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   1. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: May 10, 2006 at 02:19 PM (#2012596)
I'm rooting for the team to lose 17 in a row. That's the kind of number that both buries them deep in the standings (OK, deeper) and almost forces them to make a change. Particularly if it's 9 more games of 6-1, 6-0, 5-1, 7-2 type losses.

The manager goes, a big trade comes, a guy gets benched, something. But it can't be ignored.
   2. H. Vaughn Posted: May 10, 2006 at 03:59 PM (#2012728)
It's hard to see how they'll do much better, other than the odd shutout from Maddux or Marshall. The only players who would appear to have significant upside performance potential are the new skinny Aramis and the new skinny, calm Zambrano. CF, RF, and 2B are black holes in the batting order.
   3. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 10, 2006 at 04:27 PM (#2012764)
Excellent essay, Mike. Simply superb. Just a few notes --


The Sun-Times adds to that perspective today: “The Cubs had scored 12 runs in their 10 games before the Giants series. The ‘04 Expos did it twice. Otherwise, no major-league offense has been so horrendous in a 10-game period since California and Milwaukee in 1972, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.”

As I pointed out in another thread, neither the Expos, Brewers, nor Angels matched the Cubs 11-game record, however -- all scored more runs in that 11th game than the Cubs current total of 13.


"What we’re seeing on the field does not start with a very bad manager. The way this franchise operates is as a spin machine, and perhaps the most dangerous result is that its management buys its own spin. Acquisitions are consistently over-hyped, and there seems to be a rigid refusal to seriously re-think the way the team is being built at all managerial levels. Even when that way has been a disaster.

This is the part with which I most agreed. It is a significant part of the reason that the team has been progressively more aggravating for me over the last 2 seasons and is a large part of the reason why I'm now watching the Devil Rays.

What particularly irks me about this team isn't that they are bad. I grew up watching some pretty lousy Cubs teams. It's the fact that they seem more concerned with spin, job preservation, and media relations than they do about actually correcting problems and actual on-field play.
   4. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 10, 2006 at 04:34 PM (#2012775)
I know this will be of no comfort to Cubs fans, but this teams's situation flies in the face of what we believe concerning one player's value to a team. I think every hard-core Cub fan I know around here was of the belief that losing Lee would be disasterous. But to the general BTF community that idea was considered heresy.

There are times when a single player IS as important as the silly writers make him out to be. Derek Lee is that type of player for the Cubs. He was the sun to the Cubs offensive solar system. Without him the planets are just careening through the galaxy.

It's both fascinating and horrifying to watch.

Honest. I am legitimately sorry. No fan should have to endure this type of losing streak.
   5. JPWF13 Posted: May 10, 2006 at 05:05 PM (#2012826)
That Hendry has yet to seriously address the lack of walks and OBP on this team, for example, is unfathomable and explains why the Cubs too often are vulnerable to long stretches of invisible offense.

It's quite fathomable- The Big Book of Baseball Blunders gives pretty good detail on what happens when Hendry gives a high walk/OBP player to Dusty. I think Hendry to some extent gave up and now gives Baker the type of role players that Baker wants.

In San Fran Dusty was not adverse to using reasonably patient role players- like Bernard or Mueller, Ramon Martinez, Mirabelli, Murray...
In Chicago?
He ran off Belhorn and Choi, eventaully replacing players like Bako and Martinez with tehlikes of Neifi and Blanco and Macias... For whatever it's worth, Sosa's late found plate discipline disintegrated when Baker became manager...

I don't know whther Baker has always thought patience was bad and "agressiveness" good but in recent years he's both said as much and acted as such.
   6. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 10, 2006 at 05:13 PM (#2012842)
The Cubs still have more losing to do before anyone is held accountable for this mess. Which leads me to the next painful question: Should we all be rooting for the Giants tonight? Ouch.

The other thing I was going to say is that I do root against the Cubs at this point, at least at a certain level. I think that for this organization to get the cleansing it deserves, it needs the glaring hot spotlight of losing to illuminate their deficiencies. Yeah, I probably mixed 3 metaphors there, but I think my point is clear.

To me, there are a few good things about this --

(a) The way the Cubs are losing is highlighting their biggest flaws -- OBP, fundamentals, questionable roster construction/acquisitions, player health, and the organization's cluelessness in general. The heat is being placed directly on the people who deserve it most.

