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   1. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: July 16, 2006 at 12:04 AM (#2100314)
On point 3) People talk about Maddux helping people, but as I've said, management must not believe it or else they'd keep rookies up for more than 2 games at a time. They must think they'll get more help in AAA than what Maddux will give them in the majors, and given how little help our farm system seems to get, that's a major indictment to make against something that's become traditional wisdom.

On 6 and 7) Jones has played far above my expectations, and the Cubs should trade him now that he has real value. He won't do it next year or the year after, and I doubt he'll even be considered an asset when 2007 is done.

I was against the Juan Pierre trade, and I'm still against it after seeing his June and July. If we had a competant farm development system, the three players we gave away would be valuable assets, and Pie would be better than Pierre in 2007. This was a mistake from the start, and by resigning him, we'll just be trying to make mistake work just to avoid admitting making a mistake.
   2. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 16, 2006 at 12:27 AM (#2100334)
My friends could not come up with an answer off the top of their heads but said they’d think about it. I still haven’t heard from them.

The Knicks

In a similar vein, I see the two front offices on very similar paths right now. Thomas fired the coach and is taking the reins in 2006-7. The team will be so bad (and he'll be so low on excuses) that there will be no choice but to fire him. If Hendry extends Baker neither Jim nor MacPhail will get the tabula rasa of some sort of fresh start - they will all sink together on a team that looks doomed to more futility in 2007.

As bad as things have been; how will the Cubs get better? A healthy Mark Prior and Derrek Lee (the first one is looking less likely than ever) will not create the 25-30 game swing the team needs - if they keep up their current pace for the rest of the year. Not even close.
   3. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: July 16, 2006 at 12:53 AM (#2100355)
We are working to see if we can provide a bit more punch to our roster.

I have a list of people who were interested in forming a splinter blog the last time you all took a lengthy hiatus. I'd be happy to send it your way if you want people who would be more than willing to contribute.

(I understand that lives get busy and we can't expect everyone to contribute something every day, but it's been almost 3 weeks since anything's been posted, and almost 6 weeks since anyone but Ross made a post. Let some of us help carry the burden. We're here every single day, living and dying with this team. It's just crazy to let this thing sit here fallow like some teenager's abandoned Myspace page.)
   4. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: July 16, 2006 at 12:56 AM (#2100357)
It's also been almost 10 weeks since Scott Lange posted. I seriously think that they need to add some BTF regulars to the list, if only because people like UCCF, dJF, and Pops are sure to post often.
   5. Kiko Sakata Posted: July 16, 2006 at 01:26 AM (#2100395)
If Pierre is in center and Jones is in right in 2007, exactly where does the team target in the everyday lineup for massive improvement?

That leaves left field and second base by my count.


This sums up the Cubs' problems best. For as bad as this team is, they have surprisingly few gaping holes to fill in the offseason. Even in left-field, they've got Matt Murton, who's cheap and should be getting better over time. That leaves 2nd-base, really, as their only hole (unless they don't re-sign Pierre, and even then, they've been raving about Pie for years), and you don't find impact bats at second base. Pretty much, this offseason's going to amount to Hendry making an offer to Alfonso Soriano, and if he turns it down, then Hendry won't know what to do and he'll probably throw a 3-year contract at the next free-agent second-baseman on his Rolodex (Todd Walker?).

On the pitching staff, they should have 4 starters set: Z, Prior, Marshall, Marmol, and enough in-house candidates, that, if he wanted to, I could see Hendry deciding we were set there. At best, he'll throw some money at Zito and maybe settle for Maddux if he loses out on Zito.

The bullpen will basically be in the 2nd year of their 3-year contracts; there's nothing to do there. Hell, even utility infielder is set with Neifi!

Fixing this team requires some creativity and, so far, Jim Hendry hasn't shown any. His roster approach is very much - identify a hole, fill it; identify a scapegoat, trade him. I can't even see who this year's scapegoat is likely to be.

Personally, what I'd do is try to think creatively. A Jones/Murton platoon could be really good, and with Murton as the 4th-outfielder, he'll probably still get into 100-120 games with 400 PAs. I'd offer Prior up as trade bait. The Cubs need to make a clear break from the idea that all they need is for Wood and Prior to get healthy and they're World Series contenders again. I wouldn't give him away for nothing, of course, but try to see if you can't turn him into an elite hitter. I've suggested elsewhere, I'd like to see them try to get Adam Dunn for Prior. If Prior's not valued that highly, then I'd up the offer at our end.

Then, I'd try to get somebody like Nomar (is he a free-agent again?) or somebody of that caliber to be a super-sub, playing 100-120 games wherever needed, serving as injury insurance, DH in inter-league games, top pinch hitter. John Mabry, Jose Macias, and Neifi Perez are not that guy. If the team hadn't so completely soured him by now, maybe Todd Walker could do something like that.

For the starting rotation, I'd try to give as many second-half starts to Hill, Guzman, Williams, and Ryu as possible and decide if any of them can be major-league starters. Even at that, they'll probably need another pitcher or two for next year's rotation, especially if they trade Prior, and that should probably be their free-agent focus.

But, I expect Dusty managing this team next year, Hendry's two big offseason targets will be Soriano and Zito, at least one of whom he won't get, and the White Sox will outdraw the Cubs in attendance next year on their way to becoming the dominant Chicago baseball team.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: July 16, 2006 at 09:34 AM (#2100570)
1) That's at least the second time Dempster has done that this season. But there actually are a decent number of bright spots -- Zambrano is pitching great, Walker's been very good, Barrett, Marshall, etc. And hopefully Lee can get fully healthy. There is a good amount to be positive about here and there is a good core.

2) I agree. Wood's a good pitcher. Pitchers get hurt. Injuries are not a sign of choking, moral turpitude or anything else. Who knows what it could have been like with competent trainers?

3) I don't think there's any danger of disrespecting Maddux. He knows the score and, more importantly, I can't imagine he wants to be on a 100-loss team ... and given the way he's been pitching, this might be his last season. You go to Maddux, ask him if he'd like to be traded to a contender and, if he says yes, you do the best you can. If he says no ... I think he has a no-trade clause anyway.

As to Maddux & young pitchers, this seems just part of the Braves mystique, like how each of their pitching prospects was a future CYA winner. I took a superficial look once and it was actually rather hard to see Maddux having any effect upon his arrival. He may have had an effect later but that's impossible to separate from the Cox/Mazzone effect.

As to the Hendry part of that inning, this has been a season full of "emotion." You "respect" players, Dusty feels really bad about how things are going, Womack felt bad about his performance with the Cubs a couple years back and has apologized for it several times, etc.

4) A few years back, BPro's Cubs preview was about how slow-moving McPhail has always been. Their case wasn't nearly as convincing as they apparently thought it was but if they are correct, this would be consistent.

Which brings us to the question I really wish I had the answer to: how much power does Hendry really have in the organization? Several roster moves seem to be Dusty specials; more than a few times now Hendry has called up a player only to see him sit; several times he's made a statement (e.g. "Dubois is going to be the starter") only to have to "clarify" a few days later (by "start" he of course meant "might platoon"). Those all suggest, though hardly prove, Baker was calling the shots when it comes to players and usage.

This latest escapade, in conjunction with BPro's claims about McPhail, may indicate that McPhail is really calling the shots on Dusty. Hendry opens his mouth only to have McPhail tell him that's not the way it's going to work.

5) They're trying to play the PR game. They've blown it but are still playing it.

6) Please don't start talking about how Juan Pierre has turned it around. Juan Pierre is like Scott Podsednik (and Matty Alou and Willie Wilson and Ichiro and a bejillion others in baseball history) -- when he hits 300+ (and runs and fields well), he's reasonably valuable; when he doesn't hit 300+, he's not. BA is highly variable so maybe I shouldn't write off Pierre, but I'm thinking he's more a true 275 hitter these days than a true 305 one.

7) I still don't have a huge problem with Jones' signing. And $5.5 M simply isn't a lot of money. This isn't a crippling contract. Of course that doesn't mean the Cubs will have the sense/guts to write it off.

You're absolutely right that this was a typically blah Cubs move -- perfectly fine in isolation, dissapointing as part of a pattern. What is frustrating is not Jones' contract per se nor what it locks the Cubs into -- you can't do better than Jones for $5.5 M (you might get luckier or unluckier of course) and 3 years is pretty standard these days. What's frustrating is that Jones' money plus Neifi's money plus one of the relievers' money and you're talking about a real impact player. It's Guzman, Wilson, Maldonado instead of Maddux writ small.

8) The Clippers don't quite count -- they were never high payroll were they? And although big market, a distant, distant 2nd in that market. Knicks are a good comp. In baseball, the 2001-2002 O's were a sorry, overpriced lot (and they gave Hargrove another go in 2003); the 93 Mets (though they did fire Torborg very early in the season).

9) Welcome back.
   7. Mike Isaacs Posted: July 16, 2006 at 12:06 PM (#2100587)
The Knicks

In a similar vein, I see the two front offices on very similar paths right now.


Interesting comparison to the Knicks and the Clippers. I'm not all that knowledgable about basketball so certain questions come to mind: Have the Knicks been this bad for this long and gone all that time without any hint of significant changes -- even if they are poor changes -- from the front office? In basketball, when there's a dud of a team for a long time, there's often fan focus on changing the coach or the general manager, but is there the equivalent of baseball's coaches? In other words, when we look at the Cubs, we wonder how in the world not only has Baker survived this long, but Rothschild and Clines as well. Do avid fans of basektabll teams zero in on assistant coaches or other coaches in the same way?

Finally, does basketball's salary cap make any difference regarding this comparison? A fan could blast Cubs management for the contracts it gave to a Glendon Rusch and a Neifi Perez. Some fans have advocated that the Cubs should trade these players if possible or be willing to eat their contracts, but do NBA teams have the same flexibility? And does the salary cap make the idea of "a big-market team" less meaningful in basketball?

Thanks for the comparisons. I've simply had the feeling this summer that I was seeing something I had never seen before -- even in all my years of following this futile Cubs organization. And I couldn't help wonder whether it was as unique as I perceived it to be in professional sports.
   8. Mike Isaacs Posted: July 16, 2006 at 12:34 PM (#2100595)
On 6 and 7) Jones has played far above my expectations, and the Cubs should trade him now that he has real value. He won't do it next year or the year after, and I doubt he'll even be considered an asset when 2007 is done.

7) I still don't have a huge problem with Jones' signing. And $5.5 M simply isn't a lot of money. This isn't a crippling contract. Of course that doesn't mean the Cubs will have the sense/guts to write it off.


I think DTM makes an excellent point: That Jones has turned his season around to some degree and is posting decent numbers could provide an unexpected opportunity to trade him away to a team in contention. If the Yankees have any interest as reported, the Cubs organization could be able to address criticisms of the Jones acquisition and get out from a contract of another two years. If the Cubs were to get something back for Jones and acquire a real difference maker in right field in the off season, the signing of Jones is no longer an issue.

I agree, as I usually do, with most of the well-stated points Walt raises. We simply have some disagreement over the acquisition of Jones. I was much more against it. But Walt raises a valid point in saying that $5.5 million for a right fielder isn't a tremendous amount of money in the current market. The problem I have is that the $5.5 million is for an everyday player who performs at an unacceptable level whenever a lefty takes the mound. And that this is an organization that is less likely to write off the Jones signing as Walt suggests. Either Jones gets traded with almost all of his money paid for by another team or he's our starting right fielder again next year, I would venture to guess.

And the real issue, of course, comes when we consider this team in a "holistic" way. A mediocre right fielder and signings of players such as Perez and Rusch (as Walt suggests) create a lot of unsubstantial roster fill and less room for cleaning up a mess.

I think it's a fair guesstimate to say that what we're seeing from Jones right now is likely the best we'll ever get from him and perhaps better than what we'll see over the next two years. If I had to predict, which is a dangerous thing, the Cubs will still have Jones next year. The team then might be best off platooning Jones and Murton in right and going after a left fielder that really matters. I'm not thrilled by that scenario for several reasons, but Carlos Lee in left and Jones/Murton in right certainly makes the team better offensively.
   9. Mike Isaacs Posted: July 16, 2006 at 12:57 PM (#2100602)
I have a list of people who were interested in forming a splinter blog the last time you all took a lengthy hiatus. I'd be happy to send it your way if you want people who would be more than willing to contribute.

Thanks for the offer. I have relayed this information, and I hope we'll be able to get more regular posting here soon. I agree that that would be best to make the blog thrive. My situation is not likely to change: I will post from time to time -- occasionally in bunches -- but there will be stretches where I can't post, which is how it's been from the start. So I agree that it would be worthwhile to increase our staff of posters and have suggested so.
   10. Mike Isaacs Posted: July 16, 2006 at 01:28 PM (#2100605)
Please don't start talking about how Juan Pierre has turned it around. Juan Pierre is like Scott Podsednik (and Matty Alou and Willie Wilson and Ichiro and a bejillion others in baseball history) -- when he hits 300+ (and runs and fields well), he's reasonably valuable; when he doesn't hit 300+, he's not. BA is highly variable so maybe I shouldn't write off Pierre, but I'm thinking he's more a true 275 hitter these days than a true 305 one.


We're in agreement here, although I would say it's reasonable to state, as I did, that he has turned it around in June and July for the reasons you give here: He has hit 300+ in June and July making him valuable over that period of time.

But if it's true that he's a .275 hitter now, his overall value as a leadoff man is completely diminished. I think Pierre has become streaky in just this way. We see stretches of old Juan during a given period. But this type of a player is of little overall value if he's too streaky: With no power to speak of and no ability to get on base in any other way than hits, Pierre's value as a leadoff man rests solely with being able to get a lot of hits consistently throughout the year. That's just what he did for a handful of seasons during his career. I'm just not convinced he can show that consistency anymore. If he's able to get hits in bunches for half a season or even two-thirds of a season, that's not good enough for me because his value is basically nil the rest of the time. He has nothing else to fall back on.
   11. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: July 16, 2006 at 01:55 PM (#2100615)
Probably silly to keep bringing these up, but from today's Tribune:

Rookie second baseman Ryan Theriot got his first start Saturday after receiving only four at-bats during his first stint in the majors May 8-26.

Theriot became the sixth player to get at least one start at second this year, joining Todd Walker (33), Neifi Perez (24), Jerry Hairston (18), Tony Womack (12) and Freddie Bynum (1). Baker couldn't say how much playing time Theriot would get at second.

"He just got here," Baker said. "We still have to win ballgames. Everybody says 'Mix in the young guys.' I have a bunch of young guys in already."


A bunch = 2, apparently.
   12. Christopher Linden Posted: July 16, 2006 at 02:23 PM (#2100632)
... does the salary cap make the idea of "a big-market team" less meaningful in basketball?

At least on a superficial level, an argument can be made that yes, it does. The Finals cities' baseball teams are both considered "small market" (although Cuban makes that moot for the Mavs). Looking at the conference-final cities, Detroit isn't seen as one of the NBA's glamour-destination cities and San Antonio isn't anyone's idea of a megapolis, either. If the NBA had MLB's financial structure it's hard to imagine Tim Duncan, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Elton Brand *all* staying with their respective teams ... gotta think at least two or three of those guys, were they MBLers of comparable skill, would have jumped ship to the Yankees or Red Sox or Dodgers by now.

