Friday, June 11, 2010

Tom Ricketts and the Prisoners of Azkaban (aka Cubs Fans)

It is somehow fitting that the celebration of the spectacular rebirth of one Chicago team took place on the day my most optimistic, pie-in-the-sky braincells put the Cubs' hopes of being relevant in this town any time soon on life-support.

The Cubs have drained just about every possible good feeling I have ever had about them and they have seriously killed a good portion of my Blackhawks buzz.  The 2010 Cubs are the dementors of baseball.  Unfortunately, there is no magic incantation like Expecto Patronum to make this team go away or get any better.

Despite what you may have heard on other blogs that may rhyme with Need Puppy Poo, there is no single move that will get the Cubs back on track this season.  The growing mob asking for Lou Piniella's head on a platter will not be satisfied when Theriot keeps swinging at first pitches, Lee keeps hitting groundballs on the infield, Fukudome repeats his same exact pattern of getting worse as the year goes on, and nobody on the team knows a damn thing about fundamental baseball.

Ryne Sandberg ain't fixing it.  As much as Bob Brenly would like you to believe he has the answer, he ain't fixing it.  The Cubs could hire evil scientists to put together a combination of Casey Stengel, Sparky Anderson, Earl Weaver, John McGraw, and Joe Torre and their combined baseball brilliance ain't fixing it.

There is no single move that can be made either now or in the off-season that returns this team to respectability.  The Cubs are old, overpaid, and underperforming in almost every aspect of the team.  For every Starlin Castro to give us hope, there is an Aramis Ramirez and Kosuke Fukudome killing the team on the field and on the payroll.

Nothing about this team is going to change as long as the upper management remains the same and there is no evidence at all that anything about that is going to change.

Tom Ricketts kept fratboy Crane Kenney running the show in the front office and he is not a baseball man.  Crane's expertise lies in revenue building.  His only background in the workings of a baseball organization has been gained while in the employ of the Cubs.

Tim Wilken is a fine scouting director, but his pick of the 191st ranked prospect with the 16th pick screamed that the Cubs were not going to risk the dollars necessary to sign one of the Top 10 prospects that were still left on the board when the Cubs picked.  If Tim Wilken were picking players based on pure baseball skills and game theory to get the most value out of the draft, the Cubs would have taken the risk that a guy forecasted to go in the fourth or fifth round would still be around in the second round.

So get used to this team.  Hendry won't blow the team up unless they lose ten in a row and fall back by a dozen games or so in the standings.  The problem is that the Cubs probably arent THAT bad, and even if they are, the rest of the division sucks.  Think about how bad the last couple of weeks have been for the Cubs and they have lost about 2.5 games in the standings to the Reds and Cardinals.

The Cubs can't admit this team is a failure as much as the Ministry of Magic couldn't admit that Voldemort had returned.  Any sane person who can see what is going on has to come to the conclusion that this team blows and the best thing to do would be to trade off the few valuable pieces they have left to get shiny new pieces that don't cost as much, but might be around for awhile.  But they won't.  They will dig in and keep hoping that somehow the team finds a magic way to win so that the tickets sell and those that have already bought tickets bother to show up and buy concessions.  The Ricketts have a $450 million debt staring them in the face so if the revenue isn't there from paying customers, they will cut spending in other places, like the draft and player development.

That is not how you build a successful team.  I just need to put on blinders and watch only Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner, and Tyler Colvin.  Maybe then I can muster enough happy feelings to conjure a patronus that will chase off the rest of this Cubs team, but otherwise this season will just seem like a life sentence in Azkaban.


Anonymous said...

"Tim Wilken is a fine scouting director, but his pick of the 191st ranked prospect with the 16th pick screamed that the Cubs were not going to risk the dollars necessary to sign one of the Top 10 prospects that were still left on the board when the Cubs picked."
It may have screamed it to you, but it was hardly a whisper to me. The dollars paid are more determined by where you are picked, rather than where someone thought you should have been picked.
Even if there is an impact, it's relatively minimal based on other criteria.

Aisle 424 said...

They are going to sign this kid for less than most of the 1st round picks because he is going to be thrilled to be making money with seven digits instead of low six figures.

It will not take a giant signing bonus to get him to forego his senior season at Southern Arkansas.

Yes, he will make 1st round money, but it will be the least amount a team can expect to spend in the first round. Then the next rounds were spent looking for players that dropped below expectations so they can get deals on those players as well.

The whole draft had nothing to do with finding the best talent (which would cost more money), it was about finding the best deals and minimizing their costs. A major market team like the Cubs should not have to apply strategies that the Twins use when they draft. Money should not be the driving factor when it comes to finding the best talent available according to their scouting reports.

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