(b) Timing. For now, anyway, not only are the emperors being shown to have no clothes, but it is coming at a time in which something could ostensibly be done about it. (I'm talking about Dusty here, primarily -- it's too late to deal with Hendry or, to a large extent, the 25man roster.)

The worst thing that could've happened would have been for the Cubs to get off to a good start in April/May, announce that Dusty is getting a 2 yr extension, then see this stretch occur in August.

This is a team that the pressure has been on from the get-go, they knew this, and they are folding like a cheap card table almost immediately from the start. They aren't going to make any splashy changes to the everyday lineup that will add instant offense, and though Kerry Wood will come back soon, he can only do so much. This team is better than they are playing, but they will have to look to themselves to show it.
   7. Sweet Posted: May 10, 2006 at 05:22 PM (#2012850)
This has been shrouded by the historically bad play of the big-league club, but the minor-league picture is pretty bleak as well. Aside from the AAA pitchers who got off to a hot start only to be bludgeoned in the bigs (Aardsma, Hill, Guzman), there doesn't appear to be anyone performing significantly above expectations. (I've just skimmed the list, so I might have missed one or two, but not many.) Moreover, there are a lot of guys who have significantly regressed from their historical performance.

I also note that there are a number of guys who are stuck at the same level as last year -- or even were demoted from last year -- despite acceptable-to-good performances at the same or higher level last year. To me, this speaks of a farm system in disarray and an organization that doesn't know how to accumulate and manage talent. But I guess we already knew that.
   8. Mike Isaacs Posted: May 10, 2006 at 05:30 PM (#2012870)
I think Hendry to some extent gave up and now gives Baker the type of role players that Baker wants.


That theory has been voiced several times, and it doesn't much matter to me whether it's true. Why? Hendry is responsible for the hiring of Baker and has done nothing in public other than support him -- even through the worst of times. If Baker has shifted gears on Hendry, then it's Hendry's job to right the ship or get a new captain.

Look at the two scenarios we're talking about:

Baker no longer follows a more sensible baseball philosophy in which Hendry believes so Hendry has given up on that more sensible philosophy and now provides Baker with less useful players that the manager wants.

Or...

Hendry is as clueless as Baker and both have no idea how to assemble an offense or address blatant holes that have been exposed on this team in repeated years.

Either way, it points to disaster for a team and a failure on the part of the GM, IMHO.
   9. Luke Jasenosky Posted: May 10, 2006 at 06:45 PM (#2012970)
Baker no longer follows a more sensible baseball philosophy in which Hendry believes so Hendry has given up on that more sensible philosophy and now provides Baker with less useful players that the manager wants.

Or...

Hendry is as clueless as Baker and both have no idea how to assemble an offense or address blatant holes that have been exposed on this team in repeated years.

Either way, it points to disaster for a team and a failure on the part of the GM, IMHO.


Exactly right, Mike. The fact that Hendry was rewarded with an extension after disappointing seasons, especially before the quality of this year's club was better evaluated, mirrors a lot of attitudes seen in the country, both in the business and political culture. Remember George Tenet being honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom? Same syndrome - make a strong but blatantly ill-suited statement of some sort to muddy the waters of failure and just go on as though it makes perfect sense, fully aware that those who may raise a fuss will soon forget and move onto some other pet cause, or just give up out of apathy. The formation of one's own reality is becoming a more and more effective way to run roughshod over the real situation, and with enough power or prestige (say a job as Cubs' president) the majority of plebeians will go along out of self-interest, and those remaining will drown in the noise of group-think.
   10. H. Vaughn Posted: May 10, 2006 at 07:14 PM (#2013001)
The formation of one's own reality is becoming a more and more effective way to run roughshod over the real situation, and with enough power or prestige (say a job as Cubs' president) the majority of plebeians will go along out of self-interest, and those remaining will drown in the noise of group-think.

This is going to get much uglier than low approval poll numbers, though, and I think that's a good thing. Imagine a baseball Zogby poll conducted at Wrigley Field 60 times between now and September, with a declining Hendry approval rating, say 69% of the electorate booing his handiwork mercilessly, night after night, so WGN can't even scrub the crowd noise out of Len and Bob's Sennheisers.

I won't be sad to see Baker, Jones, Rusch, Neifi and Pierre hit the road when the cabinet shake-up comes.
   11. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 10, 2006 at 07:43 PM (#2013034)
Let's be serious, though -- as long as fans continue to flock to the park and follow the team on TV and the radio, the organization is going to consider all their marketing-based decisions (i.e., all decisions) to be successful.

