Refreshed, for another swing at the Cubs

After a two week holiday, it's nice to be back. Or at least it would be if I wasn't coming back to the realisation that the Cubs are now tied for fourth in the division with the Cincinnati Reds (who've gone 35-25 since they fired their manager), and that Matt Lawton has been traded. Not that Matt Lawton being traded in itself is a bad thing: not at all, for while the Cubs mustered just an unremarkable pitching prospect by the name of Justin Berg, who like most pitching prospects deep in the system enjoys only the slightest chance of ever contributing at the big league level, that's a whole lot more than they'd have got had they held onto him. Had he stayed, Lawton, a free agent at year's end whose current contract rules out offering arbitration with a view to draft pick compensation as a viable option, would have walked away leaving the Cubs with nothing, and he'd have left the Cubs a million dollars lighter in the pocket between now and then too. This trade isn't a case of the Cubs' front office being cheap though, it's a case of them being sensible, if not courageous too, for it takes a big man to be at as ease with his mistakes as Hendry has shown himself to be here. That said, there is only so much praise you can heap upon someone for clearing up their own mess. On deadline day I wrote...
Whichever way Hendry tried to spin it in the press conference, this trade is a rental. Matt Lawton is entering the final months of a four year deal that's paying him $7.5m this year. And when this season is done, Lawton, whose contract includes no options, will file for free agency. With Lawton turning 34 in November, and doubtless looking for a multi-year deal all the same, this being a rental or not, it's probably best left that way. But it is a rental. And that says much for the Cubs' attitude towards this season, it says that they still clearly think they can make the playoffs. But this team right now stands at just 53-52 and is very much flawed, as this lousy homestand against lousy Western opposition [Giants, Diamondbacks] has demonstrated. Nomar, Wood and Williamson, who Hendry is viewing as mid-season pickups, will not change that, promoting Van Buren won't either, and neither will Matt Lawton, whose simply not an impact ballplayer.
The Cubs only gave up Jody Gerut, who managed just 18 plate appearances with the Pirates before succumbing to the problems with his knee that have ruined his season, but right now the Cubs' delusions of competitiveness mean that in the long-term they've exchanged him for Justin Berg, and that's just an unjustifable trade. In the short-term, Lawton gave Dusty Baker a convenient excuse to screw over Matt Murton, and the Cubs threw in a million dollars or so too. And for what? Parity with the Cincinnati Reds in 2005? I need a holiday.
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Comments

Sorry with the multiple posts in a short period of time, ony my lunch break at college...

I loved this, the Top 10 reasons Scott McClain didnt get an AB yesterday...

http://www.bleedcubbieblue.com/story/2005/8/2...

# 9 is the best, as a reader posted.

On Lawton, I always thought we'd end up with more for DuBois, and now am regretting we didn't just allow Gerut to get healthy and be a Cub next year.

For now Cubs, play the kids. Show Murton, Cedeno and any other young player for the rest of the season. Throw in Fontenot for some AB's, too. Start waiving Koronka, and some other AAA fodder and protect some of the real prospects instead.

Dusty's Top-10+ Reasons Why Scott McClain didn't get an AB Today

11) I thought his uniform number had been retired before the game started

12) Andre Dawson was in uniform and we were working on getting him a pinch hit appearance before McClain

Andy MacPhail was the subject of two lengthy interviews over the past several days--one on WGN radio's "Sports Central" evening show; the other, the Score's "Hit and Run" Sunday morning show.

If I read Andy right, and he said essentially the same thing during both interviews, Baker and Hendry will be working through at least the 2006 season. There was not even a hint of a change of personnel at either position. Also, and just as important, MacPhail said nothing about a contract extension for either one beyond '06--at least not right now.

So, like 'em or not, it's looking more and more as though we'll have to live with Baker and Hendry for, in all probability, one more season.

In between all his management-speak, MacPhail did say he was extremely optimistic about '06, primarily because of the additional salaries the club will be able to take on next season.

Lawton traded? Who cares? Didn't like DuBois. Didn't like Gerut. I like Lawton if we were able to compete. Since that's not happening, it was a great move. We cleared a lot of dead weight and now that the season is over we can start experimenting. Having said that, how many starts will Holly get in the next 30 or so games?

anyone hear anything about Walker getting traded to cleveland?

