Monday, July 31, 2006
Thanks For The Memories
Greg Maddux is gone. Gone for Cesar Izturis. Yes, the Cubs got a guy with a career OBP of .295. No wonder Jim Hendry wanted him.
It's very clear what Hendry is thinking. He's thinking that in 2007, he'll have only 1 hole in the infield: second base. He's thinking that they'll keep Juan Pierre for 2 years, bat Izturis 2nd (big mistake), sign or trade for a second sacker, and find a Carlos Lee for left field. He'll then try to get a starter and the Cubs will contend in the putrid NL.
Ironcially, he's right.
The real problem is that making a patchwork team the basis for contention is not the way to construct a team. The way to do it is to acquire a bunch of pieces that have the potential to be good and make the good ones great. Izturis will never be great. But, he will be better than Neifi Perez and Ronny Cedeno. And, in 2007, that might be all you need to get a playoff spot in the NL. And THAT might allow Jim Hendry to keep his job a little longer.
It will also keep the fans spinning the turnstyles. Hell, we all went crazy over an 88 win team. Why build a 100 game winner when people flock for sub-90?
We also see that the Dodgers get $2mm from the Cubs in the trade. Couln't the Cubs have sent some MORE money over and gotten a GOOD player back?
At least Greg doesn't have to see this anymore. He didn't deserve this crap. Todd Walker, he did deserve to be a part of this. If there's a real winner today, it's Todd.
And, at least Jim Hendry got SOMETHING for the nearly worthless Greg Maddux. A 26-year old Neifi has at least some value. More value than Greg would have had in 60 days.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Who Needs Two?
In a story so old that this site actually discussed it three years ago, an appellate court judge affirmed the ruling that the Cubs and Premium Tickets acted legally in reselling tickets.
As this page correctly noted, there is nothing illegal about a company setting up a separate business but with common ownership and reselling tickets. What is yet to be answered is the question originally asked back in 2003: How can Premium be a legal scalper of tickets if they don't have to go through the same process of obtaining tickets that other scalpers do?
If Ivy Chat Tickets has to wait in line to buy tickets and purchase tickets from season ticket holders on the open market, yet Premium can buy direct from the Chicago Cubs, that would seem to indicate that Premium is not a true re-seller of tickets and, instead, a marketing arm of the Cubs. It also seems that such an arrangement, if only available to Premium and no other broker, could be an illegal restraint of trade.
If people really want to defeat Premium, then this seems to be the proper angle of attack.
All that said, I don't really care that Premium scalps tickets. Scalpers are simply poachers earning profit on the arbitrage of ticket prices. Why should they get the profit because demand is greater than supply? Why can't the Cubs keep that profit for themselves? It is their product.
I'd have no problem with the Cubs setting up a "Cub Hub" dot com and selling all tickets via open market themselves. They take the risk on placing a team on the field. They should earn all the profit that they can make.
Friday, July 28, 2006
In The Presence Of Brilliance
If you haven't seen this video yet, watch it. When Steven Colbert got his own show, The Colbert Report started slowly. To say he's gotten better doesn't even come close to explaining his progress. He's now about as funny and quick as anyone in the business. Eleanor Holmes Norton? I'd say she seems to deserve all she gets.
To: Greg Maddux, 1060 West Addison, Locker #31
Cc: Jim Hendry
Subject: Trades and Cub Fans
Greg. In the next few days, your boss, Jim Hendry, is going to approach you to consider accepting a trade. Please, whatever Jim asks you to accept, do so.
I really don't want to run you out of town, that's really not the issue here. The issue is what's best for the Cubs and their fans. What's best is not seeing you get 11 more starts and then fade into the sunset. What's best is for this team to divest of the old days and look to 2007 and beyond. That means players under 25 years old.
That's not you anymore.
You may actually be the greatest pitcher in Cub history. That says a lot given this team's history AND that you spent so many years in Atlanta. Most of the fans, including this one, appreciate every time you have gone out on the mound and demonstrated that pitching is an art, not a show of brute force. We would now appreciate one final mission from you: Help this team get to a World Series by leaving.
