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   1. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: June 23, 2006 at 06:59 PM (#2073497)
The irrelevant post game excuses.

The all-time greatest, for which there will be no serious competitor: lack of a left-handed batting practice pitcher.
   2. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: June 23, 2006 at 07:14 PM (#2073511)
However, the column is short on solid information and long on speculation and warmed-over musings that would have been unoriginal six weeks ago when this topic was percolating at a higher temperature.

I agree. The column is quite deceptive. With the headline and the beginning of the column, referring to "close observers," Kiley makes it appear as if he's reporting inside information from those in the know.

As you read on, however, it appears to me that Kiley really doesn't have any inside information; rather, he simply recalled Hendry's comment that he won't evaluate Dusty until all the injured players come back, noted that Prior is back and Lee will return soon, and put 2+2 together. After that, it's all speculation.
   3. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: June 23, 2006 at 07:19 PM (#2073515)
To wit: Boers and Bernstein are now saying that Kiley wouldn't have written this column if someone within the organization hadn't have given him a few hints.

I think that Kiley's column is quite deceptive on this -- he doesn't cite any inside sources and it isn't entirely clear one way or the other.

Of course, this is the same guy who promised last fall that Dusty's extension was imminent and would immediately follow Hendry's.
   4. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: June 23, 2006 at 07:20 PM (#2073517)
To wit: Boers and Bernstein are now saying that Kiley wouldn't have written this column if someone within the organization hadn't have given him a few hints.

I think that Kiley's column is quite deceptive on this -- he doesn't cite any inside sources and it isn't entirely clear one way or the other.

Of course, this is the same guy who promised last fall that Dusty's extension was imminent and would immediately follow Hendry's.
   5. Andere Richtingen Posted: June 23, 2006 at 07:53 PM (#2073557)
To wit: Boers and Bernstein are now saying that Kiley wouldn't have written this column if someone within the organization hadn't have given him a few hints.

That's kind of what I was thinking. None of this is surprising. Of course there's going to be serious talk of firing Baker this season. The question is whether it will pick up momentum enough to happen during the next few weeks, or during this season at all.
   6. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: June 23, 2006 at 08:09 PM (#2073580)
The question is whether it will pick up momentum enough to happen during the next few weeks, or during this season at all.

Generally you fire the manager because you want something to happen. It's going to get to the point where no matter what they do nothing is gonig to happen - the team is already far behind the leaders and dropping farther back by the day. Once Lee is back, there are no more magic bullets in the gun. This is the team the Cubs thought they had coming into this season (yeah, I know no Wood, but he tried to come back and just may not be able to, and if they were really counting on him to make 30 starts and pitch 200 innings then there's just no hope for this franchise).

Either they start playing like gangbusters now - and as Kiley points out it may well take an 18-4 run, or a 30-7 stretch, something like that - or it's time to toss in the towel. We've got about 2 weeks left before the All-Star break. If the team continues to struggle, or even just limps along playing .500 ball, you have to think Hendry's going to start making guys available and making whatever trades he can. And that might include letting Dusty step aside and picking an internal option to finish out the year. I don't think they'd make a permanent hire this late in the season - there's just no point in doing so when you don't know who might be available this offseason.
   7. Andere Richtingen Posted: June 23, 2006 at 08:34 PM (#2073613)
If the team continues to struggle, or even just limps along playing .500 ball, you have to think Hendry's going to start making guys available and making whatever trades he can. And that might include letting Dusty step aside and picking an internal option to finish out the year.

But what does getting rid of Baker accomplish in the Cubs' eyes, in terms of making something happen? The last time the Cubs fired their manager mid-season, it was part of a general managerial shakeup, and the time before that, the manager had developed a sour relationship with the corporate guys. Maybe the Hendry is delusional, but it's obviously way too late for the Cubs to contend this season.