I'm not saying boycott the team. That never works and only hurts the fans themselves.

If anything, what I'm saying is that the team realizes that although they draw 35,000/gm, a very large portion disapproves and/or loudly boos the team's manager, general manager, ownership group, and a sizeable segment of the players. Nevertheless, in the face of all this disapproval, they continue to entrench themselves in their positions, continue to stay the same course, and continue to make the same mistakes.

It's that sense of disingenousness that I find most insulting and offensive.
   12. Arch Stanton Posted: May 10, 2006 at 08:10 PM (#2013071)
Same syndrome - make a strong but blatantly ill-suited statement of some sort to muddy the waters of failure and just go on as though it makes perfect sense, fully aware that those who may raise a fuss will soon forget and move onto some other pet cause, or just give up out of apathy.


That's a perfect summary. Absolutely perfect.

And BTW, I'm well on the way to apathy.
   13. H. Vaughn Posted: May 11, 2006 at 12:40 AM (#2013673)
Nevertheless, in the face of all this disapproval, they continue to entrench themselves in their positions, continue to stay the same course, and continue to make the same mistakes.

I agree that they are going to continue to have blind spots in the same patterns, and that McPhail and Hendry are unlikely to go anywhere. But when the fans turn on Baker, Jones, Pierre and others, the makeup of the ballclub will change (as it did in l'affairs Hundley and Sosa) and change presents opportunities (Pie will get a chance, Marshall, Cedeno and Murton are thriving) and unexpected consequences (Lee's breakout, Dempster's ascendance). I would rather have the luck of Billy Beane's good design, but I'm not abandoning interest or hope.
   14. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 11, 2006 at 02:17 AM (#2014101)
But when the fans turn on Baker, Jones, Pierre and others, the makeup of the ballclub will change (as it did in l'affairs Hundley and Sosa) and change presents opportunities (Pie will get a chance, Marshall, Cedeno and Murton are thriving) and unexpected consequences (Lee's breakout, Dempster's ascendance).

No, this misses my point. The fans will continue to have their scapegoats. This season's shape up to be Jones and Pierre. Eventually, those guys will leave (though it will be difficult to get rid of Jones). Yes, they will give some chances to rookies.

Still, it'll just be the same stuff in different uniforms. If they get rid of Jones, they'll bring in someone similarly flawed. If Pie plays for Pierre, he may very well show little plate discipline and fall under the same scrutiny that Corey Patterson did.

My point is that the real problem is an organizational mindset that continues to make similar mistakes. Sure the names on the uniforms will change, but fundamentals, injuries, media deception, and OBP will remain as issues with this team, no matter who the players happen to be.
   15. paytonrules Posted: May 11, 2006 at 12:33 PM (#2014387)
This really sounds like the company I work for. Managment blows smoke up their own ***, then believes their own smoke. It's pretty common across corporate america.
   16. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 11, 2006 at 02:26 PM (#2014458)
I think many of us have been saying that it's not just about Baker, or Hendry. It's a deep-seated dysfunctionality in the entire organization, that will not be corrected without a top to bottom overhaul. And yes, the Bush Administration analog is very creepy.

There are times when a single player IS as important as the silly writers make him out to be. Derek Lee is that type of player for the Cubs. He was the sun to the Cubs offensive solar system. Without him the planets are just careening through the galaxy.

I actually think you're right about this, and I think this was anticipated by the BTF Cubs fans. But I think this reflects the dysfunctionality of the organization as well, not an underestimate of Lee's stand-alone value as a player. Emergencies like this are what separates the premier teams from the doofuses. It's one thing to lose your best player, it's another to have a roster that is completely unprepared for it, and then not to use the roster you have optimally. The Cubs came into this season with no right-handed power off the bench, and their solution to the Lee crisis is to play three second basemen at a time. I'm also willing to accept that there has been a psychological blow, one of several that have emerged in the Baker era. If the guy is worth anything at all as a manager, it was supposed to be his ability to keep his team focused and positive through adversity. So much for that. But is there going to be any accountability? Not in this organization.
   17. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 11, 2006 at 02:34 PM (#2014465)
Still, it'll just be the same stuff in different uniforms. If they get rid of Jones, they'll bring in someone similarly flawed. If Pie plays for Pierre, he may very well show little plate discipline and fall under the same scrutiny that Corey Patterson did.