There are stories out there that your ex-teammate Mark Grace refused several attempts to trade him in the late 90's in trades that would have infused the team with younger talent. This writer, being one that loathes Grace and sees him as a suck up and a media whore, believes the stories are true. This writer believes that Grace put his own future earning potential as a WGN broadcaster above his duty to the fans to help the Cubs win in whatever way he was asked.
Don't let me, and others who share the same views, have our final thoughts of you in a Cub uniform be along those lines.
Thanks for so many wonderful years. If/when Hendry comes to you, accept what he tells you. Please. You deserve to finish elsewhere. And we deserve to see your value to other teams benefit the Cubs down the road.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Who Is Smarter? And Who Draws the Paycheck?
I made the mistake of listening to WGN Radio's Jim Memelo on Sunday. In the wrap up after the Cubs were swept by the lowly Nationals (can you describe a team as "lowly" if your own team needs an adjective that would mean "looking up at lowly"?), Memelo was taking the defense for Jim Hendry.
Memelo seems to believe that, if you were in favor of dumping Corey Patterson, dumping Joe Borowski, trading for Juan Pierre, and a host of other moves that Hendry made that have not worked out, you can't criticize Hendry now. See, second guessing Hendry is not allowed if you didn't first guess him wrong.
As I reached for one of the One Year Old's leftover spit-up towels to wipe the blood out of my ears, my logic center took over.
Wouldn't second guessing be appropriate because JIM HENDRY IS SUPPOSED TO BE SMARTER THAN THE REST OF US?!?!?!? ISN'T THAT WHY HE'S THE GENERAL MANAGER AND I AM NOT?!?!?!?
Clearly, I wanted Corey gone. I wanted Pierre here. Perhaps I was wrong. BUT IT'S NOT MY JOB TO BE RIGHT ABOUT PERSONNEL MOVES.
I won't second guess Hendry over either of those moves. But can anyone who wasn't against those moves at the time? Certainly. The GM is supposed to be smarter than the masses. If he's not, fire him and have the Cubs make moves by majority vote. It wouldn't be worse and would save the Trib over a million bucks per year.
Monday, July 24, 2006
It Is Alive
While this page took a brief rest, Kurt got some well deserved pub, the Cubs continue to lose, and another part of Cubdumb came to its senses. This can only mean that Dusty Baker has to be on his way out. Why? Because this site, whose author doubles as a writer for Vine Line in the form of "it feels good to attend Wrigley Field," is now saying having Dusty Baker no longer feels good.
What's funny is that the REASON for NOW wanting Dusty gone is not a new reason. The reason is that Leopard Dusty won't change his spots.
That leads one to ask, "You knew he was a leopard! Why be angry now?"
As to Kurt, I'm happy for him. He's probably even happier than ever I turned down his invite to be a Goatrider or all the talk would be about how lousy the writing is.
As to the Cubs? Well, Greg Maddux is the only reason left to watch. That and to be sure that the best pitcher in the NL remains Carlos Zambrano.
As to future updates? They'll be more evening based due to a new fun filter at work that blocks out blogger. Until then, here's a pic of Brittany Snow. She's got a new movie coming out.
Who cares about the flick, but she's still nice to look at.
Two Brittany's in a row? It stops here, trust me.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Missing on the List
The Cubs have submitted their list of its five best players in history. This list contains:
That's a decent list. But Paul Sullivan wonders why Sammy Sosa isn't on the list.
Well, the answer is simple. Sosa was a dillweed when he left. He pissed on his bosses. He pissed on his teammates. And, he pissed on the fans, a cardinal sin in this marketing driven Cubs era we all witness.
But, a better question is, "Why these five names?" The answer, of course, is marketing. All these guys are alive and available for interviews. Some better names might include:
Cap Anson - he was kind of a George Halas for the National League.
