Of course the Chicago Bears emerging as the apparent class of the NFC is a great development, but it isn’t really a surprise to anyone that is actually a Bears fan. And in even more exciting news, not only did Dusty Baker not get a contract extension, but, team president Andy McPhail took it upon himself to fall on his sword and resign his position. Neither of these developments instantly make the Cubs better next year, but there is reason to be excited . . .right? The Cubs organization can’t possibly fill the head coach and team president with two more incompetent individuals . . .right? Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news in the light of all this optimism, but click the read more link to find out why the Cubs are in no way, shape, or form in better shape then they were a couple weeks ago.
I’ll start off by saying that you can probably get more in depth coverage, and probably better thought out and researched coverage in a few places. Most notably if you’re interested in this story I suggest checking out www.goatriders.org where they even have the transcripts up of the various press conferences surrounding all the changes and shakeups. I’m somewhat doubtful that anyone interested in the Cubs hasn’t been exposed to Goatriders, but if not, you can thank me later.
I could spend a lot of time, trust me I wrote a bunch of stuff I just deleted, talking about what happened over the last couple years with the unholy trinity of Baker-Hendry-McPhail but I realized that all it was doing was making me angry and no one was going to want to read what we all already know. The people who ran the Cubs were incompetent . . . moving on. Now that 2/3rds of that Satanic Trio are no more let’s move on to the question “Are we in a better spot right now?”
The answer by default almost HAS to be yes, but let’s not get too excited. Starting at the top, John McDonough has been promoted from president of marketing to team president. My first thought is, well the same as my 2nd, 3rd and 4th thoughts: You’ve got to be kidding me. So a team that lost 96 games this year, finished behind the Pirates, THE PIRATES and have NO FARM SYSTEM whatsoever just put a man who admits he has no baseball experience at all in charge of the whole show? Oh but wait, he’s just Interim Team President. Like that is so much better considering if that is really the case he is going to have no real authority to make the type of wholesale changes necessary to resurrect this Cubs team within the next 5 years. At the very least I guess the Cubs will be the best marketed team that no one can actually watch without the quality of play making them physically ill.
Probably the first thing on McDonough’s to do list, aside from learning some “baseball phrases” before the Cubs convention, is to search for a new manager. I really don’t envy this job, because after the optimism that followed the signing of Dusty Baker Cubs fans are not going to get excited about anyone short Jesus since it would be nice to have him around to heal the injured and stuff. It looks like Joe Girardi is going to be the leading candidate after he gets canned down in Florida. Girardi had done miracles down in Florida with all those young players, but I’m not convinced that means he’ll have real success in Chicago anytime soon. The thing about Marlins is they were young, but they were really freaking talented. The Cubs may end up being young next year but I don’t see the word talented being thrown around about them a lot. Especially since Jim Hendry has done a really good job of filling the Marlins farm system better than his own. Yeah, certainly would be nice to have Dontrelle Willis in the rotation at this point. Shit, I would rather have his bat than Ronny Cedeno or Ceaser Izturis.
The other side to Girardi has to be asked. Why if he so wildly exceeded expectations, and his players love him, are the Marlins in such a hurry to get rid of his ass? Maybe part of it is the much talked about feud between Girardi and ownership. If that is the reason, does the Tribune Company really think this is the answer? I seem to remember a couple of well liked announcers getting fired because they were telling the truth about the Cubs blowing a season. It’s highly unlikely that the Tribune Company is going to tolerate any signs of dissent from the manager. Another part of Girardi getting fired might be how anxious the Marlins are to sign Fredi Gonzalez, the third base coach from the Atlanta Braves. So here’s a thought, if the Marlins are better at evaluating player talent than the Cubs which is evident from the trades the teams have made, maybe they are better at evaluating managerial talent. So if that’s the case why accept their hand me downs when we could skip that step and just sign Gonzalez from the start. I really don’t know if I’m in a position to say Gonzalez is the answer, but he might be what the Cubs need.
Some of the biggest problems with the Cubs have been the approach at the plate and the lack of fundamentals. Well if Gonzalez shares a philosophy with Bobby Cox, then maybe he’s a better option than Girardi. The Marlins under Girardi have also shown a lack of emphasis on On Base Percentage but that may be an unfair characterization with the amount of young hitters getting at bats. However gets the manager job, he’s going to be faced with a lot of problems. Jim Hendry has not set this team up to win in the near future. But hey, he has a two year contract extension so who the hell cares at this point.
So the simple answer is that the Cubs are not significantly better today than they were a couple weeks ago. On the bright side the Cubs have gotten so bad that any change is seen as an improvement. That has to be the bottom, after all what is the worst thing that can happen, the Royals finish with a better record than us?