I mean, they should fire him for the benefit of players like Murton and Cedeno, who appear to be floating aimlessly, but I doubt anyone in the organization sees that as a problem.
   8. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: June 23, 2006 at 08:42 PM (#2073623)
But what does getting rid of Baker accomplish in the Cubs' eyes, in terms of making something happen?

I don't think it accomplishes anything on the field, except dealing with the question that's going to become more and more common as the season wears on - will Dusty be back? They can't very well say "we've decided not to extend him, but we're letting him manage out the season." It's going to dominate the conversations about this team - there will be no pennant race, no exciting rookies, no one pushing for awards or anything else. Just this, and no team wants talk about its manager's future to be what everyone is focusing on.

There's nothing gained by pushing the decision off to the end of the year. It's not like a 16-6 run to finish a 75-87 season should make them look any more favorably/unfavorably at Baker's return. Either they've decided to extend him and they just need to do it, or they'll decide not to extend him (at which point you might as well just let him go). These next couple of weeks will be really important in seeing which way the balance tips - if the team goes 12-2 with Lee back in the lineup, maybe he gets the benefit of the doubt. If they go 6-8, then I think he's gone.

That White Sox series at Wrigley could be key in all of this. If the Sox come in and blow us out three straight, that's just the sort of thing that would grab all the local headlines about the Sox being so much better than the Cubs. That's impetus for a change right there.
   9. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: June 23, 2006 at 08:43 PM (#2073626)
I don't think that's what UCCF meant. At the risk of putting words on his keyboard, I read his post to opine that if the team continues to struggle along, they are too far behind and too late where a managerial move would have a meaningful impact this season.

Instead, as I believe UCCF meant, Hendry should be thinking of 2007 -- unloading veterans stiffs, looking to develop players, etc. With Dusty, it might be true that he's managed himself out of the 2007 picture, but I believe that UCCF was opining that, given their relationship, Hendry would not fire Dusty, but if Dusty wanted to quit and seek another empoloyer for 2007, Hendry would enable this.
   10. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: June 23, 2006 at 08:45 PM (#2073628)
Then again, maybe I should let UCCF speak for himself. :-)
   11. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: June 23, 2006 at 08:49 PM (#2073635)
You did fine speaking for me. I do think that letting Dusty leave on his own, rather than firing him, may well be the way this will go down. Hendry's professed nothing but respect for Baker since day 1, and even through this season has kept saying he wants to extend him.

When he realizes that simply not an option, I have a hard time seeing him just dropping the axe. My guess is that they'll talk about it, he'll tell Dusty he won't be back for 2007, and then it will be up to Baker what happens next. I don't know that's necessarily the right way to do things - in the end, it needs to be the GM's call as to when a move is made and what that move should be, but it won't surprise me if that's what happens.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: June 23, 2006 at 09:40 PM (#2073706)
Generally you fire the manager because you want something to happen. It's going to get to the point where no matter what they do nothing is gonig to happen

I don't think this is true, at least not when firing the manager in the current season. Even when the Astros fired Williams or the Marlins fired Boles(?), I doubt they really thought they were going to get back into the race (they probably said such things to the press though). It was that they knew their teams were horribly underperforming and they were convinced the current guy wasn't getting the job done.

But most managers are fired just because their team stinks, the fans and media are angry, and the front office is just kinda tired of the guy (and the misery he's bringing). And many (most?) are replaced by interim managers who don't carry on the next season. And this is particularly true of teams like this year's Cubs. This isn't the 1979 Yankees firing Bob Lemon when the team was 3 games over 500, this is the Royals firing Boone or the Tigers firing Garner.

At this point you don't fire Baker because this team has underperformed. You fire Baker because they've got a 394 winning percentage, on pace for 64 wins, which, get this, would be the worst Cubs finish in 25 years and tied for their third worst finish since going to the 162 game schedule. And you especially do this when (1) it will make your fans and the media happy and (2) the guy's not under contract for next year. If he was already under contract, then he'd probably survive the season.

