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   1. 100 Years is Nothing Posted: August 10, 2006 at 02:21 PM (#2135152)
Yes, one month of good baseball should have us all overlookingthe last 3 years of sucktitude.
   2. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 10, 2006 at 03:21 PM (#2135240)
The Cubs have an impressive W/L record over that stretch, but they had a 4.76 ERA in July (7th in NL), 4.18 in August (9th). Offensively they had an .825 OPS in July (6th in NL) and are at .799 in August (7th). Not bad at all, and certainly much, much better than they were in the preceding two months, but not in line with a .620 win percentage. My quick look over their schedule indicates that they've scored 141 runs over that period, and given up 138.

As much as I hate to type this, I predict that the manager of the Cubs on Opening Day 2007 will be . . . Dusty Baker, simply because I believe that he’s done everything in the last month that Jim Hendry has asked for.

Well, if we're going to assign probabilities to single individuals, then I guess Baker would win, but I still don't think it's all that likely.

The problem for Baker (and thus, Hendry) is that he would start the 2007 season in everyone's sights. Brand new managers are given the benefit of the doubt, but Baker won't get that, even if the team plays .620 ball from here on out. The first stretch of poor play will have everyone picking up from where they left off before the All Star Break, questioning Baker as a manager. Hendry may well believe in Baker to the extent that he's willing to hitch his wagon to his ability to field a good team in 2007, but that would be a pretty naive thing to do. Not to mention the fact that Baker may choose not to subject himself to that again. Baker may have no better option than to re-up with the Cubs, needing to regain his reputation as a winner, but I think it would take a combination of balls and dimwittedness that Hendry lacks for him to make the offer.

The Girardi thing seems like a pipe dream (something tells me he's more likely waiting for Torre's job to come open than he is for Baker's), but otherwise I would expect someone like Brenly.
   3. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 10, 2006 at 03:50 PM (#2135275)
I predict that the manager of the Cubs on Opening Day 2007 will be . . . Dusty Baker

I've been saying this for months
   4. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: August 10, 2006 at 04:17 PM (#2135312)
As much as I hate to type this, I predict that the manager of the Cubs on Opening Day 2007 will be . . . Dusty Baker, simply because I believe that he’s done everything in the last month that Jim Hendry has asked for.

And that right there was the biggest reason, in my mind, why he had to go when that was a "possibility." The Cubs were definitely bad, and spectacularly bad, but it wasn't going to last. There honestly was *too* much talent on this team to continue on a 100 loss pace. They were having a lot of bad luck, and that luck has kind of turned in their favor (Brenly commented on that the other night).

Yes, one month of good baseball should have us all overlookingthe last 3 years of sucktitude.

Exactly. That and the injuries. What's Hendry's incentive to make any sort of noticable change this offseason? Once again, he can say if only Prior and Lee are healthy, we should be fine. He'll pick up a middling FA for the rotation, probably another bullpen guy (I think he's contractually obligated to sign a MR every year), and some more shitty bench guys (a la Mabry). He threw out the 79 win line djf always loves to reference, but is anyone going to hold him to that?
   5. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 10, 2006 at 04:22 PM (#2135330)
What's Hendry's incentive to make any sort of noticable change this offseason?

Calls for Dusty's head from the fans and media, which even if the subside this season, will be back and even louder next time. A new manager buys him a respite from the frenzy.
   6. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: August 10, 2006 at 04:40 PM (#2135376)
I don't think that a month says much of anything--it's a good sign he's playing the kids some and that's all. If he tacks on an insane month and they make a good run at .500 ball, that'd be mildly interesting.

I don't get the three years of suckitude reference. He's working on his second year of suckitude, right?
   7. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: August 10, 2006 at 04:47 PM (#2135393)
And that right there was the biggest reason, in my mind, why he had to go when that was a "possibility."

Maybe so, but my point a couple weeks ago (and now) is that in retrospect, it never was really a "possibility." Yes, the media were circling Dusty like vultures around the A-S break, clinging on Hendry's message that he was going to reevaluate everyone, but it's now apparent (to me at least) that Hendry never really considered firing Dusty. He even said at the time that he wanted to see how the team looked for the first few weeks after the break before deciding whether to make trades and call up the kids.

