Tuesday, August 25, 2009

To Do List Fisking: Carol Slezack

As everyone is making lists of what the Rickettses should do if/once they close on the Cubs, it would be fun to critique what these others are suggesting. The Evil Step Father (aka ESF) tipped the Carol Slezak column in the Sun Times as a "realistic" approach to turning the Cubs around. Please note that ESF is a White Sox fan who hails from Ohio. Perhaps that explains why he is unaware that William Strunk specifically noted that the words "Slezak" and "realistic" do not belong in the same sentence. Let’s see what Carol says:

(I)f he really wants to build a winner, there's a readily available blueprint he can follow. All Ricketts needs to do is look across town at the White Sox.

Ricketts should model a team that won a World Series with an historically terrible offense for a title team, hid their team on pay-tv for years, and currently has a worse record than the Cubs?

Despite the fact that the Sox are rebuilding on the fly, despite the fact that they've been hovering around the .500 mark all season, Williams sees his team as a World Series contender. And he's not shy about saying so.

Ah! So it's "seeing" the team as a contender "despite the fact"s that the team is rebuilding and mediocre.

For the Sox, the message is clear. And it starts at the top, with chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who hired Williams as the messenger. Manager Ozzie Guillen and his staff are on board. And the players had better be on board, or they won't last long.

It’s also the message. Demanding success causes success! Makes perfect sense.

Obviously you need more than a winning attitude to establish a winning culture.

Obviously. So, Carol, step #1 really just doesn’t cut it.

The Cubs have spent a lot of money on payroll, especially in the last several years, but they've often spent it unwisely, throwing it at the wrong guys and hoping for a miracle. Among other undesirables, the Cubs have become a haven for emotionally fragile, defensively challenged, non-producing outfielders.

With you here.

If the Cubs have had a plan, it has been indecipherable to most of us.

Still with you.

All organizations make drafting mistakes. But when the Sox' top pick of a year ago, Gordon Beckham, is already making a major contribution at the big-league level, you know the organization is doing something right. And when player after player, from Corey Patterson to Felix Pie, are slow to develop for the Cubs, you know the organization is doing something wrong.

Lost us. Sounds like you are saying that when a high draft pick, ones that fan magazines can identify, pans out, teams are "doing it right." No only a high draft pick, but ONLY ONE high draft pick can give us insight to the whole development system of an organization! Tell us, Carol. What do Aaron Poreda, Kyle McCulloch, Lance Broadway, Josh Fields, Brian Anderson, Roger Ring, Kris Honel, Joe Borchard, Matt Ginter, Jason Stumm, Robert Wells, Jason Dellaero, Bobby Seay, Jeff Liefer, Mark Johnson, Scott Christman, Eddie Pearson, and Scott Ruffcorn tell you about an organization?

For comparative: What does Randy Wells tell you about an organization? (Unbelievable that your jottings actually result in making a defense of Jim Hendry’s minor league operations. That’s what happens with you make a "reasonable" argument)

When Williams went after Jake Peavy, the Sox had enough good prospects to make the deal. In contrast, the Cubs' minor-league system is threadbare.

This doesn’t hold with the winter story line, that Peavy was going to be a Cub, but payroll acceptance was the issue, not Cubs players.

Are the Cubs drafting the wrong guys, or are they failing to develop players properly, or both? If Ricketts hopes to build a team that can contend on an annual basis, he'll have to overhaul the entire scouting and minor-league operations. That's no easy task. But it would be money well spent.

Now you’re back on track. Who has been in charge of the minor leagues for the past 10-plus years? Change there would be a good place to start.

Tribune Co. never figured out how to build a franchise that could be competitive for the long term. They never put a system in place. They never learned how to win. Meanwhile, across town, the Sox have figured it out. Ricketts could do far worse than to follow their lead.

Long term success, thy name is White Sox. How many playoff appearances have the Sox had since 2005? How many have the Cubs had?

To summarize. Demand success. Build a minor league system. Follow a team with a worse record with as many Rookie of the Year candidates that the Cubs currently have.


Up next... Al Yellon and why Crane Kenney is qualified to be retained as Cub president. As a preview, it’s the same reason 80% of baseball bloggers out there would be qualified.

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