Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Gonfalon Cubs > Discussion
Gonfalon Cubs
— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Meatwad Posted: May 13, 2006 at 02:04 PM (#2017994)
those intangibles he supposedly brings, the motivator has a good club house are all bullshit. i could motivate a little league team to do bette,r or hell at least make it look like there trying out there. and his clubhouses have been a disaster whle he was here. the feud with stone, all the ######## they do, the manager is supposed to stop that crap, but does dusty? no he sits in his office, chews his toothpick and tries to figure out how to get neifi into the ####### line up. fire dusty ####### baker
   2. Scott Lange Posted: May 13, 2006 at 03:19 PM (#2018023)
If the Cubs repeatedly implode during tough times and do not appear motivated in any way for long stretches, what exactly is it that Dusty Baker is bringing to this team? What does he do well that a better manager wouldn’t?


Just because I like being contrary, I'll stick up for Dusty on one point. He generally doesn't hang his players out to dry in the media, and they generally like playing for him. I admit that isn't the only important attribute for a manager, and that its not even a required attribute for a succesful manager, and that it can be taken too far to the point where it becomes a negative. Still, I followed this team through the Don Baylor era. Despite being equally poor tactically, and maybe even worse at evaluating his own talent, I prefer Baker as manager. With Baylor, players lived in constant fear of being run down in the media on a whim of Baylor's. With the constant digs directed at his players, both quoted and alluded to by the various sportswriters, players often seemed more focused on defending themselves than playing baseball. I think the best managers- guys like Bobby Cox and Joe Torre come to mind- criticize their players to the public very sparingly if at all, and I think Dusty fits that description.

Does he offer enough constructive criticism to his players' faces? Apparently not. Is he a dreadful tactician? Absolutely. Is he abusive toward his young star pitchers' arms? He was back when we had young star pitchers not on the DL. Does he consistently demonstrate an inability to identify his best players and get them on the field? Of course. Should he be fired? Yesterday. Nonetheless, in the one area of what he says in public about his players, I think Dusty is one of the best managers in baseball.
   3. Scott Lange Posted: May 13, 2006 at 03:20 PM (#2018024)
I do know that Zambrano isn't on the DL (yet); forgive me my hyperbole.
   4. Mike Isaacs Posted: May 13, 2006 at 03:41 PM (#2018029)
Just because I like being contrary, I'll stick up for Dusty on one point. He generally doesn't hang his players out to dry in the media, and they generally like playing for him.

Scott, that's a valid point, and I'm not sure we're in as much disagreement on it as it may appear. I may not have been clear enough: I'm not in favor of Baker going to the media and lambasting specific players for poor play. I have no problem though -- at certain times -- with him saying in public that this team as a whole is performing in an unacceptable manner and that there really are few excuses for it. And I'm certainly not in favor of seeing silly quotes every other day in the paper from Baker that provide laughable reasons for a dead, bad team. To me, this leads to a culture of excuse-making and unaccountability.

I agree that Don Baylor's preferred method was not the answer. Like you, I was very critical of taking a player out in public. But to echo the kind of point I raised in the original post: Certainly there has to be an answer between the Baker-Baylor styles. You provided two good examples. I think we agree that the Cubs should set their sights on a manager much better than either Dusty Baker or Don Baylor, which is not asking for the sky.
   5. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: May 13, 2006 at 05:18 PM (#2018056)
Dusty doesn't explicitly trash his players in the media, but he's not always positive unbless its one of HIS players. Dusty took many backhanded swipes at Bellhorn, Patterson and Choi when they were with the Cubs.

"We'll just let [[Mark Bellhorn]] get his head straight and his thoughts collected," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "Sometimes when you're struggling, you start thinking negative. You start thinking about what bad can happen next instead of what good can happen. He'll be back in there. I've given him a pretty good chance. I'm trying to be as patient as I can be."

That sounds superficially positive, but the last sentence reads like a threat to me. That's the only quote I could find regarding bellhorn without paying for the Tribune archives, but I remember some of his remarks at the time being more pointed (and infuriating).



And Don Baylor did some good things during his reign. He stood behind Patterson during the 2002 season. He broke in Mark Bellhorn. He did a good job of breaking in Zambrano. He made Joe Borowski into a closer. Baylor was obviously a terrible tactician and a bad all around manager, but he was there when some good things happened (whether he caused them to happen is another issue).

As an aside, since looking reminded me, one of my complaints about Baylor is that he didn't keep Cruz in the rotation after his rough start in 2002. For a man willing to put up with 5 inning starts from Julian Tavarez in '01, he seemed to give up on Cruz pretty quickly.
   6. alehman42 Posted: May 13, 2006 at 05:24 PM (#2018066)
I've been hoping for Dusty's removal for a couple years now - I was at first willing to believe that his presence in the clubhouse was worth the frequent tactical errors, but seeing the alarming frequency of pitching injuries and the small army of sub-replacement-level hitters kept on in place of younger, more talented players...the bad quite simply outweighs the good.

I've heard all the arguments from Dusty's supporters, as well. The main thing I want to add here is another name to the "available guys who'd be better" list: Larry Dierker. He's good with pitchers, was both a solid tactician and popular with his players during his time in Houston, and has won at the major league level. He's got an (I think unfair) reputation as a poor playoff manager, but the 'Stros quick exits from the playoffs was more the fault of Bagwell and Biggio not hitting at all rather than any mistakes by Dierker.

My only concern is his health - he had heart and circulation problems towards the end of his time in Houston - but he essentially asked to be interviewed for the Red Sox job 2 years ago, so he at least thinks he's up for it.

Anyway, just another name I'd like to see come up once we're finally free from Baker.
   7. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: May 13, 2006 at 06:36 PM (#2018166)
Larry Dierker worked young pitchers pretty hard, but I think he'd be a good choice too.

A likely candidate would be another broadcaster turned manager, Bob Brenly. I've grown to like him as a broadcater, since I stopped blaming Brenly for not being Steve Stone. But I'm not sure I'd like him as a manager of the Cubs.

Unfortunately, it's completely out of character for the Cubs to reach into the minor leagues for an up and coming manager to cover the long term. I guess it's possible that someone like Von Joshua or Mike Quade could fill in for the rest of this season. But I think they'd be more likely to sign a Pinella-type established manager after this year.

This might just be the irrational optimist in me, but I think it's possible that Baker might be fired soon if the Cubs keep scuffling. The Tribune mentioned a Baker death watch. The Sun Times called this season "Dusty's Last Stand." The Daily Herald had a column criticizing Baker for Cubs' personnel moves. The thing is, I think even if the blame completely lies with Hendry, it would still be time to fire Dusty. If Baker had managed like Earl WEaver, he should still be fired; sometimes teams just have to make managerial moves to shake up the team.

More likely, though, is that Baker will be around when Wood, Prior, Miller and Lee come back. At that point, he'll probably get credit for the Cubs' mild surge caused by regression to the mean and the return of some those players. As the San Jose Mercury New reported, "speculation" is that the Cubs will resign Dusty. Let's hope he's gone soon or he might not be gone at all.
   8. Jerry Mumphrey Posted: May 13, 2006 at 06:39 PM (#2018172)
To be painfully candid, I think the Cubs need to hire a minority manager to avoid a PR disaster. I remember hearing Cito Gaston as a suggestion once. But the bottom line is you can't fire your first two consecutive black managers for strategical incompetence and then return to a traditional white guy to fix the team.
   9. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 13, 2006 at 07:05 PM (#2018213)
Those that say anybody is better than what we have are the same ones who said that when Trebelhorn and Riggleman and Baylor left, so that statement means nothing

I didn't say that about Riggleman. Late in his stint with the Cubs, Riggleman was bad, but overall I thought he was decent.

The problem with Baylor and Baker is that they are both guys whose profiles loom large in their managerial jobs. I agree with Scott that Baker is better than Baylor, and at least Baker came to the Cubs with a significant record of success. Baylor had been run out of Denver on a rail, deservedly, and why the Cubs decided not only to hire him, but to lock him up for four years, remains a mystery to me. And why, after having been burned by that, they turned around and overbid for Baker's services, that's also a mystery to me.

Anyway, at this point I feel more strongly about wanting to get rid of Baker than I did even about Baylor, and it's for a couple of reasons. First, with Baylor it was only a matter of time. 2001 raised Baylor's star a bit, but it wasn't far into the 2002 season that he was as lame a duck as you will ever see. In Baker's case, the Cubs may be a winning streak away from locking him into an extension. Second, I really, really dislike Baker. Baylor was sort of a sourpuss, but he wasn't provocative in the many ways Baker is. Baylor's teams often played sloppily, but they didn't do so with the misplaced arrogance that Baker's teams seem to. The combination of incompetence and arrogance that these Cubs teams exhibit is insufferable, and I have the impression that Baker is very much behind it.

So, I very much want to see Baker gone. The Cubs will probably replace him with a square-jawed guy like Brenly, who has many of the same faults Baker has as a strategist and would deserve much of the same criticism. But I don't see Brenly, or any manager, really, cultivating the kind of demeanor exhibited by the Cubs for the last couple of years. Could they be just as bad on the field? Maybe, but at least I could stand to watch them.
   10. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 13, 2006 at 08:05 PM (#2018317)
He stood behind Patterson during the 2002 season. He broke in Mark Bellhorn. He did a good job of breaking in Zambrano. He made Joe Borowski into a closer.

