Friday, August 14, 2009

Blame Where Blame is Due

Good friend CCD over at Wax Paper Beer Cup has some thoughts on what is quickly becoming 2004 all over again:

The complaining about Piniella and Hendry is now being heard throughout the fandom and the media. I've gotta be real honest here, I wouldn't fire either one over this season. Yes, the team has not lived up to expectations, but they have not been awful either. After the success of 2007 and 2008 I think both Hendry and Piniella have earned the opportunity for a mulligan.
I don't want to make excuses for Jim Hendry, but this year the sales process of this club finally caught up with him. He was unable to be aggressive at the trade deadline and unable to add salary as the injuries piled up. In years past, Hendry has been aggressive with his roster during the season. This season he just wasn’t allowed the freedom to do so. I give him the benefit of the doubt. I don’t agree with everything he did last offseason, but I never do. With a new owner in place (if it ever happens) it will be interesting to see what financial constraints Jim Hendry is placed under as he tries to rebuild the Cubs into a contender.

CCD makes some interesting points. But when he said, "the sales process of this club finally caught up with him." CCD failed to note that Hendry would have been fired a long time ago without the sales process!

Back in 2006, the Cubs were a train wreck. Dusty Baker was fired. Andy MacPhail "resigned." Wrigley Field was littered in empty seats. The Tribune was considering a breakup of the company and selling the Cubs. Oh, and the team lost 96 games.

The Trib never really had expended its financial resources to help the club to the limit of their ability. Now that one of their cash cows was under siege, would they defend the brand with money?

The answer was yes. In the winter of 2006, the Cubs spent the following:

Lou Piniella - $16 million over 4 years
Alfonso Soriano - $136 million over 8 years
Aramis Ramirez - $73 million over 6 years
Ted Lilly - $40 million over 4 years
Jason Marquis - $30 million over 3 years

A year later it was Kosuke Fukudome and Derrek Lee that got big money.

That's the core of your 2007 and 2008 Central Division Champs.

What do they have in common? All free agent signings or expiring contract extensions. In other words, the only reason these guys are here is money. And, in several cases significantly more money than anyone else was offering.

If the Cubs hadn't been awful AND for sale going into 2007, most of these moves would not have been made. Jim Hendry would have had more losing teams. That and the lack of development from the minors of position players would likely have led to his exit after the 2007 season.

Hendry came from the college ranks. You'd think a college coach would know a thing or two about scouting young talent. That the minors have developed only Geovany Soto, Ryan Theriot, Corey Patterson, Felix Pie and Mike Fontenot (originally an Oriole prospect) over the past 10 years is pathetic. Hendry was only allowed to cover these mistakes with an open pocketbook. And that pocketbook was only open due to the combination of the sale and the awful team Hendry had put together.

Hendry's recent success was entirely due to the sale process. To say that the sale process finally caught up with him IS making an excuse.

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