Gabby Hartnett - Hit possibly the most famous homer in Cub history for a World Series bound team.
Frank Chance - Only manager in Chicago history to win back-to-back World Series titles
Johnny Evers and Joe Tinker - Go read the poem.
Hack Wilson - Still holds the record for most RBI in a season. Also, Tom Hanks' character in "League of their Own" is loosely based on Wilson.
There are plenty of other potential nominees. Phil Cavaretta. Billy Herman. Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown.
Why isn't Sosa on the list? Pshaw.
Why aren't Wilson, Brown and Chance on it. Only because they can't be interviewed would be this page's guess.
Perhaps they will send text messages to Boers and Burnstein.
At this point, when Dusty Baker speaks, all you do is shake your head:
Manager Dusty Baker wanted little part of comments made by Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, who lamented Monday that teams had gotten away from regular infield practice.
"I'm not the one who invented it; don't ask me," Baker said. "We took infield (when Baker was a player). I didn't like taking it back then, but we took it. Why they don't take it, I really don't know. I can't answer that."
Should they go back to it?
"Sometimes," Baker replied. "Especially on new stadiums."
If only there were a job on a major league team that could order players to practice? Scott Eyre must be grinning from ear to ear.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Three Down, More To Go?
It's been three years since this exercise in meaninglessness started. Since that time, the stature of this little blog has grown with the stature of
We've come to the attention of the MSM. We've had some of our material lead to "debates" between other sites. We've even made a few friends along the way. It's been an enjoyable rdide, even if the main topic of discussion hasn't always been so.
Given the anniversary, we thought we'd focus on something much more interesting than the Cubs today. Oh, sure we could talk about Phil Rogers and his suggestion that, of 6 billion people on the planet, there's no one in his mind who would be better than Dusty Baker to manage the Cubs.
We could talk about how Scott Eyre says he doesn't want Dusty fired. Then, we could remind everyone that perhaps the reason WHY Eyre doesn't want Dusty fired is because Eyre said that he wanted to play for Dusty because Dusty runs a loose clubhouse with few rules. We could then point out that Eyre said nothing about playing for Dusty because of a chance to win.
We could talk about how some intrepid bloggers predict that the Cubs will lose two of three to the Mets, and then, when that happens, suggest that it may be time for a change in the Cubs manager. We would then ask, "If the Cubs are meeting expectations and, having met them, a suggestion is made that a change may be in order, wouldn't that mean that there was an expectation to suggest change previously so that expectations could be exceeded?"
Nah. We'll pass on all that today. After all, the focus of this site is entertainment. That's what sports is from the spectator perspective, right? Unscripted entertainment. Well, let's focus on the scripted side today.
Bryan Singer really, really tried to deliver a good Superman movie. Superman Returns is not one. It seems that they started with one story and finished with another. Clearly, the story from the start was a 9/11 story. Even Superman's spacecraft evokes the images of the destroyed Twin Towers (note: Why does Superman need a spacecraft as an adult?). Superman leaves and the world falls apart. Now he's back. Do we embrace him? Get angry for leaving? That's an interesting story.
But, halfway through the movie becomes a fairly typical Christ story. Sadly, that's a story that's been told many times in allegory, and done much better than this. The big ideas are lost. No thoughts as to how a man from a destroyed planet could save another planet. Really nothing.
Another interesting idea was the idea of Supes with a kid. But by having the kid's father be a hidden plot point, the writers created a boyfriend for Lois Lane. That kept Lois and Clark/Superman from having a lot of interaction. That loses another good part of Superman: Can a man who is totally alone find love?
Some other thoughts:
Kevin Spacey looked bored with the role outside of the scene where he talks about what gods are. Brandon Routh was a serviceable Man of Steel. He gets kudos for being a fellow University of Iowa alum, but is still second fiddle to Gene Wilder in the "Favorite U of Iowa Alum Actor" category.
