Poor Dusty Baker. Just the other day I was combing the classifieds online, and I came across an ad from someone named “D. Baker”. Here is what the ad said:
Position Title: One of My Guys.
Job Duties: Must be experienced, yet have below-average talent, with above-average loyalty, and be prepared to work full-time, even though this position should be part-time.
Salary: My Guys are always overpaid, dude.
Sad but true….it appears Dusty is lost without the usual assortment of bad veterans to play at the expense of talented youngsters. Ever since his hiring in 2003, Dusty has seen Jim Hendry slowly, but surely, strip away all of Dusty’s Guys from the roster. You almost get the impression that Hendry immediately realized he made a mistake hiring Dusty, and that he has been trading Dusty’s Guys year after year in the hopes that Dusty will quit….sparing Hendry from having to fire a manager.
Do you think this is a bit far-fetched? You know better….
Dave Veres, Shawn Estes, Ramon Martinez, Troy O’ Leary, Mike Remlinger, Jose Macias, LaTroy Hawkins, Todd Hollandsworth, and Neifi Perez. Sounds like a great slow-pitch softball team roster in the 35-and-older league on Saturday nights in Missouri. Yet, if they were still on the team, you can guarantee that Dusty would be getting his Guys their at-bats and their innings pitched! What is this odd and impractical obsession with mediocre veterans? All I can say is that it appears Hendry is continually forcing Dusty to play the young guys by trading the old Guys away. This tells me that the GM and the Manager of the Chicago Cubs really don’t see eye to eye on the roster, or in doing what is in the best interests of the team in the long-term.
The Chopping Block….
The Cubs Faithful can only hope that Hendry will now find a sucker to unload Glendon Rusch on. Despite repeated requests by Neil, and many of the CCO Readers, Hendry refuses to DFA (designate for assignment) any of his players….this may be because he is blind to their regrettably poor performances, or because he is unwilling to admit his mistakes. Either way, it is a shame that a strong stance has not been taken by the GM regarding personal accountability. Too often the Cubs players are always too quick to make excuses for their mental errors and poor play, or have excuses made for them. Just once it would be great to see Hendry DFA someone (like Glendon Rusch) and explain that it was done “because the Chicago Cubs organization expects excellence and results, and cannot settle for anything less”. I would do it, and most of you would do it, but I don’t think Jim Hendry has the constitution necessary to make tough decisions like that. Hendry reminds me of a parent that won’t discipline his kid, because he is trying too hard to be a friend and not a parent,
I am trying to see into the future and visualize what the Cubs roster will look like, but it is hard to clearly see through all the messy chaos. You can expect that young pitchers will be inconsistent, and that is just what we have seen from Rich Hill, Carlos Marmol, Juan Mateo, and Sean Marshall. If the 2007 season started next week, I wouldn’t be comfortable having more than 1 of these guys penciled in on my starting rotation. They all have potential….but the problem is that you have players in their prime, such as Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Juan Pierre, and Carlos Zambrano who shouldn’t have to wait 2-3 years for raw rookies to mature. With a few key additions, a championship can be had in the National League, and a division title in the Central is hardly an impossible task these days.
There will always be more rookies. There will always be more prospects on the horizon. The reality is that you won’t always have a stud like Zambrano, a prototype CF, and rock-solid corner infielders.
Sometimes….you just have to go for it. I think 2007 is one of those times.
Final Thoughts….and a lot to hope for!
I have to have some faith in Jim Hendry….not that I have much choice, as he is still the GM next year! Maybe the Cubs brass has been sufficiently embarrassed this year into finally opening up their pocketbooks and signing a healthy marquee free agent….but I remain skeptical. What I expect is that Hendry will be trying to make 2-3 relatively large trades, and probably only 1-2 of them will come to fruition. One of the positives of having to start all these rookies is that they have been showcased for other teams, and their potential can be hyped in the off-season, and they may be valuable trading chips.
We can’t keep all of these players….Guzman, Marshall, Hill, Mateo, Marmol….there aren’t enough spots in the rotation for them all anyway. In a few years, there will be new hot-shot prospects so you can afford to unload some of these guys this off-season. I hope Jim Hendry realizes that.
So hopefully we wind up with two quality starters via trade. Add in Zambrano, and hopefully Prior, and you have just one spot for these rookies. Put some in the bullpen, ala Brendon McCarthy of the White Sox, so that they can continue to contribute and mature and actually earn their starting rotation spot in a year or two. I don’t see Hendry giving up on Murton or Cedeno. I assume he has enough brains to keep Pierre and Ramirez. So your batting lineup is set, and it has the potential to be very good, especially with a healthy Lee next year.
This off-season is all about the rotation, CCO Readers….start thinking of trade scenarios! Until next time, hope for a quick solution to our managerial dilemma in the off-season, hope that Hendry resigns Pierre and Ramirez, hope that Rich Hill’s trade value continues to climb, and let’s go Cubs!