I think that anyone looking for Pie to be the savior is sorely mistaken. Patterson was pretty bad in his first full season and I would expect the same from Pie. Of course, physically Pie is more of a 21 year-old Sosa than he is a 21 year-old Patterson, so in the long-term the prognosis might be better, but for 2006 I'd take my chances with the additional -rre.
   18. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 11, 2006 at 02:47 PM (#2014481)
Derek Lee is that type of player for the Cubs. He was the sun to the Cubs offensive solar system. Without him the planets are just careening through the galaxy.

Well, he's no Placido Polanco.
   19. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: May 11, 2006 at 03:19 PM (#2014527)
Look at the Cardinals right now. Their offense would be a mess were it not for Pujols. Yeah, Eckstein, Miles, Rodriguez and Rolen have all contributed, but the OF has been pretty bad overall and Molina is useless with the bat. If Pujols were to go down, the Cards would look a lot like the Cubs. Sure, Scott Spiezio might be a better player to plug into Pujol's slot than Mabry/Hairston, but that team is what it is due to Pujols.

For the Cubs, the problems are Ramirez, Murton, Jones and Pierre. With Ramirez, the Cubs just have to cross thier fingers and hope he regains his touch. Murton and Jones have performed about as well as one could expect, but have been liabilities given the positions they play. Baker's unwillingness to platoon Jones is what has transformed him from a league average player to a liability. Pierre's not great; but the market for CF was thin in the offseason and the Cubs wisely decided not to rush Pie.

Choi off of waivers would have been nice, but I don't really fault the Cubs too much for failing to pick up the tab for a guy who would have been apparently extraneous. Nor is it that terrible that they failed to sign someone other than Mabry in the offseason. It's hard to get a starting caliber FA to come in to back up for Lee. Besides, Brandon Sing seemed like a reasonably good option after last season's performance in AA.

To be honest, the Cubs coming into the season probably put together one of the best starting 8s they could have without signing Giles (who apparently didn't want to leave SD all that badly). So far this season, it appears the Cubs are better off with Cedeno and SS and Walker at 2B than with Furcal. But what would you cahnge? There are some small things one could change, like putting Restovich back on the roster and getting rid of Bynum. But the Cubs started the season with the infield we hoped for. Cedeno and Murton have not been buried. Jones has improved to the point where he and 2005 Burnitz are probably a wash. The bullpen has improved greatly this season. Guys we've wanted to see in the #5 slot--Guzman, Marshall and Hill--have all gotten chances in the rotation. Another starter would have been nice, but the Cubs really do have to hope they can make due with their young guys until Wood and Prior get back. For all the talk of not counting on those two, their talent is not easily replaceable.
   20. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: May 11, 2006 at 03:57 PM (#2014571)
And BTW, I'm well on the way to apathy.

Dude, I'm so there already. I can't even bother to take the time to properly comment on this essay and the comments.
   21. Mike Isaacs Posted: May 11, 2006 at 05:13 PM (#2014689)
If Pujols were to go down, the Cards would look a lot like the Cubs.

Pujols would be a tremendous loss -- especially since this Cardinals team is weaker this year than in past years. But there is no way that I believe the Cardinals would be generaing the same non-existent offense we saw from the Cubs over a 10-day stretch. Considering thatfew baseball teams in history have been that God-awful over such a stretch, it's hard for me to accept the position that this year's Cardinals' team would be even near the same plane.

Having said that, some of what you say is why I didn't think the Cubs would fall away from the pack during Lee's absence. It should be noted that no team in the NL Central played above .500 during this horrific losing streak by the Cubs; the Cubs would be in much deeper trouble -- standings-wise -- had this been another year.

The problem though that I have with this overall analysis is that it begins in the off-season instead of going back to an earlier time. It's true that Hendry faced a very weak market this off-season and had limited options.

But the serious holes he had to fill were in large part of his own making. He improved the bullpen but failied to bring in any depth for a starting rotation that included two key pitchers prone to injury. He targeted Furcal and relied much too heavily on getting him -- in part because he had failed to provide an adequate lead-off man for this team for years. Jones is an average right-fielder against righties and dire against lefties, but he built that position without any platoon in mind. And had overpaid to get him.

Pierre should be playing better but he's a lead-off man who has never walked much and has to hit his way to a decent OBP. Last year was a sign that that might not be as easy for him anymore.