I'm trying to think of an NFL team that's a good comp for the Cubs but nothing feels quite right ... the Mike Brown Bengals aren't too far off, maybe the Cards, though neither meet the big-market requirement. 1970s Giants, maybe. The spin-the-wheel feel of the NFL, though, with its shorter seasons, reward-the-weak scheduling, expanded wild-card setup, and the importance of the shared-equally national-TV money pretty much prevent teams from being as totally hopeless from a playoff-contention standpoint as the Cubs currently are.

I'm not too down on Pierre, even though he's only at .316/.355. Lifetime he's a .302 hitter and I'm not sure why, as Walt posits, he'd at 28 (29 in August) suddenly become at true .275 hitter. Granted, he hit only .276 (not enough for him) last year, but he was at .326 the year before and over .300 the year before that (and .357 over 143 at bats since June 1). If he starts getting nagging leg injuries or puts on weight and loses a step or two, then it's time to dump him, but if he's healthy and in shape then there's no reason to think that he won't hit .300 over his next 600-700 at bats.

Happy Base Ball
   13. Christopher Linden Posted: July 16, 2006 at 02:46 PM (#2100655)
A bigger question for me, were I a Cubs fan (there but for the grace of God ...), would be finding where Aramis Ramirez left his batting average and home runs. His strikeouts, if anything, are down from past years, but he's lost fifty points off his average compared to 2004-05. He's not going to walk much, so hitting .260 means he's using a big chunk of outs. On the long-ball front, since coming to the Cubs his AB/HR has been right about 15 -- 15 homers in 232 at bats in 2003, 36 in 547 in '04, 31/463 in '05 -- but it's at 20 (16/326) now. Getting him back to the .300-BA, .550-SLG hitter he's been the past couple of years would by itself mean a couple of extra wins.

Happy Base Ball
   14. dcsmyth1 Posted: July 16, 2006 at 03:02 PM (#2100673)
and I'm not sure why, as Walt posits, he'd at 28 (29 in August) suddenly become at true .275 hitter.

The difference between .300 and .280 is 2 hits per week. Pierre has zero pop in his bat. He depends completely on batting the ball down and beating the throw. After the wear and tear of 5 seasons of 160 games and 70 SB attempts each, it wouldn't be surprising if he has lost an ounce of both bat speed and foot speed.

And, while other players are compensating for those things by adding some BB and HR, Pierre can't add HR because he isn't strong enough, and he has shown no inclination to add walks. Pitchers know that he has no power, so they throw him lots of strikes. If he doesn't swing, he'll be down in the count, so he swings and puts the ball in play early. It's a vicious cycle, and if his speed really has started to decline, Pierre's run as a regular will not last much longer.
   15. Christopher Linden Posted: July 16, 2006 at 03:36 PM (#2100680)
Duff, I agree that Pierre can't play in the majors if his speed falls to, say 5.5 on the 2-8 scale and he isn't worth starting if the speed falls below 6-6.5. Why, though, do you say "if his speed really has started to decline" like it has? His stolen-base numbers are the same as they've been. His triples numbers, considering that he's no longer in the three-bagger heaven of Florida, are about the same. His listed weight's the same, and observationally, he doesn't look any chunkier or slower than he did in his Colorado days.

I see no reason to believe that Pierre's speed has fallen to the point where his usefulness starts to vanish. His K/AB is about his career mark, so as long as he retains his speed -- and he's reknowned as one of the hardest-working men in show business, so staying in shape shouldn't be too big of a concern -- I say, again, that there's no reason to expect him to not be a .300 hitter through his 30th birthday.

Happy Base Ball
   16. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 16, 2006 at 03:44 PM (#2100686)
This is what I mean. This is a team in a big-market town with a payroll of $95 million or so. The team crashed and burned in the middle of last year. Is there any comparable example of a team that has been this bad for this long with this kind of a payroll and in this kind of a market that has not made a single serious move with its executives, managers and coaches?

1997 Chicago Bears come to mind. Hendry's comment about how 79-83 isn't acceptable pales in comparison to the infamous "all the pieces are in place" proclamation. (closes eyes and tries to picture what would happen if Alonzo Spellman played under Baker). Well, the good news is after that team's refusal to reshuffle the deck in the off-season, the owner got fired after one more season. I remember Steve Rosenbloom had a contest - find the best movie title parodies to describe that Bears team. My favorite submissions were "Kramer Vs. Lamer" and "Punt for the Rest of October." Someone should have a similar contest for this Cubs squad.

One might want to toss out the NFL because of its salary cap, but in my opinion that would be wrong. The idea would be to look for a team spending enough money so that it can't blame its finances on why things are going poorly.

Actually, the "all the pieces" comment may have been about the '96 Bears, but ah well.
   17. Christopher Linden Posted: July 16, 2006 at 04:01 PM (#2100693)
I feel like I'm defending His Juanness beyond all reason, but what the hell ...

These are the lead-off hitters for yesterday's junior-varsity (what you call "National League") games:

LA ..... Furcal ..... .346/.355
StL .... Eckstein ... .373/.364
Phi .... Rollins .... .314/.420
SF ..... Winn ....... .340/.423
Atl .... Betemit .... .349/.491
SD ..... Roberts .... .357/.412
Mil .... Gross ...... .361/.456
AZ ..... Byrnes ..... .352/.523 (.230 ISO SLG)
Was .... Soriano .... .351/.568 (.290 ISO SLG)
Pit .... McLouth .... .302/.362 (.281/.329 in 140 AB as leadoff)
CO ..... Carroll .... .390/.426
Cin .... Denorfia ... .348/.409 (22 AB)
FL ..... Ramirez .... .344/.410
Hou .... Biggio ..... .334/.424 (.318 OBA in 282 AB as leadoff)
NY ..... Valentin ... .330/.539 (.251 ISO SLG)

Go Pirates.

Pierre's lifetime .302 BA and .351 OBA would fit in nicely with those numbers, so if he is a .300 hitter, he's still a very useful leadoff hitter (and his speed makes the OBA even more valuable, if only marginally). He's always going to be carrying a deficit in the power department, but we already knew that.

By the way, it's only one day's worth of lineups, but don't those look like good power numbers from the one hole? Why are Soriano and Byrnes batting behind pitchers?

Happy Base Ball
   18. dcsmyth1 Posted: July 16, 2006 at 04:07 PM (#2100697)
Why, though, do you say "if his speed really has started to decline" like it has?

It's been shown that speed is highest in the early 20s, and then starts to decline. If Pierre has lost a quarter step, he can compensate by having improved his SB *technique* over the years. And 3b are too rare to tell us much at this point. That he hasn't gained weight and works hard will not prevent some natural loss of speed. If he has lost a fraction of a second, from home to 1st base, he might lose a hit or two a week.

I assume that Pierre has lost at least a little bit of speed, just due to the ageing curve. Whether it's enough to affect his stats yet, I am not sure. I am only offering an explanation for why W Davis' suspicion might be correct.
   19. Christopher Linden Posted: July 16, 2006 at 04:30 PM (#2100714)
If he has lost a fraction of a second, from home to 1st base, he might lose a hit or two a week.

No way, absolutely no way, does a quarter-step loss in speed rob him of a hit or two a week. Maybe if 60-70% of his hits were infield hits, but no way that's true; I doubt he averages even two infield hits per week (Anyone got the numbers? I remember Vince Coleman got about 50-60 IFHs a year and I have to believe that Coleman represents the absolute natural limit of the infield-hits skill set).

I'll also argue that the studies which show speed declines after a player's early twenties also show increase in bulk after a player's late 20s. There isn't any easily-discernable added bulk for Pierre; we're not talking Andrew Jones, here. Couple that with his work ethic and I would bet that Pierre's age-induced speed loss would be substantially less than the average player's. If the average guy loses, say, 20% of his speed between 25 and 30 (and I'm just pulling out numbers here for illustrative purposes), then Pierre's loss probably would be in the 5-10% range.

Let's say that an in-his-prime Pierre averages 180 hits a year. Let's say 30% of them are infield hits; that's 54 IFHs a year -- Coleman territory. How many of those IFHs does he lose if he loses 20% of his footspeed? How many if he loses 10%? At the 5-10% mark, I think we're talking maybe, MAYBE, ten hits a year lost to slower footspeed, and that's assuming that Pierre's infield-hit totals are significantly higher than I think they really are.

I don't see how a Pierre who runs 90% as well as he did two years ago when he hit .326 can't still hit .300. A normal loss in footspeed won't affect 70-80% of his hits, and won't take away all that many from the rest. Hell, even catchers leg out the occasional infield hit.

Anyway, I'm done arguing for JP ... I was as happy as anyone in Denver when he left the Rockies, since in every home game he was giving up about 150 slugging-average points to the other guy's center fielder, plus he represents exactly the type of player to whom Baseball Men -- especially the Dustys of the world -- become overly committed. I was only taking issue with the notion that he's now a true .275 hitter.

Happy Base Ball
   20. Christopher Linden Posted: July 16, 2006 at 04:32 PM (#2100717)
after a player's early twenties also show increase in bulk after a player's late 20s.

Should say "after a player's early 20s".

Happy Base Ball
   21. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: July 16, 2006 at 05:04 PM (#2100738)
In hockey, Glen Sather kept his job in New York through almost a decade of underachievement and crappy free agent signings. Milbury did with the Isles despite probably being the worst GM in NHL history (trading away Luongo for nothing to give the job to Rick DiPietro, trading Bertuzzi and McCabe for nothing, trading Chara and Spezza to get Alexei Yashin - I'm just scratching the surface here). Of course, Sather had a more impressive track record than MacFail - 5 Cups in 7 years.

On a personal note, I always read Gonfalon Cubs, as the Cubs are such a fascinating train wreck. The Tigers have been putrid for 13 years, but never really like this. I guess this is one reason sports are so interesting - so many different ways to win and lose.
   22. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 16, 2006 at 05:25 PM (#2100786)
Great essay, but to pick a few nits:

* And more importantly, I’m in no real mood to have “fun” with the ineptitude, rigidity and disregard for baseball fans that this management continues to display long after the ship has hit the iceberg and the passengers have fled.

The thing that astonishes me most about this season isn't how bad the team is playing -- yes, they are playing far worse than I would have predicted, but I also predicted they'd be under .500 anyway.

What's astonished me is that, to a large extent, the passengers *haven't* fled -- at least in the sense that they continue to flock to Wrigley in large numbers. While we know that attendance is based on pre-season ticket sales, the fact remains that although the Cubs may not be drawing 40,000 fans, they may very well be drawing 30,000+ . . . and doing so on a consistent basis.

Why? This is a serious question and one that clearly affects the way the team is run.

It may be that fans will continue to visit Wrigley as a mecca -- especially those from out of town. If that's the case and the fans truly want to have an impact, most likely it will have to come in the form of lower TV ratings. Even then, though, how dramatically do ratings have to go down to materially affect the Cubs media revenues?


*It’s clear to many that Baker and his coaches should have been dismissed a long time ago. But if Hendry disagrees, then what good does it do not to sign Baker now—not that I would be anything but angry about that decision. What gets me is that he says he’s doing what’s best for the Chicago Cubs. How is not making a decision one way or the other about Baker best for the Cubs?

I'm going out on a limb here, but it's one that I've probably gone out on a few times lately. Not only do I think Dusty will manage the rest of the season, but I think he *should* manage the rest of the season. Let's face it -- bringing in a new manager it this point is not going to accomplish anything. It won't help develop kids (because the new manager will be eager to remove the "interim" label) and it won't get the Cubs into playoff contention. The only thing firing Dusty now will do is make *us* feel glad that the Wicked Witch of the West is finally out of town.

Although I'd love to see that as much as anyone, I don't think my personal psychic benefit is a sufficient reason for the Cubs to have to pay money to two managers for the next few months. They're better off letting Dusty continue to drive the team into the grounnd -- making a convincing case on why both Dusty and Hendry need to be dismissed.


*This latest escapade, in conjunction with BPro's claims about McPhail, may indicate that McPhail is really calling the shots on Dusty. Hendry opens his mouth only to have McPhail tell him that's not the way it's going to work.

For the most part, I've given up on the notion that there is a large Baker-Hendry schism and have thought that either (a) they see the world quite similarly or (b) to the extent they do disagree, Hendry is subservient to Baker. Either way, it's bad news for the organization.

Still, Walt is hitting on something here that I've been wondering about for the last few weeks. It seems that everytime Hendry has gotten in front of a microphone, he's gone out of his way to say two things -- first, that he's working on his own timetable, not anything specific or anything on which he'll elaborate further; and second, that *he's* the one making the decisions.

I've always thought it was odd that he was saying this, because who is really questioning this? MacPhail has insisted that he has no role and I haven't read any media speculation that Hendry isn't entrusted with this responsibility. Frankly, the more I hear Hendry insist that it's his call and his call alone, the more I think that it *isn't* his call.
   23. dcsmyth1 Posted: July 16, 2006 at 05:26 PM (#2100787)
<i>I was only taking issue with the notion that he's now a true .275 hitter.<i>

After actually sitting down and looking at some "career trajectory" studies, I agree with you. I think JP is now a true .290 batter.

Also, in a typical season JP hits about 50% more GB plus bunts than an avg player. Plus, a higher % of JP's GB and bunts are dependent on speed for the outcome. So, would we not expect that any loss of speed will have noticably more impact on Pierre's BAvg than that of a typical player?
   24. Christopher Linden Posted: July 16, 2006 at 06:05 PM (#2100907)
I'll agree with that, Duff: While Pierre (I think) will lose less of his speed than normal, each "unit of speed" he loses affects him more than other players. With that in mind, his true-BA ability is probably around .290 ... which means he could hit anywhere from .260 to .320 in a given year.

Even under my more optimistic analysis above, I wouldn't want to keep paying him beyond, say, 2007, 2008 at the most.

Happy Base Ball
   25. Mike Isaacs Posted: July 16, 2006 at 06:36 PM (#2100975)
I'm going out on a limb here, but it's one that I've probably gone out on a few times lately. Not only do I think Dusty will manage the rest of the season, but I think he *should* manage the rest of the season. Let's face it -- bringing in a new manager it this point is not going to accomplish anything. It won't help develop kids (because the new manager will be eager to remove the "interim" label) and it won't get the Cubs into playoff contention. The only thing firing Dusty now will do is make *us* feel glad that the Wicked Witch of the West is finally out of town.

Although I'd love to see that as much as anyone, I don't think my personal psychic benefit is a sufficient reason for the Cubs to have to pay money to two managers for the next few months. They're better off letting Dusty continue to drive the team into the grounnd -- making a convincing case on why both Dusty and Hendry need to be dismissed.


Disagree with you on this one point, djf.

I'm not one to usually advocate that "message sending," or making a move just to make a move is sound practice for an organization trying to better itself. But this Cubs organization is a different animal. It is in desperate need of an overhaul in thinking, and getting rid of Dusty Baker to me is imperative -- as soon as possible. It isn't that Baker's firing closes this franchise's deep cracks; it's that this is the first and easiest change that needs to be made, IMHO.