Re: #6 -- just flipped on WSCR, I'll tell you in 5 minutes...

Nomar...is this a rumor or do you think this just happened for real?

no hint of it on WSCR. so it's just a rumor.

from what i can tell, just a rumor...

The Walker talk is just rumor for now, nothign official.

For those who subscribe, check out Joe Sheehan's column on why the cubs have sucked this year. He identifies three problems:
1) Dusty's inability to recognize that neifi and corey were not 1-2 hitters
2) Putting rusch in the pen and dempster in the starting rotation, and then keeping rusch in the bullpen
3) Consistently playing the wrong LF'er

For all of their shortcomings, it's pretty much obvious to everyone that Murton should have been getting the bulk of the at bats since he's been called up. But instead we sank with Hollandsworth and other crappy players, and now not only have we wasted this year, but we did not get a chance to see what Murton can do on a full time basis -- even though his performanc evidences a solid contributor. Oh well, dusty is as dusty does...

Walker rumor was reported in the Sun-Times

http://www.suntimes.com/output/cubs/cst-spt-t...

It hardly matters what we get out of this trade sequence. It's all small potatoes. We overanalyze this not only because we overanalyze everything, but also because it takes our minds off losing. :P

13) I slept through Spring Training 2004

So...who does Cleveland have that we would possibly get in return for Walker if that deal did come into fruition? I am guessing it would be mainly prospects(and don't tell me dubois). Anyone know if they have any young studs?

So...who does Cleveland have that we would possibly get in return for Walker

"Bear" Bay? :)

"For all of their shortcomings, it's pretty much obvious to everyone that Murton should have been getting the bulk of the at bats since he's been called up."

obvious to who? if youre trying to win you surely dont stick him out there every day for the hell of it when you have MATT LAWTON on your club.

did he mention that TODD HOLLANDSWORTH had just come off a .360 clip when he was being played along with murton/lawton?

sounds like a buncha crap to me.

and what's so special about the dumpster that he deserved the closer role besides 1 offhand comment by hendry and a few by sportswriters?

and what's so special about what dumpster has done aside from a month and a 1/2 of effitive ball surrounded by pure crap?

and did joe shee. convienently forget the cubs own one of the worst bullpens in baseball (sans arizona who is just beyond awful) and has carried 1/3rd-1/2 of their lineup with .300 ob% hitters at any given point in the year?

that seems like a major oversight to ignore that.

Crunch, for all your complaining about the Bullpen, etc, do you really think that fighting to stay out of 5th place is the best this team can do?

While the Cubs have holes, and have had them all year long, they really aren't much worse than the holes that every team in the NL East has.

Sheehan didn't talk about the bullpen (except to point out that Rusch didn't belong there) but he did offer some helpful hints on where these .300 OBPs should bat. Hint: not leadoff.

"The Cubs needed a better bullpen" isn't incompatible with "The Cubs certainly didn't use the rest of what they had very well," which was Sheehan's focus.

what does i think have to do with what this team has to work with?

and what does what you said have to do with the points i raised above?

an issue was raised about dempster and murton and i addressed them via what ive seen and backed it up with what's been done by the players leading up to the event.

looking at murton vs. righties...looking at what holly did leading up to murton joining...looking at the fact matt lawton is on the club...i drew those points.

looking at what this pen is...looking at the fact this pen has been crap ALL year...looking at the fact the dumpster puts 1.50 guys on base an inning...i drew those points.

now, what's your points besides saying "but..but..they did this!" ?

okay ron...thank you.

that was very unsheehan-like to absolutely ignore things and come to those 3 points.

tem...if you have an agenda, its not nice to hijack someone else's name to attach your views to it.

this whole rant could have been avoided...

yes, batting corey/neifi 1/2 was retarded...yes, rusch has been worse as a starter compared to a reliever (but its not like rusch the starter has been all that great)...yes, dusty's made some weird moves like most managers in the game do.

anyone see florida's lineups the past few games or their substitutions?

castillo burried with conine batting 2nd? seriously, this stuff happens a lot..its when it happens for a majority of games that stuff gets really weird.

people already giving cedeno a death sentence even though he's playing...people wanna give murton the LF job with lawton already around as if he was traded for to be a bench player and he has no history of success...

