View From The Bleachers

March 23, 2011

Chet’s Corner: Five Burning Questions

Filed under: Featured,General — Chet West @ 5:00 am

We are officially 10 days away from the launch of the 2011 Cubs season.  Spring training is in full bloom and some questions are starting to find answers.

Below you will find the first installment of Five Burning Questions for the 2011 season.  We like to know your thoughts on the issues, so feel free to respond in the comments section with your answers.

Question #1 (multiple choice)

If you were GM of the Cubs what would you do with Carlos Silva?

a) Release him

b) Give him the five spot in the rotation and see what he can do

c) Move him to the bullpen

d) Fake an injury and put him on the 60 day DL….over and over again

I go with “A”.  If the Mets can dump multiple players and pay them out then we can do the same.  I am pretty sure Silva’s 15.88 ERA scared off even the most desperate of trade partners.

Question #2

Mike Quade was recently quoted as saying he’s had a few “healthy arguments” with Jim Hendry and Randy Bush.  The arguments center around the players being considered for the opening day roster and which ones need to be sent down to minor league camp.  Occasionally, they don’t see eye to eye on who should be playing.  This sets up my question…..

Is Jim Hendry pulling the strings in the dugout, or does it seem that Mike Quade and his coaching staff have full reign?

I am sure this is a delicate balance, but to me it seems Jim has a tighter grasp on this team then he did when Piniella was manager.  I just hope when  it comes time to manage Hendry doesn’t pull an Al Davis and start calling the plays from the box. 

Question #3

It was rumored (lightly) that the Cubs might sign Luis Castillo after he was released by the Mets this past week.

Considering the Cubs current situation at 2nd base would you have given Castillo a shot?

The Cubs did not sign him and I think they got this one right.  See why in the next question……

Question #4

Based on last season and what we have been witness to so far this spring, who should be the Cubs opening day 2nd baseman?

You would not have convinced me of this two weeks ago, but I would go with Darwin Barney.  I honestly thought Blake DeWitt was a break out star waiting to happen, but I am starting to realize he may just be a flop of sorts.  The once first round draft pick of the Dodgers has had a rough spring batting below the Mendoza line.  You have to reward production, right?

Question #5

Rank the following by order of likelihood…..

a) The Cubs finish the season with 87 wins and make the post-season as the NL Central champs.

b) The Cubs finish the season with 90-plus wins and make the Post-Season as NL Wildcard team.

c) The Cubs finish in last place in the NL Central

d) The Cubs battle until September but fade and are denied a Post-Season birth

D,C,A,B……I see a good fight but no playoffs.

Link of the Week: Cot’s Baseball Contracts

For those who don’t know this is a handy little site when in search of contract information.

That will do it from the corner this week.  Let us know what you think!

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Chet West is an IT professional living in Minneapolis, MN with his wife and two daughters. He has a pug named Banks and loves photography. Follow him on Twitter @chetwest19

  • Mitchener

    1.Grow some balls and release him. 2. Hendry is pulling the strings because if they release those players it makes Hendry look bad. 3. Castillo wouldnt be an upgrade. 4. Barney is legen- “wait for it”- dary. 5. My heart says 87 wins but my mind says fade out in September. I’ve been stabbed to many times in the heart.

  • Mr. David M. Beyer

    1) A. So fast that if I were saying, “I’m releasing you, Carlos,” he would be released by the time I got to the apostrophe.
    2) I suspect one of the reasons Quade got the job was that he’d do Hendry’s bidding.
    3) Yes, I’d give him a shot. I’d give him buckshot right behind the left ear, so as to put him out of his misery.
    4) Let DeWitt play. Spring Training stats are meaningless. In the meantime, acquisition of a 2b should be a midseason priority (either a short-term or a long-term solution depending on their position in the standings).
    5) Can I choose none? I think their range is 75 to 85 wins depending on player health and some early October tee times.

  • http://van Buddy

    1. Release him ASAP
    2. The manager has input on the roster, but he doesn’t assemble the roster.
    3. Playing nobody at 2B would be better than playing Luis Castillo.
    4. DeWitt/Baker at 2B is fine for this year. Not great, not terrible. Also, I’ll be really glad when all the Barney talk finally dies down.
    5. D,C,A,B sounds good. I picked the Cubs third. Something like 82-80.

  • Doug S.

    1. Bullpen long relief. Look at it this way, he comes into the game we’re already in big trouble. How much worse can it get? (don’t answer that)
    2. I sure hope MQ is not Hendry’s puppet
    3. No to the Mets castoffs.
    4. Baker’s HR yesterday was all the offense we had. He’s got some potential……….right?
    5. A, of course.

