Archive for August, 2011

Game 130 – Randy Throws a Dandy

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Cubs 3, Braves 2

Box Score / Highlights

The Cubs end a three game losing streak behind Randy Wells best pitched game of the year, beating the Braves 3-2.

What went right:

  • Randy Wells pitched his best start of the year, going 6 2/3 while giving up only 1 run on 2 hits and 2 walks to go along with 6 strikeouts. He’s taken a step back this year and is likely going to have to fight for a spot in next years rotation.
  • Aramis Ramirez stayed hot, getting on base three times.
  • Alfonso Soriano hit a homer for the second night in a row.

What went wrong:

  • Mike Quade’s decision making continues to be questionable. Randy Wells showed signs of struggling in the 6th inning, but got out of it. He came up in the bottom of the inning with Soriano on second and two outs. That seemed like a good chance to pinch hit for him and thank him for a night of good pitching. He got the lead off man in the seventh, Freddi Freeman flew out to the wall, and then Chipper crushed one over the center field wall. He was removed at that point.
  • Geovany Soto had a rocket in the 8th with the bases loaded and one out that was caught by Chipper who touched third for an easy double play. Tyler Colvin did the same thing on the first base side and later scorched one to deep center, but Michael Bourn was able to grab it. Tough luck, that’s baseball for ya…Tyler could’ve got that OBP over the .200 mark!
  • Reserved for Carlos Marmol note


  • Carlos Pena was claimed off waivers by the Yankees (I guess they’ll do anything to keep Jesus Montero in AAA). The Cubs would still be on the hook for the $5 million deferred payment in his contract next January, so it doesn’t sound like they are all that anxious to move him. I don’t see why not. Let the Yankees take him and save $1 million or try and work out a trade and get something for the farm system. The Yanks won’t resign him, so if he’s still on your wish list, he’ll be there in free agency (along with Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols, who they have to at least talk to, right?). The timing of the GM change was a mistake on Ricketts part.
  • Bud Selig was in the booth talking with Len and Bob. One subject to come up was the idea of an international draft and hard slotting for draft picks. This is a great idea if he wants to lose the best athletes to other sports. The 2011 draft had the Nationals, Pirates, Royals, and Mariners as the top four spending teams with Toronto and Tampa Bay collecting the most players that signed for over $500k. What’s wrong with the way it is? You get what you pay for and if the Nat’s, Pirates, and Royals are the top three spending teams, I’d venture a guess that any team can take this strategy.
  • Aramis Ramirez is about as hot as a hitter can get. This has brought a lot of discussion about the Cubs picking up his option for next year. My opinion is absolutely. It is a mutual option, so Ramirez can decline and become a free agent. With the weak third base free agent class, he’s sure to get a multi-year deal from someone, so he’d probably decline. Then the Cubs could offer arbitration, which he’ll decline again, and be able to collect two extra draft picks. If Ramirez decides to accept the option and come back next year, the Cubs have one of the top handful of third basemen on a one year contract.

Stars of the Game
Base on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Randy Wells (.279 WPA)

2nd Star – Alfonso Soriano (.177 WPA)

3rd Star – Carlos Marmol (.172 WPA)

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Game 129 – Heyward Smash

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

What Went Wrong

  • Runners left on again, the 1st, 4th, 6th and 7th Cubs had at least one runner in scoring position with less than 2 outs and came up empty and left 9 on base. The Braves are the second best team in the national league for a reason; they have great starting pitching and the best bullpen in baseball.
  • Casey Coleman was absolutely cruising thru 3 and 2/3 of this game he even had a 5 pitch 3rd inning. Then Dan Uggla hit a weak grounder to Ramirez and he unnecessarily tried to bare hand it when it looked like he had plenty of time to use his glove. Chipper Jones then of course singled to right followed by back to back walks which plated a run. Jason Heyward then crushed a grand slam to left center.
  • Tyler Colvin bailed Quade out after looking god awful in his at bat to the end the game. If Colvin would of got a single and Aramis gets nailed at home with Tony Campana sitting on the bench, one would wonder WHAT THE %&$# is Quade thinking. Down one and two outs I don’t know what he was saving Campana for.

What Went Right

  • I wish I could just say Aramis Ramirez and leave it at that, he is playing so freaking great right now. This was his first career five hit game and his second one with 4 or more hits on the season, it was unfortunately wasted because the rest of the Cubs only got 5 hits themselves.  Aramis even had a rare (for the Cubs) two out and two RBI double.
  • Other than the 4th Coleman and the bullpen pitched decent baseball tonight. The 8 innings not counting the 4th, they scattered 6 hits, walked 1 and didn’t give up any runs.
  • Alfonso Soriano took the first pitch of 5th and planted it into the bleachers; Soriano also got a hustle double in the 6th. Side note my computer just asked me if it was a mistake for having the words Soriano and hustle in the same sentence.

Take Away

Each team had a bad inning each, Cubs gave up five in the 4th and Braves fall short of topping Cubs and only gave up 4 in the 5th. I’m sure the Braves will take it and also the victory. Cubs lose their 3rd in a row and fall 5 games under .500 …. at home. Aramis Ramirez is really good and since June 1st has been one of the top 5best players in baseball, it’s a shame that we don’t have any pitching because we should be better.