I could go on...but let's leave it at this: Consider how poorly this team performed in OBP and walks when Hendry got here. When we look at the low priority he has placed on these deficiencies and how this team remains dreadful in those areas, I'm not sure how much slack Hendry deserves. Cpmplacency has been the name of the game for way too long.
   22. JPWF13 Posted: May 11, 2006 at 06:53 PM (#2014858)
New Dusty quote:

CHANCE TO STAY: John Mabry got the start at first base Wednesday. While Mabry was signed to be a backup outfielder/infielder, Baker said the veteran could become a regular starter at first.

"If he catches fire, I'd love it,'' Baker said.
   23. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: May 11, 2006 at 06:55 PM (#2014860)
Patterson was pretty bad in his first full season and I would expect the same from Pie. Of course, physically Pie is more of a 21 year-old Sosa . . .

Who himself was pretty bad.
   24. covelli chris p Posted: May 11, 2006 at 07:24 PM (#2014896)
He ran off Belhorn and Choi, eventaully replacing players like Bako and Martinez with tehlikes of Neifi and Blanco and Macias...

wha? bellhorn and choi were replaced by ramirez and lee.

as a non-cubs fan, it looked like a very strong lineup to start the season. obviously losing lee really hurts, but i figured that pierre and walker would each be good for a 350 obp at the top of the order, lee would be 400/600 and ramirez would be 350/550, and jones, murton, and barret would be around 20 home runs with good obp's out of murton and barret. i figured cedeno would be the only weak spot, and when he hit well i thought your offense would be one of the better ones in the national league. even after lee went down, i figured it'd be pretty strong, but with ramirez pressing and pierre not hitting, it hasn't. i still think the cubs are a good team, though.
   25. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: May 12, 2006 at 12:15 AM (#2015575)
By RARP, St Louis' offensive production without Pujols would be cut in half to 22 runs above replacement level. The Cubs have been about 6 runs above replacement level without Lee. So no, the Cardinals wouldn't be as inept as the Cubs have been offensively, but they''d be pretty darned bad. Somewhere between the badness of the LAA (.247 Eqa) and the San Diego Padres (.250). I think if the Cubs played a full season without Lee, they'd wind up in a similar range. Maybe .245 or so.


My outlook coming into this season was similar to covelli's. My biggest concern was that the Cubs would misuse Cedeno, Walker and Murton. For the most part that hasn't happened.

And I don't blame Hendry for his planning prior to the offseason. How can you blame Hendry for Corey Patterson turning to crap? Should he have made a deal at the deadline for a leadoff man / CF in 2004? The Cubs team going into last year looked really good. The infield looked like it was going to be awesome with Nomar and Walker/Hairston in the MI and Neifi as a suboptimal choice for backup. DuBois and Burnitz flanking Patterson with Holly around seemed like a good idea at the time. Remember how high we were on DuBois? Sure, the Cubs lacked a leadoff guy going into 2004, but that didn't seem like a big deal considering the players we had.

Doobie bombs; Patterson is the worst hitting position player in baseball; Nomar gets hurt and isn't worth keeping around; and Burnitz' option is too expensive considering his production. The choices Hendry in response to those events were perfectly reasonable to me. Except for not keeping Patterson, I'm not sure what he should have done differently. Even the Patterson deal was cheered by several people around here.


As I said before, what would one change? Patterson in CF, Jones in RF? Pierre in CF, Patterson in RF? Make a deal for Wilkerson? Deal for Soriano? Mench? Milton Bradley? JD Drew? A Wilkerson deal would have been pretty sweet, but I'm not sure what the Cubs would have had to give up to swing it. Milton Bradley would have been cool, but he didn't come cheap (Sickels compared Ethier somewhat favorably to Pie recently). JD Drew rules when he actually plays.

The moves the Cubs did make were not ideal, but they were acceptable. Jacque Jones has an 815 OPS (admittedly SLG heavy); he's not the problem. Pierre's career OBP is .352. It was .361 and .374 before his .327 year. A sabremetrician doing a three year weighted average would have liked him pretty well in 2006.

The problems with this team that I blame Hendry for are Blanco, Pagan, Bynum and Neifi. But just about every team has 2-4 similar guys gunking up the bottom of their lineup.
   26. H. Vaughn Posted: May 12, 2006 at 12:52 AM (#2015727)
As I said before, what would one change?

