, the MacFails, and the Hendrys?

Does the Trib get involved - on occasion? I'm sure they do. Neither the Soriano or Zambrano deal get signed without someone in the Tower giving the OK. However, I doubt very much that they had all that much involvement in bringing in Neifi... or signing him to a 2/6 deal... or wasting more than a 1000 at-bats on him.

I think ownership just makes a convenient target. Other than Dallas Green, I don't know of any Cub front office types that have left with complaints about the Towers being a hindrance (and so far as Green, has he ever left a job WITHOUT saying it was the owernship group/owner's fault he couldn't win?). All the personnel they brought in to construct and run the team -- Green, Frey, Himes, MacPhail - all came with good pedigrees. Even Hendry - setting aside 20/20 hindsight - seemed like the right call. He had presided over a real resurgence in the ammy draft, foreign talent, minor league development (sure, looks like a mirage now, but there's no denying that virtually EVERYONE --- BA, BP, etc -- was giving Hendry high marks 5 years ago).

I have no love for the Tribune company, but I have a hard time finding themes in Cub failuredom that aren't best pinned on the "baseball men" they employed. You can say THAT's the problem - but beyond taking a chance on a Billy Beane pre-Billy Beane\tm/ or someone similar - the worst you can say is that their front office hires were uninspired choices... I don't think we can say they were "bad" choices (again, without the benefit of hindsight).

One can say that's the problem - the Towers 'tinkers' rather than 'runs' the team - but I don't think a Steinbrenner/Angelos type owner is the answer either.

Don't mistake my defense of this regime - 2007 was probably the window for this team. Even with the Jocketty-less Cardinals likely destined for a stretch of mediocrity, I think the Brewers look like they'll be tough through the end of the decade. I think the Reds are showing some movement in the right direction, too (is it me, or does their system not get the respect it probably deserves?).

I think the best thing a new owner can bring to the table IS in fact a "fresh start" - a total demolition and rebuilding of this team. I don't want an owner calling the manager on the field or being the one to sit in at the winter meetings, but I would want an owner that:

1)Instills a recognition that overpaying for TOP talent is not the same as overpaying for talent. It's not the "big" contracts that cause problems, it's the piddly wastes to a Jacque Jones, a Neifi Perez, a Jason Marquis, etc that hurt. While it's true there's only 1 A-Rod, the fact is -- we might see some not-quite-A-Rod's become available either on the FA market or the trade block in the next 2-5 years. Santana, Pujols, Cabrera... who knows, maybe even a Wright or a Reyes has a nasty split with NY. I hope the new owner recognizes that Soriano is NOT the type you set salary benchmarks with... that the Pujols/Cabrera/Santana types RARELY become available - but when they do, THOSE are hte players you jump on and overpay for.

2)Insists the organization instill an appreciation of the walk. I think it's normally silly to make these types of things 'organizational goals' -- EVERY team always tosses out the "we need to focus on our fundamentals", etc... but in the case of the Cubs, the team's striking inability to recognize the value of the free pass is mind-boggling. It permeates the whole organization - they don't draft players with good plate awareness, they either don't emphasize it in the minors or if they do, have no chops at teaching it, they don't value it in the trade market, the FA market or anywhere else. The best eye on this team is 25 and likely to get moved this offseason. Here's where the Cubs placed in the NL in runs and BBs since 1984... why can no one in the organization seem to recognize the correlation?
1984 - 1st in runs scored, 1st in BBs
1985 - 4th in runs, 3rd in BBs
1986 - 5th in runs, 10th in BBs
1987 - 7th in runs, 10th in BBs
1988 - 4th in runs, 12th in BBs
1989 - 6th in runs, 4th (tied) in BBs
1990 - 6th in runs, 12th in BBs
1991 - 11th in runs, 6th in BBs
1992 - 10th in runs, 12th in BBs
1993 - 6th in runs, 11th in BBs
1994 - 10th in runs, 8th (T) in BBs
1995 - 4th in runs, 12th in BBs
1996 - 9th in runs, 5th in BBs
1997 - 12th in runs, 12th in BBs
1998 - 4th in runs, 6th in BBs
1999 - 11th in runs, 1oth in BBs
2000 - 9th in runs, 6th in BBs
2001 - 7th in runs, 5th in BBs
2002 - 9th in runs, 6th in BBs
2003 - 9th in runs, 12th in BBs
2004 - 7th in runs, 12th in BBs
2005 - 9th n runs, 14th in BBs
2006 - 13th in runs, 14th in BBs
2007 - 8th in runs, 13th in BBs

I know I'm preaching to the choir - but I hope a new owner will recognize that the Cubs have led the NL in runs scored just once since 1984... I don't think it was a coincidence it was also the only year they led the NL in BBs. The ONLY thing on the 'baseball' side of the coin I want an owner to stick his nose in is to instill a militant respect for the base on balls. I want scouts looking for players that will take a walk. I want my minor league instructors preaching it. I want my FA and trade acquisitions to "get" it. I want my pitchers to understand the converse -- if the hitters are focusing on drawing walks, then I should be focused on avoiding them.

3)Young pitcher TLC... Pitchers are always going to be a risk, but the arm problems we've seen every young pitcher not named Zambrano have would give me pause. I don't know what the answer is - but I would want the new owner to take a detailed look at our training regimens. I want top-flight medical staff throughout the organization. Don't skimp on facilities, on trainers, on doctors. Revolutionalize the way we track the health of pitchers. Revolutionize how we treat them.

4)Recognize the increased value of high-performing kids -- yes, the Yankees can saddle themselves with any contract they like... BUT -- they're also relying on 3 key performers making near the ML minimum (Wang, Cano, Cabrera). The Cubs have never 'gotten' this. They waste service time. They yank young players around, pissing away cheap years left and right. They can start with Soto... don't much around with a "veteran" -- give the job to Soto, and see if you can't get 3 cheap years of at least average C work. Don't haul in a 'veteran' if you WANT the kid to do the job. Yes, Murton looked lost in the first part of the season... but when you haul in 2 FA OFs to join your in-house vet, what do you expect?

5)Develop a strategy of SOME kind to use to approach the draft -- and "best player available" is NOT a strategy. This isn't the NFL - where one has to expect a draftee to produce immediately. I really don't care if it's a "lower ceiling, safer college draftee" strategy OR a "younger, rawer players we can develop" type strategy (though you better be damn sure with the latter that you have a top flight organization that CAN develop them). There is no strategy to the way the Cubs have drafted... one year, they take an 18 y.o. lefthander. The next, they reach on a college player so they can overspend on a very raw college player. There needs to be some sort of cohesive approach to their draft strategy... something that jibes from one year to the next.
   20. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 08, 2007 at 03:16 PM (#2567199)
The last successful position player they developed was Mark Grace.

This is well-known, but still strikes me as a bit curious.

