Thursday, July 15th, 2010
I know newsrooms are supposed to stick to the present day and give the cold, hard facts on what’s going on. Generally, we stick to the “if it bleeds, it leads” dictum here at VFTB – or, in the case of Carlos Zambrano, “If he screams, he leaves.” But we never do anything nice and easy here. We like to do it nice … and rough. So today I’m going to whip out my Cubbie blue crystal ball, wave my hands around it in a manner that will make you all uncomfortable and tell you what I see. Here goes:
I see … Ryne Sandberg managing the Cubs next season. Wait, hang on, my crystal ball is issuing a caveat. Who knew crystal balls could issue caveats? Anyway, it’s saying that, assuming Lou Piniella does retire after this season (and most expect him to … I certainly do), if the choice for his replacement is between Ryne Sandberg and Joe Girardi, I think Ryno is more likely.
You may have read Sun-Times writer Gordon Wittenmyer’s article on Girardi earlier this week. And Al Yellon makes a strong, historical case for why Girardi would be a good choice. But, considering the Yankees are kicking holy ass this season (.636 winning percentage, two games up in the AL East) and could well be on their way to (groan) yet another World Series championship, I just don’t see Joe Girardi leaving NYC. Why would they mess with a good thing?
Ryno believes he’s ready and, given how this season is turning out, I believe Cubs management will look to Sandberg to be the “good cop” to Lou Piniella’s “bad cop.” Organizations often alternate managers in this manner – going from a tenured “old school” guy to a newer, more surprising choice. (Not that Ryno would be surprising to us, but he would be to anyone not paying attention.) And the Cubs could very well follow suit.
Naturally, other names may come up. Some fans were screaming for Fredi Gonzalez after he was fired from the Marlins earlier this season, but he’s likely headed back to Atlanta to take over after Bobby Cox retires. And let’s just leave Bobby Valentine on ESPN so we can change the channel when he comes on, OK?
I see … spring training staying in Mesa, Arizona. With the news that the rich guys from Naples, FLA have jumped in their swamp boats and whizzed back to their respective mansions (look out – gators!), and that Mesa is claiming to have met the Cubs financing deadline, all signs point to spring training taking place exactly where we’re used to seeing it. Well, I presume a shiny, new stadium will be built somewhere, somehow at some point. But this epic saga FINALLY appears to be winding down. You can thank me later for my exhaustive and erudite coverage.
I see … Derrek Lee headed to the West Coast. Hmmm, it’s hard to say from the image swirling around my crystal ball whether DLee is going out there to visit family or play for the Angels. But, I must say, Fox Sports Jon Morosi makes a pretty convincing, if brief, case (scroll down to “July 14 News and Notes”) for why Derrek would be a good fit for the Anaheim Baseball Team Based In And Around Los Angeles And Known Heretofore As The Angels.
If that does happen, I would guess we’d see Xavier Nady as our starting first baseman for a while. Although X has been a pretty huge disappointment so far this season (ugh … .288 wOBA in 156 PAs, negative WAR), that may not be a bad thing because I still think he’s a much better hitter than he’s shown, and he hasn’t exactly gotten regular ABs. I wish he’d get hot because he could make a good stop-gap first baseman next season while the team perhaps readies itself to sign Prince Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez in 2012.
I see … Tom Ricketts finally getting around to reading his favorite magazine, Forbes, and then promptly throwing it against the wall. Hey, Tom’s a busy guy, and he hasn’t gotten around to reading the new Forbes yet, OK? But he will, and when he does, he’ll read this article that pegs the Cubs as the “least efficient” (financially speaking) team in Major League Baseball this season. (Wait, hang on a sec, my crystal ball is now telling me that the article in question is actually a blogpost. Shutup, crystal ball!)
It’s costing the team over $2 million dollars per win (and precious few of those, no?) in 2010; whereas, say, the ridiculously overperforming Padres are spending a little more than $400,000 per win. One of the few bright sides to this season is that it might (we hope) be quickly and effectively educating the numbers-oriented Ricketts group on just how - and how not – to build an effective roster.
I see … Thomas Diamond and Darwin Barney on the 25-man roster. My crystal ball, stubborn as always, won’t tell me exactly when. But Diamond, a right-handed pitcher and former No. 1 draft pick, has performed very well at Iowa this year and just pitched two hitless/scoreless innings in the Triple A All-Star game. I’ve got to believe he’s going to force his way into the Cubs bullpen at some point soon – or at least get a September callup. As I may have mentioned here before, I liked what I saw of Diamond in spring training — he’s a big, imposing guy with decent velocity.
Also mentioned in that All-Star Game story is young squire Darwin Barney. I’m not sure he’s ever going to hit much (only a .709 OPS in 357 PAs so far this season), but he’s gotten very high marks on his defense. He could make a great middle-infield backup, who could occasionally be used to rest Starlin Castro and whoever’s playing second base. “The Purple Evolutionist” is another guy we could see in September.
I see … a post office named after Steve Goodman on Irving Park Road in Chicago. My, my – so specific, crystal ball. Waitaminute, now you’re just reading the newspaper! The only potential stumbling block to honoring the great songwriter could be that President Obama, a noted White Sox fan, has to sign off on the dedication. I smell veto.
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