None of this is true.

Baylor couldn't seem to go a day in the press without ripping Patterson for being Lonnie Smith. Bellhorn had 142 ABs from April-June. He had 303 from July-September(Roughly the time Baylor wasn't managing). Zambrano was a mop up guy for Baylor, making one start, 3 days before Baylor was fired. Borowski saved 2 games in '02.
   11. Jerry Mumphrey Posted: May 13, 2006 at 08:15 PM (#2018335)
Ideas for crowd signs to hold up in Wrigley:

"It's the manager"

"Juan-o-meter
.278
and rising. Go Cubs!"
   12. Greg Maddux School of Reflexive Profanity Posted: May 13, 2006 at 08:25 PM (#2018347)
I want Dempster's head on a pike.
   13. Greg Maddux School of Reflexive Profanity Posted: May 13, 2006 at 08:27 PM (#2018351)
That wasn't an idea for a sign. Just an observation.
   14. dcsmyth1 Posted: May 13, 2006 at 10:22 PM (#2018393)
Bill James once wrote something like, "most managers are hired for good reasons, and most managers are fired for good reasons". IOW, when managers are fired, it is usually the right move.

A manager being fired does not mean he is a bad manager, it just means that he is not the right manager for *this* team at *this* time.

Baker is probably, on average, a respectable manager overall--but it seems to be time for him to go. He is no longer the right manager for *this* team at *this* time...
   15. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: May 13, 2006 at 10:29 PM (#2018397)
Wow I really was wrong. I was going off memory. I remember it took a while for the Cubs and Baylor to realize what they had in Bellhorn. It seems that he was starting most every day at several different positions towards the end of Baylors's time with the Cubs.

Re: Borowski Obviously, I'd just confused 2002 and 2003. My bad.

I remember that the Cubs had planned for Zambrano to get work in the pen before breaking him into the rotation. Admittedly, I'm not sure how much credit Baylor would deserve for that. It seemed Cubs management was really high on Zambrano and were fast-tracking him to the major leagues. In fact, it's possible Baylor wasn't in sync with the management when it came to Carlos. I seem to remember Carlos "making the team" and then getting sent to AAA by Baylor because of one bad ST outing. Ultimately though, the Cubs plan for Zambrano was a good one and well executed.

Baylor was hard on people in the press. He was a worse tactical manager than Dusty is. (Although Dusty's been giving Cedeno the bunt sign more than I'd like to see.) Baylor was even worse at roster management than Dusty, since Baylor liked to have three catchers and seemed less to platoon. Like Dusty, Baylor seemed to bury younger guys, albeit lesser talents like Rosie Brown and Julio Zuleta. But he did give Patterson the starting job out of ST in 2002--for better or for worse.
   16. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 13, 2006 at 10:53 PM (#2018414)
Re: Patterson '02, I thought that move was mandated from above, hence the Michael Tucker for KC scraps trade. But Baylor does deserve credit for barely starting Darren Lewis out there, especially since he could've easily platooned the 2. The funny thing about Z getting sent down just before the '02 season is that his spot was taken by Borowksi.

I'd probably agree on Baylor being the worse roster manager, but he did at least let somebody with power on the bench, while Dusty seems to not care about having any.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: May 13, 2006 at 11:59 PM (#2018575)
After the successful 2003 season, I boldly predicted that at least one of Hendry/Baker would be fired before this season began and was widely called nuts. Looks like I'll be off by about half a season. Darn.

As has been pointed out in other threads, this is some strange organizational problem. This is almost the exact pattern of decline shown under other recent Cub managers -- some initial success (Baker 2003, Baylor 2001, Riggelman 1995/1998, Zimmer 1989, Frey 1984) followed by a team that completely falls apart at the seams, displays some of the worst fundamentals I've ever seen, and often snipes in the press.

Some of that is clearly the upper management's fault -- the talent level of the 1999 Cubs is amazingly bad: Benito Santiago (69 OPS+ in 350 AB), Morandini (60 OPS+ in 456 AB), Gaetti (46 in 280 AB), Lance Johnson (66 in 335), Nieves (56 in 181), Alexander (63 in 177), Goodwin (47 in 157), Chad Meyers (46 in 142) leading to a TEAM OPS+ of 89 despite Sosa! But it's clearly a sickness that runs throughout the organization since the Tribune took over (and before). Note a near complete inability to draft/sign and develop any impact offensive players for nearly 20 years, the repeated patterns of managerial decline, the inability to sign big FA (other than extending their own), the lack of sustained success, the unexpectedly good year followed by pretending the team will repeat/improve. Other than making money, about the only thing this franchise has been consistently pretty good at during the Trib ownership is getting youngish players and advanced prospects from other teams and developing/fixing them (Ramirez, Barrett, Sosa, Dempster, Clement, Jose Hernandez (for what he is), Glenallen Hill, Sutcliffe, Sandberg, Durham) -- not that the list is long enough to rule out the blind squirrel and nut hypothesis.

As to some of the managerial suggestions above: I don't think the Cubs need a "fiery" manager like Piniella, Valentine or, presumably, Backman. I think Dusty does use emotion to motivate his team -- he builds an us vs. them mentality and an overly positive "it's not your fault" "self-esteem" building approach. And of course he's very prickly with the press. He's more restrained, but in a way he reminds me of Buddy Ryan who always built an us vs. them mentality with his defenses ... which sometimes extended to his defense against his own team's offense. And like Ryan, I wouldn't be surprised that Dusty is a good hitting coach (despite recent evidence, he has had a pattern of getting better-than-expected production out of some pretty marginal players ... it's the initial suckiness of the players that's been the bigger problem) and a lousy manager. I suspect some of his encouragement of an "it's not our fault" attitude manifests itself in the clubhouse with players blaming others on the team when things go wrong. Certainly the Cubs are good at finding a scapegoat for the press/fans so I'd be surprised if the players don't do a good bit of scapegoating themselves.

I'd like to see a nice professional manager who is calm but does understand how to put together lineups, benches, bullpens, etc. And can handle the press without getting bent out of shape. I think a big part of the reason the Braves, Yankees, Cardinals and maybe A's, Angels, etc. are consistently successful is that they are professional organizations where (with the exception of the Yanks) everyone in the organization seems to be on the same page.

I'm not thrilled with Hendry but I think we can live with him as GM if we can hook him up with a smart manager. It may be that Hendry agrees with Baker but I mainly get the sense that he believes that bench & bullpen construction are mainly the province of the manager -- Dusty tells him the kind of player he wants and Hendry goes and gets him. I'm not saying that he could ever be as successful, but Hendry reminds me more of Schuerholz or Jocketty than he does either Beane (on the "this team will reflect me" end) or Allard Baird (on the incompetent end). But Dusty's been the worst guy to hook Hendry up with -- heavy reliance on veterans and Baker has had a lousy bench and bullpen on pretty much every team he's managed.

So Dierker of Davey Johnson might work well, but maybe we can find their younger equivalents somewhere -- I'd love to see one manager for the next 10 years with the Cubs.

But the biggest fault with this team is that they don't develop enough talent and they're often reluctant to play it when they do develop it while the Trib is also too cheap to really blow out the payroll and play the FA market. At least one of those things needs to change for this team to have sustained success.
   18. CFiJ Posted: May 14, 2006 at 12:06 AM (#2018590)
I'm calling "blind squirrel" on Zambrano. In 2001, Juan Cruz was the hot hand, and Oscar Acosta was openly questioning Zambrano's age and heart. Then Cruz was snake-bit through the first half of 2002 (not to mention aging a couple years in the off-season), and the Cubs (Baylor?) lost faith in him. Zambrano hadn't pitched particularly well in limited relief work, but Cruz's falling star gave him the opportunity to get into the rotation. Apparently free from the oppressing hand of Acosta (fired in 2001), Zambrano blossomed in the rotation.

For the Cubs, it always seemed like they had to choose either Cruz or Zambrano - they couldn't just try to bring along both. Both performed better in the rotation than in the pen, but two rookie pitching prospects? Heavens, no! We had to have proven commodities like Jason Bere and Julian Tavarez.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: May 14, 2006 at 12:11 AM (#2018599)
And while I HATE to say it, the best short-term solution for manager of this team might have been Jim Leyland. He's never the guy you want around long-term but he knows how to work with veteran teams. His main fault has been (apparently) over-working young pitchers ... but you know what? The Cubs main pitchers aren't young anymore -- Wood's 29, Prior and Zambrano 25, Hill 26. Even Guzman is 24 and Marshall an "old" 23. If somebody doesn't start "abusing" these guy's soon, no one but Zambrano is gonna end up with much career value. :-)

And who here knew that Jon Koronka is 4-1 with a 3.65 ERA, 1.2 WHIP and only 4 HR in 44 IP (remember his home park!)? I know, I'll believe he'll keep that up for a full season when I see it, but sheesh.
   20. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 14, 2006 at 01:43 AM (#2018879)
After the successful 2003 season, I boldly predicted that at least one of Hendry/Baker would be fired before this season began and was widely called nuts. Looks like I'll be off by about half a season.

