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So, the Cubs lost their 100 game of the season yesterday. This is the third time in their history that they have lost 100 games in a season. This is the first time it has happened since 1966. It is safe to say that this is the worst I have ever seen from my beloved Cubbies.
So, this season has seemed like an exercise in futility. In spite of all of this, there are some things that I liked about this season. Here they are in bulleted format:
- Dale Sveum is going to do great things for this team
I was really disappointed when Ryne Sandberg was passed over for the manager position, but I think Dale Sveum was a great choice. Sure, he lost 100 games in his first season, but no one expected a winning season. He has led the team to better defense. He has built a team atmosphere. I expect good things
- The Cubs are committed to young talent
Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson did not put up near the numbers that I hoped for. They struck out more times combined than most the other team. OK that was a slight exaggeration. They may not have been ready to compete on a Major League level, but this season was a wash and I think it was wise to give them some meaningful Major League experience. I expect good things next year.
- Darwin Barney can play second base really well
This season Darwin Barney tied the Major League record for errorless games at second base with 141 in a row. Considering he started off as a shortstop, this is great. One of the reasons I loved Ryne Sandberg was his superior fielding (.989 career fielding percentage). Glad to see a golden glove at 2B again. (There is no reason why Darwin Barney should not get the Golden Glove btw. Brandon Phillips does not deserve it this year)
- Alfonso Soriano can still hit
If you would’ve told me at the beginning of the season that Alfonso Soriano would hit 30+ homeruns, and have a career mark for RBIs, I would’ve made fun of you. Apparently Soriano can still hit. Hopefully this means we can deal him and his bloated contract in the offseason.
- Anthony Rizzo is going to be a Cubs hero
Rizzo was called up halfway through the season. If you take his current stats and extrapolate them to a full season, you have a 30 homerun/100 RBI hitting first baseman. This excites me to no end.
So, this season was awful. We probably won’t have a winning season next year either, but we certainly won’t lose 100 games again. This may be exactly the depth the Cubs needed to sink to in order to rise to the top. I have high hopes in the next few years. With consistent young stars in Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, and Anthony Rizzo, and with the potential of guys like Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, the Cubs’ future is bright. And it sure can’t get any darker than the present.
Until later friends…
In case you haven’t heard, Jim Hendry was dismissed as the Chicago Cubs General Manager. In other words, Jim Hendry got fired. Why did Jim Hendry get fired? Because the Cubs have royally stunk for the past two years. Jim Hendry did some great stuff in his career with the Cubs. The Cubs won three division titles under him, and he signed such players as Kerry Wood, Derrek Lee, Starlin Castro, and Darwin Barney. However, he also signed Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley. Between Sammy Sosa storming out under his lead, Soriano being the most lazy player in the league, Milton Bradley being Milton Bradley, and Kosuke Fukudome never living up to his hype, Jim Hendry had awful luck with outfielders. Other than that, and the atrocious record the Cubs have had the past two seasons, Hendry was a decent GM. I met him personally in Boston, and he was great. Everyone in the organization has a lot of respect for him. The team just didn’t win enough games under him. He finished with a 749-748 career with the Cubs. I’m glad he got to leave with a winning record (that’s better than the Cubs are going to do this season). He also left with class. After receiving notice of his dismissal, he stayed with the team long enough to trade away Fukudome (thank you), and sign some great young talent from the draft. So…Happy Trails to you Jim. Thanks for the good memories. Good luck with some American League team.
The question remains…So, now what?
Here are my suggestions to make this team a playoff contender, and eventually, a world series champion team.
1. Hire Andrew Friedman as General Manager
Remember when the Tampa Bay Rays were awful? That was before Andrew Friedman. He has made them what they are. He does not blow money on stupid contracts (like Alfonso Soriano’s). He builds a good team around good young players. This is exactly the kind of guy we need in Chicago.
This is not just me being bitter about my childhood hero getting passed over last year. Quade did ok at the end of last season winning games that didn’t matter. He has proven this season though that he does not have what it takes to manage a professional team. He’s a great assistant coach. He’d make a great bench coach, but not a manager. He does not have a good grasp on how to manage a pitcher. He alternately leaves pitchers in three batters too long, or takes them out an inning early. His hiring was my biggest problem with Jim Hendry, and now that it is time for a new GM, I think it is time for a new manager.
Ryne Sandberg is the perfect candidate for the new Cubs manager. They should sign him for ten years and let him work his magic. Ryne Sandberg is one of the classiest guys to ever pick up a bat. This picture is when he signed a ball for me while coaching for the Tennessee Smokies. He should have been hired as the manager last year, but Jim Hendry went with the emotional decision…Mike Quade. Ryno has proven that he can manage – and manage well. He is the best second baseman of all time, and Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro would quickly stop making errors under this .989 lifetime fielding percentage player. He also has a thing or two to teach these modern players that don’t want to sign autographs and are more concerned with making money than playing ball. He is a fan favorite, and his hiring would rejuvenate the Cubs team and fan base. Mr. Ricketts, make Ryne Sandberg the manager now. Thank you.
3. Do Whatever We Have to do to Get Rid of Alfonso Soriano and His Ridiculous Contract!
Alfonso Soriano has the worst work-ethic in all of professional sports. OK, that might be a bit harsh, but he at least makes the top 5. He does not care at all. He is fast, can knock the cover off the ball, and has a great arm. Yet, he misses routine fly balls, and he averages 1 less base per hit than he should (Come on dude, you’re being paid 18 million. HUSTLE FOR GOODNESS SAKES!!!!!). His contract his hamstringing this organization. To quote Ted Williams, “If I was getting paid $30,000 [or 18 MILLION!!!] a year, the least I could do is hit .400.” Let’s find a way to get rid of him, even if we have to eat a chunk of his contract. We have Brett Jackson, and I’m sure we can afford another decent outfielder that hustles like Reed Johnson.
4. Teach Carlos Marmol to Throw Strikes or Trade Him to Someone Who Believes He Can.
When Marmol is on his A-game, no one can touch his slider. When he is not, he can’t throw a strike to someone with the strike zone the size of Andre the Giant. Someone either needs to teach him to throw somewhere near the plate, or we need to trade him when his trade value is up. Sorry Jim Hendry, but you never should have deemed him “untouchable.”
5. Build Around the Young Guys – Especially Castro and Barney
These kids are going to be great. Sign them to long contracts, and let’s build the team around them. Don’t be concerned with all the errors they’ve made this season, they’ll get better defensively if Ryne Sandberg is their manager. These guys have the potential of being a double-play combo on the same plane as other Cubs greats Tinker and Evers or Sandberg and Dunston.
6. Do Whatever We Can to Make Greg Maddux our Pitching Coach
Maddux is one of the best pitchers of the past 50 years. He was dominant and brilliant. Please bring him in. If he were to coach the Cubs’ pitchers, I bet even Jeff Samardzija could be good. The Cubs’ two greatest deficiencies this year are defense and pitching. Ryne Sandberg and Greg Maddux could fix both of those in under a year – fact.
7. Do not go after Albert Pujols
Albert Pujols is an incredible player. He will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but I’m begging the Cubs to not spend $30 mil/year on him. With our luck, he will get injured and his numbers will decline – just like Alfonso Soriano. Let’s take that $30mil/year and go after three (or four) young and talented players that have their best years ahead of them.
If my beloved Cubbies follow my advice, we will have winning seasons for the next ten years and at least 2 World Series appearances. Let’s go Cubbies! Until later friends…