What about Matt Murton is successful, is it that the Cubs haven't "developed" him because he began his minor league career with the Red Sox? If so, then wouldn't Eric Hinske be "developed" by the Cubs?

What about Ryan Theriot?

None of these players are the caliber of Grace, but does this mean they aren't "successful"? What is?
   21. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 08, 2007 at 03:21 PM (#2567209)
[T]here is nothing that can forbid them from building a non-flukey good team. Current management is not ideal, and current ownership is not awake; but both will change relatively soon. The new ownership will almost certainly not use the team as a cash cow, instead running it like a business and doing their best to turn it into a perennial competitor - because nothing brings in the bucks quite like winning.

Absolutely. It is certainly more than possible that they can win a World Series some day. I just think that something will always stand in the way.

It's a bit funny -- and totally understandable -- to me that this message is being taken as one of hopelessness. It's not exactly what I intended. As I recently told a good friend:

The truth is that I never really had "faith" in the first place — at least not in that respect [of winning the World Series].

Winning a World Series would be a terrific thing, but I don't believe I ever really thought it was going to happen -- and for about as long as I can remember I never really considered it to be the "be all, end all." Seriously, did you ever think as a kid that the Cubs were going to win a World Series — that they deserved to be placed alongside the Yankees and Dodgers? Did you consider winning a World Series something that would complete and justify your existence as a Cubs fan?

What I actually was intending to say was something like "screw the World Series, isn't it enough to be a Cubs fan and actually have them won something?”
   22. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 08, 2007 at 03:27 PM (#2567223)
Of course the Tribune Company has been a disaster. I don't think any team in MLB history has done so little with so much. Granted, the Tribune Co. itself is responsible to a good extent for the "so much" side of the ledger, but they have been ridiculously poor at turning it into wins.

And you don't have to look very far to find solid evidence faulting them. One simple thing is to look at the division rivals. The Astros, who have much less in terms of resources and are outdrawn by the Cubs year after year, have only finished behind the Cubs in the standings twice in the fourteen years they've been in the same division, with a fairly consistently smaller payroll. To me, that's solid proof that the Cubs have no clue what they are doing. The Cardinals, who also have good resources, also run circles around the Cubs in most seasons.

The last successful position player they developed was Mark Grace.

This is well-known, but still strikes me as a bit curious.


I've been harping on this for a long, long time, but the way I try to phrase it is "last star position player."
   23. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: October 08, 2007 at 03:30 PM (#2567227)
And you don't have to look very far to find solid evidence faulting them. One simple thing is to look at the division rivals. The Astros, who have much less in terms of resources and are outdrawn by the Cubs year after year, have only finished behind the Cubs in the standings twice in the fourteen years they've been in the same division, with a fairly consistently smaller payroll. To me, that's solid proof that the Cubs have no clue what they are doing. The Cardinals, who also have good resources, also run circles around the Cubs in most seasons.


That's good evidence that the Cubs define success in terms of revenue rather than wins. Sure, Hendry wants to win, but the Trib has no incentive to replace him until his continuing presence as GM hurts revenue.

If we get a new owner who defines success in terms of wins, we'll be better off.
   24. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 08, 2007 at 03:42 PM (#2567241)
Barf. Your team has a near $100 million payroll and will have for a long time. You will win one eventually. Probably within the next decade.

I have much more sympathy for Pirates fans.
   25. JPWF13 Posted: October 08, 2007 at 04:03 PM (#2567278)
The closest thing to "World Series faith" that I had was in '84. I wrapped myself all around that team, but even though I believed that they were the best team in the NL that year (I still believe that)


The thing is, that team was a fluke.
The 8 regulars had an average OPS+ of 106.
The same 8 had an average OPS+ of 102 over 1983-85

The 5 Sp with the most IP in 1984 had an average ERA of 118
The same 5 SP had an average ERA+ of 103 from 1983-85

You had an 85 win team on talent go 96-65 because more guys had good years by their own standards than not. Fluke teams do every now and then go all the way (witness the 69 Mets for instance)- but you can't plan or build on that.

That's part of the Cubs problem- they never have the best team, the best players, at best they build a team that should win 85 games or so, and they cross their fingers and hope enough things bounce right. In recent years the Cubs have crossed their fingers and said that if A, B, C and D ALL happen, we can win. The problem is what the Cubs point out as A, B , C and D tend to be rather unlikely- more unlikely than the A,B,C and D of teams that legitimately view themselves as contenders.

From my vantage point (said POV being a non Cubs fan)- what was so surprising about the Cubs from 1985-86 was how slow whoever was running the team was to realize that the team as constructed- essentially the same team as 1984- was not a contender.

The 1989 team wasn't all that good either, though it did have Grace and Maddux as good young players, it was also reliant upon unsustainable performances from the likes of Dwight Smith and Mike Bielecki and Jerome Walton.

What you have is a series of 75-80 win season occasionally broken up by a 90 win season.
The Cubs have not been unlucky, they have had their fair share of luck, what they have not had is their "fair share" of good teams.
   26. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 08, 2007 at 04:12 PM (#2567284)
I don't disagree with your response, Dag --

I just can't help but wonder - does the blame for that performance lie with the suits at Trib towers, or, with the Greens, the Lynches, the Freys, the Himes, the MacFails, and the Hendrys?


When you have that many failed GMs with so few succcessful ones, you have to start questioning those on top of the GM. The Trib did a bad job spotting executive talent, you did a bad job hiring managers and players.

I have no love for the Tribune company, but I have a hard time finding themes in Cub failuredom that aren't best pinned on the "baseball men" they employed. You can say THAT's the problem - but beyond taking a chance on a Billy Beane pre-Billy Beane\tm/ or someone similar - the worst you can say is that their front office hires were uninspired choices

Making about 10 straight uninspired choices in a row leads me to conclude the upper management in the Tower is uninspired as well. Their recent troubles aside from teh Cubs don't make me revise that assesment either.

Acutally, they get high marks in one way: they have been masters at marketing . Sure it helps to have a superstation, but they wer the first team to have annual winter fan conventions, they nabbed Harry Carry while the Reinsdorf/Einhorn team committed PR hari kari letting him go.

This is well-known, but still strikes me as a bit curious.

What about Matt Murton is successful, is it that the Cubs haven't "developed" him because he began his minor league career with the Red Sox? If so, then wouldn't Eric Hinske be "developed" by the Cubs?

What about Ryan Theriot?

None of these players are the caliber of Grace, but does this mean they aren't "successful"? What is?


Yeah, I know there's a bit of playing fast and loose. My take:

Player development begins in the minors and continues in the majors. No one has gone all the way through the Cubs system from draft to successfully nailing down a starting job since Grace. They have several partial credits, but no full credits. Murton began in Boston. Hinske finished in Toronto. Theriot would be the first if he can pull off a full season.