I was going to add this to my piece, but it was already getting lengthy -- I don't foresee a lot of changes next year. I predict that the Cubs will slump off a bit from their current pace, but still manage to win 73-75 games. At the end of the year, we'll continue to hear the injury/bad luck excuses, but in the end, Hendry will keep Dusty because of (a) the team's relative success in the second half; (b) the fact that Dusty has been playing the kids; (c) the fact that Hendry likes Dusty more than any alternatives; and (d) the fact that both Pierre and Ramirez like Dusty. Let's hope I'm wrong (or at least he limits Dusty to a one-year deal). I do think, however, that we're probably seeing the end of Sarge Matthews and/or Gene Clines.

After the flurry of columns like this one, maybe our best hope is that Dusty decides he's had enough of Chicago, but even then I can foresee Hendry trying to woo him to stay.

As for the team itself, we've discussed Pierre, but I believe that Hendry will make every effort to bring him back next year. I also believe that Ramirez will stay as well, albeit with a bump in salary. The middle infield is set, so I predict that Hendry will try to make a splash in LF -- probably by signing Carlos Lee -- and making a run at Barry Zito, probably unsuccessfully. With Carlos Lee in LF, we'll spend most of next season complaining that Jones isn't being platooned with Murton, and the team will probably inch it's way to 83 or 84 wins.

I hope it doesn't turn out this way. I do think, however, that if it does come out like this, the reception the braintrust gets at next year's Cub Convention will be pretty interesting.
   8. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 10, 2006 at 05:03 PM (#2135429)
Why do reporters include quotes like this from Baker?

''You can't control what other people say,'' Baker said. ''All I know is it seems all of a sudden a lot of people have gotten smarter and more knowledgeable than me in a short period of time -- to others. You know what I mean, man?

''I don't have to say what I've done or where I've been or where I'm going. All I know is what I know.''


No, I really have no idea what you mean, man.
   9. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: August 10, 2006 at 05:55 PM (#2135530)
Yes, one month of good baseball should have us all overlookingthe last 3 years of sucktitude.

Yes, that NLCS appearance really sucked.
   10. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: August 10, 2006 at 06:03 PM (#2135548)
The middle infield is set, so I predict that Hendry will try to make a splash in LF -- probably by signing Carlos Lee -- and making a run at Barry Zito, probably unsuccessfully.

I detailed out how much money the Cubs have to spend this offseason in one of those other threads. And I didn't includes bumps for Ramirez or resigning Pierre. To get the Cubs back to this year's payroll ($~94mil), they can spend about $11.5mil. I'm assuming the budget is higher than that, but how much? $10mil? There's not much money out there, especailly since a new backup C and MR will most undoubtably be Hendry's #1 priorty. And until we actually sign a premier FA, I'm just going to assume it won't happen.
   11. Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate Posted: August 10, 2006 at 06:43 PM (#2135655)

I detailed out how much money the Cubs have to spend this offseason in one of those other threads. And I didn't includes bumps for Ramirez or resigning Pierre. To get the Cubs back to this year's payroll ($~94mil), they can spend about $11.5mil. I'm assuming the budget is higher than that, but how much? $10mil? There's not much money out there, especailly since a new backup C and MR will most undoubtably be Hendry's #1 priorty. And until we actually sign a premier FA, I'm just going to assume it won't happen.


I'm not saying you're wrong here, I'm sure there's something I've overlooked, but I went into Cot's Contracts and added up everyone with a guaranteed deal for '07 plus Wood's buyout plus (and I believe these were your numbers) a $4m raise for Z and $1m for Prior, and I came up with about $16m of free money, assuming payroll holds steady. How did you get your figures?
   12. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: August 10, 2006 at 08:41 PM (#2135810)
Here's a copy/paste of my post from the Mike Isaacs Loves Izturis thread:

Don't want to go through the whole thing, but FAs this year are Maddux ($9mil), Pierre($5.75), Wood($11mil-$3mil buyout), Nevin ($375K), Blanco ($1.5mil), Mabry ($1.075), Miller ($1mil). That's a total of $26.7mil coming off the books. Combined, Ramirez ($.5mil), Dempster ($1mil), Jones ($1mil), Barrett ($1mil), Izturis ($4.15mil), Howry ($1.5mil), Rusch ($.5mil), and Eyre ($.8mil) eat up $10.5mil in raises. Then you have to add in raises for Zambrano (probably about $4mil) and Prior (let's say $1mil), and the team has about $11.2mil left for upgrades to match this year's budget. I'm not sure how much the budget will go up, but let's be conservative and say $5mil.