IMO, you make good points. I'd stipulate to all Hendry's failings, cited above. He's likely not even a top 10 GM. But he didn't build this team in a vacuum and he did the best he could in a weak FA market and tepid trade market. The club's problems are due to key players underperforming reasonable expectations and Baker's poor management decisions. I expect those players to turn over and think there's a chance Baker is done and that fan pressure will hasten this. Given the Cub's resources, I think they can sufficiently ameliorate Hendry's weaknesses and capitalize on his strengths enough to regain competitive status next year. In the interim, I'll enjoy watching the pot boil and the young players develop.
   27. Mike Isaacs Posted: May 12, 2006 at 02:41 AM (#2016074)
Good debate, but needless to say, we'll have to agree to disagree on several key points.

>By RARP, St Louis' offensive production without Pujols would be cut in half to 22 runs above replacement level. The Cubs have been about 6 runs above replacement level without Lee.<

Leaving aside the question over whether RARP is the definitive statistic to judge exactly where the Cards would be without Pujols, I must again say I agree that the Cards without Pujols is an offense that is likely to struggle. But your point here has now changed. My position remains that the Cards still would not "look a lot like the Cubs" -- especially during the Cubs' recent mind-boggling 10-game stretch. That was the original contention. And I think the Cards would be better equipped to survive the loss of Pujols than what we're seeing now on this Cubs team...although I agree they'd likely have some key problems, too.


>And I don't blame Hendry for his planning prior to the offseason. How can you blame Hendry for Corey Patterson turning to crap?<

I don't blame Hendry for Patterson turning so dreadfully bad. I blame him for how Patterson was used and how Hendry responded to Patterson "turning to crap."

Patterson proved to be a player not suitable for the lead-off position long, long before the Cubs abandoned that idea. Both Hendry and Baker share blame for counting on Patterson as a lead-off man well into 2005.

Late in 2004, it was clear to many Patterson could not lead-off. The comment from Hendry at that time was that the organization was going to work with Patterson in the off-season and evaluate him during spring training to see if he could become a dependable lead off man for the Cubs. Patterson had a very poor spring training. He didn't draw a single walk until the final week of games, I believe. And yet, Hendry/Baker decided...despite the earlier words...that he'd still be the leadoff man for 2005. He continued to tank in a role he never should have been in, confirming what everyone else knew: He isn't a leadoff hitter.

Not only was there no attempt by Hendry to recognize this reality sooner, but there was continued support for the inane lineups that Baker kept putting out there with Patterson as the key table-setter.

FWIW regarding your next point, I don't blame Hendry for the Nomar deal. It seemed like a reasonable gamble when he made the trade and kept him around for the following year. But there's a whole bunch more I do blame Hendry for.

Hendry this off-season tried to trade Prior for Tejada even though Tejada was on the open market only a couple of years earlier when the Cubs SS was unacceptable Alex Gonzalez. Why no interest? During that same free agency year, Vlad Guerreo was also available. Because Alou was in left and Sosa in right at the time, he showed no interest. Guerrero would have been such a strong addition to the Cubs lineup. A GM looking ahead would have realized the outfield void that was staring him in the face and recognized that the opportunity to acquire a player of this caliber was not likely to present itself when it came time to shop for an OF.

Defending the Jones signing by emphasizing his .815 OPS right now -- and nothing more -- doesn't make a very convincing case to me. In fact, I still believe this was one of Hendry's most indefensible signings, not because Jones is the worst player he has ever acquired, but because it locks the Cubs into mediocrity at a key power position well beyond this year. Not mentioned is that his .815 OPS includes a .161 OPS against lefties (as long as we're dealing with small sample sizes). But Hendry didn't pay money for a platoon player nor has he been used that way. He's the starting right fielder despite being useless when a southpaw takes the mound. Even if the Cubs wanted to platoon him, which would make the signing more valuable, who did Hendry provide to do that?

The length of the Jones contract, the money allocated for a mediocre player at a power position and the fact that Jones is brutal against left-handed pitching are not recognized in his defense.

The other problem in highlighting a statistic or two for Jones is that it doesn't recognize Hendry's responsibility to put together a lineup in a "holisitc" way. In other words: How does Jones fit in with a team that has so many players at the plate who lack patience, strike zone awareness and an ability to draw walks. Jones' offensive flaws stand out even more on a team like the Cubs, because the team can't "absorb" his weaknesses with enough players in the lineup who compensate for them. Hendry has done a very poor job all and all in creating a balanced offensive attack. He signs the same kind of players way too often and the result is vulnerability to long offensive funks.