Really, the guy you should've mentioned is Corey Patterson. He's their big success in the last 15 years. He did have at least one good season.

Either way you slice it, the Cubs have not been good at drafting and developing players in many a moon.
   27. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: October 08, 2007 at 04:28 PM (#2567304)
Maybe I'm just doomed to be on the losing side of this argument -- but it's awfully hard for me to fault their front office choices without the benefit of hindsight.

Dallas Green. Jim Frey. Larry Himes. Andy MacPhail. All of these men came with good pedigrees. All of them had been successful in other orgs.

Even WITH hindsight - who would have been better choices at the time? I honestly cannot recall an instance during Trib ownership where I remember saying "I wish they had hired X instead". Maybe THAT's the problem - maybe rather than the 'safe' choices, the renowned 'baseball men' brought in, perhaps the Tribco should have been more adventurous. Maybe they should have taken a chance on a lesser known and untested someone... but that's frought with peril, too. I mean... Allard Baird... JP Riccardi... Paul DePodesta (and yes, he didn't get a fair shot in LA)... I suspect we would have just had an entirely different complaint about the Tribune.

I'm not defending the futility of the last 25 years... I'm just saying that I don't see how the "Tribune" has been the problem. Have they been too slow to change regimes? Too quick? Too hands off? Too hands on?

If you want to say the buck has to stop at the top, so be it.... but honestly, what decision or lack of a decision that's enamanated from the Towers can be blamed?

I just don't see it.
   28. McCoy Posted: October 08, 2007 at 04:38 PM (#2567315)
Making about 10 straight uninspired choices in a row leads me to conclude the upper management in the Tower is uninspired as well. Their recent troubles aside from teh Cubs don't make me revise that assesment either.

I just highlight this and use it for the whole mediocre GM type argument going on. The Tribune has almost always tried for the best execs. When the Trib took over they went out and got Dallas Green who was probably the best GM out there at the time and Green overhauled the Cubs and its farm system. He got bumped up and put upstairs and installed his buddy Frey. Okay bad choice. Then they brought in Larry Himes who at the time was very highly thought of. Himes while running the White Sox completely rebuilt them and had some wonderful draft picks.
Then they bring in Andy MacPhail who again at the time was one of the best execs to run the Cubs. He installed some Ed Lynch which yeah wasn't that hot of a choice but I think most people felt that MacPhail was the one really calling the shots. After he let Lynch go he took over the GM duties and did fairly well and then he brought in Hendry who again did fairly well.

The Tribune has not in its history of owning the Cubs gone out and gotten dreck for their front office. To run the team they had Dallas Green who at the time was the best and then went out and got 2 WS championship GM Andy MacPhail to run the team until 2006. It didn't produce championships but I can't see how you can blame the Trib by saying they didn't hire talent to do the job.
   29. JPWF13 Posted: October 08, 2007 at 04:47 PM (#2567326)
Dallas Green. Jim Frey. Larry Himes. Andy MacPhail. All of these men came with good pedigrees. All of them had been successful in other orgs.


Yes, and after they come to Chicago it's almost like they're mailing it in.
To be blunt, it's almost like when a team repeatedly goes out and gets the guys who were all stars 5 years ago, but are now 33 and slowing down.

Ok. executives don't follow an athletes aging curve, but most of you know what I mean.
I think the Tribune looked at someone's resume, and said years of experience? CHECK, past sucess? CHECK {which is at least better than some teams who seemingly do not think top ask about past success).

The Tribune doesn't ask, is seemingly incapable of asking: What is this guy's skills? What specifically does he do well, or poorly, and how does that fit with what we currently do well, or poorly, what do we specifically need?
   30. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: October 08, 2007 at 04:49 PM (#2567329)
I think it's also eerie that just when a regime has run out of time, they're able to put together that playoff team that buys them another 3-4 years.

'84, '89, '98, '03 -- in each case, I believe you had a regime who's time to show 'results' was due or nearing being due. They deliver a playoff team (albeit flawed playoff team), then we suffer through a decline phase... then a new regime comes in - faced with trying to undo damage done. Whoever takes over Hendry is going to be in a tough situation... Likely to be dealing with 2-3 years of an old and overpaid Soriano, who knows what else...
   31. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: October 08, 2007 at 04:57 PM (#2567339)
The Tribune doesn't ask, is seemingly incapable of asking: What is this guy's skills? What specifically does he do well, or poorly, and how does that fit with what we currently do well, or poorly, what do we specifically need?

OK - maybe that's the heart of the matter. Like I said initially - innovation has never been their strong point (and it's usually not at MOST mega corporations). Not-so-innovative regimes have certainly won titles -- but I think it's awfully hard for ANY big market team to take that chance... Look no further than the DePodesta debacle in LA -- big market team tries to get innovative. Regime gets savaged in the media and the experiment gets aborted only a year in.

Innovation is a double-edged sword -- a new idea or new concept can blow up spectacularly just as easily it can succeed.... maybe easier.
   32. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 08, 2007 at 04:59 PM (#2567342)
I've been harping on this for a long, long time, but the way I try to phrase it is "last star position player."

That's more fair, but where do the Cubs rank in that respect? Let's try to put some better definition to this: Mark Grace was a three-time All Star. Joe Girardi was a one-time All-Star. Let's go with "multiple All-Stars" as a criteria.

(We still have to deal with the Matt Murton/Eric Hinske problem I described above, but I'll try to put that aside.)

For each of the other teams in MLB, here are star position players developed more recently than Mark Grace. (These are *NOT* the most recent or most prominent; they are the first ones I found or thought of.)

ARI -- ???
ATL -- Andruw Jones
BAL -- Brian Roberts
BOS -- Nomar Garciaparra
CHW -- Carlos Lee
CIN -- ???
CLE -- Victor Martinez
COL -- Matt Holliday
DET -- Travis Fryman
FLA -- Miguel Cabrera
HOU -- Lance Berkman
KC -- Mike Sweeney
LAD -- Paul Lo Duca
LAA -- Garret Anderson
MIL -- Mark Loretta
MIN -- Torii Hunter
NYM -- David Wright
NYY -- Derek Jeter
OAK -- Miguel Tejada
PHI -- Jimmy Rollins
PIT -- Jason Kendall
SD -- ???
SEA -- Alex Rodriguez
SF -- ???
STL -- Albert Pujols
TB -- Carl Crawford
TEX -- Hank Blalock
TOR -- Vernon Wells
WAS -- Jose Vidro
   33. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:00 PM (#2567345)
The thing is, that team was a fluke.
The 8 regulars had an average OPS+ of 106.
The same 8 had an average OPS+ of 102 over 1983-85

The 5 Sp with the most IP in 1984 had an average ERA of 118
The same 5 SP had an average ERA+ of 103 from 1983-85


Where do you draw the line between fluke and a good year? By your own accounts, the 1984 team was above average. In 1983, they scored almost as many runs as they allowed. They then gained Sutcliffe, Sanderson, and Eckersley. Plus Sandberg entered his prime (with his career year).

