The Sandberg Factor

The opening of Spring Training ends a very emotional off-season for Cubs fans. We lost a legend, and a hero returned. There was a controversial trade, and free agent signings kept us buzzing. And, as always, there is the promise of youth.

However, one decision stands out as a possible sentinel moment concerning the team’s future: The hiring of Mike Quade as manager over fan favorite, Hall-of-Famer Ryne Sandberg. While I want to give my full support to the Cubs’ new manager, it is my opinion that the decision has already shaped the future of the franchise. This is how I believe things would have been different this off-season, had Ryne Sandberg been named manager.

Just say “no” to veteran signings

The naming of Sandberg as manager would have announced a new direction for Cubs fans. The “make a splash” spending would be over, and the team would concentrate on developing their talent. While not much could have been done with the “big money” or expiring contracts, the team would have sought to eliminate some of the “dead weight” contracts. This means not signing players such as Jeff Baker, Koyie Hill, Reed Johnson, Todd Wellemeyer, and Augie Ojeda.

While every team signs veterans to spring training contracts, the Cubs seem to have an affinity to players with a connection to the organization. If real competition is wanted, then sign the best available players on the market. If it’s roster fillers you seek, then try to get a player you don’t mind cutting. I believe this business of bring back players for a “curtain call” would have been ended by Sandberg.

Garza stays a Ray

Okay, maybe Matt Garza would have ended up on another team, but it wouldn’t have been the Cubs. Sandberg has a unique perspective on trading for starting pitchers from his playing days.

In1984, Sandberg saw the Cubs trade for four starting pitchers. While those moves got the Cubs close, they also gutted their farm system. While many point out that Garza is only 27; Steve Trout was 26, Scott Sanderson was 27, Rick Sutcliffe was 28, and Dennis Eckersley was 29 when the Cubs dealt for them. Each pitcher would break down in the following seasons, and there was no minor league depth to fall back on. By 1988, the Cubs had rebuilt their pitching staff with home-grown talent such as Greg Maddux, Jamie Moyer, Les Lancaster, and Jeff Pico.

After this experience, Sandberg would have known that four prospects “in the hand” would beat one starter “in the bush”, and nixed the Garza deal.

10 youngsters on the squad

After not signing a bunch of “Cubs’ Convention” veterans and passing on the Garza deal, the roster would have been left wide open. This is where Sandberg might have had the greatest impact. By managing at several levels of the organization the last few years, he was exposed to a number of players throughout the system. It would be easy to envision at least five pitchers and five position players from the minors making the squad. While they all may not have been rookies, most would have had less than one season of major league experience.

Most of the names would be familiar: Darwin Barney, Andrew Cashner, Welington Castillo, Casey Coleman, Scott Maine, Marcos Mateo, Jeff Samardzija, and Brad Snyder to name a few. Some might have been a player who might not have the publicity, but because of his personal knowledge, Sandberg would know they would be useful. It’s just the kind of insight that builds champions.

Aramis on First

We hear a lot of tough talk about benching veterans, but when the opportunity arises, how often does it happen? Sandberg, with his Hall-of-Fame credentials, would make decisions stick. The first salvo would have been an easy one. With an armful of infield prospects and a big hole at first, Sandberg would have been the man to tell Aramis Ramirez that now is the time to move to first base. This would be the “line in the sand” for veterans. Unless they were willing to do what was necessary to help the club, their days would be numbered. And about the $10 million they would have saved by not signing Carlos Pena? The team could have used it to defray some of the salaries of veterans they would trade at mid-season.

The Arrow Pointing Up

Players don’t live in a vacuum. If it is obvious to fans that Cubs management is reluctant to go with younger players, the veterans know this also. Despite the recent tough talking, veterans this season, for the most part, won’t be “looking over their shoulder” due to how the final roster is a appearing to shape up. That could lead to some players underperforming come August 1. Under Sandberg, with so many young players would be on the roster, it would be a “shape up or ship out” attitude. Because of that, the records might be the same, but the future might have looked brighter under Sandberg.

A Changing of the Guard

Finally, as the 2011 ended, there would have been one last change. Quietly, on a busy sports news day, when the story may get lost, the Cubs would make an announcement. Jim Hendry would be stepping down as General Manager, and accepting the position of Special Consultant for the final year of his contract. He would work with the newly named GM, perhaps Greg Maddux, to help with the transition.

Attention CCO Readers!
Please continue to post the names of the minor league players you would like the Down on the Farm Report to follow next season. I will track the progress of ten players throughout the entire season. I would like a representative sample of positions and levels of play, and I’d prefer to track at least one player acquired by the Cubs in the off-season. You can name as many players as you like, but remember, only ten will be chosen.

Quote of the Day

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anais Nin
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  • Darklordcrono

    None of this makes too much sense. Hendry would have done the same or similar moves to keep the Cubs in contention and to save his job. There would have been no way the Cubs would have given Sandberg all that power to begin with.

  • Todd w

    huh?

  • Jeffa

    Vitters, szczur, mcnutt, kurcz, simpson, lemahieu, golden, burgess, rubysilva, ha,

  • Chimptricks

    Wow, this makes zero sense.

  • Scott Cubfan

    About the worst article ever. If this is true thank God Sandburg didn’t get the job. You’re an idiot.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      While you may not agree with this article some good points, but I don’t agree with most of it, read my post below name calling is really unnessesary, your thoughts and arguements for or against are very welcome and can be made very clear without name calling and childish behavior.