*shrug*

There is nothing that CLE has in the minors outside of that Aubrey kid I would want. I imagine it would be for Dubois since Hendry likes him and I think he regrets that set of trades. I have to give it to you John your analysis on the Lawton trade was on the mark. I still don't think Gerut is that great, but he will probably be better than whoever the 4th OF is next year.

whatever anyone's interest in walker is...they got 2 days and a few hours to get it done if its likely to get done.

You mean "THE" Matt Lawton?? Wow..you are right Crunch....
If Lawton played woth a shit, sure. But he stunk with the Cubs, period. Jollandswoth's big tear? 2HR and 16 RBIs..geez...better trade Burnitz and K-orey...Oh, that was an aberration..as May was .111, with .179/.139/.318...July was .197 with .260/.348/.608..yep, he's a keeper.
Murton may need work hitting righties, you are correct. But calling him out like he was Roosevlet Brown on such a small sample size is ludicrous. (4/20)

dustyb...

yeah...the matt lawton...the guy with who the club traded for...the guy with a history of success. yeah, that one. ever heard of him?

and no matter what you wanna say about holly he was still coming off a .360 clip. no amount of whining will take that away. no amount of whining will also make murton's obvious holes vs. righties suddenly get better.

why is one person's crap better than someone elses?

did murton step up and dominate both sides of the plate? no... did he get a chance to see pitchers from both sides? yes...

did murton show up in baseball 3 months ago with no one knowing about him? you think he was in the minors for 1000-ish a/bs without anyone noticing how he handles righties, especially righties insides with breaking stuff? do you seriously think that? i think you do.

murton isnt a 19 year old that was drafted in june.

you think he was in the minors for 1000-ish a/bs without anyone noticing how he handles righties, especially righties insides with breaking stuff?

??

Murton hit righties just as well as lefties in the minors.

Hey chifan3887, I am still will to make that bet that the Cubs will win 65 games. What do you think?

its not what your #s are...its how you get them and what youre getting them off of.

he's faced A, AA, and non-pro pitchers his entire life.

based on the A and AA ball ive seen, and that's a whole lot...you're not gonna see refined sliders and changeups down there.

if anything can be learned from dubois and rich hill (to keep it recent) there is a HUGE difference between major league pitchers/hitters vs. what you see in the minors.

Doh. Yup...I can type!

I am still willing to make that bet...

btw...cedeno's move through this cubs system has NOTHING even remotely to do with his #s...if it did him and l.montanez would probally be teammates throughout the both of their careers.

there's more to the minors than numbers by far...

Crunch:

What exactly are you trying to say about Holly? That he deserved more playing time?

He had an admitedly hot June, hitting .360/.372/.547 in 75 at bats. Even after Murton's call up, though, he had almost the same number of at bats in July (65) and put up horrible numbers: .197/.260/.348.

I neither have a secret agenda nor did I attach someone elses name to my viewpoint. I menionted that Sheehan made 3 points, paraphrased said points, and then in a new paragraph typed my own. Do I need to put "In my opinion" in front of every f'n thing in write? I have no agenda, and even if I did, do you really think that Hendry/McPhail read these message boards and say "shit TEM, some random poster on an internet message board is shitting on dusty baker, we better get rid of dusty to appease TEM." Get over yourself; you're not that important to the cubs, and neither am I. Christ you sound like Dusty Baker blaming the Internet for his problems instead of looking in the mirror.

The point of my comment was to show that to the statistically oriented community, Dusty has wholly misused the players on the team, even when provided better options. Hollandsworth has had one decent stretch this year that lasted about 2 weeks in june, and over the course of his career has been no better than a 4th outfielder. Murton clearly showed that he should have been given a shot at the everyday position, BEFORE they acquired Lawton. Oh shit, looks like i forgot to write "in my opinion" in front of this again, maybe you'll attribute this to Hunter S. Thompson.

no im not saying holly deserved more playing time...

im saying ignoring that he was producing at the time is akin to ignoring the fact that murton isnt a complete hitter from both sides of the plate.

there's a lot more righties than lefties around and 3/4 of the year a guy's gonna see those righties.

its a complete package going against murton for why he wasnt there everyday...the main being the addition of matt lawton above anything holly can/would/did do.

big lowitzki,

I never said the Cubs wouldn't win 65 games unless your COL, KC, TB, Pit you should be able to do that.