Am I the only one who sees the likelihood of Baker being fired during the season less than 50/50? If they keep playing like this it's a different story, but there is no reason to think they will be this bad for long.
   21. Mike Isaacs Posted: May 14, 2006 at 02:08 AM (#2018982)
Am I the only one who sees the likelihood of Baker being fired during the season less than 50/50?

No, you're not. I see that scenario as less than 50-50 as well. I had some of these same debates last year when the team underachieved badly. I think Hendry wants to give Baker an extension so it will take a sustained climate of doom -- where Hendry feels there is no other choice not only from a baseball perspective but from a public relations perspective -- for this team to make a change. I thinkit's likely the team will play better soon. Only if that doesn't happen in any significant way will Baker be gone, IMHO. So I'm with you.

The main thing I want to add here is another name to the "available guys who'd be better" list: Larry Dierker.

One of the things I really respect about Dierker is that he was open-minded enough to rethink the way he was managing and to entertain a new approach in certain areas. That was clear not only in his on-the-job performance, but he acknowledged such in the book he wrote and on the air. This lack of rigidity in how he approached managing could not be more antithetical to how the Cubs manager approaches all facets of his job.

Dierker took a serious look at pitcher usagae and the best way for offenses to generate runs. And then he acknowledged that better choices than the way he started managing were available. So if he's healthy enough and willing, add him to the list of candidates by all means.

But as Andere said, I'm not convinced Baker is heading anywhere.
   22. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 14, 2006 at 03:18 AM (#2019057)
I'm with Andere. I don't even think it's better than 50-50 he won't be extended after the season.
   23. CFiJ Posted: May 14, 2006 at 04:02 AM (#2019084)
Prior's out. Wood's out. Lee's out. No one's even thinking of firing Dusty right now. He'll be judged on how the Cubs do when at least two of those three are back.
   24. Walt Davis Posted: May 14, 2006 at 04:30 AM (#2019100)
I think there's almost no way Dusty lasts the season and no way he's extended. The media and fans simply won't allow it. Sure, if they immediately turn this around and win like 10 straight (always possible), he might save his job for a year.

But c'mon, how many managers, survive a stretch of 2-13 baseball, averaging just over 2 runs per game while giving up over 6? How many major market managers? How many major market managers of expensive veteran teams? How many major market managers of expensive veteran teams with no contract for next year? And, worst of all, they've done it while playing sloppy ball which the media know is a sign of a team "out of control". Barring that miracle winning streak, if Baker's not gone within a month, the media simply aren't doing their "job".

How many decent teams even have stretches like that? Didn't someone track it down and, other than the moribund Expos, wasn't it no team since the early 70s? The Cubs run differential is the worst in the NL (yes, worse than Pitt, Fla, and Wash). This is not a good team. They've been streaky, but they fully deserve their lousy record. The Royals suck more, but when you suck this bad and you're the Cubs, you end up the joke on Leno and Letterman.

You can use injuries as an excuse, but that excuse usually doesn't work 3 years in a row ... and it usually doesn't work when you're threatening 100 losses. Without Lee, Wood, and Prior, this is a .400ish team which is where the record currently stands and where it will probably still be at the all-star break and beyond. You can even see the Cubs rushing Lee back in a desparate attempt for 500. Who are they going to scapegoat this time? Ramirez? Wood & Prior? It will be much easier this time to scapegoat Baker.

And all this is happening while the Sox are coming off a world series title and are tearing it up again this year. The Cubs will feel the pressure to make a big splash. There's only one big splash to make -- firing Baker.

The only factor I see in favor of a Dusty return is that Hendry's already been extended. Usually the GM in this sort of situation cans the manager as a way of buying himself one more year ... and that's usually all it buys the GM. But Hendry's already safe. On the "plus" side, Hendry's extension is at least a sign that he now has more pull within the organization than Baker (which frankly I've always doubted).

They've got 1 more against SD, 3 against the Nats, then 3 against the Sox. A bad performance against the Nats then a massacre by the Sox and Baker may not last more than a week. Hill's scheduled to pitch the opener against the Sox and Buehrle -- could be ugly.

If you still don't believe me, think of it from an MGL perspective. This organization's history tells us that managers don't survive long. The general trend in the population is that no manager survives a stretch like this, especially when they're not under contract next year. Baker being extended would be the managerial equivalent of Brady Anderson's 50 HR season ... or the corporate equivalent of New Coke or the Edsel. :-)

You're right, I shouldn't put that past the Cubs.
   25. Scott Lange Posted: May 14, 2006 at 07:48 AM (#2019159)
Am I the only one who sees the likelihood of Baker being fired during the season less than 50/50? If they keep playing like this it's a different story, but there is no reason to think they will be this bad for long.



Baker being extended would be the managerial equivalent of Brady Anderson's 50 HR season ... or the corporate equivalent of New Coke or the Edsel. :-)
You're right, I shouldn't put that past the Cubs.


No, I really don't think you should. Frankly, I think its a minor miracle that it didn't happen when Hendry got his deal. If it had, we'd be stuck for years to come. Waiting a couple weeks allowed the losing streak to commence, and if they are indeed looking to resign him they obviously aren't going to want to do it in the midst of a downturn like this.

My question is what sort of hot streak would it take to give them enough cover to sign Baker to a new deal? I fear anything that gets us back to .500 would be enough. It might not even take that- if Lee comes back and we play above .500 ball for a few weeks but remain under .500 for the year, that still might be enough. I don't think we'd still be seeing trial balloons in the papers if this wasn't still management's agenda.
   26. Walt Davis Posted: May 14, 2006 at 10:29 AM (#2019164)
If the Cubs really, really, really wanted to extend Baker, they'd have done it before the season and noone would have blinked. Heck, they'd have done it after 2003 or 2004. That they haven't extended him is a sign that they've got their doubts. Now he needs to give them good reason to extend him. Not likely to happen.

The press is changing. They're ridiculing his excuses, they're noting the lousy fundamentals, they're starting to diss Clines and Matthews just like they did Kim, they're noting the fan discontent, they're starting to notice his lousy lineups, and they're starting to question whether Dusty should be back. A week ago, Phil Rogers of all people finally noticed the Cubs have been lousy in OBP for all 4 of Baker's years. As we speak, the featured story on ESPN.com's MLB page is the Cubs' lousy offense. I can only imagine what Chicago sports radio is doing.

This team has been lousy even though Barrett, Walker, Cedeno, Murton, Jones (finally), Maddux, Marshall, Dempster, Howry, Eyre, and Williamson have all done as well or better than you could hope for. This is just not a good team. It strikes me as unlikely that they'll be able to play well enough to save Dusty's job.

On one side of town, you've got the defending WS champs off to a great start. On the other side, you've got a team that's a laughingstock with booing fans. This is how the Trib Company's worst nightmares begin. Whether they want to or not, McPhail and Hendry will be forced to get rid of Baker.
   27. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 14, 2006 at 12:25 PM (#2019173)
But c'mon, how many managers, survive a stretch of 2-13 baseball, averaging just over 2 runs per game while giving up over 6? How many major market managers? How many major market managers of expensive veteran teams? How many major market managers of expensive veteran teams with no contract for next year? And, worst of all, they've done it while playing sloppy ball which the media know is a sign of a team "out of control". Barring that miracle winning streak, if Baker's not gone within a month, the media simply aren't doing their "job".

But this is the baseball equivalent of the Bush Administration, Walt. You are assuming a level of accountability in the organization that does not appear to exist. Andy MacPhail has been on the job for 11 years and has a solid losing record to show for it, and his team has never won 90 games in a 162 game season. The only results this organization demands are on the ledgers, and the one thing MacPhail seems to have learned is that his time is better spent dealing with that than dealing with the baseball side.

Sure, if the tailspin continues, the drumbeat may be loud enough for Baker to be fired, maybe even before the ASB, but I think it will only come after the season is pretty much out of reach. I suppose they could send Brenly downstairs to manage afterward, and think of him as a long-term solution, but in the past the Cubs have brought in cardboard cut-outs to replace managers mid-season, signalling a white flag. I'd personally prefer seeing them go with the cardboard cut-out...Also, if Baker's noose is already set mid-season and the Cubs think they can wait until the end of the season to fire him, I could see Baker moving the process along with his mouth, something that never happened in San Francisco but could easily happen in Chicago.

But I think it's more likely that the team will correct itself and go from horrible to mediocre, which will probably be enough for Baker to keep his job for 2006, if not receive an extension. I definitely hope I'm wrong about this.
   28. Scott Lange Posted: May 14, 2006 at 02:35 PM (#2019195)
If the Cubs really, really, really wanted to extend Baker, they'd have done it before the season and noone would have blinked. Heck, they'd have done it after 2003 or 2004. That they haven't extended him is a sign that they've got their doubts. Now he needs to give them good reason to extend him. Not likely to happen.


Couldn't you have written the same paragraph about Hendry right up until the day they signed his extension? Did winning two of the first three games really constitute a good reason to extend him, or was it just what management had decided to do?