Lastly, Kate Bosworth. Her Lois Lane was, in a word, horrid. The two best Lois Lane's were Margo Kidder and Teri Hatcher. Spunk, feistiness and quick witted were their characteristics. Kate's Lois was slow, plodding, and tight lipped. I dunno if these were her choices or poor direction, but, regardless, bad all around.
All that said, it was good to see the Big Red "S" on the screen again. Singer simply tried too hard to replicate what Richard Donner did back in 1979. The little references to the original were nice (like the meteor from Addis Abbaba), but sometimes got carried too far. Routh's delivery of his (and Christopher Reeve's) line on the safety of air travel was overstarched collar stiff.
Here's hoping Superman returns again.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
It's Deja Vu All Over Again
Wow. Just wow. First, Greg Maddux says, as diplomatically as possible, get me the hell outta here:
"I love playing in Chicago, but I understand there are choices that have to be made," Maddux said. "The city and organization have been great to me and whatever happens, happens. Either way, I'm good with it."
Then, Dusty Baker and Bob Brenly say that Todd Walker delayed a throw that caused Ronny Cedeno to blow a double play. Walker said it wasn't his fault and that Brenly should shut up:
"The potential double-play ball ends up costing us two more runs," Baker said. "Your timing's off with Ronny coming across the bag because Walker bobbled the ball and didn't field it cleanly. When you bobble like that, the baserunner gets closer than you want."
Walker disagreed with Baker's description of how he handled the grounder. He also said that TV analyst Bob Brenly wasn't accurate when he heard him say he had trouble getting the ball out of his glove.
"It didn't stick in my glove and I didn't bobble it," Walker said. "It kind of handcuffed me. It was just a short hop. It's hard to be quick when it's a short hop in front of you. If Ronny makes an accurate throw, of course that changes the inning. But we gave up four hits before that, too."
We see here why Todd Walker's been on so many teams. And why is he more worried about what Bob Brenly says and not at all about what Dusty Baker says? Is he already ignoring the man because he's a short timer?
Then comes Jacque Jones:
While returning to the dugout after grounding out in the ninth inning of Friday's 6-3 loss to the New York Mets, Cubs outfielder Jacque Jones stared down a pair of heckling fans and proceeded to urge them on from the top step of the dugout.
The incident ended with two men ejected to loud applause from fans in the box seats, and an ovation for security for tossing them out. Jones declined to discuss the incident, which served as yet another reminder of how ugly things have turned on the North Side.
I'm looking forward to the "Why Are We Booing Jacque" update.
After that came Scott Williamson:
Reliever Scott Williamson is the other big trade commodity for Hendry this month and he came out of this game with a bruised right calf, making him day-to-day. Williamson seems eager for a trade. So expect him to heal fast.
Kiley's not being too subtle on Williamson's injury.
Then, Mark Prior says that he doesn't belong on the DL, but someone else is calling the shots:
Did Prior have any say in the decision?
"I just found out this morning," he replied.
So he argued against it?
"Of course I argued against it," he said. "I'm not going to put the team in jeopardy by keeping the team a man down. They feel like they needed an extra guy, and that's a personnel decision."
This is so pathetic. Even Derrek Lee does his best to say it:
"We might have been a little sluggish coming off the [All-Star] break," Derrek Lee said.
To paraphrase The Joker, this team needs an enema. I'd know. It starts with creating a fresh attitude in the clubhouse. It ends with a fresh attitude in the executive suite.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Heading Back South
TRB just reported quarterly earnings. Not good:
CHICAGO (AP) -- Media company Tribune Co. said Thursday its second-quarter profit slumped on lower newspaper circulation and the sale of some of its television stations.
This year's earnings from continuing operations were 53 cents per share, including items that reduced profit by a total of 2 cents per share. Last year's earnings from continuing operations were 72 cents per share.