Crunch,

What you and Baker want is a guy like Cabrerra who is ready to go when he gets the callup. Guys will have holes in their game and a good manager lets a guy go out there and work through their problems. If you and Baker were running this team in the early 80's Sandberg would have never became Sandberg because you would have traded him after he went 0-32.

tem...you posted 3 points and attached them to shee...

not all of us frequent the "baseball prospectus" nor do all of us pay for it...

you presented 3 points, 1 of which was outright debunked totally.

that is taking someone's name and attaching your view/interpretation/etc. to it.

"For those who subscribe, check out Joe Sheehan's column on why the cubs have sucked this year. He identifies three problems"

that says

1- sheehan identified those points
2- sheehan's points were 3 points

the paragraph afterwards i took as your opinion and covered that in another part of the post.

Actually, those are three points that Sheehan made, and none of them were debunked.

I posted this in another thread but I thought I'd throw it out again just to give my 2 cents worth...

Although the trade for Lawton didn't work out in the long run, at the time it was the right thing to do if you still felt the Cubs had an outside chance to win this year. With over 2 months left in the season, I wasn't ready to throw in the towel, not with the guys we had coming back for the stretch. And you can be damn sure that Hendry, McPhail, Baker and others with reputations and pressure on the line surrounding a $100 Million payroll weren't ready to throw in the towel either.

With all that being said, it didn't work. So in retrospect, maybe we shouldn't have picked up Lawton and just let the young guys play. But you can't bitch constantly about the team not having a legit leadoff hitter with a high OBP (which historically Lawton has had) and then bitch when we pick one up at the trade deadline for a guy that should be nothing more than a backup OF'er for a legitimate contending team. There are many reasons why this team has underperformed, but the chain of events that ultimately produced us Justin Berg, in my opinion, is not high on that list

"If you and Baker were running this team in the early 80's Sandberg would have never became Sandberg because you would have traded him after he went 0-32."

umm...no.

in fact if you'd bother to research what ive said about murton in the past you'd learn i compare the two a lot.

but that would require research insted of just saying "its dusty's blah blah"

its a lot easier to blame 1 guy for the shortcomings of 25-40 players.

"Actually, those are three points that Sheehan made, and none of them were debunked."

well tem...

in that case...refer to the 1st responce where i called shee shortsighted and ignorant to what more pressing problems were.

and if im wrong, im sorry...i dont pay BP a dime to read their stuff, nor do i plan on it.

if shee did say that...refer to the 1st post responce and i appologize to you.

Sheehan's support for his contention that Rusch should've been in the starting rotation is his performace as a starter as well as the lack of performance by Dempster in the starting rotation (as well as Koronka and Hill).

You may not subscribe to BP, but you should really rely on something more than hearsay to try to refute something.

what exactly did shee say...im getting 2 stories...tem's and rob's....

someone's either misinterpreting or someone's lieing.

im not asking for a full report of a copycontrolled and for-pay article...but im curious to know what was said since im knee deep in this crap now.

Hey Chifan,

Cabrera hit something like .220 for his first month as a starter, and .250 for most of the year in 2003. And, he's a liability in the outfield. He would never have been given a chance to play on a Dusty-led team after showing those kinds of numbers. Rookies have to produce, you know.

My response to your points then:

Re: Dempster & Starting & Closing. I'm not saying he should have been made the closer right away, but that doesn't mean he should not have been in the bullpen. Look at Dempster's starting numbers over his career, he's been less than stellar pretty much his entire career (save one year) whereas Rusch has outperformed him as a starter both last year and this year.