  • http://www.pepicellis.com Tom C

    To Doug S: How bad can it get? I HAVE to answer!
    When I was younger my Dad and I would say the same thing and then in came Jeff Pico, or Tewksbury or Lancaster or…

  • Aaron

    1. A. Just get rid of him. If Hendry’s too proud to get rid of him, fake the injury (although that’s basically just as much an admission of a mistake as releasing him).
    2. Hendry has input and I agree with Mr. Beyer that Quade may have gotten the job because Hendry felt like he could boss him around a little more easily than Ryno. On the other hand, Quade doesn’t seem like the type to just bend over and take whatever management gives him. He may lose the argument, but I think he’ll put up a fight.
    3. No way on Castillo. If the Mets, of all teams, felt like he wasn’t the answer, why would he be better on the Cubs?
    4. I’d start the season with a platoon of Baker and DeWitt. I’d give DeWitt a really short leash, though; if he’s not batting at least .250 after the first couple of weeks, I’d put Barney in his spot.
    5. D, A, B, C. As Mitchener said, my mind says no playoffs, although my heart says there’s a chance. No matter what, though, I don’t see the Cubs finishing last. Not behind Houston *and* Pittsburgh.

  • Chuck

    1. I would go b then a if it doesn’t work out well. Carlos was pretty good for half of last year and is owed quite a bit of money. I don’t think the bullpen is an option because of his attitude.
    2. I think all GMs pull some strings because it is a team effort to get players they both think will help the team. Ultimately the GM is the managers boss and can’t blatantly ignore the GM.
    3. Short answer is “no”. The long answer is “no” because I don’t think Castillo is an upgrade over what the Cubs have in-house. He is also way on the wrong side of 30 for a middle infielder.
    4. People overrate spring stats all the time. The problem with spring stats is that you have no idea (unless you follow it very closely) what the level of compitition the player is facing. Take Barney. Is he facing MLB pitching or is he facing kids from A-Ball that are there as roster fodder? Were they phenom prospects or roster filler? DeWitt should be the starter because over the last three years he has hit .259/.333/.378 AVG/OBP/SLG at ages 22 to 24 that includes a pretty bad 2009 at age 23. Is that a star? No. but it is pretty good for good glove guy at an important defensive position. Barney is the same age and has yet to crack a big-league lineup.
    5. A, D, C, B. There is no way that the Cubs win 90 without some out-of-nowhere moster seasons from guys like Soriano, Aramis and Geo. There is also no way that the Cubs finish last unless they are decimated by injuries. This team is not great, but they don’t suck either.

  • jim haley

    1. Hi-Ho Silva….Away !!!!!!!
    2. Hendry wants full control & this is why Ryno didn’t get the job.
    3. No on Castillo…..Barney has outplayed Dewitt. Would have liked to seen Ju Lee at ss & castro @ 2b late last fall before Hendry traded him away.
    4. How about Castillo totally outplaying Hill in every department as backup catcher. It would be ashame to see Hendry send this kid to AAA. Make Hill a coach in the minor league system if he loves the Cubs so much
    5. Spring is no indicator but winning 80 games might be a long shot. Lets remember Quade was playing vets against Rookies in September trying to win a job. He is a yes man for our beloved GM & thats why he is here.

  • http://mytimetowaste.com Rich Beckman

    1. Give him the five spot in the rotation and see what he can do. In truth, the money was flushed the day they signed Bradley. But there is a chance that Silva might give something for those dollars and I think you have to see.

    2. I have always assumed that the final decisions on roster belong to the GM. Clearly, the manager should be given lots of input. Quade does not strike me at all as someone that could be easily bossed around. The fact that there have been healthy arguments confirms it for me.

    I will be surprised if it turns out Hendry is “pulling the strings in the dugout.” Nor should he be.

    3. No.

    4. As Chuck said, it would depend on the quality of pitching Barney was facing in Spring Training. If he got those hits off major league starters then I think you have to consider starting him. Otherwise, DeWitt starts but Barney is on the club.

    5. The season has not yet begun. The Cubs are going to win the Series! Subject to revision April 15, May 1, May 15, June 1, June 15, July 1, July 15…..

    If you put a gun to my head and require I place a monetary wager on the outcome, I would bet d.

    Satisfied?