Yes, there's an outside chance that once Lee comes back the Cubs will start playing 600 ball. There's no reason to think this really, they simply aren't a good team, especially not that good of a team, even when healthy. But even if they play better from here, say well enough to have a shot at the magical 79 wins (560 ball), all that does is put Baker into the "underperformed" category and while he'll have the injury excuse, he'll also have Hendry's "79 wins is not acceptable" quote hanging over his head.

The risk for the Cubs in bringing Baker back is simply too great. As either djf or UCCF or maybe it's Ross frequently point out, this is a PR-first franchise. Have faith in that. No matter how much they may like and respect Baker, even if they think he's the best man for the job, they will put PR first. I wouldn't be surprised if the only reason it's dragged on this long is because Hendry made the comment about not assessing him until the Big 3 are back -- i.e. they are PR-conscious that Hendry's quote would get thrown back in their face if they canned him now.

That White Sox series at Wrigley could be key in all of this. If the Sox come in and blow us out three straight, that's just the sort of thing that would grab all the local headlines about the Sox being so much better than the Cubs. That's impetus for a change right there.

That's what I said about the first Sox series. And when they lost the first two games by a combined 13-1, I was looking like a prophet. Didn't quite work out that way.
   13. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: June 23, 2006 at 11:00 PM (#2073803)
I miss Jim Essian.
   14. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: June 23, 2006 at 11:33 PM (#2073871)
I miss Jim Essian.

Bruce Kimm is probably still kicking around someplace.
   15. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: June 23, 2006 at 11:45 PM (#2073901)
Charlie Fox is no longer an option. Or is he?
   16. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: June 24, 2006 at 12:00 AM (#2073915)
Charlie Fox is no longer an option. Or is he?

He died in 2004. With the right turnover at the coaching positions (starting with Clines and Matthews), I'd guess he'd still be a better option than Dusty. All we need is someone who knows how to forge his signature on the lineup cards.
   17. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: June 24, 2006 at 12:02 AM (#2073916)
All we need is someone who knows how to forge his signature on the lineup cards.

Barrett can do the Andrew McCarthy role, and Derrek Lee can fill in for Jonathan Silverman.
   18. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: June 24, 2006 at 12:03 AM (#2073918)
Barrett can do the Andrew McCarthy role, and Derrek Lee can fill in for Jonathan Silverman.

Season at Charlie's. They better not take him out on Lake Michigan, though - that never ends well.
   19. Hawkan Posted: June 24, 2006 at 06:57 PM (#2074581)
This is the OBP of the
batting order last
night:

.290
.241
.318
.317
.336
.327
.303
.364
.293

I may not know all
that much about
baseball, but
I noticed the steady
progression in values.
Shouldn't it have been
the other way around? .293
   20. Hawkan Posted: June 24, 2006 at 06:57 PM (#2074582)
This is the OBP of the
batting order last
night:

.290
.241
.318
.317
.336
.327
.303
.364
.293

I may not know all
that much about
baseball, but
I noticed the steady
progression in values.
Shouldn't it have been
the other way around? .293
   21. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: June 24, 2006 at 09:05 PM (#2074743)
You're right, though I'm more disturbed by the fact that the Cubs have only one player in the lineup with an OBP over .340 - and that's with the DH thrown in to give us an extra hitter that we don't normally have.
   22. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: June 24, 2006 at 10:34 PM (#2074837)
he'll also have Hendry's "79 wins is not acceptable" quote hanging over his head.

That's the thing that's killed me over the last several weeks. Last year was a season in which their primary hitter was gone for most of the year, and both Prior and Wood also missed substantial time. The Cubs limped badly to a 79 wins, and both Baker and Hendry were placed under scrutiny, particularly in light of the White Sox success.

After enduring that season, Hendry went out of his way to emphasize that 79 wins isn't acceptable and won't be acceptable as long as he's the GM. He didn't qualify it by saying "if the team is healthy" -- heck, last year's injuries were a main reason why they won "only" 79 games, rather than the 85-90 wins that were expected.

