Another One Bites The Dust

The dismantlement of the 2005 Chicago Cubs continues. Todd Hollandsworth, like Matt Lawton and Mike Remlinger before him, possesses no value to the Cubs beyond this year, since his contract expires over the winter and promises no compensatory draft picks. Furthermore, any value he holds this year has been rendered an irrelevance by the Cubs' 62-69 circumstance. Moving him, and others in the same boat, to teams that still harbour dreams of October baseball is an inarguably sensible strategy, for, even if the typical return in players is similarly valueless and irrelevant, the transaction at least saves dollars that can ideally be spent more effectively at a later point. And, in some instances, the faceless names acquired in such deals do end up possessing long-term value. If possible then, the Cubs should perhaps also be considering moving Ben Grieve and Neifi Perez over the next day or two, while monitoring the markets for Ryan Dempster, Greg Maddux, Glendon Rusch and Jeromy Burnitz, although the need to clear waivers makes deals there unlikely. Moving Todd Walker would be far less wise. In the Cubs' particular instance as regards these small trades, there's also the Dusty Baker factor. It has to be at least wondered if putting such tantalising options such as Lawton, Hollandsworth and Reverse-split Remlinger just out of Dusty's otherwise inescapable reach plays any part in these moves, even if it's just a secondary motivation. From this vantage point a good few thousand miles away, Dusty Baker's misuse of the roster he's been afforded is as clear as day, even if the extent of the impact of that misuse, both absolute and relative, is far more debatable. Just what the view looks like from Hendry's much more privileged viewpoint, and just what difference, if any, that view is responsible for when it comes to his roster construction - those are the predominant thoughts on my mind when it comes to the Cubs these days. Are these moves, or any moves, what he believes to be best for the team, or best for the team as long as it's managed by Dusty Baker, on whom Hendry has all but staked his own position too? If the latter, I think it's entirely possible that Hendry's self-compromise is having just as great a detrimental effect as the much more obvious (and therefore much more maligned) mis-management of Dusty Baker. I spoke yesterday about Hendry's courage with regards to the Matt Lawton mistake, but if he sees Dusty Baker as a mistake, one that's compromising him and the team as a whole, the greater act of courage would be to send Dusty Baker packing, even if by doing so he runs the risk of going the same way himself. On the other hand, if he doesn't see Dusty Baker as a mistake, and this year's team is his own way of constructing a team capable of winning the World Series, I personally don't think he's got a good enough grasp of the big picture to be a general manager anyway. Discuss.
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Comments

Man, it really is depressing to be at this point. I really thought there was little/no chance we would be out of it and dumping players in August.

It's worthwhile to look to the future, and constructive to debate where the blame lies for this lost season so we can be sure never to repeat it. But for the moment, and for a few more days, it's tough getting used to the fact that we have moved on and the energy and buzz have been drained from Wrigley for 2005.

Overall, I'm willing to cut Hendry a little more slack than Baker for two reasons. First, I think Dusty is basically worthless as a manager. He's a hopelessly bad in-game tactician who has some really goofy ideas about the game, and if you look at the way some of his players conduct themselves, it's hard to buy the line about Baker being a great "clubhouse manager".

Hendry has certainly made mistakes (not the least of which being the hiring of Dusty Baker), but he's also done some very good things (e.g., Lee, Ramirez, Maddux).

Also, Hendry is, at least to some degree, constrained by the suits in Tribune Tower. I don't know exactly how long his leash is, but I have to think he's smart enough to know that Dusty Baker is not working out. It's at least plausible to me that Hendry's bosses won't let him dump Baker and eat his contract. At first glance, that doesn't seem to make sense, given the money they've already eaten on player contracts. But by Tribune logic, that might be all the more reason not to eat another $4 million.

Now I don't think that "blame Andy McFail" should be an all-purpose excuse for Hendry's mistakes. He may have a budget, but it's still a very large budget by MLB standards. Still, I do think that at least some of the thing's Hendry has taken heat for can plausibly be explained by the need to keep his bean-counting bosses happy. Other Hendry "mistakes" (e.g., Nomar) are risks that were defensible at the time, but that just didn't work out.

Those who have insight based on reliable reportage, please comment, but I wonder about the nature of interaction between Hendry and Tribune Co. How periodic? How substantive? How detailed? Can we make some assumptions based on other reports, biographies, tell-alls, etc?