Circulation sales declined 5.3 percent to $142 million from $149.9 million during the same period last year. Broadcasting and entertainment revenue fell 2.4 percent to $403.6 million compared to $413.4 million during the year-ago period. Television revenue edged down approximately 1.3 percent to $320.3 million from $324.4 million last year. Publishing sales were essentially flat at $1.03 billion. Online revenue was a bright spot, climbing 27 percent to $57 million on strength across all classified categories, Tribune said.
Keep your ears open for the Chandler's next move.
If you don't regularly read the Daily Herald's Bruce Miles, today is the day you should. He chronicles the death spiral that is
September 2003 - Cubs / St. Louis Cardinals five game series
October 2003 - NLCS Games 6 and 7
January 2004 - Cubs' fan convention
July 2004 - Dusty and the team versus Chip Caray and Steve Stone
August to October 2004 - Dusty and his relationship with Sammy Sosa
Seasons 2004 to 2006 - Batting second, a bad batter
He even details some of the pitch counts placed on Kerry Wood and Mark Prior in 2003. I'd forgotten about that.
Read the whole thing.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
One James Hall has started a new Cubs blog called Doormats of the National League. While this title goes more appropriately to the Pirates, we'll give him a gimme on this. He does give homage to the greatest Cubs song ever written.
Welcome, Jim. If you can start your venture now with the Cubs as bad as they are and interest in the team waning...
Man, you're nuts.
The Tragedy of Hendry
"it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. - Macbeth, Act V, Scene 5
Jim Hendry announced today that Dusty Baker's job is safe...
Until it's not.
Through the end of the season...
Unless he decides differently.
CMSMA* Mike Kiley has the scoop
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry ended the speculation about Dusty Baker's immediate future today by saying the manager is in no jeopardy of being replaced at the moment.
Baker ... is likely to finish out his four-year contract in the dugout, provided the Cubs continue to play well after the All-Star break.
Hendry gave no time frame for making a decision on whether to give Baker a contract extension. He will continue assessing how Baker, his staff and his players respond in the final three months and only take action if he sees the situation declining. Hendry also said that no coaching changes are being considered at this time.
"At this time..."
"At the moment..."
"Provided they play well..."
This is all so meaningless. What's worse, is that this does nothing to quell speculation or stop the daily questions from reporters.
Either Dusty Baker is good enough to give an extension to RIGHT NOW, or he's not. It's like dating someone for four years and then, right before deciding to propose, announce that you need to have a few more dinners together before making your decision. WHAT MORE DOES HENDRY POSSIBLY NEED TO SEE TO MAKE UP HIS MIND?
Have a drink, Jim. Then go poop or get Dusty off the pot.
*Chief Main Stream Media Apologist
Jim Hendry is going to bring some clarity to Dusty Baker's situation as Cub manager. Well, the Jim Hendry kind of clarity, anyway:
Sources said Hendry will discuss Baker's situation today, though no firm decision about his future is expected to be announced.
The more and more you see, the more and more you are convinced that Jim Hendry belongs nowhere near an executive suite. This fiasco is entirely on his shoulders. If Hendry wanted everyone to stop speculating on the future of the club, all he'd have to do is say one of the following:
1) "Dusty's fired."
2) "Dusty's been offered a two year extension. Ask HIM if and when he's going to sign it."
3) "I've been prevented from making a managerial decision because my boss is concerned about branding issues. Since marketing is taking precedence over baseball operations, and has thwarted many moves that I've intended to make, I hereby resign."
If Jim Hendry had any kind of stones, he'd say one of those three things.
As to the Big Zamboni news, you've all heard by now that Joey Cora clipped Carlos Zambrano's elbow last night with a baseball bat. Rumors have Carlos going on the DL. I'm not worried. See, Cora's OK. He speaks Spanish which is so important to today's player.
I don't usually read Mike Imrem's columns. They are kind of pedestrian. Much better than this space, but still pedestrian. But this title, "Is it time for Cubs to admit MacFailure?" caught my eye. Imrem seems to have this part correct:
I raise the possibility of MacPhail resigning because no sports executive is more aware of public sentiment.