If you look at 100 teams who had the best record in their leagues, you'll find a large majority who had their starters and pitchers - on the whole - do better than they did in surrounding years.

This isn't '89. They weren't getting their big successes from Les Lancaster, Lloyd McClendon, Jerome Walton, Rick Wrona, and Dwight Smith.

The had four big starters in '84. Every single one went down with injury in 1985. At the same damn time. Up to that point in time they were in first place. As late as mid-June they were in first place. With injuries they crashed badly.

They were a good team that gelled. The same can be said for many teams that won 96 or more games.

The Tribune has not in its history of owning the Cubs gone out and gotten dreck for their front office. To run the team they had Dallas Green who at the time was the best and then went out and got 2 WS championship GM Andy MacPhail to run the team until 2006. It didn't produce championships but I can't see how you can blame the Trib by saying they didn't hire talent to do the job.

If there's an established track record of a bunch of GMs who do well in other cities all coming to Chicago and flaying, then that's not a defense of the ownership. That sounds like how the Pittsburgh Pirates handle their prospects.

If you want to say the buck has to stop at the top, so be it.... but honestly, what decision or lack of a decision that's enamanated from the Towers can be blamed?

Here's the problem there - we don't have access to the internal notes and meeting info that went on up there. It's very difficult to see what impact they have at all. The main thing we have to go on are the results. For me, 26 years isn't a small sample size. There's just a fundamental clueless that pervades the baseball operations.
   34. McCoy Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:01 PM (#2567346)
How was Dallas Green mailing it in?

He brought over Ryne Sandberg, Ron Cey, Bob Dernier Gary Matthews, Keith Moreland, Dennis Eckersley, and Rick Sutcliffe in trades. He drafted Dunston, Maddux, Moyer, Palmeiro, and Hall.

He wasn't past his prime and he wasn't mailing it in.

So how was Andy MacPhail mailing it in?
   35. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:02 PM (#2567348)
Ok. executives don't follow an athletes aging curve

Well . . .at least not as obvious and consistent of one.
   36. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:07 PM (#2567352)
The thing is, that team was a fluke.
The 8 regulars had an average OPS+ of 106.
The same 8 had an average OPS+ of 102 over 1983-85


Thanks for telling me that the one time I had a glimmer of what might be called "faith," it was misguided.

I really appreciate it.


Dallas Green. Jim Frey. Larry Himes. Andy MacPhail. All of these men came with good pedigrees. All of them had been successful in other orgs.

-- Yes, and after they come to Chicago it's almost like they're mailing it in.


Crap on the other guys, but Dallas Green was terrific for the Cubs, all things considered -- the best executive the Cubs have had in nearly 40 years.

Yeah, tallest midget, but still. While Cubs GM, Green drafted, developed, and/or promoted many, many good MLB players.
   37. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:09 PM (#2567355)
Here's the problem there - we don't have access to the internal notes and meeting info that went on up there. It's very difficult to see what impact they have at all. The main thing we have to go on are the results. For me, 26 years isn't a small sample size. There's just a fundamental clueless that pervades the baseball operations.

Welll... like I said - only Dallas left with bad words for his bosses (and Dallas has, I think, has had bad words for every boss he's ever had). The rest? Himes blamed the media. Frey was Frey. MacPhail blamed himself. I suppose we'll see who Hendry blames -- but IF the Tribune has been a hindrance, the execs and "baseball men" they've run through have certainly kept quiet. Even in the case of Dallas Green, his complaints were about not getting the VP title added rather than Tribco interference.... and in subsequent years, the cubs DID bequeath that title to the head of their baseball operations.

Sure... there's a lot we don't know about what goes on behind the scenes, but I can't think of any solid examples where former Cub managers, GMs, Scouting Directors, VPs, etc have said "I was hamstrung by the interfering, clueless mothership".

I'm just not buying the Tribune being the root of all problems any more than I am 'curses'.
   38. McCoy Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:11 PM (#2567359)
If there's an established track record of a bunch of GMs who do well in other cities all coming to Chicago and flaying, then that's not a defense of the ownership. That sounds like how the Pittsburgh Pirates handle their prospects.

Ok so where is the track record of GM's failing in Chicago? Dallas Green built a winner and it could have been a multiple winner as you yourself just said if it wasn't for injuries.

Yes Himes dropped the ball and because of it he was quickly replaced. MacPhail came in and in 1995 they were in the running for then again in 1998. He drafted well but was hampered probably by the fact that he wasn't allowed to go after big ticket free agents. In retrospect that might very well be a good thing except for ARod most of those big ticket free agents from that period were flops. He gets rid of Lynch and the Cubs from 2001 to now are a good team. Yeah they had two flops in there but 4 winning seasons with possibly a fifth if they hadn't had the August collapse and the Cubs pitching staff shredded.

I'm not saying he was a great exec for the Cubs but I can't see how anyone really can take the view that A) the Trib went out and got bad execs and that B) when they got to Chicago they failed. Sure they failed if the point is to win championship but if that is the sole point then almost all GM's fail. If the point is to build good franchises then I don't think they failed. Green didn't fail and I don't think MacPhail failed either.
   39. JPWF13 Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:13 PM (#2567363)
or each of the other teams in MLB, here are star position players developed more recently than Mark Grace. (These are *NOT* the most recent or most prominent; they are the first ones I found or thought of.)

Ariz: Overbay? Chad Tracy?
Cin: Adam Dunn
SD: Khalil Greene? (Alomar debuted a few weeks before Grace...) Ok Greene's a stretch
SF: Aurillia, Mueller,

The thing is, it's not just guys who are arguably star players or not, virtually every other team has produced more Patterson and Murtons as well.

I really did not realize that the Cubs drafting and development was THIS bad. Funny thing is that a few years ago BA named the Cubbies as one of the best organizations in the MLB- boy did they blow that one.
   40. JPWF13 Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:15 PM (#2567364)
He wasn't past his prime and he wasn't mailing it in.


You're right, I was thinking of the Green we got in NY- who was most definately mailing it in.
   41. JPWF13 Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:16 PM (#2567366)
Thanks for telling me that the one time I had a glimmer of what might be called "faith," it was misguided.

I really appreciate it.


Faith yes, hope no, there was a core there that could have been built upon.
   42. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:17 PM (#2567367)
Ariz: Overbay? Chad Tracy?</i> -- Neither an All-Star

Cin: Adam Dunn -- Only an All-Star once. I didn't believe it either.

SD: Khalil Greene? (Alomar debuted a few weeks before Grace...) Ok Greene's a stretch Not an All-Star (yet).