I can hallucinate a corporate managerial situation taking shape, a vicious downward cycle as follows:
1) OK, now we agree we're out of it for this year
2) We swallowed a big chunk of Sammy Sosa's pay this year, and Look! at all the dollars burned on the DL this year
3) Our fans are fairly loyal- gate receipts and TV ratings remain pretty good even for losing Cubs teams, so roster changes are fairly revenue-neutral with respect to accounts receivable.
4) We can compensate for this year and increase profits next year by shifting to 'rebuilding' mode in a big way, and slashing accounts payable.
5) Fans might appreciate a 'let the kids' play atmosphere. New Ad Campaign!
6) The only way to keep Dusty (we're going to lose anyway, why eat his contract) and let the kids play is to deal the vets out from under him.

Does this spell Fire Sale? I wonder. But I'm stupid- surely not like the Marlins, Huizenga cashing out after they had their title. Please correct me.

If possible then, the Cubs should perhaps also be considering moving Ben Grieve and Neifi Perez over the next day or two, while monitoring the markets for Ryan Dempster, Greg Maddux, Glendon Rusch and Jeromy Burnitz, although the need to clear waivers makes deals there unlikely. Moving Todd Walker would be far less wise.

It's been widely reported that Lawton, Holly and Walker were the only Cubs players to pass through waivers. There is a chance that Dempster, Maddux, Rusch or Burnitz have not been put through waivers yet but it's highly unlikely. Once the trade deadline passes, a team can put up to 7 players per business day on waivers and opposing teams have 47 hours to put a claim in. Most GM's won't wait till the last minute to try to get guys through waivers though. And since it is 47 hours and there's less than 47 hours to finalize your playoff rosters, those guys have definitely already been put through waivers.

I heard that Neifi was claimed by the Nats, but no deal was made as it's likely the claim was made earlier in the month when the Cubs still were thought to be in it.

I wrote about this the other day when someone was discussing Todd Walker.....
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Just cause Walker made it through, doesn't mean he's unwanted. If a team claimed him, the Cubs could just pull him back off waivers (which of course they would with Walker) OR it's a 48 (and a half) hour trade window. The waivers are done at the beginning of the month(you can put up to 7 players each business day and you have 47 hours to put your claim in) and I believe the Twins still had Boone at the time, the Yanks are happy with Cano, the A's are fine with Mark Ellis, and Scioscia loves Kennedy . The Mets are the only team that I think would have entertained the idea, (but I think they're trying to build a team around speed and defense.) BUT...

If you want to make a trade with a team, you DON't do it by putting a waiver claim in because of the short time frame, UNLESS you're really certain that you can make a deal. (Chances are the GM"s have already discussed a deal) PLUS, since waivers are usually done right after the trade deadline, I doubt Hendry was really thinking about trading him at the time and putting a waiver claim would just block Walker from ever being traded this month, which would then piss of Hendry and he'd probably block one of your guys in the future.

And Walker is certainly not enough of a player to block another team from having either. I am bit surprised that Burnitz didn't make it through though. Maybe there was a deal and a team blocked it or someone really wanted Burnitz, but Hendry wasn't dealing quite yet.

Steve Phillips did an excellent article on it awhile back

http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?...

Insider stuff which apparently I still have access too somehow...

I never believed we were a top drawer contender coming into this season. More like a weak sister, who could surprise if we were lucky to get some player who performed above their normal career patterns, however the disappointment goes deepr than 2005, it actually lingers based on my belief that the problem is bigger than Baker - the Cubs have always embraced the traditional, long held belief system that ignores the modern techniques used by more statistically nminded franchises.

As such, whether the team payroll is $70M or $115M, if the performance problems are not addressed correctly, we will continue in this mold of getting close without ever tasting post season success.

Time is short - if we can't turn the corner in a substantial way in 06, both Prior and Z are CANDIDATES to leave for better opportunities.

In my heart, I still think we will win if we get lucky and sign/acquire players who want to make concessions to come to Chicago. Jim Hendry, for all his bravada and baseball background, does not have top drawer insight into what it takes to build a championship caliber offense. He is a tools guy and I don't think he really buys into the data that is out there to help a franchise make more informed decisions. He is not an all out dinosuar like Baker is, but he has a long way to go before he is widely regarded as a shrewd baseball talent evaluator.

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