To me, there are reasons to fire him yesterday. And here is where I go back on my usual position in these matters: Fans, players and the culture of Cubdom need right now to see/hear a sign from unpstairs that a deep and committed change in thinking is taking place. The level of complacency from Hendry/MacPahil has been so impenetrable and damaging to this organization that the sooner serious changes are made, the better.

Secondly, and as stated earlier, a team 20 games under .500 and trying to prepare for next year and beyond does not benefit from having a manager who must "win" to keep his job.

Where we may be closer to agreement is over whether the Cubs should spend lots of money right now to hire a new manager had Baker been fired. The real question to me isn't the usual one about who should be hired by the Cubs -- Uncle Lou, Buck, etc. -- but what changes should be made in the way the Cubs look for a new manager. I would have had no problem seeing our third base coach or broadcaster take over as manager for the next few months and then the Cubs conducting a much more thought-out interview process for a new manager in the off season. It would also have given some opportunity to evaluate any interim manager from within the organization.

Under that scenario, the Cubs would not have paid a ton of additional money, young players would likely have seen more playing time and fans would have been sent a message they more than deserve to hear: This was the start of some serious change.

Finally, I have been with you in the belief that it is best for Baker and company to lose, lose, lose so serious change can be made. But I think our "wish" has come true, and astonishingly enough, it still hasn't worked. I don't think anything the Cubs do for the remainder of the season puts Hendry's job in jeopardy. He's here for two years no matter what. If losing every series until the end of the year meant no JH next year, I'd be in favor of that. But it doesn't. Moreover, Hendry isn't waiting for Baker to crash and burn with this team so he can make a change in the off-season; he's hoping, I think, that Baker's team will play well enough in the second half where he feels he can get by with extending his contract -- as unlikely as that might be.

So to me, keeping Baker right now is a bad sign on a bunch of different levels. Among other things, it indicates that the GM is still looking at wins and losses this year rather than looking to build toward a better tomorrow as a top priority.

What's astonished me is that, to a large extent, the passengers *haven't* fled -- at least in the sense that they continue to flock to Wrigley in large numbers. While we know that attendance is based on pre-season ticket sales, the fact remains that although the Cubs may not be drawing 40,000 fans, they may very well be drawing 30,000+ . . . and doing so on a consistent basis.

Point well taken. When I mentioned passenger fleeing, I meant that in terms of believing that this team has any chance to perform in any meaningful way this year. By Hendry's latest comments, although he didn't specifically state this, you might think that he hasn't given up on 2006.

Everyone else with any baseball sense has, I think. Whether the Cubs are able to play .500 for the rest of the year or lose 6 out of every 10 games is not what's important. And I don't think it is to most fans (passengers) either. But it still is, apparently, to Hendry who is keeping his manager to see if the team can start winning more in the second half.

The park filling up every day is a whole other story...
   26. dcsmyth1 Posted: July 16, 2006 at 08:02 PM (#2101152)
Isn't it time to evaluate the main young players? I'll give some WSAB (win shares over a bench player with the same playing time):

Cedeno -4, he is at the bottom of regular MLB SS. He has performed significantly worse than a bench player, even N Perez. Yet nobody is talking about how bad he has been. Is he really the SS of the future, or just a scrub who looks good in a uniform?

Murton -1, another disappointment. Without HR power in LF, he has to be really good in the other facets to merit a starting job. But he's not a defensive stud, not a speed guy, and not a .320 hitter. He draws a few more BB than the typical Cub, but that's not near enough.
   27. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 16, 2006 at 08:33 PM (#2101181)
To me, there are reasons to fire him yesterday. And here is where I go back on my usual position in these matters: Fans, players and the culture of Cubdom need right now to see/hear a sign from unpstairs that a deep and committed change in thinking is taking place. The level of complacency from Hendry/MacPahil has been so impenetrable and damaging to this organization that the sooner serious changes are made, the better.

Here's where we disagree -- while all your points are well taken, they don't really present reasons why Dusty has to be fired today, July 16. rather than at the end of the season.

Do fans need to know that there will be a new sheriff in town and a committed change? Absolutely, but there isn't really any reason why getting that message in early October is so much worse than getting it now. We all may want Dusty gone now (I sure do), but there is no real reason why the organization will be demonstrably worse by letting him go in October.

Furthermore, as for your point that "a team 20 games under .500 and trying to prepare for next year and beyond does not benefit from having a manager who must 'win' to keep his job," how will this change if the Cubs fire Dusty? Most likely, they will bring in an interim manager, and that interim manager will have even more reason to prove himself in August/September than Dusty does.


I don't think anything the Cubs do for the remainder of the season puts Hendry's job in jeopardy. He's here for two years no matter what. If losing every series until the end of the year meant no JH next year, I'd be in favor of that. But it doesn't.

Really? How do we know? Hendry isn't making $4mm/yr like Dusty, and as this season rolls along, it is Hendry that is increasingly drawing the media fire -- even more than Dusty.

If this team limps to a 65 win season, built by Hendry, it is my hope that people will remember last December. At that point, the Cubs had just concluded a season where they missed one of their main hitting stars for several months, along with Wood and Prior each for over a month, and when the team won 79, Hendry clearly and decisively pronounced: "79 wins is not acceptable, and will not be acceptable as long as I'm the GM."

It's too bad the media doesn't recall that quote every chance they get.
   28. Kiko Sakata Posted: July 16, 2006 at 08:33 PM (#2101182)
Isn't it time to evaluate the main young players?

Yeah, Cedeno and Murton have been more part of the problem than part of the solution this year. Personally, I think Murton's probably been screwed up by the Cubs' coaching staff because his natural inclinations - show patience and try to use the whole field - run counter to the Cubs' preference for pull-hitting hackers. That said, you're right that Murton hasn't shown enough power this year to be a good corner outfielder.

Cedeno, on the other hand, has no plate discipline and very little power, so he's going to be overly reliant on maintaining a respectable batting average to have any value (gee, who else does that sound like?).

The problem, though, is if you replace Murton and Cedeno with free agents (the only way the Cubs are likely to replace either - any trade they make would likely be for a guy whose team thinks he's overpaid, so it's the same difference), then all of a sudden you've got all eight positions filled with guys making free-agent money (except maybe for Barrett? and Pie if they put him in CF, which I don't expect).

The Cubs aren't cheap, but can they really afford that at their payroll? With a payroll of $100 million, that works out to $4 million per roster spot. If you're paying $5-$6 million for average position players (e.g., Jacque Jones, Juan Pierre), and $2.5 million for bench players (e.g., Neifi, Rusch), and $5 million apiece for bullpen arms (Eyre, Howry, Dempster), then where are you saving money so you can afford your $10 million corner infielders (Lee, Ramirez) and stud starting pitcher (Zambrano)? You've got to be able to find some dirt-cheap pre-arb players if you want to be able to afford to fill some of your holes in the free-agent market.

So, while it's true that Murton's and Cedeno's performances this year have been somewhat disappointing, I think they're still valuable to the Cubs in terms of giving them payroll flexibility to fill other holes. Plus, of course, they're both still young enough that I think we can expect them to get better next season, and, in Murton's case, I think there's a chance that he could get a lot better (although I think that would require a change in manager/coaching staff). But, yeah, in general, your point about Cedeno and Murton's performance this season is well-taken.
   29. Kiko Sakata Posted: July 16, 2006 at 08:41 PM (#2101186)
dJf,

You make a good argument that there's no point in firing Dusty. Yet, I've really grown to dislike the man, so on a personal level, I want them to fire him. I also fear that every win with Dusty managing brings them that much closer to bringing him back next season.

So, I had a crazy idea - perhaps even crazier than my earlier suggestion that they hire Derrek Lee as player-manager (which I'd still endorse). What if Jim Hendry named himself interim manager? I think he coached college ball before he became an MLB exec. This team desperately needs to evaluate what they have going into next year and to do this they really need to find playing time for a ton of their young guys - Theriot, Fontenot, Pie, Restovich (who's not terribly young), Guzman, Hill, Ryu, Wuertz, Williams, and others that I'm sure I'm forgetting. I hope Theriot's game yesterday convinced Dusty that playing Theriot at second base isn't going to cost him any wins, but I doubt it.

I just fear that come August 1st, the Cubs lineup will include Walker, Neifi, Phil Nevin in left, Jacque Jones in right against LHP, and Glendon Rusch in the starting rotation. In which case I'll know we're doomed to another 90+ loss season in 2007.
   30. Mike Isaacs Posted: July 16, 2006 at 09:28 PM (#2101219)
Furthermore, as for your point that "a team 20 games under .500 and trying to prepare for next year and beyond does not benefit from having a manager who must 'win' to keep his job," how will this change if the Cubs fire Dusty? Most likely, they will bring in an interim manager, and that interim manager will have even more reason to prove himself in August/September than Dusty does.

This is a valid point, which perhaps goes beyond the question of no-Dusty or Dusty right now. It really speaks to the "goals" of Jim Hendry for the remainder of this season. By keeping Dusty Baker around, and based on comments he has made most recently, it seems to me that Baker's continuation as skipper of this club is a reflection that Hendry still is thinking too much about wins and losses and turning this season around.

But I can see where an interim manager might press for wins at the expense of developing younger players as well. Point well taken. I guess my answer to that -- as unlikely as it might seem -- is that Hendry would have to let the interim manager know exactly what he expects and what management is looking at for the remainder of the season. And wins shouldn't be at the top of the list.

The problem with keeping Baker around until the off-season is that Cubs management isn't doing that for the same reasons you advocate. It's doing that to see if he can start winning, and woe us all if the team does that enough to have Baker come back in April. That will make neither of us happy. I just don't see the real down side in canning him now.

Really? How do we know? Hendry isn't making $4mm/yr like Dusty, and as this season rolls along, it is Hendry that is increasingly drawing the media fire -- even more than Dusty.

Nothing is for certain, but I don't even think a 65-win season costs Hendry his job. It's completely out of character for isolated and well-bunkered Andy MacPhail to pull the plug on a GM within a season of giving him a two-year extension. I don't see that happening under any circumstances -- as much as I'd like to.

Here's a case in point. We all have "fond" memories of Ed Lynch as GM. Remember that MacPhail never really fired Lynch despite major media fire and fan criticism. It was Lynch who came to MacPhail and resigned. In fact, he had to do it twice. The first time, long after it was clear he was a brutally bad GM and the Cubs were going nowhere, MacPhail talked him out of it.

How I wish you were right, djf. How I wish I would come back here and eat my words and tip my hat to you. Which I most certainly will do...

But I just think there's a greater possibility of Juan Pierre hitting a bunch of home runs in the second half than Jim Hendry being canned before the 2007 season.
   31. dcsmyth1 Posted: July 16, 2006 at 09:39 PM (#2101234)
As far as firing Dusty, it should be obvious that, barring a miracle turnaround in the rest of this season, he will not be the manager next year. Hendry, who knows this, would rather not 1) create the impression that he is scapegoating Dusty by firing him in the middle of the season, 2) disrespect Baker by firing him now, as opposed to the gentler approach of declining to renew him in the offseason, 3) have to deal with the flak over his choice of interim manager, and 4) to avoid that, hire a permanent manager on the run, before he is certain who he wants, and before that person might be available.

The only productive reason to fire Baker now is if Mr. Right is ready, willing, and able to take over right now.

Too bad Joe Girardi is already taken.
   32. Kiko Sakata Posted: July 16, 2006 at 09:45 PM (#2101242)
it should be obvious that, barring a miracle turnaround in the rest of this season, he will not be the manager next year

You make good points, Duffy, but on this, you have more faith in Jim Hendry than me. I still believe that Jim Hendry WANTS Dusty Baker to be his manager next year. If this season goes badly enough, he may have no choice but to go in another direction, but I think Jim Hendry is looking for reasons to retain Dusty, not looking at who should be replacing him.
   33. Mike Isaacs Posted: July 16, 2006 at 10:03 PM (#2101275)
But on this, you have more faith in Jim Hendry than me.

And me. I'm with Kiko on ths one. I still don't believe Hendry has concluded that Baker is a goner, and I still think he's hoping the Cubs will play well enough to warrant bringing him back.

Hendry, who knows this, would rather not 1) create the impression that he is scapegoating Dusty by firing him in the middle of the season, 2) disrespect Baker by firing him now, as opposed to the gentler approach of declining to renew him in the offseason, 3) have to deal with the flak over his choice of interim manager, and 4) to avoid that, hire a permanent manager on the run, before he is certain who he wants, and before that person might be available.

These are reasonable points about what may be going through Hendry's mind in playing the role of Mr. Freeze right now. But to me, they are unacceptable. When a team with a $95 million payroll is 20 games under .500, and that team has lost 95 of the last 162 games under the same manager (and his coaches), it is the GM's job to address that. Other GMs who put winning as priority No. 1 risk scapegoating his manager, giving the impression of disrespecting his manager, taking flak over making a decision that's part of his job and making a quick decision as to who will be the replacement. All of that goes with the territory.

Truth is, I'm very afraid Duffy is too right. To me, if Hendry is too concerned about "respecting" Baker at the expense of making a tough decision because he's a brutally bad manager for this team, then he's in the wrong job. Which he is.

Good discussion, btw.
   34. dcsmyth1 Posted: July 16, 2006 at 10:37 PM (#2101337)
So, while it's true that Murton's and Cedeno's performances this year have been somewhat disappointing, I think they're still valuable to the Cubs in terms of giving them payroll flexibility to fill other holes. Plus, of course, they're both still young enough that I think we can expect them to get better next season, and, in Murton's case, I think there's a chance that he could get a lot better

Well, a winning team does not depend on cheap but bad regulars to give them payroll flexibility. A winning team has *good* players who are still young and cheap.

A winning team also has a share of avg players. The Cubs have a few (Jones, Pierre, Barrett{off+def}, Walker (off+def), Maddux), but not enough.

The main difference between top teams and bottom teams is the number of star/superstar players. The Cubs only have only 2 (Zambrano and Lee [assuming his 05 performance will largely continue]). Ramirez is also a plus player, but not a star.

The Cubs need a few more stars. Does anyone know who in that category might be available now, or who might be a free agent in the offseason?
   35. Dash Carlyle Posted: July 16, 2006 at 10:37 PM (#2101339)
...bringing in a new manager at this point is not going to accomplish anything. It won't help develop kids (because the new manager will be eager to remove the "interim" label) and it won't get the Cubs into playoff contention.

I think the Bruce Kimm debacle is still too fresh in our minds. I don't know why Hendry couldn't promote someone from within the organization with the understanding that a) he's to play Murton, Hill, Guzman, et al for the rest of the year and b) whether or not he's retained beyond this season will depend on the development of those players, not on the team's record. Or, just tell him that he's not a candidate to be the permanent manager. Take away his incentive to win at all costs. (Of course, that wasn't really Kimm's motivation. He wanted to help McGriff break some idiotic made-up record, which was insane. I'm sure we can avoid something that monumentally stupid this time.)

I think Dusty and his staff are doing real damage to the development of the young players right now. Certainly, they're not helping. Why assume we can't do any better? Does anyone believe Murton is playing up to his abilities? And, on a sort of related note, why isn't Hill in Chicago? Wouldn't it be better if he were promoted, and told that he'll spend the rest of the year in the rotation, no matter what? Sending him down every time he has a couple bad starts can't be good for him or the Cubs' long term success.

