Do the Cubs Have a White Flag in Their Future?

"It's just disappointing, I guess, to think you have a team where everybody in here thinks you can still do it and you can't. You'll never know what could have happened."

So said White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura to Phil Rogers of the Tribune on August 1, 1997, the day after Ventura's bosses completed the so-called "White Flag Trade," in which the Sox shipped three of Ventura's veteran teammates to San Francisco for six minor leaguers, all while Ventura's team—52-53 at the time—sat just 3 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians.

"This team had a chance, and it didn't seize it. It was hard to look at this team and feel very confident. I wasn't interested in finishing second in a poker hand."

So said Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf in defending the deal, which moved pitchers Wilson Alvarez, Roberto Hernandez, and Danny Darwin, and netted shortstop Mike Caruso, outfielder Brian Manning, and pitchers Lorenzo Barcelo, Ken Vining, Keith Foulke, and future Cub Bob Howry.

"I looked at it today and I was thinking all it takes is gaining one game a week for the rest of the year and you can win your division... It's going to take 50 wins or so from here on out to...win this division, and we're capable of doing it."

So said Ryan Dempster on ESPN Radio last week when discussing the Cubs' chances of clawing past the Reds and Cardinals.

I bring this up because, while enjoying almost all of the Cubs' four-game series with the Phillies this past weekend, I couldn't help but wonder if Cubs GM Jim Hendry wasn't at least a little bit conflicted. A week ago, he was (presumably) making plans to shed excess salary and re-arm the Cubs organization with prospects acquired through trade, and he would have had the support of all Cubdom in doing so.

Now, with home-and-home series against the lowly Astros and a three-game set against the division leaders in the Cubs' immediate future, Hendry has to at least ponder the possibility that ten days from now, his team could be within, say, six games of the division lead. At the same time, he (presumably) has teams like the Mets and Tigers and Yankees and who-knows-who-else knocking on his door and calling his office to inquire about possible deals with the third-place Chicago Cubs.

What to do, Jim? What to do?






Historical notes:

 

 

At the time of the "White Flag Trade," Dusty Baker's Giants were in a dead heat with the Dodgers for the lead in the NL West. Following the trade, the Giants went 31-23 and won the West by 2 games over Los Angeles. Alvarez went 4-3, 4.48 for SF down the stretch, while Darwin was 1-3, 4.91, and Hernandez went 5-2, 2.48.

The White Sox finished the season 80-81, six games behind the Indians, who went on to win the AL pennant.

Of the six players the White Sox picked up in the big trade, only Manning failed to reach the majors. A year after the trade, Caruso was the White Sox' starting shortstop and batted .300, Howry saved 49 games for the Sox between '98 and 2002, and Foulke collected 100 saves for the Sox before he was traded to Oakland in a deal for Billy Koch at the end of '02.

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Comments

This dead ass team needs to be broke apart fast and furious. I will be pissed if Hendry hangs on thinking they can actually be in contention. I would hate to have to root for a team to lose games.

Agree, agree, agree.

Fun, though, to actually see them hit the ball and score some runs and beat a decent team.

Agree.

This team could have a great second half. And then finish at 1 game below .500.

Sucks when you lose most of the games you play against the Pirates. They are going to play a lot of teams now that are much better than the Pirates.

Need to break it apart. One nice weekend doesn't cancel out this team is 9 under .500

No way in hell can you actually be a BUYER at the deadline? This team is too flawed to compete as is.

Especially considering everyone else in the race will be looking to add to their rosters.

It would be OK to be a buyer at the deadline, say you get a James Loney in a Derrek Lee trade, for example (like when they got Ramirez in 2003). They just need to be buyers with an eye towards 2011, rather than 2010.

They're chasing flawed teams, but the deficit is so large they'd have to play to their potential and add two big players to reasonably think they can make it up.

Of course, they have Zambrano on the way, so that will be like making a deadline deal.

+1 for the McFail 2004-2006 Prior/Wood talking point.

From Rotoworld:

AOL Fanhouse's Ed Price reports that the Mets scouted Jeremy Guthrie's start on Sunday against the Blue Jays.

Guthrie put on a show, too, allowing only one earned run over six-plus innings in a no-decision at Camden Yards. He struck out six batters, issued only one walk, and now boasts a 4.58 ERA and 1.31 WHIP through 19 starts this season. The Mets are apparently moving on from Cubs starter Ted Lilly, who they were linked to frequently in early July.
Source: Ed Price on Twitter http://twitter.com/ed_price/status/18935872096

With Pettitte now down for a month, I would think the Yankees would be the front runner for Lilly.

Do you think the Yankees really feel a need for him?

I guess they must if they were seriously offering Montero for Lee (something I doubted). What's their in-house option, Mitre?

What's their in-house option, Mitre?

Yup... that is the current plan.

Not only was Nolasco and Pinto not enough for Juan Pierre, Sergio Mitre needed to go in the deal too.

In hearing about Reinsdorf's philosophy (speaking of the Sox) on the radio today, he likes to consistently sign players off horrendous years, who "have something to prove" in their FA years. Scotty Pods, Dye, AJ, et. al.

Hendry likes paying the max - and giving max years with all cards held by the player, and he will take a flyer always on a rag-arm pitcher like Wade Miller, Shawn Testes, Rusch, Dempster, Chad, et. al. On the position side, Chad Tracy and Kevin Millar really had nothing left in the tank by the time Hendry signed them. In spite of Kevin Millar saying what a great "clubhouse guy he was", and how he "could've made a difference".