Re: Murton & Hollandsworth. Hollandsworth has had one good stretch that lasted 2-3 weeks this year. Over the course of his career, he has shown to be nothing better than a 4th outfielder. Murton, however, got on base at a .415 clip, and this team sorely needed players who got on base. I've heard you repeat ad nauseum that he can't pull the ball, blah blah, as if hits to right field somehow don't count, and that getting on base via the walk does not count. Further, you say he can't hit righties, but what evidence do you have to support that? Murton has been a solid hitter of his career in the minor leagues, and good minor league performance EVIDENCES the potential to hit at the major league level

I'm not slamming the trade for Lawton or Lawton playing over Murton. I'm attacking Murton's lack of play before that acquisition - although Murton should have stayed up on the roster when Hairston returned from the DL to at least play against lefties (whom he mashed) while Patterson should have been sent back to AAA.

Finally, Sheehan never said if Baker had made the moves that he suggested, that the cubs would be in 1st place, just that those moves contributed to the poor performance of the team this year. You're reading into his comments far too much because you disagree with them.

rob=ron...for clarification...

to take a buncha points and come to those 3 conclusions...that just dont sound like shee to me.

to say those 3 reasons are why the club is sucking is so shortsighted to me compared to bigger issues seems like a joke.

rusch/dumpster was solved after a month and it didnt do a whole lotta good as it is.

constantly playing the wrong LF...for over 1/2 the season that was holly vs. dubois and that's 2 flavors of suck.

i just see a bunch of nothing in those points (aside from 1) and a lot more pressing issues that contributed to the cubs decline.

why are those 3 points given and not the others when summing up a death sentence for this team?

that is my question...

5 for 20 is too small a sample to simply say "he can't hit righties."

about dumpster...

his WORST area of performance is pitches 1-15

if anything this should say he's not closer material since that's historically where he gets lit up.

that's a hell of a gamble, period.

"The gap between Cubdom and contention is wide, but so much of it is contained in three Baker mistakes: using Neifi Perez and Corey Patterson atop the lineup, refusing to play his better left fielders, not keeping Rusch in the rotation"

morphesus...

get this tatoo'd on your eyelids so when you close them at night you can say 'oh yeah...'

murton didnt show up 2-3 months ago.

he's had almost 1000ab's in the minors that have given people plenty of looks at his stregnths and weaknesses.

guys just dont show up without a scouting report on them...maybe the other team dont know them, but that's why advanced scouts exist.

advanced scouting told other teams to pound him inside, and they have. this is a problem with his game. seeing as a guy is gonna see a righty 3/4 of his ab's in the majors unless he's a bench player, this is a major issue.

hell, murton rules...he just dont rule right now. he's damn close. hopefully he's not got a choi-like block on inside stuff. pat listach (ha) is working DAMN HARD trying to sort him out in the limited time he has him. this will be his 6th hitting coach he's seen (at least) in the past 3 years.

"The gap between Cubdom and contention is wide, but so much of it is contained in three Baker mistakes: using Neifi Perez and Corey Patterson atop the lineup, refusing to play his better left fielders, not keeping Rusch in the rotation"

thank you tem...and i appologize for my off the cuff comment earlier. if that is the grasp of it and it seems i was totally 100% wrong.

my beef is with shee's shortsighted article it seems.

Crunch, I don't think you're getting two stories. Sheehan detailed ways he feels Baker's misused the talent on the team. He didn't talk about the bullpen except to acknowledge that it was subpar, and the bits about Rusch/Dempster. You're saying "The Cubs had serious problems in the pen," which I'm sure he'd agree with, but Sheehan's article focused (in the BP style) on how they didn't use what they had in an intelligent fashion.

His summary:

It's dangerous to oversimplify this, but so much of the Cubs' deficit in the wild-card race can be traced directly to their shortfall in runs, and that deficit to poor lineup construction, that it's hard not to just level a finger at Baker.

...

Baker continues to show little understanding of how an offense works, of how to fit his players' skills to the proper roles. Worse, he shows little desire to learn these things, making the same mistakes repeatedly while taking little criticism for his decisions, and deflecting what criticism comes in a manner that has nothing to do with baseball. Whatever his leader-of-men qualities may be, it's increasingly clear that they're not enough to make up for his decisions.

He's not saying "this is why the Cubs are bad." He's saying "the Cubs' tactical management and use of their roster were bad enough to put them 7 down instead of 3 down."