Admittedly, I'm only looking at the evidence for pessimism. As you say, there are a number of reasons to think things might be different- the losing streak, the (gradual) increase in media awareness of the Cubs' problems, the obvious fact that Hendry has signed while Baker hasn't- but I don't think we're anywhere near out of the woods. If we win five of the next seven, and the Cubs announce Baker has been resigned, would you be shocked? I know I wouldn't be.
   29. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 14, 2006 at 02:55 PM (#2019200)
If we win five of the next seven, and the Cubs announce Baker has been resigned, would you be shocked? I know I wouldn't be.

I would, just because it comes so closely on the heels of the terrible losing streak. I think they'll have to wait at least a month to avoid the flurry of "how can they extend him when the team is playing this bad" media attention. A week's worth of better play isn't long enough.

I don't think the final decision is going to be made one way or another until Lee gets back. If Lee's back (and presumably Wood and Prior by that time as well) and the team still looks like crap, then I think he's gone. If Lee comes back and the team plays like the borderline contender TPTB thought the Cubs would be, then I think he sticks around for 2-3 more years.

It would take an historic losing streak (OK, more historic) to boot Baker before Lee's return. If they drop 35 of 40 to sink into last place in the Central, that could do it, especially if the losses continue to be as fundamentally bad as the recent ones have been.
   30. John Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: May 14, 2006 at 03:52 PM (#2019225)
As to some of the managerial suggestions above: I don't think the Cubs need a "fiery" manager like Piniella, Valentine or, presumably, Backman. I think Dusty does use emotion to motivate his team -- he builds an us vs. them mentality and an overly positive "it's not your fault" "self-esteem" building approach. And of course he's very prickly with the press. He's more restrained, but in a way he reminds me of Buddy Ryan who always built an us vs. them mentality with his defenses ... which sometimes extended to his defense against his own team's offense.

Walt knows 1,000,000 times as much about the Cubs as I do, but after a manager like Dusty, who is every veteran's friend and well-wisher, I think that a Lou Piniella who will motivate players with fear is exactly what the Cubs need. Valentine I see as being in Dusty's mold - a guy who supports his players "110%". But Piniella isn't afraid to put the fear of god into someone, and I think he showed convincingly in Tampa that he could still build an offense using young talent.

That being said, unless the Cubs fall adrift of the Pirates, I don't think that Dusty is going anywhere until after the season. What's more likely to happen - given the level of accountability that Andere explored - is a deep-discount sale of young talent to try to prop up the major league product.
   31. Meatwad Posted: May 14, 2006 at 05:06 PM (#2019275)
Whats sad is every problem the cubs have had, has been pointed out by us since 2004, maybe sooner but i wasnt around. the emdia have taken far too long to notice. am i correct that primates have responded to articles telling the writers whats wrong and such? i seem to remember that happening last year.
   32. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 14, 2006 at 07:32 PM (#2019706)
First, let me observe that Chris De Luca is already calling for Dusty's ouster, and I've read many other hostile columns by the local media toward the current regime, including Phil Rogers ripping Jim Hendry (RR). To the extent I have a point here, it is the observation that after an initial flurry of columns that excuse Dusty (such as by Mike Imrem and Bruce Miles), it seems that the worm has turned somewhat.

I still think that this is an organization (like any other) that looks first to self-preservation. Andere can criticize Andy MacPhail's consistently losing records, but the Tribune judges him by revenues and profits (where he's been wildly successful), not wins and losses. Meanwhile, while Hendry has already gotten his extension, everyone in the Cubs organization is openly pleased with Dusty as well -- I haven't read of a single comment about Dusty by Hendry or MacPhail that is anything other than positive, words to the effect of "Dusty's our guy."

The only reason I think he might not be back are the fact that (a) he hasn't been extended yet and (b) the team's recent play has made and may continue to make it impossible. So I guess when I think of Dusty's future, we're in the unique position of wondering not only will he get fired but also will he be rewarded. Each are plausible.

I think it is highly unlikely that he'll be fired this season. This team is 2-11 in May and on pace for a 4-25 month. If that happens, sure Dusty will be fired -- I think at that point, even Hendry and MacPhail will recognize that. Still, as lousy as they've looked, they simply aren't that bad a team. While I think it is entirely possible that this team can win only 72-74 games this season, I don't think that will get Dusty fired midseason.

As for an extension, I also agree with UCCF that taking 5 of the next 7 won't make it happen at this point. OTOH, I do think that if they can get through the next stretch of games at roughly breakeven, this would give them a temporary respite from the backlash so that a late May/early June run (especially one that gets them back over .500) would enable the Cubs to give Dusty an extension.

I'm hoping that doesn't happen. Part of me wants the 2-11 ugliness to continue, if for no other reason than it places heat and scrutiny on the people that deserve it most. Still, I can't get myself to root against the team on a day-to-day basis, so my hope is that when they get out of this funk, they continue with a general malaise over the next several months. By August, if they find themselves 10-15 games under .500, then a 5 of 7 stretch will be too little to justify such a move, and they'll have to wait until the end of the season.
   33. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 14, 2006 at 08:53 PM (#2019933)
I said right after Lee's injury that I thought the Lee injury guaranteed Dusty's job through this year, because it gave him an excuse for the year. But, man, I figured this would turn it into a 70-75 win team, not a team that, at this pace, could lose 110 games this year. Still, I don't think they'll fire Dusty before they get Lee back, and even then, if they play .500 ball when Lee gets back, I really could see that saving Dusty even if they're in such a big hole that they still end up losing 100 games.

Then again, if they don't win for the next week, including getting swept by the Sox, I could see them doing something. Still, Dusty's got some Rasputin in him, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see them eke out 2 of 3 against the Nationals (they've got Z and Wood pitching), in which case I really do think it would take the pressure off of Dusty.
   34. John Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: May 14, 2006 at 10:19 PM (#2020095)
Apparently, Mark Prior threw a two-hitter in his simulated game today, but the Cubs were shut out again and lost 1-0.
   35. froghat Posted: May 15, 2006 at 01:03 AM (#2020190)
I hate to say this being a huge Cubs fan but they need to nuke everything and start over. Even if Prior and Wood came back and throw 25 great games in a row their offense wouldn't do jack. The player development on this team is horrid. How does Corey Patterson suck with us and then become a .290 hittr for Baltimore? :(
   36. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 15, 2006 at 02:30 AM (#2020306)
Corey did hit 298 in '03 for us. He had one absolutely dreadful year.(Last year) Prior to that he had an averageish season and a good season.
   37. Walt Davis Posted: May 15, 2006 at 07:35 AM (#2020438)
but I think it will only come after the season is pretty much out of reach.

Oh man, I think it's already out of reach. This will require one of those classic A's turnarounds to salvage anything out of this season.

Yes, the Cubs are better than "this" if by this you mean the 2-14 tailspin. That's because even the Cleveland Spiders are better than that. But the current talent level of this team is about 400. We've got one very good starter (and one above-average one pitching great), 1-2 solidly above-average position players (Barrett and Ramirez), no bench. Until recently at least the bullpen was still doing well.

Today's story in the Trib starts with the Cubs setting a new historic low. It's a cheap shot (Cubs lost all 7 to the Pads, first time they've been winless against an opponent for an entire season but it's only 7 games) but it could have been written from an angle of "a great tight game until the Padres broke it open." It even mentions how the Pads pitcher had given up a number of hits and walks this season but the Cubs managed just 2 hits and no walks and saw 23 pitches over a 3 inning stretch.

Let's see how the Nats and Sox series go. If the Cubs get the snot kicked out of them by the Sox ...

And JLAC ... I don't know more about the Cubs than you or others. Maybe more of a historical perspective than some of you young'uns. But I can only follow them from afar and rarely/never get to see them play these days.
   38. Scott Lange Posted: May 15, 2006 at 07:46 AM (#2020439)
Unless I missed one, there have been precisely two pitchers who have thrown sub-100 pitch shutouts in the majors this year. Clay Hensley yesterday and Chris Capuano two Sundays ago. Just thought I'd throw that in, in case anyone was feeling upbeat and cheery today.
   39. H. Vaughn Posted: May 15, 2006 at 01:48 PM (#2020482)
What's more likely to happen - given the level of accountability that Andere explored - is a deep-discount sale of young talent to try to prop up the major league product.


Actually, they are well-positioned to do the opposite, trading overvalued veteran middle relievers or back of the rotation types for young position talent at the deadline. If this skid continues, that may enter Hendry's thinking.

I think it is highly unlikely that he'll be fired this season. This team is 2-11 in May and on pace for a 4-25 month. If that happens, sure Dusty will be fired -- I think at that point, even Hendry and MacPhail will recognize that.