MacPhail is a baseball lifer. He loves and respects the game. He knows his tenure as president has been, as sports-talk radio wags say, a MacFailure.
Whatever was tried hasn't worked. The team on the field is broken and the organization’s infrastructure appears to be.
The worst thing a baseball man wants to hear is that he's better at producing revenue than victories, which is being said of MacPhail.
I truly believe MacPhail is honorable enough to want what's right for the Cubs — perhaps thinking if things don't fit, the president must quit.
Imrem closes with thinking along the lines of this page:
MacPhail could resign, take a job in the commissioner's office, revive his previous "Boy Wonder" image and resume climbing toward some day succeeding Bud Selig.
This could be the face saving measure across the board. You know it will happen for certain if the Chandler's and Ariel Capital have their way.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Plenty To Go Around
There's a lot of talk going on that Kerry Wood's injury problems are a result of Dusty Baker's overuse in 2003.
Frankly, it's intellectually insulting to think that making a guy throw FEWER innings than he threw the year before (211 in 2003 versus 213 2/3 in 2002) is a main factor in Wood getting hurt.
Given that Wood got hurt the spring training after his rookie year (consisting of 166 2/3 innings), the most likely scenario is that he was damaged good before he even arrived in Wrigley Field.
Who do I blame? His high school coaches.
There is the infamous story of Wood in high school:
Two days before the draft, Kerry threw 175 pitches in a doubleheader with Grand Prairie's playoff hopes on the line. The Chicago brass was in an uproar.
You push a 17-year old arm like that and you doom it.
Yes, the Cubs rode Wood hard. It probably didn't matter if they would have babied him like his teammate, the USC alum. Like Dan "Jimmy Carter" Aykroyd, Wood's arm was effectively given a fatal dose of radiation. He never had a chance.
What's sad is that the 20-strikeout game ends as a tease for the fans. What's fortunate for Kerry Wood is that he has that game to look back on. Many players never get a moment like that.
And he has about $34 million.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
What Is Paul Saying?
There's now much more on Kerry Wood's injury, including the possibility that his career may be over.
But Paul Sullivan poses some interesting questions:
Wood has suffered a partial tear of his right rotator cuff, the Cubs announced Saturday, and he likely has thrown his last pitch of the season.
Wood had an MRI of his sore shoulder two weeks ago in Cincinnati, but after consulting with Timothy Kremchek, who performed the labrum surgery, the Cubs announced Wood had a "slight muscular imbalance" in the shoulder that was causing the soreness. Wood thought the pain was something far more serious.
"I know I'm not crazy now," he said.
(Cubs trainer Mark) O'Neal said the reason the rotator-cuff problem was not detected in Cincinnati was that no arthrogram was taken of the area. The test includes an injection of dye to pinpoint inflamed areas.
"It's much more detailed and gives a lot more information, and that's what showed it," O'Neal said.
Could Wood already have had the rotator problem when Kremchek performed the surgery on his labrum last August?
"We've been on the phone with this countless [times] over the last 18 hours, and I think there's no answer to that," O'Neal said. "I don't think there's any way we could decide that right now, and I don't think we ever will."
So was a torn labrum all that Wood needed to correct last summer?
"That's not for me [to say]," O'Neal said. "My point is that's a question that can't be answered. It's all throwing. This is what pitchers get. There's not a pitcher out there who doesn't have some under-surface irritation to the rotator cuff. This has developed to the point where there's a significant strain in the cuff."
I wonder how a board of directors of a company under severe financial strain will respond to blowing $15 million in salary on one guy with a questionable medical history where every medical test was not performed?
Does Andy MacPhail ever get to be questioned face to face by Denis FitzSimons?
Does Andy MacPhail ever get to be questioned face to face by Jeffrey Chandler?
God, I'd love to know.
Breaking, But Expected, news
WGN Radio just announced that Kerry Wood has a torn rotator cuff. This likely spells the end of his season, and, more importantly, the end of his Cubs career.