  • http://swantron.com jswanson

    1. Let him pitch in the five spot until he hurts himself; promptly release
    2. We’ll know for certain if Hendry comes out and throws a base
    3. Wrong Castillo
    4. I go with Scales > Barney > Baker > DeWitt
    5. D A B C

  • Doc Raker

    1) Give Silva a chance to look good in the regular season. Keep in mind AZ is a hitter friendly environment and Silva surprised everyone last year with a great start. If his trade value rises, trade him. No hurry on releasing him, we can always release him May 1 or June 1 or anytime thereafter.
    2) This is the problem with Hendry and his contracts as I have argued before, he is married to the money he has paid out and therefore favors players on his contracts and not on their performance. I hope Quade gets his way. I must wonder if these arguments revolve around Smarja with Hendry wanting him up and Quade knowing he belongs down.
    3) Is this the same Luis Castillo that hit the Bartman foul ball? We don’t need another 2003 Marlin.
    4) Opening day 2b man. Give Barney a shot, and in that vein give Wellington Castillo and his .700 avg a shot also. To point number 2 I must wonder if Hendry wants Koyie Hill and his contract up with Quade arguing for W. Castillo.
    5) Cubs win 120 games in 2011, hey, it’s still spring training baby!

  • Benjamin

    1) “You’re only fat if you’re losing.” This was said about Carlos Silva. Well, he’s losing now, and has only put on weight. Release him
    2) I don’t think it’s possible for a coaching staff to have full reign because ultimately it’s the GM’s office that puts rosters together. That said, I think the fact that arguments have happened shows that Quade is attempting to stop Hendry from walking all over him, trying to create more of a balance.
    3) The Phillies signed Castillo to a minor league contract.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110320&content_id=17044418&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb.

    Even if they hadn’t, I would not have liked him on the team. Just taking up space and not letting the young guys like DeWitt and Barney grow
    4) I like the platoon situation, let DeWitt hit against righties and have Baker be the pinch-hitter, then against lefties let Baker do the hitting. I don’t see a problem with that platoon because neither is a liability on defense.
    5) d,a,b,c. I don’t think the Cubs are good enough to win the division, but I would definitely like to see it happen. I do think it’s more likely though for this team to win 90-plus than it is for them to be worse then Houston and Pittsburgh. I just don’t think it’s going to happen

  • Randy

    1> B – Give him the 5 slot, send Cashner down to AAA to keep loose. If Silva proves himself with a solid start, trade him and bring Cashner up. If he flops, release him and bring Cashner up. If he’s f’n amazing, trade him for better prospects and bring Cashner up.
    2> I think Hendry has too much respect for Quade to play the money card on him. I think there is some honest debate as to the value of spring training stats and proven players.
    3> No, the guy is lazy and the wrong side of 30.
    4> I’m going to say DeWitt if it’s a RHP, or Baker if it’s a LHP. Barney needs to remain available off the bench and as a defensive replacement.
    5> D, A, B, C – I think the Cubs will contend because it is a weak division and could run away with it based upon their strong pitching. I see an 85 win season finishing tied for second place in the Central. Rather than a September fade I see a surge to contention with them running out of time.

  • Mac

    1. take him to the mexican/arizona border and shoot him. he’s awful.
    2. hendry looks like he’s becoming a control freak, and that scares me. i feel like he’ll push for more playing time for fukudome so he can get “top-dollar” for him since we have colvin.
    3. luis castillo is god-awful. yeah, he’s a career .290 hitter, but he doesn’t have his speed anymore. we wouldn’t even be talking about this if hendry had pulled the trigger with roberts years ago.
    4. i kinda like blake dewitt, even though he isn’t playing well. we don’t have a potent 3B/1B back-up, so why not flip darwin barney for jake fox, or someone like that? baltimore needs MIF help, and fox can give us some offense. just a thought.
    5. D, A, B, C. we’re in no-man’s land, but as long as the pirates are in our division, we won’t be in last place.

  • Seymour Butts

    1 Let him start, send Cashner to Iowa to get lengthened out and bring him up when ready. At that time trade Silva, even under terms that are very close to a release.
    2. Gm’s should rule the roster. Managers control them after they have a roster spot.
    3. No
    4. Barney will be there by mid season, his talent will eventually win out. Though I did not brake bread with him, I did have a nice chat with him in the clubhouse at Fitch park this January. Level headed. college educated, and from the Pacific Northwest.
    5.A, B, D, c. Come on Cub fans, let’s get some love.