Baker might quit. Did you see the clips from the presser after the game yesterday? Johnny B. looked like his dog got run over by his wife and kids as they left him in his new Benz while the IRS auditor pulled up. He said he had no answers, gasped out his forlorn, hangdog statements, said "I don't know" quite a bit. It was the classic dead man walking, manager-in-the-crosshairs performance. He's finished, won't last the month, and every Pierre or Cedeno one-pitch at bat crosses a t or dots an i on his pink slip.
   40. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 15, 2006 at 01:57 PM (#2020488)
First, let me observe that Chris De Luca is already calling for Dusty's ouster, and I've read many other hostile columns by the local media toward the current regime, including Phil Rogers ripping Jim Hendry (RR). To the extent I have a point here, it is the observation that after an initial flurry of columns that excuse Dusty (such as by Mike Imrem and Bruce Miles), it seems that the worm has turned somewhat.

Following up, Mike Imrem defends his position to extend Dusty's contract. His logic (which I'm still trying to comprehend) is that the Cubs are so messed up as a franchise, from the top levels of the organization down, that firing Dusty "would be like treating the pimple instead of the tumor." Imrem says: "I’m for giving Baker two more years, matching general manager Jim Hendry’s contract. If they don’t win by 2008, the 100th anniversary of Cubs futility can be celebrated by blowing up the franchise from the Tower down." Why he's willing to persist through two more years of this garbage is anyone's guess.

What I have a hard time with is that I actually agree with Mariotti's column today. I'll need to talk to someone about that.
   41. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 15, 2006 at 02:03 PM (#2020492)
I find these posts to be a classic "rush to judgement" based on limited data. Dusty Baker had his struggles in San Francisco but eventually turned it around. I believe Chicago should give him the same opportunity to correct things.

Five year extension, at LEAST.
   42. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 15, 2006 at 02:06 PM (#2020497)
Baker might quit.

I hope so, because I think that's our best chance to get rid of him. I want Dusty gone as much as anybody, but I really think that Jim Hendry thinks he's a good manager who's run into some rough luck. Even at the end of yesterday's game, Brenly opened the post-game comments with something along the lines of, "Well, the Cubs just ran into the Padres at the wrong time. They've been red-hot lately." Of course, they've been red-hot because they've been playing the Cubs. Even if the Cubs get swept next weekend at the Cell, I can see them spinning that as, "Well, you know, losing three on the road to the best team in the majors is just tough luck."

Hey, I hope I'm wrong and Dusty has managed his last game for the Cubs, but I'm just very pessimistic that he'll get fired any time soon.
   43. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 15, 2006 at 02:07 PM (#2020499)
You're a funny man, Harveys. A funny, funny man.
   44. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 15, 2006 at 02:11 PM (#2020502)
Kiko:

Was it that obvious? Really need to work on sounding authentic.............
   45. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 15, 2006 at 02:15 PM (#2020508)
Harveys,

It would probably help if we didn't all know that you were a Brewers fan.
   46. covelli chris p Posted: May 15, 2006 at 02:18 PM (#2020512)
wasn't it the position of some cubs fans aroudn here that the best thing that could happen to this team was a long losing streak? well you got your losing streak! hopefully it'll get baker fired, right?
   47. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 15, 2006 at 02:21 PM (#2020515)
I have a Stan Hack autographed baseball. I really enjoy Wrigley Field. Have lots of friends who are diehard Cubs fans including many here on this site.

I LOVE the Cubs.

When I am not wishing that the Brewers beat the Cubs 200-0 every time they play that is.........
   48. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 15, 2006 at 02:32 PM (#2020530)
wasn't it the position of some cubs fans aroudn here that the best thing that could happen to this team was a long losing streak? well you got your losing streak! hopefully it'll get baker fired, right?

Yes, that's how I'm rationalizing it. I also think that not only is the timing good -- better to go through this now than in August/September -- but I also think that the heat/scrutiny are being placed on the people who deserve it most.
   49. H. Vaughn Posted: May 15, 2006 at 02:40 PM (#2020538)
I find these posts to be a classic "rush to judgement"

If the team can't hit, Dusty must spit the bit.
   50. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: May 15, 2006 at 02:46 PM (#2020544)
When I am not wishing that the Brewers beat the Cubs 200-0 every time they play that is.........
200-0???? You don't want the Brewers to get worn out do you?
   51. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 15, 2006 at 02:49 PM (#2020550)
Crispix:

Trotting around the bases would be an excellent aerobic exercise for young Prince......
   52. covelli chris p Posted: May 15, 2006 at 03:03 PM (#2020566)
Yes, that's how I'm rationalizing it.

and aren't you the d-rays fan?
   53. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 15, 2006 at 03:27 PM (#2020600)
and aren't you the d-rays fan?

Yeah (at least as of November), which is another way that I've been able to deal with this. Last year was aggravating enough and I was wise enough to see this trainwreck coming -- to the point that I can say that my injuries haven't been fatal. (Metaphorically speaking, I'm still on the train, but I moved to a different car.)

Of course, the Rays aren't hitting either, but they are only a half-game off the Cubs lousy pace, and trending upward.
   54. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 15, 2006 at 03:40 PM (#2020618)
What I have a hard time with is that I actually agree with Mariotti's column today. I'll need to talk to someone about that.

Yikes, me too. He really lays it out there pretty well.
   55. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 15, 2006 at 04:43 PM (#2020674)
Oh man, I think it's already out of reach. This will require one of those classic A's turnarounds to salvage anything out of this season.

Which seem to happen fairly regularly in the Wild Card era. They're 7 games under .500, and 8.5 back. It's May. It's a deep hole, and their prospects are pretty low, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Cubs a handful of games over .500 and a handful of games out of the Wild Card, if not the division, at some point this season.

Your posts are a lift to my spirit, Walt, but I am still not seeing a quick exit for Dusty, unless it really does turn into a 4-25 month.
   56. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 15, 2006 at 04:48 PM (#2020680)
The Mariotti column is good, and makes me wonder if he lurks here.

To me, firing Baker is a no-brainer, but it's second on the no-brainer list. Personally, I think Hendry has enough strong qualities that he would be a successful GM in an organization that otherwise had a clue.
   57. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 15, 2006 at 04:50 PM (#2020683)
The funny thing is that even if it did turn into a 4-25 month, there will be so much angst at the Tribune Company. Not because of the record, mind you, but because they would feel that they had to scapegoat Dusty because of it.

That's one of the things I find most annoying -- the fact that they place their own job preservation and other issues over winning baseball. This isn't to say the team will be significantly better with another manager, but (a) it's a start and (b) the longer Dusty stays, particularly after this season, the worse it will be.
   58. CFiJ Posted: May 15, 2006 at 05:14 PM (#2020711)
Yeah (at least as of November), which is another way that I've been able to deal with this.

I've found that a 6,313 mile distance works really well, too.
   59. CFiJ Posted: May 15, 2006 at 05:16 PM (#2020714)
Make that 6,424 miles.
   60. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: May 15, 2006 at 05:28 PM (#2020734)
Organizationally - the Cubs problem is that they're trying to run things like they're the Braves.

Despite some of the notables player development failures, it's hard to pick a Cubs regime that's had better luck, overall, scouting, developing talent from within. That's not to say they've been among the best in baseball -- they certainly haven't -- but Corey Patterson petering out at the major league level is certainly a step better than Earl Cunningham (or pick a name) petering out in single A.

The problem is that the Cubs plan revolves around this concept of "re-tooling" rather than any honest rebuilding plans.

The Braves have been phenomenally successful building from within, picking up spare parts wisely during the offseason, and making the occasional prospects for major league needs trades --- all the while winning division titles without skipping a beat.

The Cubs are constantly trying to the same thing - but seem to have forgotten the "winning titles" part.... so merrily on they go, thinking that decimating the remainder of top-level arms in exchange for an overrated leadoff hitter is a good idea... that the team is fundamentally solid enough that adding in a complementary platoon hitter like Jacque Jones pushes them over the top...

Hendry and MacPhail run the team like perenial contenders - blind to the idea that only heading into 2004 could one truly and objectively imagined them so.
   61. Boots Day Posted: May 15, 2006 at 05:33 PM (#2020744)
Personally, I think Hendry has enough strong qualities that he would be a successful GM in an organization that otherwise had a clue.

Baker has enough strong qualities that he was a successful manager in an organization that otherwise had a clue.

For all the Baker-bashing we've seen, my biggest complaint about him is something I haven't heard anyone else talk about: His strength, basically, is getting players to play well, to exceed their reputations, and this year's Cub team has failed miserably at that. You don't hire Dusty Baker to take advantage of his tactical wizardry; you hire him because you think he's going to turn J.T. Snow into a useful player, or Jeff Kent into an MVP. Or Derrek Lee into one of the best hitters in the game.

So you bring in people like Juan Pierre and Jacque Jones with the expectation that Dusty is going to do something with them. Those are exactly the kinds of decent, youngish veterans he has worked wonders with in the past.

If Dusty's not going to do anything constructive with Juan Pierre, then there's really no reason to keep him around.
   62. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 15, 2006 at 05:35 PM (#2020748)
Despite some of the notables player development failures, it's hard to pick a Cubs regime that's had better luck, overall, scouting, developing talent from within.

No it's not. The Dallas Green and John Holland/Leo Durocher regimes come quickly to mind (though, granted these are the only two).
   63. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: May 15, 2006 at 06:07 PM (#2020797)
No it's not. The Dallas Green and John Holland/Leo Durocher regimes come quickly to mind (though, granted these are the only two).