<i>SF: Aurillia, Mueller,
-- Aurelia was only an All-Star once and Mueller was never an All-Star.
   43. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:25 PM (#2567372)
Ok so where is the track record of GM's failing in Chicago? Dallas Green built a winner and it could have been a multiple winner as you yourself just said if it wasn't for injuries.

I'd consider a GM to leave town with a losing record to be a failure. I know they've had play-off appearances since then, but a GM should be able to build more than a 1-season wonder. Has any GM under the Cubs had a wining record? Maybe Hendry, and he's had plenty of down moments.
   44. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:25 PM (#2567373)
Faith yes, hope no, there was a core there that could have been built upon.

The problem was that DG, I think, really failed to recognize where the holes were going to show up. There were no OFers and no 3B yet in the system to replace the flukey Dernier, or the decrepid Cey or Mathews. Yes, Sandberg was a keeper and Davis would be solid for another few years. Durham was still young enough (though, I think by '84, the Cubs should have recognized he might never stay healthy for a complete season). Obviously, Dunston didn't work out as well as everyone hoped (though, if you set aside the context of his pedigree, he didn't have that bad of a career in a Cubs uni).

They seemed content to ride some key vets into the sunset, rather than agressively plan to replace them. Hell.... if you want a villain - it's probably Peter Ueberroth. Who knows, if not for the collusion crap, which the Cubs dutifully went along with like the rest of MLB -- perhaps they bring Tim Raines in. Maybe they a Tim Wallach or Hubie Brooks to play 3B.
   45. McCoy Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:25 PM (#2567375)
Cubs in terms of position players have been really bad. It goes something like Corey Patterson. . . . . . . .Mark Grace and that is about it and I don't even like Corey. Some might throw in Hinske but he is looking more and more like a bit player.
   46. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:29 PM (#2567380)
Cubs in terms of position players have been really bad. It goes something like Corey Patterson. . . . . . . .Mark Grace and that is about it and I don't even like Corey. Some might throw in Hinske but he is looking more and more like a bit player.

I hate to harp, but I just can't get away from the awful plate discipline of the Cubs and their prospects. Call it the curse of Shawon Dunston.

I readily accept that not every superstar need walk 100 times a year... but the Vlad Guerrero's are few and far between - other than Grace - every Cub that's spent time at the major league level hasn't shown a lick of plate discipline.
   47. JPWF13 Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:34 PM (#2567388)
Neither an All-Star


nope you're right, I didn't read your criterion fully.
Anyway, not that it matters, it's clear that virtually all other teams have produced more quality position players than the Cubs, since the Cubs produced Grace.

That's a long time and presumably a lot of different people/scouts/minor league coordinators/ etc...
   48. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:36 PM (#2567392)
The problem was that DG, I think, really failed to recognize where the holes were going to show up. There were no OFers . . .

They had OFs in the system. Carmelo Martinez, Joe Carter, Billy Hatcher, and Dave Martinez were traded. Green also drafted Dwight Smith and Jerome Walton.
   49. McCoy Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:39 PM (#2567400)
position players developed in simply the NL central since Grace:
Mil: Geoff Jenkins, Prince Fielder, Bill Hall, Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart
STL: Albert Pujols, JD Drew, Placido Polanco, Yadier Molina, Chris Duncan, Dmitri Young
HOU: Jeff Bagwell, Biggio (okay about a month later then Grace), Luis Gonzalez, Steve Finley, Lance Berkman, Bobby Abreu
Cin: Adam Dunn, Reggie Sanders, Austin Kearns
PIT: Aramis Ramirez, Jason Kendall

Heck when you throw in some good trades for Pit for Giles and Bay you can plainly see that the Cubs have utterly failed to develop any kind of position like anybody else in their own division.
   50. McCoy Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:40 PM (#2567401)
They had OFs in the system. Carmelo Martinez, Joe Carter, Billy Hatcher, and Dave Martinez were traded. Green also drafted Dwight Smith and Jerome Walton.

Plus Mel Hall.
   51. McCoy Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:44 PM (#2567408)
The Cubs on the other hand have after Mark Grace:

Corey Patterson
Trade for Sammy Sosa, which would be on par for the trade for Giles
and that is about it.

In otherwords dead last in their own division in terms of developing position players in the last 20 years.
   52. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:46 PM (#2567411)
Martinez and Carter were both gone by '84 -- so they couldn't be looked upon as replacements in the OF/3B situation. Hatcher, I'll give you -- but Martinez was 19 in 1984, and while he looked like he might become (and did become) a solid player, I don't know that anyone was touting him as a future star.

The problem is - if one accepts that the '84 team DID have a core that could have become a perenial contender, they couldn't wait 2-3 years for a Martinez to develop or 4-5 years for future draftees to pan out. They needed to be thinking about at least 2 replacements as early as the '84 offseason. Instead, they rode Cey and Mathews until they fell apart - both did so in '85, and were more or less worthless by '86 -- and expected Dernier to progress than regress.

When I think about filling holes, I think about the way the Braves have done it... plugging in a nice mix of smart FA pickups, trade acquisitions, and internally developed solutions as soon as they're needed. They've done it all over the diamond - on the mound, in the OF, around the IF -- every time a player needs to be replaced, they've pulled the trigger at the proper time. They've planned ahead. They've traded surpluses for needs.

There was no succession planning - there was instead patchwork, fairy dust hope, and emergency fill-ins.
   53. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:50 PM (#2567417)
Martinez and Carter were both gone by '84 -- so they couldn't be looked upon as replacements in the OF/3B situation.

My point was that it wasn't that the Cubs never had OFs; it's that they had already traded some viable candidates away.
   54. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:55 PM (#2567425)
I remember people saying that the White Sox would never win the World Series as long as Jerry Reinsdorf owned the team. Never say never.
   55. McCoy Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:57 PM (#2567430)
When I think about filling holes, I think about the way the Braves have done it... plugging in a nice mix of smart FA pickups, trade acquisitions, and internally developed solutions as soon as they're needed. They've done it all over the diamond - on the mound, in the OF, around the IF -- every time a player needs to be replaced, they've pulled the trigger at the proper time. They've planned ahead. They've traded surpluses for needs.

Yes and the Braves are probably the best franchise in the history of the game to do what you want the Cubs to have done. Well, okay since free agency.