I really only have one good KW memory as I didn't see the infamous 20 strikeout game. Back in 1998, he pitched a Saturday night game at Wrigley against the Phillies. Sammy homered twice, but Wood homered, too. And got the win.
At this point, not having management being able to rely on Wood going forward is probably a good thing. His unhealthy armn, and Jim Hendry's disturbing faith in it, are a big reason the 2006 team is headed to 100 losses.
You were good, kid, but not anymore. Thanks for 1998 and 2003. Now, get lost.
Friday, July 07, 2006
"Everybody says (Aramis Ramirez) doesn't hustle. He just hustled at the wrong time and wrong situation. Sure, he was watching the ball running to first. You just can't get thrown out at third with nobody out in that situation." - Cubs' manager Dusty Baker on Aramis Ramirez dogging it to first, then trying to "hustle out" a triple.
"Hustled at the wrong time"? Dear lord. Isn't hustle required all the time? Point #437 on the "Fire Dusty Now" list.
And if Dusty allows Ramirez to start today, then you have Point #438. Dusty sure is doing little to avoid the tag of enabler whose players know that there is no penalty for playing the game selfishly and incorrectly.
"(Cubs fans) been hearing that too long in Chicago. They've been hanging in for 100 years now. Nobody wants to hear it at this point." - Cubs' manager Dusty Baker on asking fans to be patient
Whew. I wouldn't want to base my existence on preaching patience only to have the manager I support tell me that such an idea is idiotic.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Gone The Way Of Enron
Ken "Kenny Boy" Lay 1942-2006
Aside: How many people who support the death penalty are upset that he died and do they realize that means they really want revenge and not necessarily justice?
Count me as one of them.
Speculation Running Rampant
Fortune Magazine checks in on the tribulations at Tribune Tower:
Now we're seeing the first big shareholder revolt at a newspaper company since last November, when Bruce Sherman of Private Capital Management sent a similar letter to Knight Ridder. That put the company into play, and now McClatchy is acquiring it for $6.5 billion. The media world wonders if the Chandlers' letter will do the same to Tribune. As private-equity groups and other potential bidders circle around, FitzSimons's empire may be on the verge of unraveling.
Far from over....
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Make It Happen Quickly
Chief Main Stream Media Apologist Mike Kiley to the reliable Bruce Miles to major league goof Phil Rogers to ESPN Radio's Jayson Stark, Dusty Baker's days in Chicago seem to be numbered. And that number is 5.
What seems to be the last straw? Clubhouse divisions. Baker's main reason for being here was keeping everyone happy. How does Jim Hendry respond to this?
Third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who went 0-for-4, with a combined six men on base, expressed frustration that only the hitters are being blamed for the team's 30-53 record.
"I don't know why every time we lose a game everybody is pointing at the hitters," said Ramirez, a major disappointment with a .252 batting average and 15 home runs. "It's not the hitters. If you look at the scoreboard, we allow a lot of runs, too - today, yesterday and the day before and every day. It's everything."
So now that Baker is on his way out, and before we worry about who replaces him, we all have to realize that it doesn't really matter so long as Jim Hendry is in charge. When does the MSM start going after him too?
I guess July 5, 2006 is the answer:
The pressure is on Hendry to come away from these opportunities with real talent that the Cubs can count on.
When CMSMA Kiley starts placing pressure on Hendry, you know that we fans are starting to get hope.
Would the Cubs release Jim Hendry and the $2.5 million they owe him for 2007 and 2008? They paid $15 million over 1 year to get rid of Sammy Sosa. If things ge bad enough, then anything is possible.
We fans have a responsibility to teach this team that we won't accept Jim Hendry being here as "inevitable."
Monday, July 03, 2006
Ignore Plan A Or Ignore Plan B?