    • paulcatanese

      Scott,were you looking in the mirror when making the post? Tom’s post is exactly what it is supposed to be,an article to produce controversy and opinions.You were out of line here.

    • Thebearsays

      Scott, your comments were rude, inappropriate, and mean-spirited…and, coming from someone who can’t even spell ‘Sandberg’ right, totally irrelevant as well.

  • Jim_Tinley_Park

    I’m not going to come down hard on this article. Revisionist History, What if?

  • Bryan

    First, to Scott Cubfan…very classy referring to another poster as an “idiot”.

    I actually think Tom U. hit every key point perfectly, and it certainly reflects my view as well.

    With a payroll of $130m+ the key decisions are whether Ojeda or Reed Johnson make the team….wow, big time decisions for Quade.

    Quade is a Hendry pawn, and anyone thinking different is drinking big heaps of Cubs Kool-aid. Fukodome batting leadoff….really? Koyie Hill still on any major league roster…really again? And Carlos Silva believing he already has a rotation spot locked….please?

    I agree fully with Tom that this roster should have a minimum of 10 youngsters on the roster. Let the system players play, and let’s find some surprises, as well as imbed some new life and energy to this franchise. Instead let’s continue to play with the “best lineup” scenarios that include the likes of Soriano, Fukodome, the the continued cast of over-paid and underperforming vets.

    Tom U…wonderful post. I think you expressed the views of many here!

  • Bryan

    So according to the Sun Times article “Hendry should have the chance to fix the Cubs Mess”. The same GM who, with a $140m+ payroll, has created this mess to begin with. Wouldn’t we all like to have a job where you can mess up year after year, and still have a chance to “fix it”.

    Only in the world of the Cubs.

    http://www.suntimes.com/sports/3928036-419/cowley-hendry-deserves-chance-to-fix-cubs-mess.html

    • Gary J

      The guy that wrote the article (Joe Cowley) has been an outspoken critic of Hendry, so before scoffing and just throwing it away as just another example of “what’s wrong with the Cubs” – just read the article.

  • roguesqr09

    I wholeheartedly agree with this post. While I can say that I was very disappointed by this team this offseason, I am feeling optimistic, almost giddy that the season will start soon. I think we do have a decent team, one that compete, but none of the experts are even talking about the Cubs, which could be a good thing or a bad thing.

    Quade and Hendry can talk all they want about sitting the veterans, but they didn’t sit them at the end of last year when the season was over. We have so many aging vets on this team right now, I don’t see how any of these kids have a chance. Sure, they finished great last year, but all of those wins came on the road. Not at wrigley. Not where they play 50% of their games. A lot of if’s have to happen for the cubs to have a great year. I just hope they aren’t out of it by then end of May again this year. It’s dreadful when you’d rather watch Project Runway than a cubs game.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      The Cubs wouldn’t have a shot at being competetive if we did what Tom is suggesting. Playing a bunch of AAAA players or prospects who aren’t ready yet isn’t a very good idea.
      Pena and Wood are ONE-YEAR deals. Garza is on the right side of 30 and all 3 help 2 make the Cubs atleast competetive this year and we do and have had a lot of young guys coming up and have more on the way.
      I don’t want to see the Wrigley version of the Pirates putting out AAAA players and bringing up guys before they are ready.

  • Ken

    Article makes sense to me, but sadly we will never know. All the Cubs can do is make the best with the Vets. I was not happy we gave up the future for one player.

  • Ronnie

    Interesting perspective that highlights the differences between organizations like Minnesota, Boston and the Yankees, who while having a huge difference in payroll flexibility, all realize the value of home grown talent and teams like the Mets and Cubs, that will never have enough payroll to put together a team that only chance to win would be a fluke.

  • Paul

    If Aramis had moved to first, the Cubs would have had to pay for a free-agent third baseman. As for the veterans you listed, Ojeda, Reed Johnson and Wellemyer probably won’t make the team. Jeff Baker is a somewhat valuable and cheap guy who can play five positions.

    You’re right on Koyie Hill. But one veteran isn’t really that objectionable.

    As for Sandberg blocking the Garza trade … I think you’re just way off base. Hendry needs to win now to keep his job. Even if Ryno had objected to sending so many prospects to Tampa, you can’t assume Hendry wouldn’t have pulled the trigger anyway.

    AND … Maddux as GM? Maybe — but that’s such a down-the-road potential bonus of hiring Ryno that it’s not that much of a plus.

  • Aaron

    Tom,

    You put it more eloquently than I ever put it, but I’ve been saying the same thing almost ad nauseam since they hired Quade.

    I believe it will go down as ONE of the worst decisions (notice…I said just one…meaning there’s more) they’ve made under Hendry.

    When players come out in support of a guy like that, you know he’s a player’s manager for sure. We had one of those before, that led to absolute chaos in the front office, booth, and on the field…His name? Dusty freakin’ Baker.

    In fact, I’ve never seen players come out like that in support of a manager/coach so openly when a team is looking at several different candidates.
    1) It’s very unprofessional, because the other guys should have been on equal ground
    2) If, by chance, any of the other candidates actually landed the gig, there would be apparent division in the clubhouse, and possible sulking because they didn’t get their guy
    3) It’s so Cub-like to have the inmates run the asylum, isn’t it? You know…the ones responsible for the horrendous season?