Secondly you are also talking about a time that was smack dab in the middle of collusion. Smart FA pickups were virtually impossible and collusion didn't end until after Green left the Cubs.
   56. McCoy Posted: October 08, 2007 at 05:59 PM (#2567436)
I remember people saying that the White Sox would never win the World Series as long as Jerry Reinsdorf owned the team. Never say never

That would be Jay Mariotti the year they actually did win the World Series.
   57. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 08, 2007 at 06:04 PM (#2567444)
I remember people saying that the White Sox would never win the World Series as long as Jerry Reinsdorf owned the team. Never say never

As late as 1989 or so there were articles in Chicago papers saying that the Bulls would never win it all with Jordan. Seriously. (From Mikan to Jordan, only one team with the league's leading scorer won it all - the Bucks with Jabbar, and Oscar Robertson was arguably the central ingrediant on that team).
   58. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 08, 2007 at 06:05 PM (#2567445)
Whatever happened to UCCF, anyway? He die in a grease fire or something?
   59. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: October 08, 2007 at 06:05 PM (#2567451)
That would be Jay Mariotti the year they actually did win the World Series.

I also remember a lot of Sox fans saying that Reinsdorf would never commit the resources necessary to win, that his disinterest in signing big-name free agents would perennially doom the team, etc., etc.

If the Cubs are good enough to make the playoffs (and that division looks wide-open for the near future), anything can happen. I certainly didn't think the White Sox were the best team in the 2005 playoffs.
   60. JPWF13 Posted: October 08, 2007 at 06:16 PM (#2567469)
If the Cubs are good enough to make the playoffs (and that division looks wide-open for the near future)


That can shut down pretty quickly.
The Brewers have a lot of good pieces to build around
Prince, Braun, Hardy, Weeks, Hall, etc. They could screw it all up, but they could reel off a batch of 90+ win seasons.
Houston has Oswalt and Berkman and Ortiz and presumably in the near term will be replacing 2007 blackholes Biggio and Ausmus with more productive warm bodies.
The other teams will also do something.

It's a bit of wishcasting to think that because the last two division winners won just 83 and 85 games that state of affairs will continue.

The Cubs should assume they'll need 90 just to compete.
They should plan to build a team that can sustain 90 win performance assuming "neutral luck" (injuries/performance etc.) If your goal is to win 85 and hope that's enough some time...
   61. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: October 08, 2007 at 06:46 PM (#2567508)
Grease fire?
   62. rr Posted: October 08, 2007 at 06:48 PM (#2567511)
I did not see Game 3, but when I heard the score, I thought that this would really sting for Cub fans because they appeared, going in, to have about as good a shot as the other three teams. Another thing, of course, is that the Cubs have not been in the Series in 63 years. Even if your team loses, getting in is fun.

Also, next year, of course, will be Year 100, which will provide a 'new' angle to even the laziest of writers, and with Red Sox having won, and the MSM not giving a #### about the Indians, White Sox and Giants, well...it will be even MORE tiresome for hardcore Cubs fans than it is now. I don't much like the Cubs or the way they market tHE team, but I can certainly feel for guys like DJF, Andere et al.

This is partly why, in spite of the positional issue and the cost, I think the Cubs should make a real play for Alex Rodriguez.
   63. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: October 08, 2007 at 06:54 PM (#2567521)
My point was that it wasn't that the Cubs never had OFs; it's that they had already traded some viable candidates away.

Sure - and even with the outcome, I wouldn't undo the Sutcliffe trade if I could. That deal needed Carter and Hall to get done. Fine - but then you better have something in the works to replace your gimpy kneed LF/#3 hitter. The Cubs didn't.

Moves - even under Dallas Green - too often got made in a vacuum. I love Billy Beane as much as any primate, but the Braves are who I'd look to as an organizational model. The Braves never seem to make a move without it being made in the context of the organization as a whole. It's really quite amazing... a Pendleton gets old - voila, they have a Chipper Jones ready. A Blauser gets expensive, they bring in a reasonable facsimile (Weiss) while waiting for a Furcal. No doubt, the big 3 (Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux) helps a lot -- but the Braves never seemed to be in a spot where they were stuck with hopes and prayers at any position. They either acquired their needs on the trade or FA market, or, they a battalion of kids ready. Even when those kids flamed out -- Avery, et al -- there were contingency plans seemingly in place. We can nitpick individual transactions -- but you can see an over-arching strategy, a plan. Every move - the draft, trades, FAs, letting FAs walk -- everything makes sense in the context of an overall strategy.
   64. I am Ted F'ing Williams Posted: October 08, 2007 at 06:56 PM (#2567525)
As I experienced the Cubs' umpteenth GIDP (or was it the umpteenth strikeout?) in this NLDS, the thought occurred to me, "These guys are playing as if the entire weight of 100 years of futility is on their shoulders."

They'll all deny it of course, but their body language looked like they were in boot camp rather than clown college. There isn't a baseball player or baseball fan that doesn't know of the Cubs history of losing. Lou Piniella knows it, so much that he expected at least one loss in the first 3 games instead of having even a smidgen of confidence that THEY would be the ones winning in 3. The players certainly felt it, even more so by the time the boo birds came out at the end of the seventh inning.

I look at the Red Sox and White Sox and what transpired for them to win - they and their fans essentially gave up. The Red Sox figured they already lost... and then were so loose they came back and beat the Yankees and then remained so loose they won the World Series. The White Sox basically let 2 of their best 3 hitters go before the 2005 season began; they and their fans essentially gave up and just said "screw it, can't do any worse"... and they had a great season.

In essence what I am saying is the die-hardedness of the Cubs fans is working against them. Even when they're good they eventually choke. Cubs fans need to stop caring so much, lighten up so they players will lighten up and play loose. Instead, whenever a big series rolls around, the collective "Cubbie Sphincter" is so tight they can't possibly play well.
   65. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 08, 2007 at 06:57 PM (#2567526)
Grease fire?

Cattle stampede?
   66. JPWF13 Posted: October 08, 2007 at 07:22 PM (#2567553)
They'll all deny it of course, but their body language looked like they were in boot camp


Playing for Piniella explains that, no need to imply the players are shouldering decades of futility.
   67. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 08, 2007 at 07:26 PM (#2567560)
JP makes a very valid point and something that I think is impacting the decision-making of the GMs in this division. I know I have heard Melvin talk about the Brewers being capable of winning 85-90 games before the 2007 started indicating that this should put the Brewers in the hunt. I am almost certain I read the same thing from Jim Hendry.

It's that type of thinking that allows a team to hope a Ben Sheets stays healthy or think Cesar Izturis is an acceptable solution at shortstop. It's aiming for the minimal standard instead of aspiring to excellence.

When did "ok" become a goal?????
   68. McCoy Posted: October 08, 2007 at 08:48 PM (#2567696)
When did "ok" become a goal?????

Since letting 4 teams into the playoffs instead of two, since creating the wild card and three divisions.

Create a team that on paper will win you about 86 wins and with a little luck you will be in the hunt come the end of the season. Sometimes you will get in sometimes you won't but either way it creates fan interest and increases sales.