I meant to add the caveat "in my lifetime of fandom", which basically starts with the Green regime. I'd give you Durocher, in any case -- 3 HOFers (and should be 4), a couple other better than average SPs, and 2 more very solid or better players at key positions (Kessinger and Hundley) is indeed a very nice developmental job.

I would disagree with Dallas Green -- I enjoyed 1984 as much as the next guy, the 84 team still saw the exodus of some relatively useful kids (Joe Carter, etc) and was largely built on imports. Maddux, Moyer, Palmeiro, and Grace were all drafted under Dallas -- but it's hard for me to delineate blame and credit between Green and his successor, Jim Frey. On one hand - that's a nice foursome of developed talent... on the other, though -- they made the wrong call deciding who grow into a 30-35 HR threat, Grace or Palmeiro. Himes gets the deserved credit for not recognizing that a singular talent like Greg Maddux should have been held onto at all costs.

But beyond that?

Dwight Smith became little more than nice pinch-hitter with a hell of singing voice. Jerome Walton flamed out faster than Bob Dernier. The troika of catchers - Berryhill, Girardi, and Wilkins - either didn't develop (Wilkins, Berryhill) or ended up vastly overrated (Girardi). Moyer got hurt - and his subsequent rise to fame as king of the 80 MPH junkballers should really be a credit more to the Mariners than anyone else.

A Cubs draft history here --

Green (or Gord Goldsberry, I guess) had fairly nice drafts in 84 (Moyer and Maddux) and 85 (Palmeiro, Grace, and a few spare parts).

You want to see futility, though - check out the results of the Jim Frey drafts from 88 through 90. That's 3 years of almost complete wastelands.

It's terribly hard to judge the Hendry drafts on par - but a lot of the names are still fairly well-regarded prospects.

My biggest beef with both the Dallas Green and Jim Frey regimes -- the biggest plus that I think Hendry and company brought to the table -- is that the mid to late 80s are the time when a lot of teams started really tapping into the Central/South American and Caribean talent pools (think Dodgers/Blue Jays), and the Cubs fell horribly behind in that department. It wasn't until Hendry (and Oneri Fleita) that the Cubs began to be legitimate players in the international talent market.

If nothing else - Hendry/MacPhail should get some credit for at least making the Cubs competitive in that talent bazaar.
   64. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: May 15, 2006 at 06:25 PM (#2020825)
#61 is right on.

It irritates me when people pick on one terrible quality of a manager to tear them down. It's basically equivalent to saying that Adam Dunn sucks because he doesn't steal a lot of bases.

There are no perfect managers or players, so the question we should be asking is, "Do their strengths make them valuable beyond the detriment of their weaknesses?"

When we are talking about managers, we have the added question of, "Is the GM doing a good job of understanding and minimizing the manager's weaknesses?"

In the past, I've given Dusty a pass because I think that he was worth a net positive amount and that even beyond that, Hendry was bad at minimizing Dusty's weaknesses suggesting the need for a change at GM rather than managers.

However, as Boots points out, this year we've seen a complete reversal on Baker's main valuable skill which suggests that he's a net negative.

Hendry is still terrible on the second question and has been completely inept at his more important task--player acquisition, so I think he needs to go too.

The other issues like "fundamental mistakes" and the like, as just tangentially relevant. If Baker is making worthless players good, and that completely off-sets them getting picked off and kicking the ball around, that's not really important. The production is important, not the shape of it.
   65. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 15, 2006 at 06:26 PM (#2020826)
A Cubs draft history here --

Wow, that is ugly. Starting with 1986 (after the last good year), you get (in terms of players who made a lasting and at least sometimes decent major league contribution) -

1986 - Girardi, Ray Lankford (who didn't sign)
1987 - Frank Castillo, Jeff Cirillo (who didn't sign)
1988 - zip
1989 - nada
1990 - niente
1991 - Doug Glanville, Terry Adams, Steve Trachsel, Jon Lieber
1992 - zero
1993 - nothing
1994 - Kyle Farnsworth
1995 - Wood, Adam Evertt (who didn't sign), Justin Speier
1996 - Kyle Lohse
1997 - Jon Garland
1998 - Corey Patterson, Eric Hinske
1999 - nothing so far, and really only Brandon Sing is still sticking around with any potential
2000 - Dontrelle Willis

Particularly 1986-1994 are bad, with only 1991 standing out as a halfway decent draft. How you go 5 years out of 6 with getting no one of note to the majors - particularly where you're usually picking in the top half of the draft year in and year out - is a mystery.
   66. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 15, 2006 at 06:38 PM (#2020844)
Baker has enough strong qualities that he was a successful manager in an organization that otherwise had a clue.

That could be. It's never been apparent that the Cubs are that kind of team, and he's done very little along the lines of what he did in San Francisco since his first season here, but sure, I'm willing to buy that.

It irritates me when people pick on one terrible quality of a manager to tear them down.

In this case I think it's a matter of his one set of good qualities being nowhere in evidence.

Hendry is still terrible on the second question and has been completely inept at his more important task--player acquisition, so I think he needs to go too.

I think Hendry's record on player acquisition has been mixed, at worst. Completely inept is an extreme overstatement. This year he did badly, but he was backed into a corner, much of it his own making, of course.
   67. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: May 15, 2006 at 06:56 PM (#2020870)
How you go 5 years out of 6 with getting no one of note to the majors - particularly where you're usually picking in the top half of the draft year in and year out - is a mystery.

You do it by having no discernbile strategy or contiguous plan. These drafts seem to tilt year to year, from athletic, toolsy high schoolers, to 'polished' college players.... and then neither works out.

In essence, the Cubs seem to make every decision in a vacuum - as if it's an individual decision without bearing on both previous and subsequent choices. There's no long term plan -- just the occasional who should I draft today? Who should I trade or trade for today? How should we focus our development efforts?

In the Cubs preview comments - it was noted that Cubs have been a tough team to handicap; seeming to deivate wildly from 85-90 win contenders to 60-65 win losers, with very little of the 81-81 mediocre seasons. Well -- here's the reason why. The plan is always that there is no plan. In the up years - Hendry's done a pretty nice job adding the necessary pieces to keep a contender in contention. The 03 moves were great - and even results notwithstanding - the Nomar trade was still a good one (heck - I think Murton alone still makes that trade a "win"). When the stars don't align, though -- this is a team lost in the woods.
   68. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 15, 2006 at 07:06 PM (#2020887)
Of course, beyond the lack of players in that list what bothers me is that, of the 1996-2000 crop, the Cubs showed a real lack of ability to sort the prospects from the crap. With the exception of Patterson, each of those players went on to success with another team, often bringing the Cubs little in return (WEHT... Matt Karchner?).

Though I guess it shouldn't be much of a surprise that a team showing little ability to evaluate players in the draft would also have little ability to evaluate them once they're in the system. I'll be interested to see if that trend holds up over the next 5 years, with the Cubs dumping guys like Koronka, Sisco, Nolasco, Mitre in favor of keeping Guzman, Hill, Marshall, etc. Did we give away more top of the rotation starters and keep the washouts, or have we gotten better at figuring it out?
   69. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 15, 2006 at 07:11 PM (#2020892)
#61 nails it. He's still got all his weaknesses, and right now none of his strengths. It's only been a 16-game stretch, but it's been one of the ugliest 16 game stretches in memory. It's up there with the '99 pitching debacle, and the '85 All-Injured Rotation.

Let me flip around a comment Bill James once made about tthe '84 Tigers. He said he should've known they were a great team after the start because how often does a team go 35-5 over any stretch of the season? How often does any team not only go 2-14 over a stretch, but they're getting routinely slaughtered in those very same games.

Hendry is still terrible on the second question and has been completely inept at his more important task--player acquisition

I'm sick to death of Hendry at this point, but I don't understand that statement at all. He got Rameriz, Lofton, Karros, Grudz..k, Murton, & Garciaparra for some silly string, hamburger helper, and the 6 hits that Hundley still had in his bat. For six quality starters. Then there's the Choi-Lee deal. He hasn't pulled off a brillant trade in a while, but he's pulled off more great trades for position players than all other GMs since Dallas Green.

Despite some of the notables player development failures, it's hard to pick a Cubs regime that's had better luck, overall, scouting, developing talent from within.

Ya know, the sinking of that Greenpeace boat was France's most successful military adventure since Waterloo. . .
   70. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 15, 2006 at 07:28 PM (#2020913)
I would disagree with Dallas Green -- I enjoyed 1984 as much as the next guy, the 84 team still saw the exodus of some relatively useful kids (Joe Carter, etc) and was largely built on imports. Maddux, Moyer, Palmeiro, and Grace were all drafted under Dallas -- but it's hard for me to delineate blame and credit between Green and his successor, Jim Frey.

Green was GM from 10/81-10/87 and either acquired or developed (usually both) an incredible array of players who contributed in the majors. Granting that you might quibble with some of these names, but here's a list, keeping in mind your comment pertained to both scouting and development --

Henry Cotto -- Was signed as an amateur FA in '80 (before Green's arrival), but was only in A ball at the time Green arrived, so he deserves some credit for his development.