About Pierre: I agree that it's unreasonable to have expected this kind of a slump from Pierre. But I also think it's unreasonable to count on Pierre for anything near his best seasons when his OBP was achieved because of his high number of hits. An aging player who doesn't draw walks and is coming off of a season of decline should raise some flags, no? He was certain to be an improvement over Patterson, but not worth three pitchers in a year where he was not likely to be a difference-maker for this team getting to the post-season.

If the Cubs really thought this was the year to win, then why not go after a Brian Giles regardless of where Giles decided to go? What's the excuse for showing no interest once again in a much better outfielder than Pierre or Jones?

Finally, how do the White Sox pick up another starting pitcher in the off-season and the Cubs add not a single arm to the roation knowing they will have to count on MD regulars Wood and Prior? What interest did Hendry show in bolstering that rotation to provide needed depth?

I agree that it's unfair to criticize Hendry only using hindsight. But that's not the case here. No, I didn't believe this team would be this bad. And I still think a rebound is possible. But I thought Hendry had built a .500 team at best give or take a few games -- a team that was not likely to see the postseason this year. I saw little evidence of him addressing blatant problems that had been evident on this team for years. I saw him preparing to support a very bad manager and extend his contract. I saw him over-hyping new players and using wishful thinking rather than honest assessment in putting together this team..

Back to where we started: I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.
   28. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 12, 2006 at 03:27 AM (#2016237)
He was certain to be an improvement over Patterson, but not worth three pitchers in a year where he was not likely to be a difference-maker for this team getting to the post-season.

He was certain to be an improvement over 2005 Patterson, but I'm not at all convinced he'll be better than 2006 Patterson.

So far this year, Corey's put up a .271/.301/.429 (ZIPs projected him at .250/.297/.410, so he's not over-performing all that much) compared to Pierre's .232/.274/.297 (which, to be fair is well below his ZIPs projection of .308/.359/.382). Plus, Pierre's fine catch last night notwithstanding, Patterson's a better fielder by pretty much all metrics I've seen (although I may have missed a few).

And, of course, Corey's half the price and didn't cost us three prospects.

Now, you could say that Corey needed to leave Chicago to improve, but that's just an indictment of the Cubs for putting Corey in a position to fail and then doing their patented trash-talk-their-players-as-they-run-them-out-of-town routine.

And I agree wholeheartedly with Mike that the Jones signing was terrible for all the reasons Mike mentions - too much money, too many years, no protection against LHPs. And there were options in right field, which really was the one glaring hole the Cubs had that was not of their own doing (CF). From what I can tell, the Cubs made NO effort to sign Giles, which is just inexcusable. The Phillies supposedly were shopping Bobby Abreu, the Reds were rumored to be open to offers for Adam Dunn, the Red Sox were looking at offers for Manny Ramirez. Hell, I remember hearing that Ichiro was unhappy in Seattle -- he would have even been a decent leadoff hitter.

The problem with Hendry's offseason is that it was so damn unimaginative. Sign middle relievers, swingmen, and utility infielders to 2-3 year contracts for $2-$3 million per year and then sign the best mediocre free-agent right fielder. Whoopee!
   29. covelli chris p Posted: May 12, 2006 at 03:41 AM (#2016246)
The infield looked like it was going to be awesome with Nomar

i coulda told you this wasn't going to work out.
   30. greenback needs a ride, not ammo Posted: May 12, 2006 at 04:09 AM (#2016271)
From what I can tell, the Cubs made NO effort to sign Giles, which is just inexcusable. The Phillies supposedly were shopping Bobby Abreu, the Reds were rumored to be open to offers for Adam Dunn, the Red Sox were looking at offers for Manny Ramirez. Hell, I remember hearing that Ichiro was unhappy in Seattle -- he would have even been a decent leadoff hitter.

The problem with Hendry's offseason is that it was so damn unimaginative.