    Fact is, there’s not one single offseason move I like outside of resigning Kerry Wood….and yes, I’m even saying I didn’t like the Garza move for the reasons Tom outlined above.

    We made all these moves to essentially mortgage the future, and try to save Hendry’s job. It’s NOT going to work, and unfortunately, with the Ricketts’ “leadership” (notice I put that in quotes, because they would’ve fired his ass long ago if they had half a brain), he might even be granted an extension. And had they just done that in the first place, Hendry might not have felt he needed to do all this, signing and trading for nothing but veterans if he knew he was in the clear.

    But when you back a guy against the wall, do you really think he’s going to go with unproven commodities (rookies)?!? Hell no! He’s going with veterans, and that’s PRECISELY what we’ll do.

    I would be shocked if Reed Johnson, Augie Ojeda, and at least one of Looper/Wellemeyer didn’t make the team. Hendry is familiar with all of them (as he tried landing Looper in the past).

    And if you think those guys are going to be good additions to this team, then…….well, maybe you should check yourself into the asylum.

    Looper and Welly are both 5+ERA guys at this point. Reed Johnson, at this point, is a DL stint…or two…..or three….waiting to happen. And Augie freakin’ Ojeda….WOW!!! Hit .190 last year….so I guess he fits in with Pena. But hey, he’s a pesky “Cub killer” (haven’t we heard that before)….

    I can’t stand Hendry for many reasons, but this offseason is further proof that he hasn’t got a clue.

    Let me ask everyone a question on here. Are you excited to have Pujols (who doesn’t really want to leave St. Louis anyway) at 10 yrs, $300 million+, Fielder at 7-8 yrs, $180 million+, or……..the guy we should’ve signed 3 years ago for 4 yrs, $56 million.

    Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….that’d be Adam Dunn, folks.

    Yes, I know everyone hates his defense, but Fielder sucks too, and both K a lot, and Fielder is going to cost twice what Dunn would’ve cost, and Dunn is far more consistent. As for Pujols…that’s a pipe dream…But $30 million/yr for anyone is absolutely ludicrous, and you know that’s what he’s getting.

    Just look at Hendry’s deals for what they meant in the past, present, and future, and what they meant to the team, and you’ll see how poor of a GM he really is.

    • fryegye

      Aaron,

      If we get 35 HR and 100 RBI from Pena, why not consider him over Fielder? Better defense and less risk of major fall off due to weight over time? In fact, wouldn’t that allow us a little more financial flexibility to address other concerns (2B, OF, leadoff, etc.)? Your thoughts?

      • Aaron

        Because he just came off a season hitting .196, is older than Fielder, and more inconsistent, not to mention, given Boras as his agent, if he has a season like that, he’d cost us no less than $16-18 million in Boras’ mind.

        Fact is, I don’t think any of the players mentioned are worth their estimated values on the market between Fielder, Pujols, and Pena.

        As for what I said about Dunn, my point is valid….Had Hendry done what he should’ve done a long ass time ago, which was in lieu of signing Bradley to 3 yrs, $30 million, he could’ve had Dunn for 2 yrs, $20 million, then he could’ve done whatever this offseason, or even extended him for a lesser rate.

        Pena is heading into the downside of his career. It is NOT wise to give a player that isn’t consistent to begin with, a large, long-term contract like he’d be asking for. At least Dunn was consistent, and the same can be said for Pujols. Fielder is less consistent, and Pena is even worse than him, so what does that tell you?

        • fryegye

          Good insight, as always. The Boras argument is the most compelling. I agree about market value on all these players as well. Still, somebody did pay Dunn, and will pay Pujols and Fielder. I’m just wondering if it is a given that 1B becomes a Cubbie hole much like 2B and the OF has become. Where do we turn internally or in the FA market?

  • 8151950

    Tom pretty much got it right I’m thinking, I really do believe Sandberg would have wanted a bigger influx of the younger guys,whether or not Hendry would have let it happen is another thing. Like an earlier article in the “Trib” said… the players got what they asked for (Quade), better make it happen…and also Bryans comments got to the point really well so no need to re-state those. Maybe, just maybe with Maddux staying with it and apparently(hopefully) liking that end of the game, some more and justified pressure could be on Hendry, like previously mentioned, how many chances does one get? Then again, could he be getting “groomed” a la Sanberg just to have Ricketts let him walk also? Henry had a perfect opportunity to “start the real” new direction of the organization and didnt sieze it,he needs his manager in his hip pocket and has that in Quade, I dont dislike him, just not my choice when I’ve got Sandberg ready to roll, and I do think he’d have thinned the herd from those needing a job to those wanting( deserving) a job.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      Maddux gave his input in the Pena signing and was a big backer of it, He doesn’t want the GM job or pitching coach job right now maybe down the road, but right now he just wants a part-time roll until his kids finish high school he has been away from his family a lot throughout his career and stated he wants to spend more time with them and only wants a limited roll and his input is being used.

