The Road to Indifference

New employees often have a false sense of optimism. They think they can change the world, and lead the company to new heights! Their naive nature is humorous to the workplace veterans, and they are given the standard pat on the back for those nifty new charts and colorful graphs. It is nearly impossible for one person to change an entire workplace culture, no matter what great ideas and strategies they may conjure up. Sensing that the new guy doesn’t realize that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”, an old pro will eventually take the newbie to lunch, look them straight in the eye, and assure them that they really ought to know better….

Protestations abound….

Why does Neifi keep starting?!
Why didn’t Hendry get some pitching insurance?!
Why don’t the Cubs get results from their prospects like other teams?!
Why is Corey Patterson suddenly good when he leaves the Baker Bunch?!

Ok….take a breath. Better yet, just save your breath, period. No one is listening to us. Hendry has, apparently, gone into hiding. Baker doesn’t seem to have a clue how to turn things around. Just pick a couple of players to cheer for and follow them the rest of the year. This team isn’t going to the playoffs this year….not under the direction of Baker and Hendry….that much seems certain. So unless it is a cathartic necessity for your health to keep protesting the foolish moves of the Cubs organization, just give it a rest and save your sanity! You can still care….you can still cheer….just don’t think you can actually change anything while Hendry and Baker are in charge of the culture of this ball club.

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast….

To change this culture of swinging at the first pitch, not hustling to first base, poor defense, poor base running, ineffective bench players, lousy starting pitching, and habitual excuse-makers, more than just one or two changes are going to be needed.

Let’s start with a new coaching staff. Completely new staff. Maybe you keep Speier, since he wasn’t picked by Baker, but Rothschild, Baker, and Baker’s cronies all need to find new employment elsewhere, and the sooner the better. Hendry needs to go as well, but that isn’t likely to happen with his recent extension. We can only hope Hendry is bright enough to look around the league at habitual winners, like the Twins, the A’s, and even the Braves, and see how they were able to sustain their periods of winning.

Addition by subtraction will occur by releasing/trading the following; Neifi, Rusch, Walker, Jones, Novoa, Maddux, and maybe Murton as well. Now we can start changing the culture, and it won’t be a moment to soon with the large number of youthful players we currently have on our roster. If the Cubs wait to long to change the culture, then Cedeno, Marshall, Murton, Prior, and others will be too far gone to save.

Bring in a fiery coach that makes no excuses….ever. Hold players accountable and they will work harder. A coach should not be a players’ friend, he needs to be a leader, and he needs to care about discipline and fundamentals and hustle.

Something worth saving….

I don’t like this team. I haven’t liked them since they started complaining about announcers in 2004. I have remained a fan, don’t misunderstand….I simply mean that their team character has been largely unlikable. Whether it was Sammy’s homer-hopping growing old, Corey Patterson’s consistent strikeouts, LaTroy Hawkins’ complaining, Walker and others focusing on announcers instead of winning games, or Baker leading by example in making excuses for everything, and never taking responsibility for anything, these guys just haven’t been likable.

But there is something worth saving. A lifetime of memories and caring about the Cubbies has to be worth saving….and worth passing along to my sons. So bring back the type of players that do their talking on the field, like Sandberg, Dawson, and Grace. Give me the pitchers that are consistent and reliable, like the Maddux of years gone by.

We still have some of these guys. So while we need a housecleaning, we don’t need to gut this club. Derrek Lee and Juan Pierre have the right attitude, they take responsibility for their numbers, and you can sense they appreciate being a Major League Baseball Player, and they realize it is a privilege and not a right. Missing out on the best years of Greg Maddux is a bigger tragedy than even the game 6 collapse of 2003. He appears to be finished, despite all our hopes being raised in April. Time to bid him farewell, and thank him for all he has done, and hope that we have other pitchers like him. He never makes an excuse….ever. That is why he is so great. Sean Marshall shows promise, and has made a point to learn from this great pitching master, so I am confident he hasn’t been poisoned by the current rancid Cub culture. Zambrano will always be wild and uncontrollable, so he is, in a sense, unaffected by the culture as well. As one CCO reader already pointed out, it seems like Zambrano just ignores Rothschild when he comes out to the mound….which is probably a good thing and explains why he has remained healthy the last 4 years! I have mixed feelings about Prior. At first it seemed like he was a machine….a smart pitcher with electric stuff, and not just a big power pitcher. Lately, you feel like he is a complainer, so perhaps he has fallen victim to the Cubs culture, but he is young enough things can turn around for him, I hope. I think a fiery manager, that holds him accountable and questions his manhood, will get Prior’s competitive juices flowing and help him regain his focus on being one of the best pitchers in the game.

Roll Call….

Here is who I am keeping, barring a blockbuster trade:

Prior, Zambrano, Marshall, Howry, Eyre, Dempster
Lee, Pierre, Ramirez, Cedeno

I would look to resigning Wood with an incentive-laden contract, but I would not go into next season expecting him to have one of the starting rotation spots….you just can’t risk it anymore. Time to get a catcher with better defensive skills, but that still has a decent OBP. Those are not easy to find, but there is one in Oakland with a big contract that the Cubs can easily swallow in 2007….Jason Kendall. Trade Jones, Barrett, Walker, Murton, and Hill now, while they have value, and see if we can’t get a great 2B prospect, as well as some pitching prospects.

I am not completely indifferent, CCO readers….I am just tired of pointing out the obvious, and, day after day, seeing that nothing changes with our beloved Cubs team. What do you guys think? Who should stay and who should go, and can this losing culture be changed in one year? As always, keep the faith that things will turn around, and let’s go Cubs!

Quote of the Day

"Baseball, just a game as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes." - Ernie Harwell
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