A dichotomy of articles in the papers today. As usual, the best breakdown is in the Daily Herald. First, Barry Rozner chimes in with a "Blow the mother up!" article that echoes much of the logical blogosphere. He also, correctly, notes that this is a time to use the lemmings instead os simply abuse them:
The Cubs have enough valuable pieces to blow it up, start over and compete again in a fairly short period of time...
Yet, this is the key: You've got to make Cubs management believe you are willing to be patient as long as there’s a reward in sight.
See, they don’t believe it. They’ve never believed it. They might never believe it.
But you’ve got to make them believe it.
Tell them you can wait for a better product because you can’t watch this garbage anymore.
It is intolerable.
They think that 40,000 fans a game actually hampers their ability to turn over the dirt. They think it means they’ve got to put a freak show out there, so they sign Jacque Jones and Neifi Perez and hope to catch lightning in a bottle with Jerome Williams and Glendon Rusch.
They don’t know you’ll show up and cheer for kids trying hard - players such as Angel Pagan - playing the right way and because they hunger for major-league benefits.
They don’t believe you’ll support a promise of things to come.
This writer would pay to support such a plan. Hell, this writer would pay to support ANY plan. What this writer would kill to have a plan like the Marlins have had is a very long list. Everyone laughed at the Marlins in December. Ironically, the Marlins’ punchline remains “Chicago Cubs.”
Alas, we are told that there remains no such plan:
“To be successful next year, it’s not a blowup in order,” Hendry said Sunday before the Cubs’ 15-11 victory over the White Sox improved their record to 30-51.
“We need to obviously go back and look at how we might have done things that haven’t been successful and keep the parts we think are going to be successful. But if you look at it constructively, you still have a lot of people that are quality major-league players that are not old that can help you next year.”
As Dave Pinto mused, “not old” doesn’t necessarily mean “young.”
Actually, both Rozner and Hendry are correct. Either a blow up or a “tweak” strategy will work, if you implement it correctly.
A blow up is the more likely strategy to work as it gives you more options to pick from among developing talent and gives you more dollars to use to sign free agents. The trick here is that you need a GM capable of choosing and developing young talent. Given in 12 years, the Cubs have developed quality players from top ten picks Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, then Carlos Zambrano, then no one else, what faith does anyone have in Jim Hendry to do this successfully? Not this page.
The “tweak” strategy is much more difficult, but can actually turn the team around in one year. Here’s how it works. First, shed as much payroll as possible. Say good-bye to Kerry Wood, Greg Maddux and Juan Pierre. Unload Ryan Dempster, Scott Eyre, Scott Williamson, Wade Miller, Bobby Howry, Jacque Jones. Trade Neifi Perez and Glendon Rusch for simply an assumption of their contracts. Getting rid of these guys frees up close to $50 million. And, if you can find a taker for Michael Barrett, you are up to $55 million.
Now, you have to use all this money, plus some more, and buy! buy! buy! all the free agents you can. The post-2006 list includes Barry Zito, Carlos Lee, Mark Buerhle and Brad Radke. Trade for Bobby Abreu and Miguel Tejada. Simply put, there's a lot of rebuilding that can be done with an open and loaded checkbook. Just look at Toronto.
Again, the execution of this plan comes down to faith in have in Jim Hendry to do this successfully. Not only does he have to bid properly, but scout properly as well. Can he do this?
Call me a doubter.
The best chance the Cubs have for 2007 is for the Chandler’s to break up the Trib. Stay tuned. This page is trying to get an angle on that right now.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
This One's Not On Dusty
Sure, Ryan Dempster would have finished the game if he could simply get Ross Gload out. But I really don't blame him. He's really not that good of a pitcher who has to work with a rebuilt arm.
Dusty doesn't get much blame here because, who else is he supposed to use? It's not like the GM gave Dusty many options.
So that gets to the focus of blame for blowing a game to the White Sox. The blame goes straight to Jim Hendry. It's not like some people first-guessed that Dempster should be a setup man and getting a real difference maker like BJ Ryan should be the closer.
On the plus side, we fans are another loss closer to a cleaning of house at 1060 West Addison.
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