So, that gives Hendry $16.2mil to find a LF, CF, and at least 1 SP. I'm not very optimistic.
Not sure what you and I differ on exactly here. I think my math is correct.
   13. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: August 10, 2006 at 09:15 PM (#2135846)
My guess is that the budget will be a bit more than $5mm over last year's, keeping in mind that Hendry typically leaves some room in case he wants to pick up salary at the trading deadline.

OTOH, you're not counting the bench fodder Hendry will add as well (replacing Nevin, Mabry, Blanco). Even if it's a wash, it's still nearly $3mm taken off your available budget.

Still, my impression is that if Hendry wanted to go out and sign someone like Carlos Lee or Barry Zito, he'll have the flexibility to do that, even if it takes him a million or three over the budget. I think he'll resign Pierre and probably get Carlos Lee, but that's about it.
   14. and Posted: August 10, 2006 at 09:16 PM (#2135850)
Yes, that NLCS appearance really sucked.

Well, as NLCS appearances go....
   15. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: August 10, 2006 at 09:26 PM (#2135859)
Still, my impression is that if Hendry wanted to go out and sign someone like Carlos Lee or Barry Zito, he'll have the flexibility to do that, even if it takes him a million or three over the budget. I think he'll resign Pierre and probably get Carlos Lee, but that's about it.

Ok, let's say the budget for next season is $105mil. Replacing the 3 bench guys will cost $3mil (easy for the sake of discussion and likely). Resigning Pierre will cost $8mil (conservative 3/$24mil deal). Bump ARam up $1mil when he opts out. That's $12mil right there. So $9mil left. Does he not address the pitching staff at all? How much more than $105mil will the Trib let him go? Will he blow it all now or save some for mid-season? None of Soriano, Lee, Zito, or Schmidt are signing for that little in this market.

And I'll say it again, when the Cubs sign a significant FA you can wake me up.
   16. Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate Posted: August 10, 2006 at 09:27 PM (#2135860)
Here's what I've got:

The Cubs are definitely on the hook for (in millions):

Lee $13.00
Wood $3.00 (buyout)
Ramirez $11.00
Zambrano $6.50
Dempster $5.00
Jones $4.00
Barrett $4.50
Prior $3.65
Izturis $4.15
Howry $4.00
Eyre $3.50
Rusch $3.25
Perez $2.50
Ohman $0.60

Plus 20 more guys on the 40-man who are either going to make ~$300k (autorenewal at ML minimum) or $50k (in the minors). I figured them at $200k apiece, which is a hideous oversimplification but it doesn't make too much of a difference if you get more precise.

Unless I screwed up my Excel worksheet, that's $72.65m.

Figure $5m in raises pre-arbitration to Z and Prior, and you have $77.65.

2006 opening day payroll was $94.42. That leaves $16.77m left over, or $21.77m if you allow for your entirely reasonable assumption of a $5m payroll increase.

Not that it makes all that much of a difference, insofar as after bumping up Ramirez, re-upping with Blanco or signing another Alliance-Approved Catch 'n Throw backup with Veteran Presence, outbidding themselves for Pierre, and signing Wood to an incentive-laden deal, there probably won't be enough money left over to sign a premium free agent, even if you start with $22m in free money.
   17. Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate Posted: August 10, 2006 at 09:39 PM (#2135869)
There were all sorts of stories last month about financial troubles and belt-tightening at Tribco, no? I've got to think there would be all sorts of PR fallout if the Cubs go on an off-season spree while they're laying off workers at newspapers and TV stations.

Also, I have a hunch that an increase of salary from $97m to $100m must overcome a greater psychological barrier than a boost from $94m to $97m -- it's not rational, but bumping up to nine figures is going to make an impression in people's minds. Hendry might not be a particularly good GM, but he's got enough of a self-preservation instinct to know that he's going to look like schmuck in the press for paying $100m on a team that might not improve substantially on this year's model.
   18. Neil M Posted: August 10, 2006 at 09:52 PM (#2135881)
New Dusty thoughts from Cubs.com:

Baker said he'd like to see a mix of young and veteran players and not go with a prolonged youth movement.