  • cap’n obvious

    1. Before releasing Silva, the Cubs and Hendry need to ascertain whether or not they can get anything at all of value for him. Perhaps a low class a relief pitcher. A few broken bats? Aaron Miles?
    2. I have believed all along that Quade was given the job because he was most likely to be a marionette for the front office and Hendry. I’ve seen nothing to make me change this opinion, if fact, thanks to WGN in HD, it should be easier to make out the teeny tiny strings extending up from his limbs this season.
    3. Luis Castillo was an extremely fast but otherwise crappy 2B on the 2003 Marlins. Now he is no longer fast. He is Blake Dewitt.
    4. 4 monthss ago I was spouting that Blake Dewitt was crappy on this site, and very few believed me. I live in Los Angeles, and am forced to choose between American Idol-type crap or Dodger games for my evening entertainment very frequently. He was crappy for the Dodgers…that’s why they traded him. I wish I could easily put into words how much he sucks. It’s harder than you’d think. Baker’s not much better, so I guess they go with Barney, but mark my words, it won’t be long before the “we need Theriot/Fontenot back” or the even more tired Brian Roberts debate begins again. The Cubs had the whole offseason to adress this deficiency, and chose to do nothing.
    4. Barney. He’s better than Aaron Miles. Barely.
    5. D,C,B,A. Anyone that thinks this Cub team, as currently built, can contend, is sipping the kool-aid while smoking the ganja. .500 looks like a stretch to me.

  • greg

    Sorry to all if I dont answer the questions(maybe later) but im so irritated and I wanted to voice my opinion. Not like any of us can do anything about it but just be Cub fans. I guess in recent moves that Cashner will be headed in the bullpen direction again and Mr. Silva will be the fifth starter. Yippie Skippie!!! Give me one argument in which the Cubs are better with Looper or Silva as the starter. Ive been a fan of Uncle Jimbo up until this point. Maybe its not Hendry and its Q that wants him, who the hell knows. Just eat the damn contract and drop the bum. I hope I overreacted. I hope im wrong! Thank you for listening

  • Chet

    I have not been a fan of Hendry as many can tell. I think his ways are antiquated and his ego is massive. I once had a run in which I will share…..
    It was late 2000 and the cub season was all but over. I decided to attend a game on the cheap. I was by myself and showed up early to catch batting practice. I walked down as close as I could get which was right on the Cubs dugout and while I watched Jim Hendry walked up to dugout steps and started some banter with a few fans. This was around the time Sammy was looking for a new contract. A 13 year old belted out, “Hey Jim, are you gonna sign Sammy to a contract extension?” His response…..wait for it…..keep in mind this is a 13 year old kid asking a question….a fan if you will…..

    Hendry: “why the hell would I tell you the answer to that question? Don’t you think I have reporters in the locker room breathing down my neck about it? Wouldn’t I tell them first?”

    I thought the kid was gonna cry. He said it in such a tone you would think he was offended.

  • Seymour Butts

    I’m sure Hendry does have a big ego, but I’ve long ago decided that they all do. I’ve met several D1 college basketball coaches, and it took about 3 before realizing they were all flaming Greggholes in person, and wonderful people on the nightly news. It probably requires that to do a decent job when every blogger with an inter-web connection calls you a piece of Gregg.
    Just Sayin.

  • Buddy

    I think Seymour is right on the money.

  • chet

    Yes, you are right Seymour, but at the same time he could have put his TV face on for the 13 year old. There were 100 different responses he could have given to a child, more or less the child of a paying customer/fan.

  • cap’n obvious

    My opinions on Hendry have nothing to do with him being an egomanaical jackwagon. I have met a great many egomanaical jackwagons in my life. Some were cardio-thoracic surgeons, some were optometrists, b-list actors, lawyers, realtors, and even bloggers make the list. My point? Not ALL of them were. You can’t assume d-baggery by profession alone. I’ve also met great people from the above professions. Just as it would be wrong to assume (ass-u-me)that all D1 basketball coaches are egomanaical d-bags, it is also wrong to assume all Hendrys are as well. The circumstances of that day in his life aren’t known. He was very likely tired, and even more likely, hungry. Think of yourself when you are tired and hungry. Should he have popped off to the 13 year old? No. His personality would seem to be such that he shouldn’t interact with fans at all. Really, what pro sports GM really should be among the fans fielding quesions before a game? Name one who wouldn’t risk someone asking a question that’d piss him off…Its a recipe for disaster. The have a job that almost every fan thinks they could do better. They are bound to have fans ask them questions they don’t want to answer. So while I still think Hendry is a schmuck for the job he’s done building what I hope and pray will be an at least competetive team, I can’t hold him responsible for jumping on the kid in the stands.