And I'm not sure why we can't have posts here more often. While the essays have been almost uniformly great, we don't necessarily need content in order to comment. We just need a place to chat/commiserate. A daily Gonfalon Cubs thread.

My other suggestion along these lines would be to sign dJf to a long-term contract with incentives for frequent posting.
   36. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 16, 2006 at 11:15 PM (#2101417)
* Kiko: You make a good argument that there's no point in firing Dusty. Yet, I've really grown to dislike the man, so on a personal level, I want them to fire him.

So do I. I'd be thrilled if they fired Dusty. I just don't think it absolutely has to happen today. IMO, if Jim Hendry comes out on October 2 and says that "we appreciate Dusty's work, but we feel we need to go in another direction for 2007," the message will be sent just as strongly and with the same effect as if it's said today.

* Kiko: I also fear that every win with Dusty managing brings them that much closer to bringing him back next season.

I don't think that will be the case unless the Cubs go more than 10-15 games over .500 in the second half, drawing their season record to 75+ wins. IOW, it's highly unlikely.

I also look at it in the sense that every loss makes it more likely that Dusty is gone.

* Mike: By keeping Dusty Baker around, and based on comments he has made most recently, it seems to me that Baker's continuation as skipper of this club is a reflection that Hendry still is thinking too much about wins and losses and turning this season around.

Hendry said as much this week, in his Wednesday interview on WGN Radio. He essentially said that he wants to see how the club plays for the next week or so, because if they play like they did in Milwaukee, they can turn the ship around -- maybe not for the playoffs (he did not say that), but at least to the point of giving him reason to keep Dusty around.

Yes, that's a dangerous thing and perhaps reason to fire him now. I'm just quite sure that the Cubs aren't going to go on a 25-5 run, so it doesn't really make much difference.

* Mike: I guess my answer to that -- as unlikely as it might seem -- is that Hendry would have to let the interim manager know exactly what he expects and what management is looking at for the remainder of the season. And wins shouldn't be at the top of the list.

Hendry can say those things to Dusty too, and if you don't believe that Dusty will pay any attention, why do you think an interim guy would?

* Mike: I just don't see the real down side in canning him now.

Well, there is the fact that they'd be throwing money down the drain, plus pissing off the minorty who still thinks that Dusty is the right guy and deserves every chance to succeed.

Actually, I look at it from the converse position: From the Cubs standpoint, there is no real down side in keeping him through the end of the season. The damage has already been done and the horse is already out of the barn. See also Duffy Duff's points in Post #32.

* Billy: I don't know why Hendry couldn't promote someone from within the organization with the understanding that a) he's to play Murton, Hill, Guzman, et al for the rest of the year and b) whether or not he's retained beyond this season will depend on the development of those players, not on the team's record. Or, just tell him that he's not a candidate to be the permanent manager. Take away his incentive to win at all costs.

Not so, for the reasons I mentioned above. Why can't Hendry have the same conversation with Dusty? Furthermore, what manager would want to take on the role of an "interim manager" under your scenario -- where there is no hope of having it become permanent?

Even if one did take the job, they would be auditioning for another gig -- if not with the Cubs, then with some other team. Nobody is going to manage from the standpoint that "wins don't matter" -- how are they going to put food on their tables in 2007?

* Billy: I think Dusty and his staff are doing real damage to the development of the young players right now. Certainly, they're not helping.

They may not be helping, but I'm not convinced that bringing in a new guy for August/September -- most likely with another new guy in the spring -- is really going to make a difference either.

* My other suggestion along these lines would be to sign dJf to a long-term contract with incentives for frequent posting.

Thanks for the kind thoughts; you flatter me.

Seriously, I'm here all week. Try the veal and there's a blue show at 11.
   37. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 17, 2006 at 04:35 AM (#2101962)
I'm going out on a limb here, but it's one that I've probably gone out on a few times lately. Not only do I think Dusty will manage the rest of the season, but I think he *should* manage the rest of the season. Let's face it -- bringing in a new manager it this point is not going to accomplish anything.

Disagree intensely. Sometimes making a change accomplishing something in & of itself. This is the old story of Bill James in the army sending two terms with the same unit stateside. One seargent notices some ugly, ratty curtains and orders them removed. He also adjusts the schedule some. The soldiers notice the man in charge cares, and their performance improves. James gets stuck for a 2nd term when everyone else leaves. New sergeant orders windows with no curtains and orders the old curtains put back. He changes the schedule changed back. The soldiers, not around for the old changes, see the man in charge cares and respond positively.

If you can't find similar examples of this in baseball, then you just ain't trying. They don't all involve Billy Martin & Bob Lemon either. And it doesn't even have to be a change to someone good either. My favorite is the 1956 Braves going absolutely apesh1t the day the utterly incompetent Fred Haney got hired. Began an 11-game winning streak (or so) with his first game and played .750 ball for 6-7 weeks after scuffling beforehand. A change can send a message, even if it's on paper as horrible as trading Giambi for John Freakin' Mabry.

With this Cubs team in particular making a change can have an impact. In a word - accountability. It would show some. Wouldn't that be an interesting change of pace?

It won't help develop kids (because the new manager will be eager to remove the "interim" label)

World's easiest way around this: tell him in advance that you want him to play the kids. If he doesn't, he's got no chance in hell of getting hired full-time. See, that was simple. Interm managers have far less leverage with ownership than the man making $4 million a year. Tell him he'll primarily be evaluated on how well he guides the team, motivates the players, commands their respect, and stabilizes the clubhouse rather than wins and losses.

and it won't get the Cubs into playoff contention.

Only 15 plane crashes get the Cubs into playoff contention. Actually that wouldn't do it. The difference between the Cubs and the best AAA isn't large enough to overcome their gap to the post-season.

The only thing firing Dusty now will do is make *us* feel glad that the Wicked Witch of the West is finally out of town.

And it will: 1) end the not-stop talk of "will Dusty be fired" which is apparently annoying at least some members of the team. 2) Potentially end (or at least discredit) the superthinned-skinnedness of the Cubs in recent years that's cropped up again in the last few weeks, and maybe force the players to focus on the field, 3) diffuse ever increasing fan anger (I'm genuinely curious to see what happens to Cubs' ticket sales this off-season). If they're just going to fire him, why risk even minimal potential downfall in sales by further alienating the fans? Making *us* (as in all Cubs fans) is never a reason to avoid doing something. 4) again, increase accountability.

Although I'd love to see that as much as anyone, I don't think my personal psychic benefit is a sufficient reason for the Cubs to have to pay money to two managers for the next few months. They're better off letting Dusty continue to drive the team into the grounnd -- making a convincing case on why both Dusty and Hendry need to be dismissed.

(WARNING: needlessly obscure historical reference coming up). That's like saying it doesn't serve any point to fire General Haig after the first wave went over the top at Somme. "Well, we don't have a good idea who else will lead right now, and those 20,000 aren't going to reanimate even if we did. Let 'im send up the next wave and we'll worry about it in 1917."
   38. calhounite Posted: July 17, 2006 at 04:49 AM (#2101974)
observations about the cubs from a dispassionate observer:

executes the fundamentals (like sac bunting) poorly,
lacks any appearance of cohesive committment toward the common objective of winning,
no obvert appearance of involvement by the manager to the extent of observing field activities
an almost maniacal obsession toward planless hacking.

this manager's prior winning strategy was to swaller his toothpick after every steroid induced park departure.

seems that the roids were more of a factor in the results

either get a roidboid or fire his carcass.
   39. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 17, 2006 at 06:05 AM (#2102027)
Disagree intensely. Sometimes making a change accomplishing something in & of itself. . . .

. . . A change can send a message, even if it's on paper as horrible as trading Giambi for John Freakin' Mabry.

With this Cubs team in particular making a change can have an impact. In a word - accountability. It would show some. Wouldn't that be an interesting change of pace?


As far as change for change sake, I guess my question is -- for what end? Who cares if a message is sent now, rather than on October 2? Nothing is going to happen over the next 10 weeks that is really going to be affected.

Seeing that we agree that "only 15 plane crashes [would] get the Cubs into playoff contention," what would a managerial change accomplish, that a change at the end of the season could not?


World's easiest way around this: tell him in advance that you want him to play the kids. If he doesn't, he's got no chance in hell of getting hired full-time. See, that was simple. Interm managers have far less leverage with ownership than the man making $4 million a year. Tell him he'll primarily be evaluated on how well he guides the team, motivates the players, commands their respect, and stabilizes the clubhouse rather than wins and losses.

Again, why can't you tell this to Dusty? How much leverage do you think a guy has when he's on the last 2 months of his contract, his team is 20 games below .500 and the press is riding him on a daily basis?

Furthermore, this is essentially the message Hendry said the other night -- that if things continue this way for another week or two, then they'll have to play the kids and that Dusty won't be judged by his W/L record in August and September. (Of course, there are only a couple of kids who aren't playing at this point.)


And it will: 1) end the not-stop talk of "will Dusty be fired" which is apparently annoying at least some members of the team.

If Hendry says "Dusty is here for the rest of the season," it might halt or at least change all the talk. Even if it doesn't, though, so what? For the most part, the people annoyed are the ones underperforming and who should be gone anyway.


2) Potentially end (or at least discredit) the superthinned-skinnedness of the Cubs in recent years that's cropped up again in the last few weeks, and maybe force the players to focus on the field,

How will it do this? I see no logic or support for this whatsoever. Jacque Jones, Scott Eyre, and Todd Walker are going to have the same feelings and insecurities regardless of the manager. They're not going to change their personalities.

More importantly, though, who cares?


3) diffuse ever increasing fan anger (I'm genuinely curious to see what happens to Cubs' ticket sales this off-season). If they're just going to fire him, why risk even minimal potential downfall in sales by further alienating the fans? Making *us* (as in all Cubs fans) is never a reason to avoid doing something.

I don't see why firing him at the end of the season won't do the same thing. Ticket renewals aren't until January/February -- by that point, it won't make a difference whether Dusty got fired in July or if he got fired in October. Either way, they'll have a new skipper at the helm.

Furthermore, I might add this -- if Dusty's continued presence is having such an effect on the fan base, why are people flocking to Wrigley at 35,000+ per game?

4) again, increase accountability.

This essentially repeats your other points. Again, I don't see how firing Dusty *now* (rather than at the end of the season) makes that big a difference. We all want to see him gone, but in the grand scheme of things, it makes no difference whatsoever.

They might as well save a few bucks and let the team continue to plummet under Dusty, further ending all doubts on why both Dusty and Hendry deserve to be gone.

As for your Haig analogy, I'm not as much of a military historian as I'd like to be, but there is a notable difference -- in your case, it would hypothetically make sense to relieve Gen. Haig, because his continued presence at his post would affect the future direction of the British army. (In your specific analogy, keeping Gen. Haig means that he'll continue to order further assaults and needlessly lose British soldiers.)

Here, though, I'm not talking about keeping Dusty in 2007. I'm talking about firing him on October 2, rather than July 17. There are no military campaigns that need to be strategized and fought during the next 10 weeks and no real reason to think that Dusty's presence will affect the troops in 2007.
   40. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: July 17, 2006 at 01:09 PM (#2102122)
Is there any comparable example of a team that has been this bad for this long with this kind of a payroll and in this kind of a market that has not made a single serious move with its executives, managers and coaches?

Depending on how you define "serious", both the Bears and the Black Hawks fit that bill. (Basketball can't be an example, the cap means there are no major-market teams in the sense that they can spend more money than the have-lesses.) How long did the Bears stick with Wannstedt? and Jauron? How long has Wirtz stuck with Pulford? Admittedly Pully has changed coaches when appropriate, but one could certainly question the seriousness of his commitment to them.
   41. Mike Isaacs Posted: July 17, 2006 at 01:31 PM (#2102127)
'Been an interesting and well-articulated discussion on both sides.

Although I still think there's several very strong reasons why Dusty Baker's firing should be more than immediate, djf has eloquently argued another point of view, which consistently comes back to the idea of: What difference does it make if it's now or October?

I think it makes a big difference for reasons peviously stated, but I want to focus on an emotional one for a second. Let's say djf is right on every point made, and hiring a new manager right now would do absolutely nothing in terms of what happens to the team this year (goes without saying) or what position the team is in next year when it starts 2007. Let's say, as djf states, that current veterans and developing prospects/rookies would fare no better regardless of what manager is in place for the next few months. And that everyone will get their wish when Dusty Baker is canned the day after the season ends. (I think it will take longer than that).


I say he still should be fired. Longtime and devoted fans who devote money and many hours avidly following this team deserve not to wait a second longer to hear Cubs management say: Enough! One of the biggest and most legitimate criticisms among fans of this team -- here and in other worlds of Cubs banter -- is about the mind-numbing complacency continuously displayed by this organization. What djf suggests is more complacency until October. If there were no other reason to advocate Baker's firing, and I think there are, immediately sending a sign that that complacency has come to an end is a legitimate enough one for me.

Cub fans have a right right now to see Hendry act like a real general manager who has their interests in mind as much as he has the interest of making sure to show Dusty Baker "respect." To put it simply, fans deserve the firing of Dusty Baker right now because they deserve not to wait a day longer for a loud and clear message that this team can no longer tolerate or accept the kind of managing and team performance that we've seen on and off the field.

Even if that change would not amount to any tangible difference toward preparing this team in 2007, and again, I'm not convinced of that, a change now -- a clear, direct and definitive message sent to the players and the organization's fan base -- is more than warranted for its very own value.

Many of us have followed this team's woes for a long, long time. We've seen futile front offices come and go, miserable baseball with men in place hardly competent enough to develop a consistently competitive baseball team. What we're seeing right now though is at another level.

And I just can't imagine a handful of baseball teams we all would agree are light years ahead of the Cubs tolerating this manager's and team's performance for another 70+ games without making a change, without providing a sign of new direction. I hardly think the Astros are the cream of the crop in terms of great baseball organizations, but the quote that I posted from its GM regarding recent moves the team has made is so far removed from the thinking of Jim Hendry that it shouted out at me.

For three years, we've seen Dusty Baker lose control of this team. We've seen one horror after another without so much as a single real response from management. We've been told that 2 + 2 = 5, that the organization was moving in the right direction as everything on and off the field told us otherwise.

I just can't buy the argument that we should wait for 2.5 more months before Hendry lets us know the organization needs to move in another direction. Fans deserve to hear that message right now -- and with an urgency and seriousness that sound organizations demonstrate in sports and out of sports all the time. I guess it comes down to this, djf: Baker should be gone now because Cub fans deserve a serious sign in July, not October, that there will be some light at the end of this long, long dark tunnel.
   42. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: July 17, 2006 at 01:42 PM (#2102133)
World's easiest way around this: tell him in advance that you want him to play the kids. If he doesn't, he's got no chance in hell of getting hired full-time. See, that was simple. Interm managers have far less leverage with ownership than the man making $4 million a year. Tell him he'll primarily be evaluated on how well he guides the team, motivates the players, commands their respect, and stabilizes the clubhouse rather than wins and losses.

-- Again, why can't you tell this to Dusty? How much leverage do you think a guy has when he's on the last 2 months of his contract, his team is 20 games below .500 and the press is riding him on a daily basis?