Billy Hatcher -- Drafted in '81 (before Green's arrival), but also was in A ball when Green took over. Debuted in '84 under Green.

Joe Carter -- Same thing, but was in AA. Debuted in '83 under Green.

Darrin Jackson -- Ditto, but was in Rookie ball. Debuted in '85 under Green.

Shawon Dunston -- Green drafted him in '82, and he debuted in '85 under Green.

Gary Varsho -- Green drafted him in '82 and developed him to the AAA level.

Dave Martinez -- Green drafted him in '83, and he debuted in '86 under Green.

Damon Berryhill -- Green drafted him in '84 and he debuted in '87 under Green.

Greg Maddux -- Green drafted him in '84 and he debuted in '86 under Green.

Dwight Smith -- Green drafted him in '84 and developed him to the AA level before he left.

Jamie Moyer -- Green drafted him in '84 and he debuted in '86 under Green.

Rafael Palmeiro -- Green drafted him in '85 and he debuted in '86 under Green.

Doug Dascenzo -- Green drafted him in '85 and developed him to the AA level before he left.

Mark Grace -- Ditto.

Les Lancaster -- Green signed him as an amateur FA in '85 and he debuted in '87 under Green.

Shawn Boskie -- Green drafted him in '86 and developed him to the A level before he left.

Jerome Walton -- Ditto.

Derrick May -- Ditto.

Rick Wilkins -- Ditto.

Joe Girardi -- Ditto, though he was in high A ball when Green left.

Jim Bullinger -- Ditto (though he was still a hitter at that point).

Heathcliff Slocumb -- Green signed him as a minor league FA from the Mets in '86 and developed him through high A ball before he left.

Mike Harkey -- Green drafted him in '87 and developed him to the AA level before he left.

Frank Castillo -- Ditto, but was developed to A ball before Green left.

Alex Arias -- Ditto, but was developed only through Rookie ball before Green left.

Matt Franco -- Ditto.

Matt Walbeck -- Ditto.
   71. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 15, 2006 at 07:32 PM (#2020919)
Granted, a lot of these players were bench fodder, but my point is that:

(a) the original comment dealt purely with scouting and development;

(b) even if guys like Les Lancaster, et al weren't stars, they still contributed to the team; and

(c) it's a heck of a lot of players that saw the bigs -- certainly more than under the Hendry or other regimes.
   72. Eraser-X is emphatically dominating teh site!!! Posted: May 15, 2006 at 07:37 PM (#2020926)
66 and 69:

Sorry, I was talking about his last two years. It's my fault, I should have said that explicitly. Of course, the earlier moves you cite are great ones. The problem I have is that he has shown none of this ability in the last two years, and there's no reason to believe it is likely to return.

The learning curve as a GM is supposed to be quite steep, and so I would expect recent performance to be a better predictor of future performance, probably even moreso than for players.

I mean, if Hendry signed Jacque Jones 4 years ago and spent all of his money while ignoring his team's needs, and then this past off-season pulled off the Ramirez and Lee trades, I would be quite up on him. But if he was terrible at his job this past off-season, I don't see how ancient performance is compelling that he actually knows what he is doing.
   73. Boots Day Posted: May 15, 2006 at 07:51 PM (#2020948)
dJF: Was there a reason your list didn't include Ryne Sandberg? He didn't come up with the Cubs, but Green plucked him from the Phillies system.
   74. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 15, 2006 at 07:57 PM (#2020954)
I thought about including Sandberg, but didn't because he had already debuted with the Phillies in late '81, before Green took the Cubs job.

Put another way, Green didn't need to develop Sandberg; it was really more a question of integrating him into MLB (something which the Hendry/Baker regime is having a terrible time doing).
   75. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: May 15, 2006 at 08:01 PM (#2020961)
I think there's been quite a bit of evolution of the GM position between Green and Hendry...

Additionally -- and I know this will sound horribly unfair -- Dallas Green seemed more the 'traditional' GM (i.e, my job is to make trades and sign/re-sign players) with the farm and development system being under Gordon Goldsberry.

Hendry, hwoever, came into the organization as a scout, then got promoted to run the whole scouting/development show, then assistant GM, then GM (and basically promoted "his people", e.g. Fleita in the scouting and development realm to higher positions).

I know - that seems completely wrong not to give credit to Green and instead to Goldsberry and while giving Hendry 'credit' for the current system and scouting...
   76. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: May 15, 2006 at 08:03 PM (#2020963)
Additionally -- and I know this will sound horribly unfair -- Dallas Green seemed more the 'traditional' GM (i.e, my job is to make trades and sign/re-sign players) with the farm and development system being under Gordon Goldsberry

Though I should add that yes, I realize that Green actually got canned as much because he wanted the VP job in addition to his GM role as anything.
   77. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 15, 2006 at 08:13 PM (#2020982)
So let me get this straight -- you recognize that John Holland/Leo Durocher regime (1966-75), in your words, "had better luck, overall, scouting, developing talent from within" than the Hendry/Baker regime,

. . . but you don't feel that Green did because you feel that the GM position has changed a lot between 1987-2002? That's a headscratcher.

Equally baffling is the fact that (as you recognize) you are giving Green none of the credit for the acquisition/development of the 27 MLB players (including a lock HoFer and several longstanding upper-echelon regulars), citing the fact that Green had a hand-picked subordinate run the farm system, while at the same time you are giving Hendry credit for the minor league development of all players over the last 4 years.

My head is spinning too fast. I need to lie down.
   78. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 15, 2006 at 08:21 PM (#2020993)
My point being that a regime is a regime. The GM may not personally scout each and every player he acquires, not does he personally manager and coach them along the way, but it is his job to set the tone for the organization and to hire and supervise those who are directly involved. It doesn't matter if it's Dallas Green or Jim Hendry, both have had their own scouts, their own cross-checkers, their own acouting and farm directors, and their own minor league coaching staffs.

In the end, it is their responsibility to steer the ship and they deserve the blame if it hits an iceberg (i.e., Jim Frey) or if it sails to successful waters.

Dallas Green certainly had his faults, but one simply cannot deny that he was one of the best GMs the team has ever had, and certainly the best in the post FA era.
   79. JPWF13 Posted: May 15, 2006 at 09:03 PM (#2021037)
Let me flip around a comment Bill James once made about tthe '84 Tigers. He said he should've known they were a great team after the start because how often does a team go 35-5 over any stretch of the season? How often does any team not only go 2-14 over a stretch, but they're getting routinely slaughtered in those very same games.

35-5 (or 5-35) is pretty extraordinary
2-14 is pretty common

for instance the A's had a 3-17 stretch in May of last year- and finished 88-74
I'm sure that if you look you will find at least 1-2 teams that had 2-14 stratetches and finshed over .500 sometime in the last 5 years
   80. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 15, 2006 at 09:15 PM (#2021051)
On the end of August 9, 2000 (Don Baylor's first season), the Cubs were in third-place with a 53-60 record, 8 games behind the division leading Cardinals.

At that point, they went 1-10, falling to 14.5 games behind on August 22.

After temporarily righting the ship (going 4-4), the Cubs then went on a 2-18 run, moving them on September 20 to 6th place and 30 games out.

They finished the season 5-5, but remained in last place, 30 games out.
   81. Meatwad Posted: May 15, 2006 at 09:15 PM (#2021052)
none of them will be the cubs
   82. JPWF13 Posted: May 15, 2006 at 09:25 PM (#2021062)
none of them will be the cubs
well the 2001 Cubs had a 1-9 stretch and finished 88-74...
   83. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 15, 2006 at 09:29 PM (#2021067)
How often does any team not only go 2-14 over a stretch, but they're getting routinely slaughtered in those very same games.

I think the Cubs are actually out-performing their Pythag over this period. It looks like they've been outscored 101 - 32 over those 16 games, which works out to a Pythag (using a simple exponent of 2) of 0.091 or 1.46 expected wins. That's some ugly baseball. In fact, neither the 1962 Mets nor the 2003 Tigers had a 16-game stretch where they put up a Pythag winning percentage less than 0.100.

Just glancing at really horrible teams that I remember, I did find that the 1988 Orioles were outscored 107 - 30 in their first 16 games, en route to starting the season 0 - 21, although their Pythag for their first 21 games was actually 0.104, slightly better than the Cubs over their last 16 games.
   84. Boots Day Posted: May 15, 2006 at 09:34 PM (#2021074)
I think the 2000 Yankees finished the season something like 2-15, but won the division anyway.
   85. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 15, 2006 at 09:39 PM (#2021085)
The Cubs have had nine seasons with 2-14 stretches and three with 1-15 stretches. All but one of these seasons were ones in which the team finished with a losing record, with an average record of 71-88 and in 5th place.

The only exception was 1970, where the Cubs endured a 2-14 stretch but still finished 84-78, in 2nd place.
   86. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 15, 2006 at 09:41 PM (#2021091)
Make that two seasons with 1-15 stretches (1944 and 1955). The seasons with 2-14 stretches were 1944, 1954, 1955, 1970, 1973, 1980, 1997, 1999, 2000, and now 2006.
   87. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 16, 2006 at 05:08 AM (#2021856)
We had 2-14 stretches 3 times in 4 years? Those late 1990s teams were so bad at times.