Totally out of my arse calculations here but I'm betting that creating a "on paper" 95 win team would cost something like 110 million or more dollars. Creating an "on paper" 85 win team probably costs something like 75 million dollars or less.
   69. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: October 08, 2007 at 08:54 PM (#2567713)
Totally out of my arse calculations here but I'm betting that creating a "on paper" 95 win team would cost something like 110 million or more dollars. Creating an "on paper" 85 win team probably costs something like 75 million dollars or less.

And for most franchises, the difference in terms of revenue will be minimal. 85 wins will probably put almost as many butts in seats as 95 will.
   70. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: October 08, 2007 at 08:56 PM (#2567717)
And that said, one can't say that the Trib. corp. won't invest in their club. They spent top dollar last winter putting together that team.
   71. McCoy Posted: October 08, 2007 at 09:01 PM (#2567728)
The Braves never seem to make a move without it being made in the context of the organization as a whole.

Okay but again you are talking about the best GM ever versus everybody else. On top of that Dallas Green was the GM for what 5 years? John Schuerholz since 1990.

John inherited Smoltz and Glavine which of course helps a lot in terms of team building. He gets Maddux through FA, something Green would never have been able to do during his tenure as a Cub. So now you have your starting rotation set. For the most part the Braves don't have to worry about SP for over a decade. That again helps a lot, and in fact the Braves do a pretty piss poor job developing starters from that point on. Bobby Cox drafts Chipper Jones and Chipper develops into their third basemen for the next 10 odd years. Andruw JOnes develops into their CF for over a decade.

Yes John has done a lot of things right. His farm system has developed answers for a lot of problems but I think it is over simplifying things to say that John somehow has had these long range plans and moves players around like a chess match. If Chipper doesn't develop he has no answer, if Andruw doesn't develop he has no answer. If MAddux goes to the Yanks he has no answer. What John did well was identify talent and then had enough money to lock them up long term. You are going to win games and it is going to be a hell of a lot easier plugging holes when you have your rotation set, your thirdbasemen, your centerfielder, your catcher, and your rightfielder locked up for close to a decade or more. And then develop a SS? Forget about it.
   72. McCoy Posted: October 08, 2007 at 09:02 PM (#2567729)
And for most franchises, the difference in terms of revenue will be minimal. 85 wins will probably put almost as many butts in seats as 95 will.

exactly.
   73. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: October 08, 2007 at 09:26 PM (#2567770)
That again helps a lot, and in fact the Braves do a pretty piss poor job developing starters from that point on.

Well... If I were to concede that point (and I'm not - just saying for the sake of the conversation), then they certainly did a good job recognizing who and when to trade them. Sure - there are plenty of ex-Braves' pitching prospects that didn't pan out... but few of them "didn't pan out" with Atlanta... Belisle, Quevedo, Nation, Neid, others --- most of their "busts" went bust somewhere else, long after the Braves had gotten something useful in return for them. Sure - it's a heck of lot easier to take the chance on trading prospect A when you can count on rotation slots 1 through 3 being filled with an all-star.

However, I can't think of any Juan Cruz-type situations -- the Braves hanging on to someone that goes bust then trading at a trough in value.

What's more -- looking beyond the Jones boys (likely HOFers) - they HAVE developed plenty of useful pieces. Rocker, Wohlers, Javy Lopez, Marcus Giles, Furcal, Kelly Johnson, laRoche, etc.... All these guys and more will have to buy tickets to get into the HOF -- but they've each had their moments of being quite valuable for extended periods.

While the Braves are certainly model org -- they're not the only ones that done a good job with "succession planning", either.... Beane dismantled his rotation -- and the A's have continued to contend (up till this year... and the rotation wasn't the problem). The Yankees, too -- have done the same. Sure - the Yankees can buy replacements to a degree no other team can, but they still needed to identify the right pieces to replace and when.
   74. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 08, 2007 at 09:44 PM (#2567791)
And for most franchises, the difference in terms of revenue will be minimal. 85 wins will probably put almost as many butts in seats as 95 will.

exactly.

Disagree. Teams can and do sell more tickets & merchandise with 95 wins, BUT spending more doesn't guarantee that you'll get to 95. It just guarantees that you'll spend more. And the risk that you might not get that bounce combined with the cost may not justify the expenditure for a lot of teams.

For the Pirates, for example, they're happy to be profitable winning 70 games every year, because spending more to try to win more jeopordizes if they'll make a profit if they spend it on the wrong guys.
   75. McCoy Posted: October 08, 2007 at 10:20 PM (#2567828)
What's more -- looking beyond the Jones boys (likely HOFers) - they HAVE developed plenty of useful pieces. Rocker, Wohlers, Javy Lopez, Marcus Giles, Furcal, Kelly Johnson, laRoche, etc.... All these guys and more will have to buy tickets to get into the HOF -- but they've each had their moments of being quite valuable for extended periods.

Yes John has done a great job developing talent. No doubt about it, never said he didn't. What I did say was that developing talent and using it doesn't mean that somehow John had this Bobby Fisher like ability to see 10 moves down the road.

John's plan from almost day one has been Player X is getting old/expensive/suckier install prospect Y. And for John prospect Y works. That is what makes John great, his prospects, his minor league system produces players that can play. Then if John has an abundance of prospects in one area he trades prospect Z for vet A. That to me is completely different then saying he is so great that he somehow has this plan for the team 5 years from now and is making moves now in a way different then everybody else (meaning not just throught the draft) is. John can be a svengali because John drafts and signs great players, period.

While the Braves are certainly model org -- they're not the only ones that done a good job with "succession planning", either.... Beane dismantled his rotation -- and the A's have continued to contend (up till this year... and the rotation wasn't the problem). The Yankees, too -- have done the same. Sure - the Yankees can buy replacements to a degree no other team can, but they still needed to identify the right pieces to replace and when.


Talk to me when Beane has done it for 17 seasons. Heck talk to me when the Braves show that they are back after dismantling their big three and losing Andruw Jones. Or even if Beane comes back after dismantling his big three.

As for the Yanks I think I am pretty confident I could identify Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu, Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Gary Sheffield.
   76. McCoy Posted: October 08, 2007 at 10:22 PM (#2567830)
Disagree. Teams can and do sell more tickets & merchandise with 95 wins, BUT spending more doesn't guarantee that you'll get to 95. It just guarantees that you'll spend more. And the risk that you might not get that bounce combined with the cost may not justify the expenditure for a lot of teams

But do they sell more then the cost difference? Does a 95 win team generate 35 million dollars then a 85 win team?

It isn't about revenue but about bottom line.
   77. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 08, 2007 at 10:42 PM (#2567847)
That's more fair, but where do the Cubs rank in that respect? Let's try to put some better definition to this: Mark Grace was a three-time All Star. Joe Girardi was a one-time All-Star. Let's go with "multiple All-Stars" as a criteria.

I don't like that criterion. A star player would be Hall of Very Good or Better. Grace is an example.