I too think he overplays the LF hand, but the other two, Neifi/CP and Rusch, are varying degrees of slam dunks.

Take it easy, Crunch. Why are you so uptight? All I said was that we're looking at an awful small sample size in the major leagues. You are fond of saying that it's completely different in the majors than in the minors, right? So, how do we know that Murton has this huge hole until we get more than a few AB's to evaluate him on? He hit both righties and lefties in the minors. Did you see the advance scouting report on him or something? I know you have connections in the business... and I'm not being sarcastic there.

"refusing to play his better left fielders"

dubois? hollandsworth? gerut? murton?

what better left fielders?

you got a lefty specialist and 3 flavors of crap as far as 05 goes.

i guess hairston could be out there if someone wants to make an arguement for him, but he spent a lotta time spelling todd walker at 2nd when he missed a month of action and spelling corey in CF when he was sucking hard.

"Take it easy, Crunch. Why are you so uptight?"

im not uptight, i just covered the answer to that from my view in this very thread already.

and i like to inject jerk-like humor in my posts sometimes hehe...i got nothing against you.

"So, how do we know that Murton has this huge hole until we get more than a few AB's to evaluate him on?"

sigh...

okay...now that i answered and re-answered...re-answered in the very post you're complaining about.

he HAS been evaluated, people KNOW what's up with him.

a lot of people get paid (really bad pay, btw) to know these things.

those binders in the dugout with other team's names on them...theyre full of this stuff.

"He's not saying "this is why the Cubs are bad." He's saying "the Cubs' tactical management and use of their roster were bad enough to put them 7 down instead of 3 down.""

thank you ron...this whole thing has escaped my grasp and yeah, i took the whole thing the wrong way.

the lack of clarification in my head between what i was getting caused me to hit on the wrong points of a greater issue.

if you feel slighted, i appologize to you, too.

and once again, i appologize to you tem.

...and yeah, Neifi/CP was a slam dunk point

no worries, it's an internet message board. can't really take these things seriously :)

well, anyone that runs his mouth as much as i do will make mistakes.

if anything, especially when i involve the community here, i must accept responsibility for saying stupid crap.

thank you for accepting my appology and i seriously do extend it to you and anyone else who had to sit through this.

in the future i need to do my own homework rather than interpreting the back/forth because we dont all use the same venacular to say the same things...interpreting can lead to error and i really made a big one in this post.

when push comes to shove and all opinions of this club aside...we're all cubs fans...i think =p

thank you for accepting my appology and i seriously do extend it to you and anyone else who had to sit through this

We had deal with this season I think we can handle your posts.

big lowitzki,

I never said the Cubs wouldn't win 65 games unless your COL, KC, TB, Pit you should be able to do that.

You are right...sorry. it was Cubby78.

Cubby78...do you read this? Or was that just a one week thing?

Sometimes I wonder if anybody here is actually paying attention. Just to set the record straight, RYAN DEMPSTER has done a quality job as a Cub reliever.

As a relief pitcher this year he:

Has a won-loss record of 4-0
Has converted 19 Saves in 21 opportunities
Has an ERA of 2.59 in 40 games.
Has a WHIP of 1.34
Has a GO/AO ratio of 3.5
Has limited opponents to a .222 batting average.

Sheehan is a big Dusty fan (NOT!), but actually, he was negative on the Cubs at the beginning of the season (and 2004 as well) because he did not like the way they had constructed their offense (to many guys with low OBP and not enough left handed hitting). With the departure of Alou and the disappearance of Sosa we knew the outfield was not going to be as productive as last season, and when Patterson became the worst offensive starter in the NL outside of Christian Guzman, the offensive liability of the Cubs outfield became fatal. And it was not particularly good defensive outfield either, especially when Macias and Lawton were out there.

Crunch, the bullpen problems were to some extent set up by Dusty's abandonment of the original plan (Dempster as the closer with Hawkins as the set up man) when Wood and Prior got hurt in spring training. And that set of dominos started tumbling because the Cubs let Clement go and did not sign a starting pitcher to replace him and provide depth, something they should have done given Wood's and Prior's history of health problems. So the supposed Cubs' strength, starting pitching, became a weakness, and less innings the starters pitched, the more the bullpen got exposed.

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