Furthermore, this is essentially the message Hendry said the other night -- that if things continue this way for another week or two, then they'll have to play the kids and that Dusty won't be judged by his W/L record in August and September. (Of course, there are only a couple of kids who aren't playing at this point.)


But Dusty's said repeatedly during his Cubs tenure that no one tells him what to do in the dugout, and no one tells him who to play. What reason is there to think he'll start listening now?

Beyond that, if he thinks that the GM is going to start ordering him around, is he even going to want to have an extension? In the end - especially if he decides not to come back next year - the best thing for Dusty would be to have the Cubs win in the second half and improve their (and his) overall record for future employers to look at. In his mind, that means veterans and plenty of them, not trying out rookies. And who cares what the GM wants if you're not going to be back?

This has been an interesting back and forth, though I tend to fall in the "fire him now" camp (with "now" being defined as "May 2005"). It clears the question up once and for all, better than a statement that Hendry will let him finish the year and evaluate the future then (even if Hendry fully intends not to bring him back for 2007, he can't say that until after the season - wasn't that why a manager quit recently, maybe Pinella in TB, the GM made some statement that he was going to be allowed to finish the year but then they were going in another direction?). The issue needs to be resolved, because it's become the focal point for Cubs coverage since about mid-May. If Hendry just puts the decision off again, it's not going to go away. Only an extension or a firing resolves the issue.

There is very little for the Cubs to play for the rest of this year, but the one good thing that could come would be stacking the lineup and rotation with rookies and seeing who can do what. We kept saying last year that Cedeno should start 100 games so we can see if this is a small sample size fluke or a real level of performance, and Dusty kept sticking him at the end of the bench. Instead, we had to wait until this year to discover that Cedeno's probably not as good as he showed last year. Ditto Murton - instead of demoting him to AAA when he was hitting about .350, he needed to be out there every day and against every pitcher to get the biggest possible look at what he could do. Instead, another small sample size decision was made, and again maybe he wasn't as good as he showed last year. What do we know for 2007 about any of the next crop except for Sean Marshall? Marmol's had a few starts, but Guzman, Williams, Ryu, and Hill spent 90% of the year at AAA. What do we know about Theriot, even as a utility infielder (let alone a potential starter at 2B, where there will apparently be a job opening)?

These are all questions that could be mined for data now when the season is already lost from a W/L standpoint. Hendry should be asking himself - is Dusty Baker the man to do this? If I promote Rich Hill, is he going to go into the starting rotation or get buried behind Glendon Rusch as the third lefty in the pen? If I promote Theriot, is he going to start 6 games a week after Walker is traded or once a week? Dusty's repeatedly saying in the papers now that he's worried about his record, that he's afraid he'll be evaluated on the team's W/L - and I don't think he means just by Hendry, but also by the next team that looks to hire him, so Hendry saying that *we* won't evaluate him on his W/L record probably doesn't do much to ease things. You can't reconcile a manager who needs to win games with an organization that needs to test young players.

You can tell him to play them, you can order him to play them, but really - what are you going to do if he doesn't? Fire him? Refuse to extend him? Dusty can probably see the writing on the wall as well as we can at this point - an extension seems less and less likely as the season wears on and the team keeps losing. If there's a 10% chance that he will get extended, then threatening not to do it isn't much of a threat at all. Why should Dusty listen to the guy who is going to (in his mind) hang him out to dry for his players' injuries and failures? Dusty's going to look out for Dusty.
   43. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: July 17, 2006 at 01:51 PM (#2102137)
What I have found interesting is how the national media has rallied to Dusty Baker's defense. I honestly do not recall a time when a team was doing so poorly and yet the national press was insistent that not only was the manager free of any responsibility but that he should be retained for the long-term.
   44. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 17, 2006 at 02:12 PM (#2102147)
* Mike: I guess it comes down to this, djf: Baker should be gone now because Cub fans deserve a serious sign in July, not October, that there will be some light at the end of this long, long dark tunnel.

Here is the real nub of our issue: I agree -- fans do deserve some sort of sign of real change. I even agree that they deserve it now; they've put up with too much for too long.

I just don't think it makes a whit of difference in the long run whether that change occurs today or in October. Fans are still going to be loyal to this team, the team isn't going to be materially further behind in it's development, and will be in just as good a position to hire who they want in October as they will in July.


* UCCF: But Dusty's said repeatedly during his Cubs tenure that no one tells him what to do in the dugout, and no one tells him who to play. What reason is there to think he'll start listening now?

Not a whole lot. OTOH, no one is really saying that Cedeno isn't playing, and Murton has gotten substantial time, with the team making noises that more is coming in the second half. The pitching staff is littered with youngsters who are all seeing substantial time and we even saw a Ryan Theriot start on Saturday (and after Walker's game last night, we may see more).

What more do we want at this point? Yes, we can see more of Rich Hill, Jerome Williams, Jae Kuk Ryu, and even Ryan Theriot. I believe that a significant reason we aren't seeing them, though, is because of Hendry, not Dusty. If Hendry wants these kids back on the big league roster, he'll make the moves needed to do this, regardless of the manager. (Theriot is already up, of course, but I don't believe that Hendry is placing much of a priority on seeing him play in MLB.)

Put another way, this isn't 2003; at this stage of the season, if Hendry calls up these kids with a specific message, I don't believe even Dusty has either the inclination or the power to let them sit so he can play veteran stiffs. Dusty knows he has to manage somewhere in 2007 as well.

Just as importantly, even if Dusty sits these guys, worrying about his W/L record, what makes you think that an interim manager would be acting any differently? If anything, he's got more to prove with a good September W/L than Dusty does.

I guess my point is that I agree that Dusty is going to manage the way he wants. Even if it's not the way we want, however, I believe it is the way Hendry wants. I also believe that a new manager coming in will assign playing time much the same way Dusty is now -- no matter what message Hendry gives him.


* UCCF: Beyond that, if he thinks that the GM is going to start ordering him around, is he even going to want to have an extension? In the end - especially if he decides not to come back next year - the best thing for Dusty would be to have the Cubs win in the second half and improve their (and his) overall record for future employers to look at. In his mind, that means veterans and plenty of them, not trying out rookies. And who cares what the GM wants if you're not going to be back?

This is precisely my point with respect to an interim manager -- Hendry can talk about how he'll not be judged on W/L, but on how often the kids play, the atmosphere in the clubhouse, etc., but who are we kidding? The interim guy will know that if he plays all the kids and goes 10-25, he won't have a managerial gig with the Cubs or with anyone else in 2007.
   45. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: July 17, 2006 at 03:16 PM (#2102193)
I guess I just look at interim managers differently. I don't think Hendry could ever expect a new guy to come in and suddenly make the team go 35-10. It's a lousy team, and it will be a lousy team no matter who is managing it.

As we've seen with Baker, managing is all about "fit" - how well do a manager's strengths and weaknesses fit with the team philosophy and the players? I would hope that Hendry would judge any interim manager - and any manager period - on that a lot more than on just the W/L record. The reason to bring in a guy now instead of waiting until the end of the year is that he gets two months to show what he can do (as opposed to 3 hours in an interview). Maybe you find someone who gels with the club, a guy who "gets it" w/r/t where the organization is going and is able to turn that into performance (if not always wins) on the field, a guy who the players really take to. If you think about all of the "big name" managers now - LaRussa, Torre, Cox, etc. - they all had to get their first major league jobs at some point. Wouldn't it be nice if the Cubs discovered one of these guys instead of dragging out another retread like they did when they hired Dusty?

If you don't find that person, you're not bound to keep him, and you've eliminated a candidate for the offseason job search. Really, it's a win/win situation, which is why I don't understand keeping Dusty around at all. If anything, he should have been canned back in May when it became obvious that the team wasn't going to win this year (it was already obvious that he didn't merit an extension). Hell, try two interim guys if you'd like - hire one in May, and if he doesn't seem to be working out then dump him and hire someone else in July. The interim manager is a golden opportunity to maybe get something for nothing, and I'll never understand teams' reluctance to use it.
   46. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 17, 2006 at 03:44 PM (#2102208)
I guess I just look at interim managers differently. I don't think Hendry could ever expect a new guy to come in and suddenly make the team go 35-10. It's a lousy team, and it will be a lousy team no matter who is managing it.

Sure, but does that mean that the interim guy won't be focusing on W/L? I don't think so -- even if Hendry says he doesn't care and even if he really doesn't, the fact is that the interim guy will want to prove himself anyway . . . and having a good W/L is a surefire way to do it.

He surely won't be keen on having to explain to Hendry or another GM "yes, I was only 10-30, but you got to understand that I was playing mostly kids, yadda yadda yadda." What's that other GM going to think -- especially if he's got his own kids who he'd like to develop?


If you think about all of the "big name" managers now - LaRussa, Torre, Cox, etc. - they all had to get their first major league jobs at some point. Wouldn't it be nice if the Cubs discovered one of these guys instead of dragging out another retread like they did when they hired Dusty?

You think the Cubs are going to get a future Tony LaRussa? As an interim manager?

Even if a future LaRussa was out there, (a) he's probably tied up this year in another organization, (b) even if he's within the Cubs system or otherwise free, Hendry isn't likely to spot him, and (c) even if he does, Hendry will probably let the guy go at the end of the season anyway.

Really, it's a win/win situation, which is why I don't understand keeping Dusty around at all. If anything, he should have been canned back in May when it became obvious that the team wasn't going to win this year (it was already obvious that he didn't merit an extension).

I actually agree with this, for one reason -- in May, there was a decent chance that a new manager could materially make a difference this season. At this point, however, the horse is alrready out of the barn. Whether the Cubs win 65 or 70 games is pretty irrelevant and, as I said above, the kids are likely to play just as much anyway.

Of course, there is one significant danger -- what if Dusty rallies the Cubs to a great August/September, whether with the kids or the veterans? If they keep Dusty and he somehow pulls 75-80 wins out of his hat, then there is a decent chance that he'll get 2 more years. I think that's highly unlikely to happen, however.

I should also observe that in the past 40 years, the Cubs have lost 94 games or more on seven occasions. In four occasions ('02, '99, '80, and '74), the manager was replaced midseason or at the end of the year. On two other occasions ('00 and '66), the manager stayed on -- because he was in the first year of his deal.

'97 was the exception -- in the third year of his tenure, Jim Riggleman guided the team to a 68-94 record, yet stayed with the team for '98-'99. Does this mean that Dusty might stay, even with 68 wins? Knowing this organization, it's quite possible, though of course I wouldn't recommend or support it.
   47. karkface killah Posted: July 17, 2006 at 06:32 PM (#2102331)
1997 Chicago Bears

Please don't ever let me read that phrase again.

I remember Steve Rosenbloom had a contest - find the best movie title parodies to describe that Bears team.

Rosenbloom calling Dick Jauron "Dick Jauronstedt" always killed me.
   48. Biscuit_pants Posted: July 17, 2006 at 07:14 PM (#2102376)
I am in the fire Dusty now camp for two reasons.

1. It is not so much playing the young kids but instructing them. Patterson has said that he was not work with by Dusty, Dusty says he did but Patterson may not realize the teaching he received until later in his career. That to me says he has helped Patterson with the mental part of the game at best, at worst he is giving a bunch of advise that will never help Patterson. Patterson needed to be worked with on the field and that just was not happening. After hearing the report that stated that the Cubs do not practice at all during the season I finally understand why he is a veteran’s manager


2. If the Cubs play better at all, which really how much worse can the play, they may bring him back. I do not feel that the Cubs are built to win with Dusty as the manager. We cannot count on what was considered our strength anymore, Prior and Wood could never be the same, and it is not like the free agent market is going to throw us anything at that talent level let alone fill 3 or 4 pitching spots. We need to have a couple of our young pitchers pan out and I do not think they will under Dusty.
   49. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 17, 2006 at 07:39 PM (#2102408)
Again, why can't you tell this to Dusty? How much leverage do you think a guy has when he's on the last 2 months of his contract, his team is 20 games below .500 and the press is riding him on a daily basis?

The Cubs would be opening themselves up to accusations of sabotaging Dusty if they kept him around, told him what to do, and then fired him at the end of the season. That not only looks bad but hurts their ability to get a new manager. An interim guy? Who cares?

I think Dusty and his staff are doing real damage to the development of the young players right now.

Agreed. Improving the clubhouse and overall team performance will have a positive impact on the developing players and their futures, IMO.

Sure, but does that mean that the interim guy won't be focusing on W/L? I don't think so

But you can't judge an interim manager until Kerry Wood is healthy!
   50. Jerry Mumphrey Posted: July 17, 2006 at 08:07 PM (#2102435)
What I have found interesting is how the national media has rallied to Dusty Baker's defense. I honestly do not recall a time when a team was doing so poorly and yet the national press was insistent that not only was the manager free of any responsibility but that he should be retained for the long-term.

No kidding. These advice-giving pundits have absolutely no interest in the success of the Cubs. They are happy with where Dusty is, which is helping the Cubs lose. Everyone wants to be a stand-up guy about it and help poor Dusty keep his job, down to our GM. Obviously, if he gets fired no other team is going to hire him as manager, fat contract or not, which is why the ESPNers aren't going so far as to give the "he'll have no trouble finding a job elsewhere in the bigs" line of endorsement. It seems as if this is destined to be his last stop, and Cub fandom is being sacrificed for it. That being said, I think the fan revolts are pure brilliance. The last resort: groupthink with the message "We're not stupid AND we care". The last game featured a few good "Fire Dusty" and "Goodbye Dusty clap clap clap" chants that came through clearly on my TV set, although Miller&Morgan; weren't about to pick up on it. The litter, however, they can't hide. If I ever get a bleacher ticket I'm bringing TP.
   51. Jerry Mumphrey Posted: July 17, 2006 at 08:20 PM (#2102445)
There is very little for the Cubs to play for the rest of this year, but the one good thing that could come would be stacking the lineup and rotation with rookies and seeing who can do what. We kept saying last year that Cedeno should start 100 games so we can see if this is a small sample size fluke or a real level of performance, and Dusty kept sticking him at the end of the bench. Instead, we had to wait until this year to discover that Cedeno's probably not as good as he showed last year. Ditto Murton - instead of demoting him to AAA when he was hitting about .350, he needed to be out there every day and against every pitcher to get the biggest possible look at what he could do. Instead, another small sample size decision was made, and again maybe he wasn't as good as he showed last year.

I would say that this year's fairly large sample size of the sophs has been nonetheless soiled by the tutelage of Dusty's hand-picked coaches. The whole year is a complete waste. E.G. Objective: Have Matt Murton, a natural opposite-field contact hitter, raise his slugging percentage during the 2006 season. Instructor: Gene Clines. Venue: Starting MLB regular season games. This is the plan?! It's enough to be suspicious of the effect of "coaching" on our other players' declining performances.
   52. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: July 17, 2006 at 08:27 PM (#2102450)
Obviously, if he gets fired no other team is going to hire him as manager, fat contract or not, which is why the ESPNers aren't going so far as to give the "he'll have no trouble finding a job elsewhere in the bigs" line of endorsement.