Apparently everyone else lacks imagination as none of these players left their 2005 team. The Cardinals, for example, were in the same OF boat and signed Jacque Jones' twin, Juan Encarnacion. I suppose Hendry could've tried for Wily Mo Pena, but who knows if the Reds are willing to trade in-division? The best available OF (for the Cubs, not the Cardinals) may have been Kenny Lofton and his 39-yo butt cost $4 million.
   31. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 12, 2006 at 04:24 AM (#2016280)
From what I can tell, the Cubs made NO effort to sign Giles, which is just inexcusable. The Phillies supposedly were shopping Bobby Abreu, the Reds were rumored to be open to offers for Adam Dunn, the Red Sox were looking at offers for Manny Ramirez. Hell, I remember hearing that Ichiro was unhappy in Seattle -- he would have even been a decent leadoff hitter.

The problem with Hendry's offseason is that it was so damn unimaginative.

Apparently everyone else lacks imagination as none of these players left their 2005 team. The Cardinals, for example, were in the same OF boat and signed Jacque Jones' twin, Juan Encarnacion. I suppose Hendry could've tried for Wily Mo Pena, but who knows if the Reds are willing to trade in-division? The best available OF (for the Cubs, not the Cardinals) may have been Kenny Lofton and his 39-yo butt cost $4 million.


Lofton at 1 year for $4 million would have been a MUCH better option for the Cubs than Jones for 3 years at $5 million per year (or than Pierre at 1 year for $5.75 millon plus 3 prospects).

Just because a guy didn't move doesn't mean he couldn't have been gotten for the right price. At one point, the rumor was Abreu for Prior. In retrospect, doesn't that look like a steal for the Cubs right about now? If Jim Hendry wants to put together the best team in the NL Central, he's going to have to have a few offseasons better than Walt Jocketty. Sure that's a tough standard, but that ought to be what the Cubs expect and are paying for. And Jocketty at least made very serious overtures to Brian Giles.
   32. greenback needs a ride, not ammo Posted: May 12, 2006 at 04:34 AM (#2016290)
Pierre at 1 year for $5.75 millon plus 3 prospects

Yeah, that's stupid compared to one year of Lofton, assuming Lofton-Baker isn't as bad as Lofton-LaRussa.

At one point, the rumor was Abreu for Prior.

It's a flaw of mine that I put very little faith in rumors.

And Jocketty at least made very serious overtures to Brian Giles.

The Cardinals barely bothered with Giles AFAICT and went straight after AJ Burnett for some unknown reason. Giles wasn't leaving San Diego.
   33. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 12, 2006 at 04:43 AM (#2016300)
It's a flaw of mine that I put very little faith in rumors.

Sorry, I know I sound like I'm over-hyping Internet rumors. I just think that if Jacque Jones is the best you can do for a RF then you didn't try hard enough. And, in the case of Jim Hendry, I'd say that the fact that he gave him a 3-year deal suggests to me that Hendry actually thought Jones was a good solution in RF, not just as a stopgap, but medium-term. If you can't get anybody worthwhile, then for God's sake, just fill the position for one year as cheaply as you can, don't overpay for three years.
   34. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 12, 2006 at 04:50 AM (#2016306)
The Cardinals, for example, were in the same OF boat and signed Jacque Jones' twin, Juan Encarnacion.

Encarnacion's making $3.5 million this year at age 30 versus $4.0 million at age 31 for Jones. Encarnacion's ZIPs are .284/.342/.450 versus .259/.317/.436 for Jones (and I assume Jones is getting more help from his home park). I'd say Jocketty did a much better job of finding himself a right fielder.
   35. greenback needs a ride, not ammo Posted: May 12, 2006 at 05:07 AM (#2016316)
Encarnacion's making $3.5 million this year at age 30 versus $4.0 million at age 31 for Jones.

It's a backloaded deal (3/15 v. 3/16) and, while I think the world of Dan Szymborski and what he does with ZiPS, he's counting on a really, really friendly park translation and a heavy weighting on a career-best 2005 season. Prior to 2006 Encarnacion had hit 316/440 for his career. This was pretty much your definition of unimaginative.

I'm maybe the only non-comatose Cardinals fan on the planet who hasn't bashed the Encarnacion deal, but a lot of his value was supposed to come from his defense. I wasn't too happy to read that the Fielding Bible hates him.
   36. mjs Posted: May 12, 2006 at 05:11 AM (#2016321)
I'm maybe the only non-comatose Cardinals fan on the planet who hasn't bashed the Encarnacion deal, but a lot of his value was supposed to come from his defense. I wasn't too happy to read that the Fielding Bible hates him.


I thought so too. The hitting has been a welcome surprise for the past few weeks.

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