  • Jmvukovi

    Sandberg would not have been the GM this off-season. Q has gone thru the minors and knows the Cubs minor league system too. Way too early to see what Q actually brings to the table for a full season. Sandberg may get his chance someday somewhere, but until then this article is just plain junk.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Tom, Well written, I’m in agreement with some points and in disagreement with some. So I’ll respectfully give you my argument.
    I don’t like the Ojeda, Wellemeyer, Johnson, and Looper signings, but none are guaranteed anything and I wouldn’t be surprised if only one or none made the team. I like the Max Ramirez, and Coello deals.
    It isn’t up to Sandberg or Quade on who management signs they can put in their 2 cents but have no authority really.
    As far as the Matt Garza trade I have mixed feelings,I do think that we lost a much better back up to Soto in Chirinos than Hill is.
    We lost an injury prone outfielder, who was projected as a ML 4th OF or League average starter at best. Lee has a lot of potential but his bat is a big concern, Archer has a lot of upside, but has had 1 good season in the minors and still has a lot of control issues and we still have a lot of solid arms coming up. When the Cubs picked up Archer no one knew who he was. The Cubs picked up some arms when we traded Lee and got rosscup, we still have great pitching depth in the minors.
    We had a truckload of rookies and young players come up last year, Castro, Cashner, Russell, Colvin, Barney( who might be on the team this year), picked up a young DeWitt, Coleman, Caridad, Stevens, Berg, Maine, Diamond, Mateo, Gray, Atkins, Schlitter, Castillo, Samardzija, Snyder, got a chance and proved what his minor league numbers showed he had 12 strikeouts in 27 AB’s in the minors he has consistently SO a ton and rarely walked and that isn’t projectable at the ML level and suggests a hole in his swing. That’s 19 young guys who saw ML action last year, possibly a few more I don’t know if I got everybody listed.
    Castillo’s big knock is he doesn’t call games well and that is an extremely important aspect, that I will just have to take the Cubs word for it.
    With Ramirez moving to 1st who would play 3rd? Vitters and LeMahieu aren’t ready, Marquez Smith was very lucky in AAA last year in terms of BABIP, and SO a ton and doesn’t walk much, he was also passed over by every ML team in the Rule V draft. DeWitt and Barney don’t have enough power there.
    The Cubs had a lot of young guys in the bullpen last year, and we all know how that turned out, it was ugly.
    The Giants relied almost solely on Vets last year and won the WS, I want to see young guys constantly mixed in and brought up, but only when they are ready! Bringing guys up before they are ready can be detrimental to them.
    We don’t want to be the Pirates!
    Do you personally want to see the Cubs field a team of AAAA players, cause I don’t.
    Ricketts has a huge mortgage on the team and still has to get people in the seats and has to put out a semi-competetive team in order to do so. Pena got a one year deal and isn’t in the long-term plans and has upside from last year, Garza has upside and Woody is Woody and came cheap.
    The Ricketts are investing more and more in the future, adding more scouts, building an academy in the Dominican Republic.
    I love Sandberg, but Quade spent years and years as minor league coach and paid his dues, Riggins knows the Farm’s arm very well and I like the fact he will have a lot of input on the ML pitching staff.
    JH is still here but isn’t being given a blank check anymore and contracts given out have to be approved.

    • The Maven

      Wow! Interesting article Tom. It sure seems to have stirred up a hornet’s nest.

      However, I’m going to have to disagree with you Patrick on the Cubs becoming the Pirates by bringing in young players. If you look at the Pirates over the last few years, they’ve brought a lot of talent to the majors. Economics, not poor talent evaluation have driven their lack of success. How much better of a team would they be right now if they had Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, Jose Bautista, Matt Capps, and Rajai Davis to go along with players such as Neil Walker and Andrew McCutcheon? They were all traded away due to the potential of demanding a huge salary (a la Matt Garza). If they kept them, maybe they wouldn’t have pitched the arms off of Zack Duke, Paul Maholm, and Ian Snell.

      The Pirates’ hearts were in the right place when they traded for Brandon Moss, Andy LaRoche, and Lastings Milledge. Each was considered a top prospect, but none of them ended up working out.

      Bringing up players before their ready? The performances of Barney, Coleman, Mateo and Maine either last season or this winter would beg to differ.

      AAAA players? I guess that’s what management thought of players like Angel Pagan and Casey McGehee.

      • Bryan

        Maven…excellent reference and reminder regarding Pagan and McGahee. Nobody here wants to recall those brilliant moves by JH. Hmm, you could have had McGahee at 3B and moved Ramirez to 1B. And an outfield of Pagan, Colvin and Byrd….with some additional blend of youth mixed in as well. But hey, let’s keep giving JH a pass.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

      Great post Patrick. There is a lot of the original idea of the thread that I have issues and number 1 being that Sandberg with his sense of entitlement that he has already shown, would not be quiet through a rebuild and would be in the media all the time talking about how much talent and experience the Cubs don’t have.

      We do not know where Quade will end up as a manager but in the short time he got all the players to buy in. Can you say the same thing for our ex superstar?

      We will never know if Quade could be the next Jim Leyland without atleast giving him a chance to prove that he is more than a 2 month intern manager.

      • paulcatanese

        Richard,I don’t know whether or not Sandberg would have been an improvement over Quade. But I do know the credebilty of Quade is questioned by his statement from the convention about the hottest pitcher on the staff would be his opening day starter. I guess one day of throwing batting practice qualifies Dempster and then big Z and then Garza for the rotation. Quade must have a superhuman future vision to be able to predict the hottest pitcher at this point.