"What I see is a continued mixture," Baker said. "A lot of youth are here now because of injuries to others. There will be a sifting-out process next year. Just because you're here now doesn't mean you'll be here next year. What if we go out and sign a couple top pitchers, or a couple outfielders? That means there will be one or two less jobs."


And:

And Baker believes that the Cubs should not revamp their lineup with free agents just because they're a large-market team. Teams can easily overpay because of who's available.

"If you go for it necessarily every year, you're at the mercy of who's available in the market," he said.


So, no youth movement but no revamp either? Let's just stick with Plan A, shall we? It's been so successful.
   19. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 10, 2006 at 10:14 PM (#2135900)
Actually, I don't disagree with Baker's points. A mixture of veterans and young players is good, and the observation about teams overpaying because of who's available shows an awareness that shocks me.
   20. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 10, 2006 at 10:21 PM (#2135909)
Well, the juxtoposition is rather curious
   21. Neil M Posted: August 10, 2006 at 10:29 PM (#2135914)
Well, the juxtoposition is rather curious

Yes.
   22. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 10, 2006 at 10:32 PM (#2135917)
juxtoposition

I used the British spelling in honor of Neil
   23. Cabbage Posted: August 10, 2006 at 10:40 PM (#2135924)
Re #16:

Not to nitpick, because I found your post interesting, but how did you pick ~5 million for arb. bumps to Prior and Z? What is Prior's contract situation? At this point I have to think that the Cubs aren't afraid of arb. They'll probably avoid any sort of a raise after this season. Z on the other hand should probably see a decent (but not shocking) raise. 3-4 Million?
   24. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: August 10, 2006 at 10:47 PM (#2135931)
I've gone through my own analysis, which I'll save you from except for these assumptions --

* Pierre is resigned for $7mm next season
* Hendry will spend $1mm on the backup catcher
* Hendry will spend $1mm on a bench bat/corner IF (i.e., a Mabry)
* Ramirez will get a $1mm bump
* Zambrano will get $10mm (a $3.5mm bump)
* Prior will only get $5mm (a $1.35mm bump), due to poor 2006 perfomance and frequent DL stints
* Ohman, due for his second bite at arbitration, will get $2mm (a $1.39mm bump)

If all this happens, the Cubs will only be about $510k below this season's budget -- without getting a corner outfielder or changing the pitching staff. It would give the Cubs a rotation of Zambrano/Prior/Hill/Marshall/Marmol, with Rusch getting more starts than he deserves.

Whether Hendry will spend more than that is open to speculation. I don't think anyone can seriously argue that the Cubs don't have the money available (notwithstanding Tribune issues); the question is how much flexibility Hendry actually has.

Can he spend $13-14mm to get Carlos Lee? Normally, I'd say no, but given all the shenanigans we've been through, plus the frequently cited need to "send a message," I can also see Hendry spending the money.

I'm not holding my breath, though.
   25. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 10, 2006 at 10:56 PM (#2135941)
Forget Carlos Lee, the Cubs will need to use all that money on some pitching.
   26. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 10, 2006 at 11:00 PM (#2135945)
* Pierre is resigned for $7mm next season

I think that's probably less than it'll take to sign Pierre. But aside from that quibble, I think dJf's numbers make sense and, to my mind, indicate that the Cubs could luck into doing what I think is probably the best thing for them to do - play some young guys and set up for hopefully being a more serious contender in 2008 or 2009.

I agree with Andere that Baker's comment re: overpaying free-agents "shows an awareness that shocks me." The offensive options in this year's free-agent market - Lee and Soriano - just don't strike me as being good enough and/or safe-enough bets to be worth throwing the money at them that I think'll be necessary to get them.

Personally, I'd steer clear of Pierre, too. In fact, given a choice, I'd probably prefer going after Lee or Soriano before Pierre, but in general, I think the Cubs would be better served to save the payroll this year and try out the kids, setting up to make a big jump in payroll next offseason (although I don't know who's likely to be free agents next year, either).