The Giants have a pretty bad track record, but I think Aurilia counts as a star player. Even if he doesn't he's better than any Cubs product in this time period.

The Padres have also done poorly. Robbie Alomar was great, but he debuted only two years after Grace. Greene looks like he might be one to buck the trend.
   78. Voodoo Posted: October 09, 2007 at 02:49 AM (#2568862)
Did Roberto Alomar and Mark Grace come up the same year? I could have swore they were in the same Donruss Rated Rookies class.
   79. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 09, 2007 at 03:50 AM (#2569338)
You're right, they did come up in the same year.
   80. Russ Posted: October 09, 2007 at 04:30 PM (#2569822)
For the Pirates, for example, they're happy to be profitable winning 70 games every year, because spending more to try to win more jeopordizes if they'll make a profit <strike> if </strike> when they spend it on the wrong guys.


Fixed.
   81. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 09, 2007 at 04:51 PM (#2569854)
That's more fair, but where do the Cubs rank in that respect? Let's try to put some better definition to this: Mark Grace was a three-time All Star. Joe Girardi was a one-time All-Star. Let's go with "multiple All-Stars" as a criteria.

--I don't like that criterion. A star player would be Hall of Very Good or Better. Grace is an example.


I was only trying to illustrate your point, not argue with it. Still, the "Hall of Very Good" is too vague -- what you're essentially saying is that "the Cubs haven't produced a 'star' position player, as I personally define it, since Grace." That's a bit too subjective to be definitive, which is why I was suggesting a multiple All-Star.

Perhaps your definition of a "star" doesn't necessarily mean someone as good as Grace, though -- which is why you suggested Rich Aurelia. If that's the case, I think Joe Girardi should measure up -- he's certainly at/near Aurelia's level.
   82. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 09, 2007 at 05:07 PM (#2569888)
And that said, one can't say that the Trib. corp. won't invest in their club. They spent top dollar last winter putting together that team.

Sure, they threw a bunch of money at the team when they went into panic mode. The problem, as discussed earlier, is the lack of a plan.

The Cubs were faced with declining ticket sales and interest so they spent a huge chunk of money on the FA market. The problem was that the best on the FA market wasn't really that good and now the team has to live with an outlandish contract. Spending the money whenever the team looks bad isn't going to get championships.
   83. Len Lansford, Carney Barker Posted: October 09, 2007 at 05:29 PM (#2569915)
i understand you depressed right now, but you getting a new owner

A Selig-approved owner. Not a good sign, I'm afraid.
   84. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: October 09, 2007 at 05:30 PM (#2569917)

Sure, they threw a bunch of money at the team when they went into panic mode. The problem, as discussed earlier, is the lack of a plan.


Exactly.

...and my point about the Tribune "not being so bad" is that a new owner, even one that's multi-billions loaded and throws wads of cash at improving his toy, doesn't solve the problem.

Would an owner that spends oodles to "win" be better than a corporation that spends oodles to "keep the fans happy"? Maybe... but not so much for me to believe a Mark Cuban (or whomever) is the answer.

The lack of a cohesive plan, a strategy that extends beyond today is the problem --- and a meddling owner, even one that always has the checkbook open, can be just as much a detriment to that as anything a faceless corporation that only cares about the bottom line can be.
   85. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: October 09, 2007 at 05:32 PM (#2569921)
Good thread. I wish I had more time to contribute, and I'm not staying away cause of the loss. Just work is kicking my ass right now. I probably would have said some dumb #### on the other, more trolled thread.

---

I think they have a good starting point for next season, but what I'm worried about is the ownership situation. I'm seeing it might not be resolved that quickly. That'll hold up what can and can't happen this offseason (ie ARod becoming available). But I've got enough to distract me (Illinois, Bears, Bulls) that I won't lose any sleep over it at this point.
   86. McCoy Posted: October 09, 2007 at 06:43 PM (#2570051)
The problem was that the best on the FA market wasn't really that good and now the team has to live with an outlandish contract

Not really. The free agent signees are Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis, and Alfonso Soriano.

Marquis has two years left and it isn't like they are throwing Giambi money at him. Lilly has three more seasons and the last two are where the money is at in that contract. The Cubs are a large market team and the contract are not really outlandish for them. The only contract that might pose a problem in the future os the Soriano contract and that one will probably start posing a problem in 4 years or so. By which time the Lee and Ramirez will done or about to be done and the Zambrano contract almost over with as well.

The worst signing was Marquis and cutting ties with him or marginalizing him is the easiest to do out of the three big signings.

On top of all that throw in the fact that some youngsters are producing and/or look to produce in the future and they have low cost players to contribute and keep costs down.
   87. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 09, 2007 at 10:45 PM (#2570276)
Soriano's was the contract of which I was speaking. That is one is going to be a substantial chunk of payroll to a player in his declining years and it wasn't done because the Cubs were a Soriano away from being a great team - which would be justifiable.

The Cubs took a baseball bat to the team's chances years down the line to strive for mediocrity. Where was the big signing in 2004? Vladimir Guerrero might have been enough to turn that team into the definitive NL favorite but the Cubs could be pretty good by sitting on their hands. So they did.
   88. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 09, 2007 at 10:50 PM (#2570281)
Oh, and Derrek Lee doesn't 'count' as a big signing (and not because it was technically a trade) as he was replacing the Karros/Grudzielanek contracts which were coming off the books. I don't believe that the Cubs significantly increased payroll after 2003.
   89. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: October 09, 2007 at 11:40 PM (#2570298)
I don't mind carrying the Lilly contract --- I had faith that Rich Hill would become the solid lefty member of the rotation (and I think he was for the most part), so I thought Lilly was somewhat redundant, but good pitching is good pitching be it left or right.

The problem with the Marquis deal isn't its length - it's the money... I believe it's near 7 mil, no? That's certainly too much to eat (at least, after year 1), so we're stuck with him. I'm still fearful at any time, Marquis can go from merely being overly secure and overpaid to being a real detriment on a more consistent basis.

Soriano, though, is definitely gonna hurt. I'm really fearful that quad is a sign of the fast approaching fragility of age. I don't know that he's worth the annual salary at full strength for 160 games -- but he's most certainly not worth it for 120 games a year.

Giving the dead horse another kick, the real trouble will be if/when that contract prevents chasing after some of the truly worth 8-136 players that might soon become available...

I'd like to get into the Santana sweepstakes if and when they develop. With the St. Louis shakeup and some contract whispers having already made their appearance, perhaps Albet Pujols might be a possibility. Miguel Cabrera will almost CERTAINLY be available -- for trade as early as this July.

I just don't see how any non-Yankee team can afford to carry two Soriano-esque contracts. It bothers me that the Cubs decided to reserve that spot for a player on the wrong side of 30, who, granted -- is an exciting, valuable player, but isn't the lineup rock you should expect at that price.

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