    • Christian_2334

      Patrick, I have to yes…inwouldnt mind seeing the cubs field a team of AAAA players and young talent like the pirates have done. Even with the subtraction of Chironis, Archer, Lee, Guyer, and Fuld from the minor league, not only is our system deep, but it’s loaded with amazing young talent that could produce greatly at the next level. Now I completely agree with you that brInging guys up too quickly can definitely hurt their game mentally, but if management feel they are ready then they need to be given the opportunity to produce and succeed, but need to be managed properly unlike the way Pinella did shark and others. If Ryno would have become the manager, I don’t think anyone is really saying he would have fielded an all rookie team or AAAA players mix, but what I’m saying at least is that Ryno would have def loaded the roster with some younger guys or would have given the younger guys a better shot at making the 25 man roster. If Ryno were the manager, we wouldnt be talking bout Auggie over Barney out of camp or Wellenmeyer and Looper and Silva over Maine, Russel, and Coleman. We would seriously consider trading Bryd or some how in some way trading soriano to make room for Jackson. But we would still have the mix of vets like ARAM, Soto, Z, Demps, Garza, and Pena. And if we were out the race as the all-star break I’m sure Ryno would have requested hendry trade some vets to make room guys thriving in the minors. The cubs would have progressively gotten younger with Ryno at the helm, but not turned infinite pirates as you say lol.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    http://muskat.mlblogs.com/
    Opening day Demp, Z, Garza to be rotation.

  • Strohjo

    Terrible….the manager does not make the personnel decisions..that is ajob for the GM. The veterans they brought in are not starters, but guys off the bench to serve utility roles. It is stupid to bring a rookie up if he is going to sit the bench….I don’t know what you’re talking about with Garza.

  • paulcatanese

    Tom.great article,you really know how to sake up the troops.It gives plenty of opportunity for everone to express their opinion,for or against.(that was really supposed to say shake) but on the other hand maybe Sake is the correct word. Again great article.

  • Dorasaga

    From Miles, quotes from Kerry Wood:

    “I’ll be just shy of 14 years at the end of the season here. I got to start for a while and come back from some injuries. I got to close for a couple years. I got to set up for Mariano Rivera last year, which was pretty cool.

    “So I feel like I’ve had a great career. It’s had its ups and downs, sure. But when it’s all said and done, my son can look back and say, ‘You know what? He didn’t quit. He didn’t give up when a lot of guys could have.’ So maybe that means something.

    “I’m not a what-if guy. I’m not a, “I should have been this; I should have been that.’ I am who I am.”

    http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20110220/sports/799999370/

    You know, there’s no “what if-s.” There’s result, there’s a player who enjoys baseball and his career. That’s all I hope Sandberg feels from his Chicago fuss (and I could tell he wasn’t happy with the Cubs).

    • paulcatanese

      Hey,said it before,thats what we get from him,no-nonsense class.Agree with you on Wood,wish we had 24 more like him (on Cubs).

  • Bryan

    I don’t get what you guys see in Quade. I’m not going to rehash the whole Sandberg saga, but that isn’t how a quality franchise treats a Hall of Famer, and successful minor league manager to-boot.

    So back to Quade….he should’ve been gone if for nothing else being tied to the Piniella regime. As a coach, the team dysfunction and lack of success is as much tied to Quade as it was Piniella.

    He had the opportunity to play the youngsters in August/September, but failed to assess the future in a lost season. Rather, it was all about his self-promotion (though he’ll never claim as much). Any manager, when the standings don’t matter any more, that starts Koyie Hill (daily) v. two youngsters rotting on the bench isn’t doing his job.

    When you hear reports about “I don’t know who’s going to bat leadoff…hmm, maybe a platoon including Fukodome” has no imagination to moving forward. He should have said “Fukodome, Soriano, etc…we’ve been there, done that, and that doesn’t work…so let’s see about some new personnel and youngsters that might surprise in that role…but no, we’re not going backwards with that leadoff thinking”.

    Everything Quade says is BS Cubs manager speak. It’s just amazing that teams like the Red Sox, Braves, don’t have these issues, and would never tolerate a guy like Hill on the roster (getting major playing time), nor waste their time with the likes of Augie Ojeda taking up space, even on a minor league notion.

    And in regards to seeing a whole team of AAAA players at Wrigley, you know, for $130m+ in payroll I’d rather see those youngsters play everyday than continue to watch the pathetic play out of guys like Soriano, Fukodome, etc. Been there/done that.

    • paulcatanese

      Agree with you Bryan,I still maintain Quade is a staunch company man,or JH extension. But since he’s what the Cubs have I am taking his moves slowly. Also think if he dosen’t produce he will be the scapegoat and sent on his way. In fairness to him, I’m giving him enough rope, and will wait to see what he doe’s with it.