This season, as the chance of even 79 wins continues to fade away, the thought of a 79 win season is a lot more acceptable -- heck, desireable -- to the Tribune than it was just 7 months ago.
   23. Andere Richtingen Posted: June 25, 2006 at 02:05 AM (#2074890)
But Walt, the Cubs have fired their manager mid-season only twice in the last 15 years. With Zimmer, it involved a dispute with the Tribune Co. higherups. With Baylor, it was helped along by an overall administrative shakeup. Baylor started the 2002 season with a target on his back, and there was a groundswell of negative public and media sentiment that was probably greater than what we are seeing against Baker now, but bringing Hendry in with Kimm as a placeholder made sense. I guess I am an optimist in wondering if Hendry's in a bit of trouble despite being signed for the next 2.5 years, but the Cubs aren't in a situation where they would be saddling their new GM with a lameduck manager in his first months on the job.

I believe the Cubs organization is PR-driven only in the sense that the Bush Administration is PR-driven. They try to promote what they want to promote and ignore everything else. If things get to the point where they have to fire Baker or there will be serious PR consequences, then they will do that, but this article by Kiley is really the first glimmer of any indication along those lines. It was what, a month ago that Hendry was discounting that Baker's job was in trouble in any way.

I wouldn't be surprised to see another thumping by the Sox, coupled with losses like tonight's, would be enough to put the Cubs over the hump and fire Baker midseason. But I don't think we've reached the other side of that hump yet. I think that Hendry is strongly motivated to ride this season out.
   24. SouthSideRyan Posted: June 25, 2006 at 03:14 AM (#2074911)
Did Baylor really start '02 with a target on his back? That '01 team played much better than anyone expected, I wasn't an insider baseball fan back then, but I don't remember hearing much about Baylor being on shaky ground when the year started.
   25. Hawkan Posted: June 25, 2006 at 03:43 PM (#2075078)
I don't understand
why they are so high
on Baker to begin with.
He took a very strong
team (great pitching,
Sosa, Alou) to a
88-74 record by
going 19-8 in September
2003. After that,
it's been virually nothing.
   26. Kid Charlemagne Posted: June 26, 2006 at 02:44 AM (#2075786)
Yes, there's an outside chance that once Lee comes back the Cubs will start playing 600 ball.

That's the danger - if the Cubs do that, they might actually think about bringing Dusty back. If they fire him now, at least that danger is avoided. Of course, to think that would require us to believe that the Cubs actually think they should rid themselves of Dusty. I'm not sure of that. I've lost a lot of faith in Hendry; I used to think he had brains, but was being forced to bring in "Dusty players". I'm not sure now.

My guess is Dusty survives the year and is not brought back. Hendry? It's up in the air, but my guess is he survives, and is given another chance.
   27. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: June 26, 2006 at 01:13 PM (#2076214)
Last year was a season in which their primary hitter was gone for most of the year

Bowrrrrrr? You mean Garciaparra? I don't think so, not even before the seasons. Not that it makes 79 look better.

Kudos to Hendry if he doesn't throw Baker under the bus. But I wonder if that's because Hendry knows he failed Baker, not the other way 'round. Maybe. You can b*tch all you like about Baker throwing Perez out there to make his three daily outs, but if he wasn't on the roster, it wouldn't happen.
   28. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: June 26, 2006 at 03:23 PM (#2076320)
I guess I am an optimist in wondering if Hendry's in a bit of trouble despite being signed for the next 2.5 years, but the Cubs aren't in a situation where they would be saddling their new GM with a lameduck manager in his first months on the job.

I think Hendry is certainly in trouble -- virtually every media member out there, the vast majority of the public, and even Hendry himself has recognized that the team has no depth and no ability to withstand the injuries they have. Usually, this is used in Dusty's defense, but my point is that it certainly points a very sharp finger in Hendry's direction.