Most likely, that means a 75-80 win team next year, but with some upside potential if some of the kid pitchers take a step forward, Prior stays healthy and returns to his 2003 form, and/or Murton takes a step forward as a hitter. And, honestly, that's not much worse than the same team with an extra $8 - $10 million worth of free agents.
   27. Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate Posted: August 10, 2006 at 11:52 PM (#2136018)


Not to nitpick, because I found your post interesting, but how did you pick ~5 million for arb. bumps to Prior and Z? What is Prior's contract situation? At this point I have to think that the Cubs aren't afraid of arb. They'll probably avoid any sort of a raise after this season. Z on the other hand should probably see a decent (but not shocking) raise. 3-4 Million?


I was figuring $5m total -- sorry for the ambiguous (if not misleading) syntax. $4m for Z and $1m for Prior. $4m for Zambrano bumps him up to around $10m a year, which is pretty close to market value. As for Prior, it seems highly unlikely that the Cubs (who almost always dodge arbitration as a rule) are going to sacrifice a lot of their goodwill with a pitcher who still could be a very good player for years to come just so they can nickel and dime him out of a small raise in arbitration. The only way I can see them being unable to settle on a reasonable dollar figure for '07 before arb is if Prior asks for the moon, and I strongly suspect that his agent is too smart to let that happen.
   28. Mike Isaacs Posted: August 11, 2006 at 04:47 AM (#2136820)
Here's a copy/paste of my post from the Mike Isaacs Loves Izturis thread:

Is it OK now to claim my position has been a tad mischaracterized. :-)

(Yes, I realize that there was a touch of hyperbole there so I will just smile...)

At any rate, let me briefly interrupt the discussion to echo Luke and welcome djf to BTF-GC. I know his contributions will add to the blog as they already have. And I suspect there won't be quite as much dead time between posts. I'm very glad to have him on board.
   29. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: August 11, 2006 at 08:50 PM (#2137404)
Thanks, Mike. I just want to note that the Score currently has a webpoll on it's site:

"Should the Chicago Cubs do what ever it takes to trade Mark Prior during the off-season?

Yes (68%)
No (32%)"

I'm about to soak my head, after I've peeled all the skin off of it.
   30. OlePerfesser Posted: August 12, 2006 at 12:59 PM (#2137955)
This is my first visit to Gonfalon Cubs, and my compliments on the quality of the discourse. Not following the fortunes of the team, I'm curious why there are fewer rumors about Hendry getting the axe than Dusty. Why does Hendry have any job security at all (or am I just misinformed on that score)?

Also, I confess ignorance about this: What in heaven's name is "Gonfalon" about?

Thanks and good luck, Cubs fans.
   31. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: August 12, 2006 at 02:26 PM (#2137977)
Hendry just got a contract extension. Sunk costs would say that they should just axe him anyway if he's the biggest problem, but the Cubs upper management doesn't really believe in that concept.

Why is there a new "must trade for nothing" player every off-season? Why not focus on addition by addition rather than addition (subtraction?) by subtraction?
   32. SouthSideRyan Posted: August 12, 2006 at 02:40 PM (#2137985)
Why not focus on addition by addition rather than addition (subtraction?) by subtraction?

Cause that's how you win World Serieses!! Look at the White Sox after they got rid of Ordonez and Lee!
   33. CFiJ Posted: August 12, 2006 at 03:05 PM (#2138003)
What in heaven's name is "Gonfalon" about?

These are saddest of possible words
Tinker to Evers to Chance
Trio of bear cubs and fleeter than birds
Tinker to Evers to Chance
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble
Making a Giant hit into a double
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble
Tinker to Evers to Chance

"Gonfalon", incidently, means "flag", or in this case, "pennant".
   34. CFiJ Posted: August 12, 2006 at 03:07 PM (#2138007)
Why does Hendry have any job security at all (or am I just misinformed on that score)?

Also, I think it's pretty SOP in baseball that the manager goes before the GM.
   35. OlePerfesser Posted: August 12, 2006 at 03:25 PM (#2138021)
Thanks, CFiJ.
   36. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: August 12, 2006 at 04:08 PM (#2138037)
Cause that's how you win World Serieses!! Look at the White Sox after they got rid of Ordonez and Lee!


:)

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