  • Christian_2334

    Let me start off by saying that I love waking up every morning, brewing a pot of coffee, and sitting out on my back porch with my fiancée and reading the CCO! I have a dedicated reader now for the past few years but have never posted. Call it laziness or what have you, but I love to always read the great articles/posts from Neil and other great guys and reading all the posts and responses and bantering and arguing! Like I said, I’m a dedicated reader of the CCO but now I fully intend to be a dedicated poster as well! Neil, you do a fantasic job in keeping this site going and keeping us all reading and coming back for more! Thanks bro!
    Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I believe this post by Tom U was fantastic! And I agree with almost all of it. Contrary to what some may believe, I feel that Quade will do a great job, he had the full trust and support of the players, has a tremendous amount of knowledge of how to manage young players, and did a fine job down the stretch last season. But do I feel what he did down the stretch last season made him deserve the job….no. Ryno was brought into the organization to become the future manager of the Cubs, whether that was worked out between ownership and him or implied we don’t fully know. But the way it appeared he was being brought along through minors to be groomed for the job. There are several reason why Ryno deserved the job that we’ve all talked about at nausueum, but I’ll just point out a few. The biggest reason was bc of what I just said, he was brought all through the system and it was implied by many that the job would be his after Pinella finally hung his cleats and hat. The other biggest reason was bc he manage, mentored, and taught so many of the young great talent in this organization that we had a really great opportunity to get younger and fast! He knows all there young players and knew when they’d be ready for MLB action! The last reason is just obvious, hes a hall of famer in not only Cooperstown but also in Chicago with his # retired and is a fan favorite and loved by all cubbie fans! Think about it! Let’s say Ryno became the manager and he did drastically change the team with younger players and we went through a few years of mediocrity or worse, it would have been ok with all of us and many Cubs fans bc we all would know what his plan was and what he was doing and the end result could have great! Now like I said, I like Quade, and he was in the minors for a long time, so I believe he wants this team to get younger as well, but Ryno had a better grasp on the organization, the city, the fans, the pressure of winning, and everything else that goes along with the territory!

    There are ALOT of IF’s this year, but unlike Aaron and Rip, I do believe this team has an opportunity to do some great things! Starting off with the young guys, I do believe Colvin will get better…he is dedicated, simply put. He busted his butt before last spring training to prove all the doubters wrong, and he continued that this off season. As for Castro, I wouldn’t be shocked if he regressed, but I believe like Colvin, his young age and work ethic will make him successful. As for Cashner, I dont know what it is, but I’m with mark rigging and Kerry wood on this one, I think he will have a very very good season, hopefully in the rotation!

    As far as ARAM goes, he knows this a big make or break season for him, he knows that if he doesn’t do well and doesn’t have a tremendous season, not only will the Cubs not pick up his option, but won’t get anything great on the open market…especially with Pujols and Fielder out there. I believe he will have a tremendous season, barring any injuries lol. I feel pena is dedicated as well. Im not sating he will bat .300, but i do feel that in great pitchers ballparks in the NL and especially the NL central, he may thrive, hes worked very hard this offseason with jarmillo and wants to do well, we did overpay for him, but he provides more power and almost better D than Lee. Big Z needs to be somewhat close to what he was down the stretch last year and keep his butt in anger management! Demoster needs to return to form of 09, and I believe Garza will actually surprise most and pitch very well in the NL!

    Witch brings to my next subject since Aaron brought up the fact that he still didn’t like the trade. Think about it…all we really lost was Hak-Ju Lee. Garza and Archer cancel each out and Garza is a proven commodity, along with the fact that Fleita and Maddux and company believe McNutt will be better, and we have Cashner! Fuld and Guyer are nothing but 5th OFers at best! And as for Chironis, if we cam finally bring Castillo up, I’d rather have Castillo…younger and more upside. I’ll admit, I was initially upset about the trade, even though I live in Tampa now lol, but with young guys like Lemahieu and Vitters and Flagherty and others for the infield and Jackson, Golden, Sczur, and Ha for the outfield, I still love out system!

    There are alot of IFs, Jim Hendry is an idiot and deserves to be fired, and tom ricketts and family need a wake up call, we can all agree upon that! But the season is almost here, spring grainy is here, and now we get to see what we have all been talking about and thinking about all offseason come to reality! Thanks for listening to me and let’s Cubbies!

    • paulcatanese

      Welcome to the CCO,nice article you posted.Hope you do it often.You may not be agreed with all of the time,but all of us have taken our lumps here and there,thatswhat make this blog fun.

      • Christian_2334

        Thanks Paul! I’ve always enjoyed your posts and all of your thoughts and everything. And anytime anyone has a comment or anything that I have to say, I’m always up for a friendly argument or banter, that’s what makes this site so great!

    • Gary J

      I can’t really say welcome since you’ve been here the whole time, but welcome to the world of posting :-) Nicely put by the way.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thank you … and Welcome to the CCO!

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    4 youngsters guaranteed spots Castro, Colvin, Cashner, DeWitt, with several possibles Maine, Russell, Barney, Coleman, Coello, Perez and several others.
    Let’s not forget other homegrown players all under 30 that we have too Soto, Wells, Marmol, Marshall, Zambrano, and with Jay Jackson, Carpenter, Brett Jackson, McNutt all possibilities to get called up this season.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

    One point I would like to make about our Assistant GM/ Special Consultant Greg Maddox. He is the one that was high on DeWitt and thought Pena was a nice fit. Not saying that they aren’t just that he has already tied his future to a couple of horses.

    I personally think that if the Cubs promote from within and move Hendry or he chooses to move or whatever, that it will be Randy Bush that gets the first shot at a promotion until Maddox has a little more experience in the front office. Then we will have this same conversation again and everyone will be asking if this or that would be happening with Maddox at the wheel and not Bush.

    • studio179

      Very good and accurate points indeed.

  • gocubs

    Niel, please – lets keep the quality and integrity of this site together. I think we can do without ridiculous articles like this.

    • jw

      I do not entirely agree with the conclusions of the post but thought it was a very interesting approach and it made me think. Obviously, it created a lot of controversy but that’s what sites like these thrive on. For example one of the best things that can happen to radio stations is to get people talking…so I think Neil would be happy. I did not agree with everything Howard Sterns says but you are curious what contoversial thing might be said next. I thought the post was opinionated but I am totally okay with it.