That 1998 wild card looks like such an outlier the more you think about it. The Cubs went -

68-94
89-73 (+21)
67-95 (-22)

Made me curious - how many teams win 20 more games from year 1 to year 2, and then lose it all back in year 3? Not teams that gradually peaked and declined or even teams that had a couple of good years in amongst the crap. I'm also not looking for good teams that, for whatever reason, had one down year (perfect example would be 1924-26 Yankees, who bottomed out in 1925 when Ruth missed much of the season due to injury) but then bounced back to be good again. I'm looking for true one-year wonders.

Well, here's the answer (I'm leaving out the strike-shortened and war-shortened years): 6, including the Cubs.

Cleveland 1985-1987

60-102
84-78 (+24)
61-101 (-23)

Kansas City 2002-2004

62-100
83-79 (+21)
58-104 (-25)

Philadelphia (A) 1943-1945 (chalk this one up to the war)

49-105
72-82 (+23)
52-98 (-20)

San Diego 1997-1999

76-86
98-64 (+22)
74-88 (-24)

Seattle 2000-2002 (kind of a different situation)

91-71
116-46 (+25)
93-69 (-23)

Near misses -

Chicago (A) 1976-78: +26, -19
Cleveland 1953-55: +19, -18 (though they won 90+ game each year, so they're like Seattle)
New York (A) 1905-07: +19, -20
Philadelphia (N) 1928-30: +28, -19

Taking out the good teams that got really good and the Philly team helped by war-era roster turnover, that's half a dozen teams close to what the Cubs did. And, also like the Cubs, none of them broke out any time soon to win a championship.
   88. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 16, 2006 at 05:20 AM (#2021859)
We had 2-14 stretches 3 times in 4 years? Those late 1990s teams were so bad at times.

Actually, we had 12 such stretches during the period of 1996-2000 if you include the ones that overlapped. This includes one such stretch in 1996 that I neglected to add.
   89. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: May 16, 2006 at 05:54 AM (#2021866)
The breakdown of Dallas Green's successes made me curious about how well Hendry has done. He joined the Cubs in 1995 and became scouting director in 1996.

Notable amateur FA signings:

1997 - Zambrano
1998 - Felix Sanchez
1999 - Choi, Pinto, Marmol, Cedeno
2001 - Pie, Ryu, Juan Mateo


The drafts since Jim Hendry became scouting director are much better than the 1988-1994 disasters:

1996 - Kyle Lohse
1997 - Jon Garland, Scott Downs, Michael Wuertz
1998 - Corey Patterson, Ohman, Eric Hinske
1999 - Steve Smyth, John Webb, Pete Zoccolillo [Terrible draft]
2000 - Wellemeyer, Leicester, Dubois, Dontrelle Willis
2001 - Prior, Nolasco, Brendan Harris, Mitre

2002 - Dopirak (for better or worse), Rich Hill, Randy Wells
2003 - Harvey (for better or worse), Marshall
2004 - Patterson, Gallagher
2005 - Pawelek, Veal, Holliman

The Cubs have averaged just about one MLB-quality starter (position or pitcher) and one reliever per draft from 1996-2001. It's too early to tell about 2002 on, but things look solid there, too. Add in the international talent to fairly strong drafts and I'd say that Hendry's regime has been good at the scouting and player development side of his job. Hendry's been a little worse than Green's tenure, but it compares more favorably than I thought before looking into it.
   90. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:33 PM (#2022035)
Two interesting columns today --

Barry Rozner writes that the Cubs should do something courageous, whatever it is, either extending Dusty's contract or blowing up the team from MacPhail down and start over -- above all, they should avoid this "sort of go for it or sort of rebuild . . . little-of-this and little-of-that mentality" that they've been engaged in for decades.

Meanwhile, Dave Van Dyke (RR) runs the Q&A that Hendry had yesterday. Most of it was as expected. I was not at all surprised to see that he still is optimistic and isn't folding up the tent -- after all, he wasn't folding it up in mid August last year, when the team was 7 GB and had to climb over 5 teams to reach the wild-card. What *did* really chap my hide (for some reason), was this:

"Everybody wants an answer for who's at fault when you have a bad stretch. We're just not playing well.

To point fingers at a specific area or to make excuses for people who aren't playing would not be the appropriate thing to do, because collectively we had an awful two-week period. We've certainly had some games we could have and should have won and some we weren't in.

I'm not really into the May 15th who's-at-fault game. Obviously we haven't done a lot of things well and a lot guys haven't played up to their capabilities."

I understand he's not going to throw anyone under the bus, especially midseason, but this is the same garbage we saw last year -- even in December, Hendry was refusing to assign any blame for what had happened the previous year. I'm not saying that Hendry should say it is Dusty's fault or put it on this player or that player, but this "it's nobody's fault" routine was stale last year and only serves to perpetuate their own job security.

What would be a lot more refreshing would be for Hendry to step up and say, "we're all at fault -- it's the entire organization, including myself." It may be cosmetic, but at least it something further along the line of when he said last December that "79 wins is not acceptable and will not be tolerated as long as I'm GM."
   91. Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate Posted: May 16, 2006 at 05:36 PM (#2022273)
I've always thought that Jim Hendry's rep as a Trading Genius™ is a bit overstated -- the deals that made him famous were pulled off when the Cubs had a hyped-up farm system and the financial wherewithal to take on other team's scary contracts.

The Cubs are now bumping up against their self-imposed salary cap and their farm system is now thought of as one of the worst in baseball -- not least because just about all the prospects they swapped in the Garciaparra, Lee, Ramirez, and Lofton deals have turned out to be total duds. The man's a one trick pony -- using the Cubs' financial leverage to swap cheap crapshoots to teams for talented but somewhat overpaid vets. Stripped of the ability to do that, is it any surprise he's turned into a ditherer?

Splashy as the big deals are, the great GMs shine at finding cheap good players for the marginal roles. Hendry's not done that well at all, and when he does find a good marginal guy he ends up falling in love and forgetting that he found him off the scrap heap in the first place and could probably find a comparable successor there, too. *coughNeificough*
   92. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: May 16, 2006 at 06:05 PM (#2022297)
The Cubs farm system is not one of the worst in baseball. It's middle of the pack. Baseball America ranked them #15 and Sickels' had them just a bit lower. It'll probably be a bit worse next year as quite a few among Hill, Ryu, Marshall, Guzman and Cedeno will lose their rookie eligibility. But if Wells, Gallagher, Pawelek, Pie, Mateo, Holliman, Veal and Marmol all continue to perform well, their rank shouldn't fall that far. The Cubs lack impact prospects beyond Pawelek and Pie, but will still have a lot of depth of guys in the C+ to B range.

Second tier prospects are how the Cubs managed to acquire Ramirez, Garciaparra and Lofton, so I think that if an opportunity like that were to arise, they'd have the rsources to get it done.
   93. JPWF13 Posted: May 16, 2006 at 09:02 PM (#2022655)
The Cubs farm system is not one of the worst in baseball. It's middle of the pack.
no it's one of the worst
for some reason it's been continually overrated- when it was actually middle of the pack a few years ago it was rated #1 by many pubs- now that it's quite bad it's rated in the middle.
   94. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 16, 2006 at 09:11 PM (#2022673)
The Cubs are now bumping up against their self-imposed salary cap and their farm system is now thought of as one of the worst in baseball

I don't think any of the objective reviewers (notably John Sickels or BA) would put the Cubs system as one of the worst -- it is definitely not what was once rated, but talent like Pie, Patterson, Pawalek, Veal, Moore, Dopirak, etc. keep it at least in the middle of the pack.

I'll have to pull my BA to recall the exact ranking entering this season, but IIRC it was somewhere in the 15-20 range.

I also don't think that it's been "continually overrated." Yes, not everyone from the Top Prospect list of 2002 panned out, but that's typical for every franchise. More importantly, we can find previous years where the farm system was properly ranked in the lower tier.

This isn't to say that the Cubs haven't hyped it -- sure they have -- but I think the objective reviewers have generally been fair.
   95. Spahn Insane Posted: May 16, 2006 at 09:22 PM (#2022687)
I praise Mariotti about as often as I vote Republican in a presidential election, but the punchline of this sentence is simply sublime.

Of course, MacPhail should have been fired years ago but wasn't because his boss, Tribune Co. CEO Dennis FitzSimons, cares more about the club's profit margin within the company's wobbly financial foundation and loves how MacPhail milks the cash cow, which must be related in some way to the billy goat.

Accurate, and the metaphor/analogy actually works. Great stuff.
   96. rLr Is King Of The Romans And Above Grammar Posted: May 17, 2006 at 07:08 AM (#2023950)
San Diego 1997-1999

76-86
98-64 (+22)
74-88 (-24)


This is a little similar to the 1925 Yankees situation, in that Kevin Brown was a 1-year rental and had an excellent year. That doesn't account for all of the difference, of course, but it accounts for a lot of it.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
dirk
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

Syndicate

Page rendered in 1.2562 seconds
35 querie(s) executed