Since You Gotta Go, You Better Go Now
Submitted by Rob G. on Wed, 05/10/2006 - 12:35am
GAME 32 RANT
Eighth verse, same as the first.
You know, I've been calling for Dusty Baker to be fired for so long now that I can't get particularly exercised about joining the growing chorus right now. It's like this $^#&@ piece of property I'm trying to sell in California -- we found a buyer last September, but have had to deal with the San Diego County bureaucracy and a ludicrously incompetent buyer's agent for so long that when (if?) we finally do close, I'm not going to feel any joy or happiness, or really even relief. All I'm going to feel is a sense that this Thing that has been hanging over me is gone, and there will be a void that will, eventually I'm sure, go away and we'll just start to get on with our lives without wondering every day if this is actually going to happen or if we're just going to keep slogging along, waist-deep in stress, for the rest of our lives.
That's how it is with me and the Cubs at the moment. I'm not going to go back through the TCR archives and find all the times I and others wrote about getting rid of Dusty, but they are there. There are many reasons why I thought it was the right thing to do over the last few seasons, and all of those reasons still apply. In fact, they apply now more than ever.
It doesn't specifically have anything to do with the team losing eight games in a row, or only scoring 11 runs over the last 13 games, or hitting below .100 with runners in scoring position. Like I said the other day, Dusty didn't do any of those things, the players did. But the player who did it are Dusty's players.
Yes, yes, I know, Jim Hendry is the GM of the team. People in the comments have been calling for him to be fired, too, and I don't have a problem with that. A case can certainly be made that his moves, especially the ones made this winter, are a big reason why this team is as bad as it is. But, the moves he made before that (acquiring Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, for instance) are a big reason why the team isn't even worse. (And as an aside, can we stop with the "trade Aramis" talk, please? I understand the desire, as misguided as it is, to blow up the team and start fresh, but when you do that you have to have some building blocks left, and Ramirez is one of them. Calling for him to be traded is over-reaction, pure and simple.)
But back to Hendry, and Dusty. We're veering into speculation here, but I believe that the first two years of Dusty's tenure as manager were a battle over the direction of the team. Again, I'm not going to rehash all the posts that TCR writers, past and present, have made on this subject. I'll simply point out that there have been multiple occasions where Hendry has acquired, or called up, players and Dusty has basically just not played them. Eventually, instead of trying to find the best players available, Hendry had to adopt a strategy of trying to find the best players available that fit into Dusty's system. One only need to look at the difference in manager's attitude and playing time with respect to Todd Walker and Neifi Perez to see what I'm talking about, but the Cubs rosters of the last few seasons are littered with other examples (Jose Macias, Ramon Martinez, Tom Goodwin, Lenny Harris, and Tony Womack, to name only five.) Now, after three years, Dusty has succeeded in putting together a team that has exactly the type of players he wants, both on the field (speed guys and free swingers) and off (strong work ethic guys who are good in the clubhouse).
And that's the problem.
Derrek Lee is pretty much the only guy on this team who doesn't fit Dusty's profile, and look what he did or the offense last year. He had a Positional Marginal Lineup Value (PMLV) of 66.2, best in the National League, and was responsible for roughly six wins on his own, which means that the Cubs with a replacement-level first baseman last year go 73-89 instead of 79-83. Think about that -- with Jeff Conine or Shea Hillenbrand or Lyle Overbay at first base instead of Lee, last year's Cubs are the Reds.
That's all theoretical, of course, but this year's struggles aren't. Todd Walker has ably replaced Lee's bat (as much as can be expected) this season, but that leaves a hole at second, which is putting a struggling Jerry Hairston and a performing-as-expected Neifi Perez in the lineup. Add to that the fact that Jacque Jones is underperforming as compared to Jeromy Burnitz last year (using MLVr), and Juan Pierre is actually putting up the same numbers so far this year as Corey Freaking Patterson did last year, and it's not hard to see why the team is struggling.
Obviously, the loss of Lee isn't the sole reason why this team can't score runs. They are, to re-steal a phrase I stole last year from Jim Baker, in a funk so deep George Clinton with a miner's helmet couldn't get them out (thanks, Glenn). But the salient point is this: because of the team that Dusty has pushed to put together, it will be more difficult to "snap out" of this phase than it would be with a differently-constructed team.
I need an editor. I'm pushing 800 words to get across an idea that could be expressed in seventy-seven, and I'm about to bury my lede, but here it is: the Cubs' current struggles are directly related to the team that Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker have put together. The problem is not that the Cubs' front office doesn't have a plan; it's that they do have a plan, and it's a bad one. They've had over three years to contruct the team according to their wishes, and we're seeing the results now. It's time for a new plan, and for that to happen the team needs new planners.
|GIANTS 6 CUBS 1|
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart | Photos
W: Jason Schmidt (3-2) L: Rich Hill (0-2)
The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
JOHN B: Pierce Johnson and Rob Zastryzny were likely 2015 AFL candidates (I mentioned them as likely candidates to get assigned to the AFL in an article about the AFL last month) because they are starting pitchers who missed part of the season due to injuries and they need to accrue more innings.
Also - what did Bosio say when we went to talk to Rondon? "OK, Hector, tie game, 9th inning, 2 outs, 2-0 count on the hottest hitter in the game. Let's try the ol' fastball right down the middle and see how that works, hmmm?" Terrible pitch. I've never been a fan of using closers in non-save situations -- they are used to pitching with adrenaline pumping and celebrating the last out of the inning. I realize it was a a swinging bunt and an error that caused the problem, but that may have been the worst pitch I have seen Rondon throw in a long time.
Ugly series save a few clutch Homeruns. 2 first inning Homeruns allowed. 2 complete innings (out of 27) with a lead (8th and 9th game 2). 6 Leads/Ties given up top half of the inning after scoring. 9 9th inning unearned runs. Brutal roadtrip coming up while SF plays 22 straight against teams with losing records. Like the Cubs odds, obviously, but long way to go.
No more f'n Pajama Parties, Joe! Losing a series at home to the Reds (who have a worse record than the Brewers) in September is not what we are looking for, gentlemen. 3 series losses in a row -- let's get that fixed immediately. Bad error by KB as Crunch describes -- almost like he was surprised the ball was hit to him. I think if he makes that play we win the game.
solid smack to him...right through his legs. he wasn't even in motion, totally stationary. no bad bounce, either. it was hit very hard, but also squarely wiffed...not even any glove contact. it happens...not a good time for it to happen with 2 outs, though. that was the inning ender, easy.
Can someone tell me about Bryant's error who saw the play? You cannot give the Reds (or most teams) 4 outs. In this case with Joey Votto coming up.
un...fucking...believable... tie a game in the bottom 8th, give up 3 runs in the top 9th...why the hell not. awesome.
DAT TIE THO.
Ugh Hammel...the new Haren. The 3-5 starters have imploded and killed yet another series.
Just about to type the same thing.....Augh!
5 times in the last 3 games, Cubs have taken the lead or tied the game in the bottom half, only to give up runs in the top half.
<p>I'd like to see stats on opposing pitcher batting average. It's probably not real, but seems like we give up hits all the time to f-ing pitchers. </p>
Tony Four Sacks # 27
Hammel has k'd Votto twice. /baseball
Sore Ribs doesn't worry me too much. Getting a "precautionary MRI" has me assuming he is going to be out at least a few days, possibly more.