    • paulcatanese

      I think by the numerous posts on the article Tom posted it goes without saying that it was properly done. The whole point is the different opinions it brings out from posters, and that was done.

  • Thebearsays

    1.) While I am disappointed the Cubs didn’t name Ryne Sandberg their manager, and appalled at how shabbily they treated him in the process, I do believe Quade will guide the team to a winning record this season.

    2.) If it ever happens, Greg Maddux as GM sounds great to me.

    3.) Thank you, Kerry Wood.

    4.) If I could be GM for just one day, and unfettered by financial concerns, then no more Koyie Hill, Carlos Silva, John Grabow, Jeff Baker, or Kosuke Fukudome…No Augie Ojeda, no Todd Wellemeyer, and no Reed Johnson…Braden Looper still gets a shot…Russell and Cashner make the rotation unless they royally suck all spring…Wells, Maine, Samardzija, Marshall, Woody, and Marmol comprise the bullpen.

    5.) DeWitt – 2B
    Castro – SS
    Colvin – RF
    Pena – 1B
    Ramirez – 3B
    Byrd/Jackson – CF
    Soriano – LF
    Soto – C

    6.) Never mind illegal drugs…Just say no to Koyie Hill.

    7.) Great posts from everyone not named Scott Cubfan!

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    It’s long past time that the Sandberg issue gets dropped. I agree with just about everything said and think it would have been great for the club, but the fact is it didn’t happen and we all need to look ahead not behind. Quade is the manager, Sandberg is with the Phillies organization.

  • Jason

    LOL – My favorite part is how Sandberg saw something happen way back in 1984 and would have used that as some kind of inspiration to completely change what actually happened in 2011. BTW – Did Sandberg tell you all that personally or did you just take some wild and crazy guess at what he would do a manager??? Also after what i have seen and heard about Q he seems like the same guy you are describing in Sandberg example no more Big Z on opening day.

  • Jason

    Oh wait i had stopped reading because it made so little sense so I did not get to the part about Hendry STEPS DOWN??? I think this guy was going for some kind of a fictional story.

    Is this supposed to be serious or some kind of fictional story?

  • Aaron

    I’ll try to be quick here….here’s a summary of this offseason:

    Additions-Quade (full-time), Pena,Wood, Perez, Rosscup, Garza, Morris, Burgess, Hicks, Coello, Max Ramirez
    *likely additions: Ojeda, Wellemeyer, Johnson, Looper

    Subtractions-Piniella and most of his staff, Gorzelanny, Guyer, Chirinos, Archer, Lee, Fuld, Thomas

    The only guys that even remotely excite me are: Wood, Garza, Burgess and Ramirez.
    *but we gave up far too much for Garza which negates the positve aspect of his addition and Ramirez hasn’t got a snowball’s chance in hell at making the team over Hendry’s butt buddy, Koyie Hill

    The question any fan must ask him/herself is” Are we actually better off this year than last year?”

    Pena vs Lee: Lee was obviusly better in all categories but hr.
    Wood vs. …: Wood has the edge
    Garza vs Gorzelanny: simply talking stats alone, NOT potential, it’s a wash

    Those are the main “upgrades”. Wood helps us for sure, but the other moves don’t. You can say Garza is the better pitcher (and I’d agree with you), however, stats don’t lie, and it’s nearly a wash.

    And whether or not you agree with the Quade over Sandberg move (personally I don’t but it’s irrelevant here) , but the fact is, Sandberg left the organization entirely, and that’s a HUGE loss as he was credited with developing quite a few guys

    Them’s the facts folks.

    Decide for yourself. Don’t believe the Cubbie BS PR you’ve been fed your whole life. Boldy question “Are we ACTUALLY better off this year than last year?”

    • Bryan

      Aaron…the question also needs to be….”is this the roster that should be representative of a $130m+ payroll”? I think the easy answer has to be a resounding “NO”.

    • studio179

      “Are we ACTUALLY better off this year than last year?”

      Are you better off now than 4 years ago…

      Nevermind, it reminded me of something else.

  • John G

    Greg Maddux is the GM. Initially speaking that is.

  • Gary J

    Personally I would have liked to have seen Sandberg too – grew up with the guy being the face of the franchise and am a huge fan.

    That said, there’s some leaps in logic from this article that kind of floor me.

    Garza remains a Ray? Really? We traded two top level prospects in this deal (Archer, Lee) plus two guys that weren’t going to get a sniff of the majors with the OF prospects and a projected 28 year old backup catcher. This didn’t decimate the system. It certainly didn’t help the minors – but you’re WAY overstating things. Garza is going to be a front of the rotation starter for the next three years. Archer and Lee could be impact players too… but we’ve been down that whole argument ad nauseum. But the Graza deal was spearheaded (by all reports) by advice from Maddux – who correct me if I’m wrong has a pretty good head for baseball too… so it’s a HUGE leap of unsupported logic to say Sandberg would have nixed the deal.

    Aramis on first – while it might make a little sense… Sandberg managing wouldn’t have an impact on it. And as others have pointed out, who plays third? Many times moves to first are done to give a defensive whiz a better line to the majors or because the player has no other position he can play physically… and I don’t think that Rami is currently blocking anyone nor is he feeble at third. He’s not going to win any gold gloves (smirk) but he’s adequate still.