Managing the Cubs has been a career graveyard for most guys the last 30 years or so. The last Cubs manager to get another managing job after leaving the team was Jim Lefebvre, who managed Milwaukee for 49 games in 1999. John Vukovich managed 9 games for the Phillies in 1988 (after managing 2 for the Cubs in 1986). Lee Elia had 1987-1988 in Philadelphia. Before that, you have to go all the way back to Jim Marshall, who managed 1 year in in Oakland (1979) after spending 1974-1976 with the Cubs.

Don Baylor, Bruce Kimm, Jim Riggleman, Rene Lachemann, Tom Trebelhorn, Joe Altobelli, Don Zimmer, Jim Essian, Frank Luchessi, Gene Michael, Jim Frey, Charlie Fox, Joey Amalfitano, Preston Gomez, and Herman Franks all saw their managerial careers end when they left the Cubs.

Apparently, if you can't make it here, you can't make it anywhere.
   53. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 17, 2006 at 08:34 PM (#2102458)
Objective: Have Matt Murton, a natural opposite-field contact hitter, raise his slugging percentage during the 2006 season.

Now, let's be careful. I don't think they ever said they wanted to raise his slug, they wanted him to be "more agressive" and that looks like a skill Clines has wonderful success teaching.
   54. Kiko Sakata Posted: July 17, 2006 at 08:42 PM (#2102466)
they wanted him to be "more agressive" and that looks like a skill Clines has wonderful success teaching.

I thought they also talked about wanting to get him to pull the ball more. Both of these skills - being more aggressive and pulling the ball - are counter to Matt Murton's strengths. On the flip side, of course, these two skills perfectly encapsulate Corey Patterson's hitting approach. I really, really don't understand why Gene Clines and Gary Mathews are still employed by the Cubs. What possible argument is there in their favor?
   55. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 17, 2006 at 08:47 PM (#2102468)
Derrek Lee and Michael Barrett?

Aramis, perhaps?
   56. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 17, 2006 at 08:49 PM (#2102469)
* Biscuit Pants: 1. It is not so much playing the young kids but instructing them.

I agree that Dusty hasn't been good at developing/instructing the kids, but I fail to see how bringing in another guy for two months is going to dramatically impact their learning or development.

This is something they'll need to find in a new manager for next year.

* Biscuit Pants: 2. If the Cubs play better at all, which really how much worse can the play, they may bring him back.

Yeah, that's my fear. Let's be honest -- Hendry would love to bring Dusty back. My fear is that even if it there is no compelling reason to fire him now (rather than at the end of the year), keeping him around may lead to an extension if Dusty somehow rallies the troops.

I don't think that's going to happen, however.


* Pops: The Cubs would be opening themselves up to accusations of sabotaging Dusty if they kept him around, told him what to do, and then fired him at the end of the season.

A few thoughts. First, I see little reason to think that Hendry sees the world differently than Dusty, so I doubt that there will be such a large disconnect that Dusty will feel that his hands are tied.

Second, even if there was such a divergence, I seriously doubt that it would be aired in public. Baker and Hendry have managed to co-exist for 3+ seasons and to the extent they have had their differences, how often have we heard about them?

* Pops: Improving the clubhouse and overall team performance will have a positive impact on the developing players and their futures, IMO.

I'll believe that when I see it. Firing Dusty will end the Deathwatch we've seen over the last month. It may even make the players a bit more media friendly or otherwise relieve tensions. I don't believe this will necessarily translate to better development of the kids, however.

In fact, this smacks of the "chemistry" stuff that most of us dismiss outright. Isn't this another version of the "we got to get rid of ____________ because of his effect on the clubhouse" argument? Why are we willing to buy into it if it's Dusty, but not if it's someone like Albert Belle, Milton Bradley, or Barry Bonds?
   57. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: July 17, 2006 at 08:59 PM (#2102476)
In fact, this smacks of the "chemistry" stuff that most of us dismiss outright. Isn't this another version of the "we got to get rid of ____________ because of his effect on the clubhouse" argument? Why are we willing to buy into it if it's Dusty, but not if it's someone like Albert Belle, Milton Bradley, or Barry Bonds?

I think it's different when you're talking about management vs players. Think about a regular job - you might have a co-worker who's kind of an ass, but for the most part if you just try to stay out of his way it's not a big deal so long as he's doing his job. If your boss is dysfunctional, though, that affects everyone who works for him. There's only so much you can do to salvage a situation where the guy in charge is bringing everyone down, short of getting rid of him.

Albert Belle and Milton Bradley may be pains in the ass, but how much effect can they really have on your 4th starter, or on your 2nd base platoon? Unless they're actively picking fights with people in the clubhouse and physically/mentally harming them to the point where they can't play, it's not going to be much. But the manager has his hands in every part of the team - lineups, playing time, strategic decisions, bullpen usage. A bad manager is going to drag down the team in every area, including team chemistry. Everyone has to deal with him and his stupid decisions. We've all had jobs - is there anything that makes you hate your job more than being stuck working for a clueless moron who criticizes people for no reason, promotes people for no reason, and has his "favorites" who can do no wrong while everyone else is made to take the blame for problems (and/or left out of the plum assignments, getting only the scut work)?

The change in the atmosphere when someone like that is relieved of his duties almost instantly makes people more productive (unless, of course, the new guy is just as bad).
   58. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 17, 2006 at 09:02 PM (#2102480)
The change in the atmosphere when someone like that is relieved of his duties almost instantly makes people more productive (unless, of course, the new guy is just as bad).

Maybe so, but who cares if they win a few more games? Pops's point was that the atmosphere alone would help the kids develop.

Will the kids develop more in the next two months if the Cubs hired Jeff Torborg? I don't think so.
   59. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 17, 2006 at 09:12 PM (#2102486)
Pops's point was that the atmosphere alone would help the kids develop.

Well, it almost certainly can't hurt.

Can you name an advantage for keeping Dusty instead of hiring an interim guy? Even ethereal advantages that may come from a change at the top should be enough to fire him, IMO.

First, I see little reason to think that Hendry sees the world differently than Dusty, so I doubt that there will be such a large disconnect that Dusty will feel that his hands are tied.

I doubt Hendry sees anything differently either; but I really don't think that the organization can tell Dusty to start developing players even if they feel that's what should be done. The argument that they could just as easily force Dusty's hand on personnel matters doesn't hold water with me.
   60. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 17, 2006 at 09:15 PM (#2102491)
Even ethereal advantages that may come from a change at the top should be enough to fire him, IMO.

I mean, they should be enough to fire him now as opposed to the end of the season. I'm operating from the supposition that he already deserves to be fired.

Obviously, the "if" of managerial changes shouldn't be decided on ethereal factors but I think that the "when" should be subject to those concerns.
   61. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 17, 2006 at 09:25 PM (#2102498)
Can you name an advantage for keeping Dusty instead of hiring an interim guy?

Sure -- you save some money and keep good relations for all the Dusty-loving players throughout MLB. Conversely, firing Dusty now, rather than at the end of the year, may make it appear to potential free agents that the Cubs are actively screwing one of the "good guys" in MLB.

Either way, though, I'm in favor of keeping the status quo; it should be your burden to show why firing him now will convey unique advantages that firing him in October wouldn't. I haven't really seen anything convincing yet.

I doubt Hendry sees anything differently either; but I really don't think that the organization can tell Dusty to start developing players even if they feel that's what should be done.

But if Hendry sees things the same way as Dusty, then it's all a moot point. When Hendry shares the same goals as Dusty, there is no reason to think that Dusty will act on his own behalf and not the Cubs.

The fact that those goals aren't ours is a different story (and another strike against Hendry).
   62. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 17, 2006 at 09:51 PM (#2102512)
But if Hendry sees things the same way as Dusty, then it's all a moot point.

If they fire Dusty now, it could mean they *want* to do that so it aids my psychological benefit :)

Sure -- you save some money and keep good relations for all the Dusty-loving players throughout MLB.

I don't see how firing him at the end of the season would be not screwing him in the same fashion so I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this point.

it should be your burden to show why firing him now will convey unique advantages that firing him in October wouldn't

I admitted that there is some requirement to overcome the inertia of the status quo but clearly I think this burden is smaller than you do as I see *no* arguments for retaining his services - rather arguments that it won't be an improvement. In the face of this (this = how I see it) even benefits of questionable value should be enough to overcome the zero benefits in favor of retaining him.

I don't see the money as any issue at all. I really doubt the cost of adding a manager will have any impact on this or future seasons. There won't be any added payroll this year that will make any difference on the team. I can see how the TribCorp leadership might see no value in flushing a few hundred thou down the toilet but, again, that would help the shareholders and have no discernible impact on the baseball arm of the corporation.
   63. Charley Root of All Evil Posted: July 17, 2006 at 10:17 PM (#2102521)
I'm going to go out on a limb with a really unpopular statement around these parts: this year isn't Dusty's fault, or the players' fault. It's squarely on Hendry.

Back of the envelope, some median Win Shares numbers for the roster:

DLee ~25 (regressing from last year by 2/3 of his gains)
Prior ~15
Zambrano ~20
Wood ~10
Maddux ~10
Barrett ~20 (expecting upward trend to continue, thus somewhat optimistic)
Ramirez ~20 (in line with the past 2 years)
Walker ~15 (again, in line with the past 2 years)
Jones ~15 (in line with the past 2 years)

Murton/Cedeno ~10 each
5th starter ~5
rest of bullpen ~5 per; ~35 total
bench ~3 per; 15 total

That's 225 WS...which, if I can do math, is a 75 win team. Now, drop Wood and Prior for ~5 WS starters (replacement level-ish), do the same for the 5th starter slot, drop Maddux to 5 WS, and drop 40% of Lee's value for missing 2 months and coming back with a wrist injury.

Poof. Father Time catches Maddux, your "big 3" get hurt, and it looks an awful lot like a 65 win team. Of course this team looks like crap; the farm system and bench provide a whole ton of replacement-level offense and pitching that's gotten called into service. They don't provide anything better than that, sadly.

Dusty has still shown that he's not a good manager for developing young hitters, and the training staff needs to be shot in a barn in Idaho. The coaching staff in general is not a good fit for what the Cubs' approach has to be if they're going to get a winner out of this roster (keep Prior and Zambrano healthy and pitching like stars; get top-end performances out of the non-star but plus-value vets; coax somewhat more than replacement value out of the kids). The Cubs are not willing to, not able to, or have delusions about already having acquired a second/third star bat to complement Lee. That means that you've got to keep your two star pitchers pitching like stars or you go nowhere. That means you have to get good value out of your pre-arb players.

The culture of excuses needs to go, regardless; it is not good management practice to encourage and celebrate failure in the way the Baker Cubs have done. But if you think another manager would do anything different with the fetid pile of dung that is the Cubs' roster minus Prior, Wood, and 2 months of Lee, you're as disconnected from reality as Dusty. This was not a good team to start with, it had no contingency plans for injuries, and if the injuries hadn't happened, we'd still be sitting here below .500 wondering just how and why the '06 Cubs tanked so badly when they were such a talented team. Um...that'd be because they weren't.
   64. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: July 17, 2006 at 10:28 PM (#2102532)
This was not a good team to start with, it had no contingency plans for injuries, and if the injuries hadn't happened, we'd still be sitting here below .500 wondering just how and why the '06 Cubs tanked so badly when they were such a talented team.

There were a lot of people here over the offseason (after the roster had already been filled out with Jones, Pierre et al) who thought that the team would struggle to reach the 79 wins they had last year. I'm not sure there'd be that many people surprised by a sub-.500 performance, even if everything had broken right, injury-wise.
   65. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 17, 2006 at 11:22 PM (#2102589)
But if Hendry sees things the same way as Dusty, then it's all a moot point.

--If they fire Dusty now, it could mean they *want* to do that so it aids my psychological benefit :)


I'm not sure I understand this. It seems that one of us (or both of us) are circular here. I just believe that even if they fired Dusty, there is no reason to think that an interim coach is going to get a message that Dusty wouldn't have gotten, and react to it any differently.


Sure -- you save some money and keep good relations for all the Dusty-loving players throughout MLB.

I don't see how firing him at the end of the season would be not screwing him in the same fashion so I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this point.


Before you tune me out by "agreeing to disagree," let me explain my reasoning by way of a hypothetical: Suppose Joe Blow is a current player on the Giants and maybe a FA to be. Maybe Joe Blow played under Dusty in SF or heard from other players in the league how Dusty was a great guy to play for, and is convinced that he'd love to play under Dusty.

I can easily see a scenario under which if Dusty was fired now, then Joe Blow would think Dusty got screwed. After all, Joe Blow might reason, how could anyone expect the Cubs to be any good with Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, and Derrek Lee on the shelf? Joe Blow might figure that Hendry didn't give Dusty a decent team, and after the only decent players got hurt, Hendry isn't even allowing Dusty (a 3-time Manager of the Year) the chance to turn around what is essentially a AAA to begin with. (Heck, it may be that all Joe Blow reads is the national columnists who are saying just this.)

If they wait until the end of the season, at least it would be the case that the Cubs allowed Dusty to finish his contract, then decided there just wasn't a good fit. Things happen. But to fire him at this point, with this team? Joe Blow may think that Dusty is being unfairly scapegoated.

You may think that this is a relatively insignificant point -- who cares what Joe Blow thinks? -- but you asked for an advantage to maintaining the status quo for two months, so here is one.

In any event, as I'll discuss below, it doesn't matter whether I present a significant advantage for keeping him through the end of the season if you haven't shown a significant reason for firing him.


I don't see the money as any issue at all.

That's because you aren't cutting the checks. :-)

I'm not saying it's a huge issue, but my point is this -- why pay two guys to do a job that really doesn't make much of a difference for the next 2 months? It's throwing money down the drain for no real benefit. As you say, "I really doubt the cost of adding a manager will have any impact on this or future seasons." So why shell out the money?


I admitted that there is some requirement to overcome the inertia of the status quo but clearly I think this burden is smaller than you do as I see *no* arguments for retaining his services - rather arguments that it won't be an improvement.

You really aren't familiar with the notion of a burden of persuasion, are you? In defending the status quo, I don't need to say anything. Although I have offered two reasons (money and MLB reputation), I don't need to make an argument for retaining his services; I could have stayed perfectly silent.

The burden of persuasion doesn't require me to do anything; it requires you to give a halfway decent reason why he should be fired now. If you present a decent reason why it is necessary to fire him now, only then do I have a burden to rebut this with a reason why he should stay. While I admit that I don't know of any huge reasons why he should stay, I haven't seen a decent reason for an immediate dismissal yet.

You all make great points on why Dusty should be fired. I agree with all of them and can probably add a few more. I just don't see any reason -- none -- on why ne needs to be fired NOW, rather than letting him finish out his contract.

All the things you and others have mentioned (sending a message, fan relations, team morale, player development, etc.) are things that either won't happen with the interim manager, don't make a difference, or will take place just as well in October as July. As you observe, we're long past the point that an interim manager would affect the franchise. So why do it?
   66. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 17, 2006 at 11:35 PM (#2102601)
In defending the status quo, I don't need to say anything.

In torts the plaintiff must show at least a 50.1% and the defendant wins at 50.0%, right? That's preponderance is it not? No arguments on either side would make it 50/50 and the defense (Holmes' owner of the status quo) wins. I think the case to ditch is "something" and the case for the status quo is "nothing."