I predict that the Cubs will lose 2 out of 3 against the lowly Astros, fresh off a 3 out 4 series win against the Phillies... It's just enough to drive you nuts!!

Aargh!

via CM:

#Cubs lineup for Mon night vs #Astros RF Colvin, SS Castro, 1B Lee, 3B Ramirez, CF Byrd, LF Soriano, C Soto, 2B Baker, P Silva

Expect #Cubs Carlos Zambrano to pitch for Triple-A Iowa Wed or Thu; he also will pitch in Round Rock this weekend before rejoining team

i s'pose i'm in the minority...i want to ride it out just like things are. let the expiring contracts expire (lee, lilly, piniella). prevent hendry from under-selling on marketable players (soto, marmol, silva maybe, gorzelanny, byrd maybe).
and keep fingers crossed that hendry cannot schmooze ricketts into adding on at the deadline. the fewer transactions left to hendry during the balance of his tenure the better. and above all hope that ricketts has a plan for a successor to hendry effective 10-1-10. who would then hire the new manager, and deal with the carnage.

What would you guys think of Josh Byrnes?

Also, I was hearing rumors that Hendry was going to trade Lilly then re-sign him as a free agent. I think I would rather keep him and offer arbitration then give away the draft picks. It would make it much harder to get a fair return for Lilly.
Same with Lee if he manages to bring any pcks in return.

Well, so you what if you keep him and offer him arbitration and he takes it? You get a 35-year old Lilly for $12 million or so. Why not get a prospect in a trade for him, save the money for the last two months of this year, and re-sign him for less than $12 million if possible?

I wouldn't be too upset if Lilly got a one year extension. It's better than letting Hendry negotiate another contract with him - you know he wouldn't give Lilly a one year deal.

If they're not going to offer arbitration then I agree they should trade him. If Hendry trades him, we'll get a prospect or two, and the other team will get Lilly plus two picks.

If Hendry trades him then resigns him as a FA then the other team gets the Cubs pick. (I think Lilly is Type A - first round would be protected at this point). The whole thing reminds me of not trading or offering arbitration to Harden last year.

Maybe I'm full of shit about this, but I guess I feel like we're going to lose out on the handling of Lilly.

Harden signed a one-year contract with Texas (2nd year mutual option) for $6.5 million with a $1 million buy out. Given that that is all he got on the open market, there is a very real fear he would have accepted arbitration - he wouldn't be signed for any fewer years (one) and likely getting more money (he would have at least gotten $7 million her earned last year). If this happened, the Cubs would be paying $7 million for 65 innings with an ERA of 5.68.

Then we should have traded him in July/August when we had the chance.

That's the key point, if they didn't intend to offer him arbitration, they should have traded him. Same thing with Lilly.

agreed

Submitted by Jumbo on Mon, 07/19/2010 - 6:44pm.
What would you guys think of Josh Byrnes?

Also, I was hearing rumors that Hendry was going to trade Lilly then re-sign him as a free agent. I think I would rather keep him and offer arbitration then give away the draft picks. It would make it much harder to get a fair return for Lilly.
Same with Lee if he manages to bring any pcks in return.

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JUMBO: Josh Byrnes was fired because he ran the Diamondbacks into the ground, giving young players multi-year contracts before they were even eligible for salary arbitration, giving big bucks contracts to stiffs while trading other more-talented players away, and preaching some double-speak he called "organizational advocacy" as the reason for promoting farm director A. J. Hinch to manager after firing Bob Melvin.

Josh Byrnes is a joke.

A lot of people were high on Byrnes when he was a candidate. Can everybody be wrong?

From what I've read. The Eric Byrnes contract (killer) extension was direct from management. If that is the case, then Byrnes has been operating with a 65 Million dollar payroll. That's bottom 10 territory there.

Not saying the guy is great. But it seems like management really interfered with what the guy was trying to do.

Also keep in mind that Drew,Upton,Reynolds,Young,Montero and Scherzer all developed out of that org. Not since the Dallas Green Heyday have the Cubs approached that level of Player development.

Submitted by Dr. aaron b on Tue, 07/20/2010 - 8:48am.
A lot of people were high on Byrnes when he was a candidate. Can everybody be wrong?

From what I've read. The Eric Byrnes contract (killer) extension was direct from management. If that is the case, then Byrnes has been operating with a 65 Million dollar payroll. That's bottom 10 territory there.

Not saying the guy is great. But it seems like management really interfered with what the guy was trying to do.

Also keep in mind that Drew,Upton,Reynolds,Young,Montero and Scherzer all developed out of that org. Not since the Dallas Green Heyday have the Cubs approached that level of Player development.

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DR AARON B: Chicago native Mike Rizzo (now Washington Nationals GM) was the D'backs Scouting Director through the 2006 draft, and he is the one who drafted and/or signed Quentin, Drew, Upton, Reynolds, S. Hairston, Montero, Scherzer, et al.

Many people out here believe Rizzo was the actual Brains of the Outfit (or Man Behind the Curtain), and that Rizzo should have been promoted to GM back in 2005 instead of Byrnes.

I always defer to your expertise.

But how do you really feel, Phil?

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