    And the youngsters…. Quade isn’t that far removed from the Cubs minors system and just because Sandberg is coming from AA doesn’t mean he’d be more inclined to play any of the youth. A few players might get a longer look because he’s got a personal relationship with them, but if you think for a second that he didn’t have a say in determining who was ready for a look last year and who wasn’t you’re kidding yourself. The fact that certain prospects didn’t get a taste in September was likely just as driven by Sandberg’s evaluation that they weren’t quite ready as any “veterans play” mentality. The scouting reports in “major publications” generally list many of the Cubs prospects as “nearly ready” or “might be ready for a look by mid-year” so I have a feeling that MAYBE someone gets a longer look – but the end result of who heads north with the team at the end of the spring would be largely the same.

    Veteran signings – there’s something to be said for youth and there’s just as much to be said for experience. If you don’t think Sandberg knows the value of each…. just being a minor league manager doesn’t mean you also don’t recognize that a guy with experience might be a better choice for playing time. Heck even at the end of his own career after he “retired” then came back… he was the vet who’s time had likely passed taking the time away from the youngster. Although the arguments of “they love vets – just you see” are being bandied about for Reed J, Ojeda, Wellemeyer, and Looper… we’ll have to wait and see. I think one of them is likely to show enough juice in the tank to make the club out of the spring as a veteran presence – but none of them are going to have a significant role. Most likely a long reliever for one of the vet arms so that the youngsters can stay stretched out as starters in AA or AAA instead of pitching in mop up duty in the pen. I’d be stunned though if more than two of them made the team. Barney would have to play himself out of the picture (which could happen) and I think Perez gets the nod over Reed J due to his speed and the lack of that talent on the bench for the Cubs… but we’re now a week away from games so rather than speculating we can actually see how it plays out.

    I’m not going to call you names Tom :-) You didn’t earn that kind of angst. And there are other points you make that I can see where you’re coming from – especially the changing of the guard thing… but just him coming from the minors would not signal that the team would be full of minor league call ups.

    I don’t know what the process went on behind the scenes in the decision to keep Quade over Sandberg – apparently it was driven by the players so that’s good enough for me especially seeing the way they played for Quade at the end of the season. I don’t know what promises were made to Sandberg in the past about him being “groomed” were. I don’t know if it was an ego thing with Sandberg thinking he was entitled to the position due to his credentials as a player (and honestly some of his comments in the press made him seem like a bit of a diva – “I’m ready for the manager’s job and don’t need to be a bench coach” – please.)… I don’t know ANY of this and I’m not going to speculate much. Quade is the mgr and Sandberg felt that if he didn’t get the head gig that it was time to move on. So we should all move on too.

    I too would have liked to have seen Sandberg as the mgr… but the reasons you give in the article Tom – to me they are an awfully big stretch.

    Nicely written though and obviously you have your supporters :-) Opinions are something everyone is entitled to have. But you’re stating things as if they were facts of how things would have played out… and I think that’s where some of the angst in the comments is coming from.

    Completely don’t think you’re “an idiot” though :-) The dude that said that needs to be taken aside and have things explained to him about “keep it classy Cubs fans!” – maybe with a Louisville Slugger in hand. I don’t agree with you on a good chunk of things, but I see where you’re coming from at least.

    Keep up the good work posting! As people have said – at least it’s generating comments LOL

  • Tom U

    Thank you to everyone for your comments. Don’t forget to keep posting the names of the players you would like followed this season : )

    • Thebearsays

      You’re welcome, Tom…Don’t let a couple naysayers spoil the fun!

    • Jim_Tinley_Park

      I’m glad some of the posters came to your defense. From time to time I appreciate a “What If” scenario.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

      I do want to say that Tom you did a heck of a job getting dialog going. I may not agree with what you say all the time but you certainly keep us interested. Way to go.

  • Gary J

    Vitters, Szczur, McNutt, Lake, Ha, LeMahieu, Golden, B Jackson, Cerda, Burgess, AJ Morris

  • Chuck

    The Down on the Farm Report should contain a brief paragraph that will see how Sandberg is doing with the Phillies AAA team. Is a a “manager in waiting’ for the Phillies or the Cubs?

  • studio179

    Tom, I liked the article. I agree with some of it and disagree with some of it. Fans may want Quade or Sandberg. That is their preference. However, the Cubs and Hendry were dead wrong in how they went about handling Sandberg. They gave him a minors managing job based on who he was and never thought he would stick or succeed. He did did both. The Cubs never had intentions of making Ryno the manager of the big club. When it came time to make a call, Hendry boxed himself in a corner. Again, they (Hendry & Co) never thought it would REALLY come to the point it did. Quade was Hendry’s guy. He is qualified for the job and I hope he does well. Quade is wearing a Cub uni/hat. I’m on his side. Still, there is a right way to do business with someone of Ryno’s stature in team’s history and a wrong way. It certainly left a bad taste to many this offseason.

  • Dorasaga

    Tom,

    McNutt should be followed. He had some incredible command. After reading his stats and all those free-passes I’m o.k. with Archer’s departure, as opposed to a possible Maddux in McNutt.

    Steve Clevenger should be paid some attention as well. At age 25 now, he’s either make it or leave for a Major League franchise, I suppose.

    I’m curious how Chris Robinson, the Canadian, is progressing in any way.

  • jaymedinah

    You are giving Sandberg WAY too much credit. Although a Hall of Fame player, he is NOT the sharpest knife in the drawer. He wouldn’t have as much pull as you think regarding trades etc..