I could have stayed perfectly silent.

Doesn't that require a prima facie case for me to lay out? What are the elements of manager removal?

As you observe, we're long past the point that an interim manager would affect the franchise

No. I think we're long past the point to affect 2006. My belief that an interim manager is preferable is based on the possibility of benefitting the franchise in 2007 and beyond.
   67. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: July 17, 2006 at 11:53 PM (#2102622)
What are the elements of manager removal?

I'm not sure it's the kind of thing that leads itself to elements. How about: (a) team has a manager; (b) the manager can be removed from his position; and (c) removing the manager from his position would improve the team in some material way.

You two are just disagreeing over what would be a "material" improvement. I'm not sure there's any way to resolve it. dJf keeps calling on Pops to provide more reasons, but (were I on the jury) I'd have already seen more than enough reasons to remove the manager right now. I don't really know that there's anything else that could be said that would be convincing (or at least more convincing than what has already been said).
   68. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 17, 2006 at 11:57 PM (#2102630)
appear!
   69. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 18, 2006 at 04:04 AM (#2103015)
* Pops: In torts the plaintiff must show at least a 50.1% and the defendant wins at 50.0%, right? That's preponderance is it not? No arguments on either side would make it 50/50 and the defense (Holmes' owner of the status quo) wins. I think the case to ditch is "something" and the case for the status quo is "nothing."<i>

You're confusing proof with persuasion. If you want to use a legal metaphor, you need to provide evidence of a prima facie case. Neither you nor anyone else has put forward evidence that would overcome a directed verdict. Only at that point need I put forward evidence.

In fact, your case would never get to trial; IMO it wouldn't survive summary judgment.

* UCCF: <i>dJf keeps calling on Pops to provide more reasons, but (were I on the jury) I'd have already seen more than enough reasons to remove the manager right now. I don't really know that there's anything else that could be said that would be convincing (or at least more convincing than what has already been said).


Ah, another lawyer for the plaintiffs. I'll reiterate your burden -- you don't need to show that Dusty needs to be fired. I agree with that.

I'm looking for any rational reason why firing him NOW, July 17, will provide a material benefit that firing him on October 2 would not.

By "material," I mean a benefit that actually makes a real difference -- either in the sense of saving/earning money and/or making the team that much closer to winning the World Series. Let's look at the rationales that have been set forth:

-- "Sending a message"? That isn't material, in the sense that fans continue to show up to the park regardless. More importantly, I see little reason to think that a message sent on October 2 won't have the same tangible effect as one sent on July 17.

-- "Player development"? Not only is Dusty playing nearly all the kids that have been promoted, but (a) I'm not at all convinced this is a priority of Hendry's and (b) I also have no reason to think that an interim manager will devote more time to the kids that Dusty will at this point.

It may be true that although they are playing under Dusty, the kids may not be "learning" anything. Still, (a) they should be "learning" at the minor league level, not MLB; and (b) I'm not at all convinced that 10 weeks of an interim manager will advance their knowledge to any real degree anyway. Indeed, it may very well be detrimental, as the kid hears suggestions from the Dusty regime, the interim regime, and the new regime in 2007.

-- "Change in and of itself"? This is not a tangible benefit; it's shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. Getting an up close view of the iceberg may be nice, but how does it avoid the inevitable?

-- "End the Dusty Deathwatch"? Sure, but so what? How will it provide any tangible benefit? Heck, one might argue that the Deathwatch is beneficial, insofar as it takes the heat off the players and puts it on the manager.

-- "End the thin-skinned behavior of players"? Maybe, but so what? I don't see how this brings fans to the park that aren't otherwise there, nor do I see how it gets the Cubs closer to a World Series.

-- "The possibility they may bring in the next Tony LaRussa"? Do you really think that the next Tony LaRussa is available to be hired on a 10 week, midseason gig? Do you really think that Jim Hendry would find him? Even if he does, do you really think that Hendry would keep him next season?

I sure don't.

None of these reasons demonstrate a real reason why Dusty needs to go now. Each is a reason that either provides no objective benefit or provides no benefit that wouldn't be seen by firing Dusty on October 2.

You can either (a) illustrate that I'm wrong and that one of these rationales does, in fact, provide an objective benefit that an October 2 firing doesn't or (b) give another rationale that we haven't mentioned.

Saying "Dusty should be fired because he's run this team into the ground, I hate him, and the organization needs to show accountability and send a message to the fans and players" doesn't do it, though, unless you can explain why an interim manager would make a real difference in the franchise beyond 2006.
   70. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 18, 2006 at 04:12 AM (#2103020)
(a) they should be "learning" at the minor league level, not MLB; and (b) I'm not at all convinced that 10 weeks of an interim manager will advance their knowledge to any real degree anyway

Murton and Cedeno have continued to regress the further they get away from their minor league instruction. There is some evidence, in my mind, that Dusty & co. are not only failing to teach but may be harming their plate approach.

Secondly, a new POV could give them something helpful to work on in the offseason.
   71. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: July 18, 2006 at 04:40 AM (#2103037)
You can either (a) illustrate that I'm wrong and that one of these rationales does, in fact, provide an objective benefit that an October 2 firing doesn't or (b) give another rationale that we haven't mentioned.

You keep saying this, but what I'm saying is we just have a difference of opinion here. At some point, it becomes silly for you to keep saying "prove it, prove it, prove it", and us to say "here are the reasons, don't you get it?" That's step 1 in the evolution of a steroid thread.

I think the reasons we've presented have been more than adequate, and I think the problem is (or the disconnect is) that (a) you're defining "tangible benefit" far far too narrowly; and (b) you require something that "makes the team better" as opposed to something that *could* make the team better.

As for the "tangible benefit", to me the move is justified if *one* player derives *one* benefit from it that he wouldn't otherwise get, or if the team as a whole gets better *in any way* than it would have been if Dusty were still the manager. Either of those things could get the team that much closer to being a winning team in the (near or distant) future. It can't be that hard for you to see that a change could create that kind of benefit for someone on the team.

But it's the second part that I think is the biggest issue here. If you're asking for certainty - something must definitely get better with Dusty gone now that wouldn't happen with him here through the end of the season - then the burden can never be satisfied. That's an impossible task, because it asks me to predict the future and tell you that things will be guaranteed to be better without Dusty than they are with him. I don't know that - the new manager could be a crazy man, or an axe murderer, or Jeff Torborg (shudder). But he could also be a guy with a keen eye for batting strokes who turns Murton back into the hitter he looked like in 2005. To me (and I think to Pops as well), just the *possibility* that things could get better right now is reason enough to make the move.
   72. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 18, 2006 at 07:42 AM (#2103086)
* UCCF: I think the reasons we've presented have been more than adequate, and I think the problem is (or the disconnect is) that (a) you're defining "tangible benefit" far far too narrowly; and (b) you require something that "makes the team better" as opposed to something that *could* make the team better.

We're not disagreeing on what constitutes a "tangible benefit." My point is simply that doing it just for the sake of change or to "make a statement" or to make fans feel better aren't adequate reasons, at least in the Cubs' eyes. To make the case for dismissing Dusty NOW, one has to demonstrate that a change will -- or "may" as you suggest -- lead to substantive improvement on the field, at the turnstiles, or in TV viewership, and that if Dusty was fired on October 2, we wouldn't gain this benefit.

I'm not looking for proof, nor is this really a matter of opinion (as I'll get to below). What I'm looking for is logic that makes sense. Saying "the new guy will play the kids more" doesn't hold water because the kids are playing quite a bit under Dusty and, arguably, the new guy has even more incentive to prove something by playing the veterans than Dusty does.

What does make sense and what would constitute a basis for dismissing Dusty NOW would be an argument on what an interim manager might provide that would have a positive effect beyond 2006. To that end . . .


* Pops: Secondly, a new POV could give them something helpful to work on in the offseason.

In 10 weeks, with Murton and Cedeno thinking all along that they are dealing with a substitute teacher? I'm not sure about this. Furthermore, it might make the case on why Gene Clines and Sarge Matthews need to go, but doesn't necessarily mean that Dusty needs to go as well.

Nevertheless, I'll concede that this reason would be a reason to dismiss some/all of the coaches NOW if you (or Hendry) believe three things:

(a) You/Hendry believe that instructing Murton and Cedeno is important. I know this sounds stupid and that of course we believe this is vital, but it's quite possible that Hendry may be prioritizing other things right now -- including thinking that he can get back into the race.

I say this because we saw last year that Hendry was perfectly willing to back a losing horse long after it has dropped out of the race and to the point of hindering player development. The demotion of the .340 hitting Murton last August is still fresh in my mind.

If you/Hendry believe that some things are more important than instructing Murton and Cedeno, and that Dusty can do those things better than an interim guy, there is little reason to make the change.

(b) You/Hendry believe that Murton's and Cedeno's regressions are something that can be fixed. If you/Hendry believe that their struggles are a matter of bad breaks, small sample sizes, or represent an overvaluing of the players themselves, then bringing in a new guy won't really help.

It only makes sense to bring in a new guy if you/Hendry believe that the players can be coached out of their struggles and that the current coaching staff has not, is not, and will not do this.

It also requires you to have someone in mind. If you/Hendry can identify a person you believe can improve Murton and Cedeno, it makes sense to try. OTOH, firing Dusty for the sake of fostering development doesn't make sense if the only guys you can identify as interim guys are Jeff Torborg clones or a convenient holdover like Chris Speier or Bob Brenly.

(c) You/Hendry believe that this is something that can be helped in 10 weeks. There is a point at which time is simply too short to make a difference. Reincarnating Charley Lau and installing him as interim manager/hitting coach won't do much good if you do it on September 30.

Is there still time for a new guy to make a difference? I'm not sure, but recognize that it might be possible. I'll even go so far as to say that if you were the GM, you've just given a good enough reason to justify the decision.

The problem, of course, is that Jim Hendry is the GM and he obviously sees the situation differently. This is why I want to see his demise in the most embarrassing and unseemly of ways.
   73. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 18, 2006 at 07:49 AM (#2103090)
I was going to conclude by observing that to the extent I believe that 10 weeks is not enough for a new guy to make any kind of meaningful difference in the development of Murton and Cedeno, that *is* a matter of opinion.

YMM (and does) V and it truly is something to which we may have to "agree to disagree," but I do recognize that it is a legitimate rationale . . . which is all I was really looking for.
   74. Mike Isaacs Posted: July 18, 2006 at 01:17 PM (#2103164)
We're not disagreeing on what constitutes a "tangible benefit." My point is simply that doing it just for the sake of change or to "make a statement" or to make fans feel better aren't adequate reasons, at least in the Cubs' eyes.

You're certainly right about the latter point: If showing some sort of "respect" to fans made a difference in the Cubs' eyes, Baker obviously would be gone. Then again, filling out a roster and a lineup card with players who show more patience at the plate, going after worthwhile free agents, developing prospects in a different way, etc. -- those apparently aren't "adequate" things to do in the eyes of the Cubs either. So obviously the discussion here has nothing to do with how the Cubs view things -- it's what a responsible baseball team should do both for its fans and to put itself in the best postition of becoming competitive again.

And on those issues, we simply are left to agree to disagree. And I certainly have plenty of respect for djf's position or at least the way he intelligently and eloquently supported his positition. But I must add, djf and others, and perhaps this is because I don't have a legal background, I don't think the discussion about which side has the "burden of proof" has much relevance here. djf may not feel that opponents of his point of view have "demonstrated that a change will -- or may as you suggest -- lead to substantive mprovement on the field, at the turnstiles, or in TV viewership, and that if Dusty was fired on October 2, we wouldn't gain this benefit" but I sure do. At least, I feel that several people here have been very articulate in stating reasons why firing Baker *may* have some real benefit as opposed to letting him manage through the end of the season.

Furthermore, I think I have stated as best I can why making a change just for change's sake does mean something given the current and unprecedented state of affairs in Cubland. djf, you say that that in itself isn't an adequate reason to make a change; I simply don't agree -- not anymore. Not unless there is a real "baseball reason" not to make a change.

And perhaps this is now the strongest element of our disagreement. You admit here the fans deserve to see change now. And you agree that complacency displayed by this organization has had a crippling impact. Given that, *not* showing complacency and appeasing the fans would seem to me to be reason, even from your POV, to make a change. That is unless there are good reasons why a change would do some harm.

And to me, the "negatives" you suggest had the Cubs canned Baker right now are not convincing. You raise the money issue. But let's give one specific example: If Bob Brenly comes down from the booth for a couple of months, how much does this really cost the organization? Is spending a few more bucks to hire an interim manager from within the organization a real reason why the Cubs shouldn't do it?

I also don't see how risking the anger of players who back Baker -- if that really happened -- is a convincing reason to keep him. In October, will these players feel differently? What difference does it make if Carlos Lee loves Baker and discovers that his favorite manager is gone in July rather than October? How does this impact the possibility of him signing here? And if a few players on this team are peeved were the Baker announcement to be made, who really cares? Are we not as a fan base a bit tired of Baker coddling his players and not showing enough discipline? So the students get angry that the superintendent is finally getting rid of the weak and ineffective teacher who has let them for too long run all over the school yard doing whatever they want to do. That's a good sign, not a bad sign.

So after a long and passionate debate, I can't for the life of me see a real down side in immediately getting rid of a manager we all seem to agree has been brutally bad for 3+ years, has taken a $95 million team -- admittedly one where the money has not been well spent -- and run it into the ground, has lost 95 of 162 baseball games, and has put himself in a position where he would have been terminated under the same situation in almost any other town.

In the end, I don't think this debate comes down to which side has to prove what and whether one side provided tangible evidence as opposed to the other side. I think it comes down to an interesting and well-articulated strong difference of opinion. Neither side appears to have convinced the other side, but I really think both sides played a fundamentally sound game.
   75. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 18, 2006 at 03:06 PM (#2103267)
So obviously the discussion here has nothing to do with how the Cubs view things -- it's what a responsible baseball team should do both for its fans and to put itself in the best postition of becoming competitive again.

I agree with this. I also agree that the fans deserve better. My point was simply that if you're the Cubs, you don't need to make a move now; the fans will be there this season and next anyway.

I wish it wasn't that way, but I'm trying to look at things from Jim Hendry's or Andy MacPhail's perspective, not mine. From their perspective, being a "responsible baseball team" is beside the point; they and those above them run a business and look at the bottom line -- W/L and $$$.


But I must add, djf and others, and perhaps this is because I don't have a legal background, I don't think the discussion about which side has the "burden of proof" has much relevance here.

I agree. I hate to use that metaphor, but Pops brought it up in Post #67. My point was that "making a statement," "sending a message," and "showing accountability" is not something that will lead to any long-term improvement on the field or on the financial statements.

If you're Jim Hendry, it doesn't present a realistic basis to make a change now, especially if it won't make a difference to the long-term of the team. I don't even think this is a matter of opinion; these arguments are from the heart, not the W/L record or the pocketbook. It's difficult to explain to Dennis FitzSimons that the reason you fired a three-time Manager of the Year, the guy who have stood behind for the past 3 seasons, and the guy you have designed huge marketing campaigns around, was because you wanted to "make a statement."