I don't believe, however, that his job is in true jeopardy at the moment, however -- not with 2.5 years left on his contract. If the Cubs had only waited a few months before giving him the extension, I would think that he'd be as good of a candidate to be gone as Dusty.
   29. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: June 26, 2006 at 03:36 PM (#2076324)
Last year was a season in which their primary hitter was gone for most of the year

--Bowrrrrrr? You mean Garciaparra? I don't think so, not even before the seasons.


You must have a revisionist memory. Who do you think was viewed as the team's hitting star going into last season? At that point, Lee hadn't busted out and, indeed, struggled for the first few months of 2004. Ramirez was a solid player and a key member of the team, but was by no means the team's star. Sosa was gone.

Still, my greater point is that when they won 79 games last season, it wasn't as if everyone was healthy. They saw the following injuries:

* Williamson: Out 3/31-8/4 (127 days)
* Prior: Out 4/2-4/11; 5/28-6/25 (39 days)
* Walker: Out 4/11-5/24 (44 days)
* Garciaparra: Out 4/21-8/4 (106 days)
* Fox: Out 4/6-End of season (160 days)
* Wood: Out 5/3-6/28; 7/25-8/4; 8/30-End of season (102 days)
* Remlinger: Out 5/21-6/4 (15 days)
* Greenberg: Out 7/10-End of season (85 days)
* Hairston: Out 8/5-8/18 (14 days)
* Ramirez: Out 8/25-End of season (39 days)

That's 731 days in total. Despite all these injuries, when the Cubs won 79 games, Hendry went out of his way to say this was "unacceptable" and "won't be acceptable as long as [he's] the GM."

This year, the team has had 12% more days on the DL than last year (412 through today, versus 367 through this time last year), but as the team is on pace for 61 wins -- and the first 100 loss season in 40 years -- all we hear about are the injuries and how this team can't compete.

If this team somehow competed to win 79 games last year (which was "unacceptable") -- despite injuries to several key players -- what about this season?
   30. Andere Richtingen Posted: June 26, 2006 at 03:43 PM (#2076331)
I don't believe, however, that his job is in true jeopardy at the moment, however -- not with 2.5 years left on his contract. If the Cubs had only waited a few months before giving him the extension, I would think that he'd be as good of a candidate to be gone as Dusty.

I think they could redefine Hendry's job and marginalize him. If he had any sense he'd go back to the job he was so good at, but any kind of job redefinition would likely force him to leave the organization and take that position someplace else. In any case, what does Hendry make, $2 million a year, tops? The Cubs eat those sorts of contracts as hors d'oeuvres,
   31. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: June 26, 2006 at 04:04 PM (#2076349)
It's not the money; it's the years -- not only the fact that Hendry has a year and a half on his deal but, just as importantly, it was only in April that the Cubs extended his tenure.

For the Cubs to do anything about Hendry midseason (or even at the end of the year) would be to admit a mistake, and they aren't exactly the best when it comes to this.
   32. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: June 26, 2006 at 04:08 PM (#2076351)
Dayn Perry's column was particularly scathing. Though there are some parts with which I disagree, I found these points especially noteworthy:

A tidy starting point would be the firing of GM Jim Hendry, who's proved to be a listless operator since he took over, and manager Dusty Baker . . . . But those, in the Cubs' case, would be cosmetic changes.

What the Cubs — and their partisans — sorely need is an owner who cares a whit about on-field performance. That entails more than merely funneling dollars into payroll (although that helps). It also means having the fortitude to hold the decision-makers accountable. It means wanting to win at least as badly as you want to sell tickets.

The Cubs need an owner who, in addition to maintaining a competitive payroll, will invest in player development, and who will insist on demonstrable results from his minor league affiliates, his front office and his dugout. That's not a description of the Tribune Company.

. . .

At some point, loyalty becomes enabling, and the Cubs' fans have long since passed that threshold. Until they use the language of dollars, those who hold the power aren't going to hear them. If they keep showing up blissfully unconcerned with wins and losses and opening their wallets for the cherished ambience and the $6.50 Old Style, then Cubs fans have only themselves to blame.


Sadly, I don't see this happening anytime soon.

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