  • Lizzie

    There’s probably a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy going on. If half the world thinks you’re God and the other half thinks you’re an a-hole you probably adopt some traits of each. An a-hole who thinks he’s God doesn’t make for an enjoyable fellow. As for yelling at the kid, I feel the same way about Hendry as I would about an athlete. They take on a certain responsibility when they agree to be in the public eye and if he cant be civil then he needs to stay up in his office. That said, many fans are a-holes of the highest degree. But it sounds like this child was far from that type of fan! (broad)

  • Doc Raker

    Jeff Baker hit an HR today, maybe he should play 2b.
    * You would think the GM of Cub nation would be adept at chatting with fans and playing coy. A simple ‘when I know you will know’ or ‘after I have dinner with Seymour I will know more’ would do. Maybe Hendry was on a sugar low after a doughnut binge. I am more concerned about the roster he creates for the Cubs, not his dugoutside manners.

  • http://mytimetowaste.com Rich Beckman

    Here is an interesting post on the DeWitt/Baker situation. Be sure to scroll down to the seventh comment (by Jack Nugent). The comment contains this:

    Baker v. RHP: .330 wOBA
    Baker v. LHP: .362 wOBA

    DeWitt v. RHP: .315 wOBA
    DeWitt v. LHP: .298 wOBA

  • http://mytimetowaste.com Rich Beckman
  • Joe

    I wish I knew where we should go with the 2b situation

  • Buddy

    For now the Cubs just need to move forward with what they have at 2B. If they’re in the race this summer, maybe a trade option or two will present itself. Chris from Illinois suggested Kelly Johnson the other day. He would be a nice fit if Arizona is willing to move him later in the year.

  • Chet

    It’s bizarre because of the candidates. We have an inconsistent guy in DeWitt, a guy in Baker who can hit the hell out lefties but does not hit righties, and then we have Barney, the rookie who is sort of an unknown at this point….we know what he can do but has not showed yet???

  • Buddy

    One thing we know about Barney is that he didn’t produce in the minors. In 420 games and 1,700 PA he “slugged” .374 with an on-base of .334. Not good. This guy wouldn’t walk if you put a gun to his head. He’ll be 26 this year, so I wouldn’t hold my breath for much improvement.

  • Joe

    testing again

  • eric baranski

    1. As much as I hate to say it, and the only reason that I am going to say it is that he pitched pretty good yesterday with his back against the wall, but they should break camp WITH Silva. Not because I like him, or that they owe him a pretty big chunk of change, but I don’t want to see Cashner until May. The kid pitched really poorly the other day in a cold and rain-shortened outing. What type of weather do we generally see in April? Exactly. Not to mention the potential for injury by a young guy overthrowing in bad weather because he’s trying too hard. I’d rather see Cashner than Silva, but I say give the big guy three or four starts and see where he’s at. Maybe we’ll get a little more first half magic out of him. If not, once May comes and the weather turns dump him and bring Cashner up.

    2. I’m not real sure what to think of the Quade-Hendry relationship yet. Quade strikes me as being a straight-shooter. My guess is, that’s why there might be a little friction over the trimming of the roster. I can’t imagine, right now anyway, that he would allow Hendry to pull his strings. Boss or not. We’ll have to wait and see.

    3. Luis Castillo at second? Not a chance. Next question.

    4. I still contend the Cubs should try and get Michael Young. Given he’s 34 years old and owed 13 million, he’s a solid run producer. He’s going to hit 20 hrs and and knock in 90. If anyone thinks the Cubs will get that kind of production out of DeWitt or Baker or both, they’re nuts. And yes, I believe Young can still play second base. He’s been a solid defender wherever he’s played. He may have lost a step, but its second base, not shortstop. So, after we don’t get him, I guess we’ll be stuck with the punchless second baseman of DeBaker. Barney isn’t ready yet and I’m not sure I’d want two really young guys up the middle. Our defense will be average at best as it is.

    5. I have to go with my head and say we’re looking at a good team, but not not good enough. It’s possible that they could pull off a division championship, but it’s going to take above average seasons from more than a few guys. Plus theres going to have to be some tweaks or trades. My eternal optimism as a Cubs fan will never die, but its definitely weakening as I get older. As is my patience with a franchise that forever seems to do just enough to keep me coming back.

    I also want to weigh in on Hendry responding to that kid the way he did. If thats the absolute truth, than thats total BS. A better response would have been no response at all. No way should he have spoken to a 13 year-old fan that way. The kids probably sporting a Buehrle jersey these days. If he is I can’t say I blame him.

  • Mitchener

    Heres my case for Barney. He may not be a slugger but hes been improving the past couple years in the minors. .682, .708., .711 ops from 08-10. And now he has put on 15 lbs of muscle after going to Camp Colvin. So i expect him to put up better numbers. Weve already seen him improve over this spring. I expect him to be the next Ryan Theriot but with a much better glove.

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