The next rationale posed was that an interim manager would play the kids more than Dusty would. Why? For the most part, I got no reasoning behind this -- perhaps most of us are thinking of the way Dusty managed this team in 2003-05 and ignoring the realities of this team (and Dusty's contract situation) in July 2006. If Dusty was leaving Murton and Cedeno on the bench, giving his usual bs that "you can't ignore what Neifi means to this team" or "you got to respect what Phil Nevin has done in the big leagues," I'd agree that a change needs to be made. This isn't happening, though. The kids *are* playing.

When I pointed this out, Pops, UCCF, and others then said "well, I shouldn't have to justify anything because there isn't any real reason to keep him." I posed a few reasons, albeit modest, but my point is that you can't go through life asking the status quo to justify itself -- that is, if you don't have at least an arguable reason to think that a change might improve things.

Put another way, Jim Hendry doesn't have to explain to Dennis FitzSimons why he decided to let Dusty finish his contract, but he would have to explain why he dumped him early. Saying "there is no real down side" is not only untrue, but doesn't provide a constructive rationale.

I wasn't looking for proof; we're still in the world of speculation. I was just trying to press Pops, UCCF, and others to articulate a rationale for the belief that a change now might -- might -- improve things in 2007 in a way that an October 2 change would not.

At that point, Pops responded that "well, it's just my opinion; we'll have to have to agree to disagree." This was a cop out; it's not a matter of opinion at all. It's like saying "we'll just have to agree to disagree that the sun rises in the east." It's a question of fact and to some extent Pops was ducking the issue because (at that time) he didn't have a response.

UCCF threw out a similar strawman, mischaracterizing my challenge as one of proof and concluding that demanding proof is degenerates the discussion into the realm of steroids threads. Not so. I wasn't looking for certainty; I was looking for a rationale on how an interim manager *could* improve the W/L or $$$ of the team in a meaningful way. (By that, I mean that whether this year's team wins 65 wins or 67 makes no difference if it doesn't translate to improvement in 2007.)

Finally, Pops explained that a new manager could help Cedeno and Murton develop and making a change NOW (rather than in October) could give them something to work on in the offseason. To the extent one believes that Murton and Cedeno's struggles are something that an interim manager could address more effectively than Dusty could, I agree that this presents a reason to let Dusty go now. OTOH, if you're skeptical of this, I'm still not aware of a real reason to make the change today. I do recognize, though, that this truly is a question of opinion and speculation. At last -- this *is* a reason to make the change now!

Personally, I'm skeptical that Hendry will find someone who would make such a difference, but it doesn't mean that Hendry shouldn't at least try to do it.
   76. Mike Isaacs Posted: July 18, 2006 at 03:52 PM (#2103339)
If you're Jim Hendry, it doesn't present a realistic basis to make a change now, especially if it won't make a difference to the long-term of the team. I don't even think this is a matter of opinion; these arguments are from the heart, not the W/L record or the pocketbook

My final two cents: It is a matter of opinion, djf. I believe itis realistic for Hendry to make a move now not knowing for certain the impact it will have on this team.It has been stated several times here why there is the belief that an interim manager would play kids more and be better for this team. You disagree with the rationale set forth, but it's one opinion versus the other, and both sides have tried to support their opinion with sound reasoning.

It is not 2+2=4 or about where the sun rises. I am in agreement that younger players have a better chance of seeing more playing time under an interim manager given the right direction by Hendry. You've refuted that, but it's simply not true that posters have failed to support that position or that it isn't open to question.

Furthermore, I believe Hendry has responsibility to fans as part of his job. You keep coming back to the pocketbook. Do you disagree that the Cubs can hire an interim manager without making hardly a dent in their pocketbook -- that that's possible to do?

Then justifying this move to Fitzsimmons isn't the reason it isn't being made, IMHO. It's much more simple: Hendry wants Baker back and hopes that the team will pull around enough to get away with that. And if not, Hendry wants to be perceived as showing Baker "respect" so he doesn't have to make what he sees as a hard decision against Baker.

I still believe that that amounts to a general manager not willing to do his job. I still believe that every part of this debate has been based, to some degree, on speculation and not "hard facts.'' Again, just my two cents.
   77. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 18, 2006 at 04:42 PM (#2103420)
I believe it is realistic for Hendry to make a move now not knowing for certain the impact it will have on this team.

Of course. I never tried to say otherwise; to the contrary, I have agreed with this each time you (or UCCF) raised the point.


It has been stated several times here why there is the belief that an interim manager would play kids more and be better for this team. You disagree with the rationale set forth, but it's one opinion versus the other, and both sides have tried to support their opinion with sound reasoning.

Not really. Saying things like "the new guy will play the kids more" smacks of opinion, but who's riding the pine because of Dusty? Murton has played 90% of the season. Cedeno has played 95%. Marshall has been in the rotation all season. In the time since he's been on the team, Marmol has bounced back and forth, but has still pitched regularly. Hill, Williams, Guzman, and Ryu are stuck in the minors, but I would argue that's Hendry's blame more than anyone else's.

Unless you point out how Dusty *isn't* playing the kids, it's like me saying "I believe that tomorrow the sun will rise from the west." I can believe it, but if there is no foundation for the belief, is it truly a question of opinion?

Furthermore, could someone reiterate "why there is the belief that an interim manager would play kids more"? Is it just because the new guy isn't Dusty? Is it that he would be more receptive to instructions than Dusty? What is the "sound reasoning" why an interim manager would be less interested in W/L than Dusty?

IMO, the ball wasn't advanced until Pops suggested his opinion that a new manager might foster the development in a way that Dusty can't. That is truly something that would impact the team in the future and although some may be skeptical of this, it does present a reason for Jim Hendry to make a change that would make a real difference at this point.


Furthermore, I believe Hendry has responsibility to fans as part of his job. You keep coming back to the pocketbook. Do you disagree that the Cubs can hire an interim manager without making hardly a dent in their pocketbook -- that that's possible to do?

At a certain level, I do disagree -- there is a transaction cost. Not just because they would have to pay a new guy, but because it would trash the millions the Cubs have spent in marketing this team around Dusty.

It could also affect how potential FAs look at the club. Seeing that a significant portion of the media believes that this season isn't Dusty's fault and even believe he should be extended, it isn't difficult at all for me to see how a player on another team would think that the Cubs would be simply scapegoating Dusty (or to use the tired metaphor, throwing him under the bus).

These transaction costs may not have a dramatic effect on the bottom line, but they still exist.

More importantly, though, Jim Hendry cannot be looking at the issue from the standpoint of "what's the downside?" There has to be an upside. If fans are continuing to go to games anyway, where is the upside to "making a statement"?

The only person Hendry owes a responsibility to is Andy MacPhail and, in turn, the Tribune. This responsibility is to put a team on the field that will draw fans -- hopefully through on-field success.

I agree that even if he doesn't owe a duty to the fans, Hendry *should* be accountable, but keep in mind that there are Dusty supporters out there too. They may also view a managerial firing as passing the buck from Hendry to Dusty and lacking the very accountability we're talking about. The "message" that would be sent is not only something that doesn't contribute to the Cubs in any tangible way, but may also be mixed.


Hendry wants Baker back and hopes that the team will pull around enough to get away with that. And if not, Hendry wants to be perceived as showing Baker "respect" so he doesn't have to make what he sees as a hard decision against Baker.

You're absolutely right. I also agree that Hendry isn't doing his job. My point is that when Hendry makes the decision, he's going to make it based on things that will affect the team on a going-forward basis. "Making a statement" won't do this, but advancing the development of the kids might.
   78. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 18, 2006 at 08:23 PM (#2103716)
I know that I've ridden this topic into the ground, but let me expand on on more point:

Hendry *should* be accountable, but keep in mind that there are Dusty supporters out there too. They may also view a managerial firing as passing the buck from Hendry to Dusty and lacking the very accountability we're talking about. The "message" that would be sent is not only something that doesn't contribute to the Cubs in any tangible way, but may also be mixed.

I just want to note that the Tribune currently has a webpoll: "Should Dusty Baker get a new two-year deal?"

31.2% say "Yes," while another 13.5% say they want to see the 2007 roster first.

Granted, the sample size and the nature of a webpoll don't draw representative samples, but if the public sentiment to fire Dusty NOW was so universal, I don't believe we'd see 45% of a webpoll response that doesn't just say that they don't want him fired, but affirmatively say they may want him for another two seasons.
   79. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 19, 2006 at 01:30 PM (#2104496)
Saying "Dusty should be fired because he's run this team into the ground, I hate him, and the organization needs to show accountability and send a message to the fans and players" doesn't do it, though, unless you can explain why an interim manager would make a real difference in the franchise beyond 2006.

Well, it does it for me. Ignoring the fact that I do indeed dislike Baker and would like to see him gone for that reason alone, I think the message sending part is valid. Depending on the context in which it's done, firing Baker is a key element in putting the team into slate-clearing mode. It sends the message that you aren't going to tolerate the culture of excuse-making and lackadaisical, poorly motivated play that has hobbled the team as much as injuries have. It says that Day Zero is right now, not next year.

Of course, the caveat there is context. I have no faith that Hendry, or anyone in the organization, is going to establish that. These guys still believe in whatever the plan was that they have been putting forward the last few years, either that or they're scared to death to let on that they were wrong about it. So, in that sense, I agree with dJf that firing Baker does no good, but it brings me to a far more sobering conclusion: there is little hope on the horizon, near- or long-term.

We tend to talk about what the Cubs do as though it's a generic, hypothetical organization. We need to remember that this is the Cubs we're talking about.
   80. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 19, 2006 at 01:43 PM (#2104507)
31.2% say "Yes," while another 13.5% say they want to see the 2007 roster first.

Wow, people really do believe the Cubs' spin. He's going to get extended and I am all for it.
   81. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 19, 2006 at 02:02 PM (#2104532)
These guys still believe in whatever the plan was that they have been putting forward the last few years, either that or they're scared to death to let on that they were wrong about it. So, in that sense, I agree with dJf that firing Baker does no good, but it brings me to a far more sobering conclusion: there is little hope on the horizon, near- or long-term.

Yep. It sucks, doesn't it?

Bringing the discussion back to it's roots, though, I should clarify -- when I wrote that "[s]aying 'Dusty should be fired because . . . the organization needs to show accountability and send a message to the fans and players" doesn't do it," I didn't mean that sending a message isn't a worthy reason to fire Dusty. I would love it if someone in the organization was actually accountable, rather than just saying that they are accountable.

The point I was trying to make is that Jim Hendry can come out today and say "we are firing Dusty today because we believe the team needs to go in another direction and because we are looking for someone who can provide more discipline in the clubhouse." That would be great. He could also do the exact same thing on October 2, and it wouldn't change anything -- the same message would be sent and the Cubs would have neither lost money nor lost meaningful games.

It is conceivable that one might believe that firing Dusty today would better foster the learning and development of Murton and Cedeno (though Murton has been hot lately).
   82. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 19, 2006 at 02:18 PM (#2104558)
Murton has been hot lately

I still hold out hope for Matt. Even after that awful first half, his career EQA in the majors is .270.

Cedeno is looking like that utility infielder they thought they had before last season. I get the feeling that the Cubs will acquire a second baseman in the offseason (Loretta perhaps - he has a high BA and nothing else so the Cubs will probably value him the most) and move Neifi to SS. I have to admit that Neifi is probably a better option than Cedeno but it doesn't say much for your team when Neifi/Loretta is your middle infield.
   83. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 19, 2006 at 02:35 PM (#2104579)
Cedeno is looking like that utility infielder they thought they had before last season.

That's essentially how I feel about Ryan Theriot -- that he's the '05-'06 version of Augie Ojeda, only without the ability to play SS.

As for Cedeno, I have a little more hope for him. Yes, he has the worst SEC among "qualified" SS on ESPN.com's list. Still, he's still only 23 and though the Cubs don't instill plate discipline among their players, I believe it's possible that Cedeno can develop enough to make him a bit more valuable. (Like Jack Wilson or Craig Counsell, perhaps?)
   84. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: July 19, 2006 at 02:40 PM (#2104585)
At a certain level, I do disagree -- there is a transaction cost. Not just because they would have to pay a new guy, but because it would trash the millions the Cubs have spent in marketing this team around Dusty.

Sunk cost. Do I think the Cubs understand that? Of course not.

It could also affect how potential FAs look at the club. Seeing that a significant portion of the media believes that this season isn't Dusty's fault and even believe he should be extended, it isn't difficult at all for me to see how a player on another team would think that the Cubs would be simply scapegoating Dusty (or to use the tired metaphor, throwing him under the bus).

Who are these FAs? Who was the last significant FA the Cubs signed? I mean, that had to overbid the Royals just to get Jacque Jones. What FAs have signed here specifically to play for Dusty? I kept waiting for them, and all we got were Ramon Martinez, Tom Goodwin, Neifi Perez, etc. Are the only answers Eyre and Howry? Didn't they make a big deal about Dusty meeting with Furcal? It sure appears money speaks louder than anything, so I don't think this is an issue at all.

It is conceivable that one might believe that firing Dusty today would better foster the learning and development of Murton and Cedeno (though Murton has been hot lately).

Well, considering they've both gotten worse under Dusty, is it a stretch to say that his (and his coach's) instructions are actually hurting them, and simply by removing them there's a chance they'll improve?
   85. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 19, 2006 at 02:58 PM (#2104600)
Sunk cost. Do I think the Cubs understand that? Of course not.

True on both counts. Still, while firing Dusty now wouldn't enable the Cubs to recover the money they've already spent, it would allow them to enjoy the benefits of that money . . . at least for another month or two.


Who are these FAs? Who was the last significant FA the Cubs signed? I mean, that had to overbid the Royals just to get Jacque Jones. What FAs have signed here specifically to play for Dusty?

Also true. My point wasn't necessarily that FAs wouldn't sign because Dusty is no longer here; it was that FAs may think that Dusty got a raw deal and figure that if the Cubs could scapegoat Dusty, they could do that to me. (<u> See also</u> Patterson, C.; Hawkins, L.; Sosa, S.)

Maybe it means that they won't want to play in Chicago. Maybe it means that they would play here, but the asking price is higher. Maybe it doesn't even mean that much and is just an intangible -- respect and reputation. It still exists, though.


Well, considering they've both gotten worse under Dusty, is it a stretch to say that his (and his coach's) instructions are actually hurting them, and simply by removing them there's a chance they'll improve?

On a few levels, I highly doubt this. First, while it is possible that Dusty and his coaches have screwed up these kids, that doesn't mean that removing him will automatically make them better. You can't unring a bell.

A great deal depends on who is brought in (i.e., can they clear out all the noise/clutter that is going through these kids heads and instill a successful, positive message?). More depends on the players themselves, of course; if they aren't receptive, it's a moot point.

Second, when you say "they've both gotten worse under Dusty," you're dealing with small sample sizes here. (Also, Murton has improved substantially over the past 2-3 weeks.) It is entirely possible -- perhaps probable -- that what you perceive as regression is, in fact:

A. Normal variation -- even veteran players under the best coaches still go through slumps; and/or

B. An overvaluation of the players in the first place -- maybe Murton and Cedeno aren't the hot prospects that the Cubs (and we) believed.

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