Watching Michael Bourne get on base and then steal makes me wish the Cubs actually had a leadoff hitter; Cubs have 46 steals on the year while Bourne has 47. Ughhh

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Potential September Callups

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

With September 1st just around the corner, I thought I would take a look at the potential callups for the Cubs to see if there is any reason to get excited about watching the Cubs close out the season.  Here are the players I think might get the call.

Most Likely

These are players who have already spent some time in the majors this season and will likely get the call.

  1. Justin Berg
  2. Chris Carpenter
  3. Scott Maine
  4. Welington Castillo
  5. D.J. LeMahieu
  6. Lou Montanez

Of the above players, I would most like to see Castillo and LeMahieu get an extended look.  Given that the Cubs are out of contention, there is no reason to give Koyie Hill any playing time down the stretch.  Castillo should be given at least 2-3 starts per week.

As for LeMahieu, unless you plan on picking up Aramis Ramirez‘ option for next year, give LeMahieu a chance to show what he can do at third.


These are players who should get the call, based on their performances, but might not due to other factors.

  1. Brett Jackson
  2. John Gaub

Although he is not on the 40-man roster, you’ve got to think that the Cubs will make room for Jackson and call him up.  He is hitting well at Iowa and the Cubs need to get their future center fielder some major league experience.  As for Gaub, the Cubs will be looking for another lefty in the bullpen when John Grabow‘s contract expires after this year.  Gaub has posted some nice stats this year in the hitter friendly PCL (although the walk total is a little high) and should get his first taste of the majors.

Other Possibilities

  1. Angel Guzman
  2. Rafael Dolis

Guzman has pitched pretty well coming off a potential career-threatening shoulder injury.  He’s not on the 40-man roster, but calling him up would be one of those feel good stories that the Cubs need to help remove some of the stench from this season.


Dolis has pitched well in relief at AA Tennessee and the Cubs may want to get him some major league experience.

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Game 128 – Cubs Can’t Cash In

Monday, August 22nd, 2011


Braves 3, Cubs 0

Box Score / Video Highlights

What Went Wrong

  • Usually whenever I do a recap I include “missed opportunities” on the what went wrong list.  Failing to score with runners in scoring position seems to be a recurring theme for the Chicago Cubs.  Tonight they loaded the bags with one out in the first, but Marlon Byrd bounced into a double play.  In the fifth, the Cubs got three straight singles, but no runs.
  • Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman both went deep against Ryan Dempster.
  • Jair Jurrjens shutout the Cubs in 6.1 innings even though he allowed eight hits.
  • The theme of the night continued when the Cubs worked back-to-back walks to start the ninth inning before strike outs by Carlos Pena and Marlon Byrd.  Alfonso Soriano hit a fielder’s choice bouncer up the middle to end it.

What Went Right

  • Ryan Dempster turned in another solid outing but once again did not earn a W.  He was sharp through six innings, with two of the three Braves runs scoring on solo bombs.
  • Tony Campana picked up a pinch hit bunt single.
  • James Russell worked a perfect inning.  I enjoy seeing Russell pitch well because I think he has a chance to be a part of the Cubs future.  If it weren’t for the Cubs trying to make him into a starter he would have much better numbers this season.
  • Jeff Samardzija also continued a good year (3.25 ERA) by retiring the side in order in his frame.  Kerry Wood struck out the side in the ninth.  Cub relievers did not allow a base runner in three innings tonight.
  • Aramis Ramirez reached base four times via three singles and a walk.

Other Notes

  • Starlin Castro was not in the Cubs lineup tonight.  He received a “mental day” off.  Mike Quade said before the game that he was disappointed with Castro’s lapse of attention during yesterday’s game.  He also said that youth is no longer and excuse for Starlin.  Blake DeWitt played second base and Darwin Barney moved over to shortstop.
  • Pat Hughes was not in the broadcast booth tonight.  He took a scheduled day off, the fourth time he has missed this season after missing just three games (all due to illness) in his first 15 years as the voice of the Cubs.  Dave Eanet filled in tonight and called the game with Keith Moreland.  This was Pat’s final scheduled day off this season.
  • One year ago today the Cubs and Braves were playing each other at Wrigley, just like tonight.  That game was Lou Piniella’s last one as the manager of the Chicago Cubs.
  • Koyie Hill has become a personal catcher for Ryan Dempster.  Hill caught Dempster the fifth straight time tonight.
  • The Chicago Tribune issued a report before the game that said that the Cubs have been trying to contact Greg Maddux since Friday but he has not returned their calls.  They would like to keep him in the organization, but he was very close to Jim Hendry.
  • Carlos Pena is rumored to be among the Cubs placed on waivers.

The Takeaway

The Cubs continued to struggle in RBI spots tonight.  They stranded 15 on base and wasted a good effort by the pitching staff.  The Cubs had men in scoring position in seven different innings, but they failed to scratch out a tally.  Jurrjens has good stuff, so tonight you just have to tip your cap to him and go back at it tomorrow.

Stars of the Game
Base on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Jair Jurrgens (.353 WPA)

2nd Star – Aramis Ramirez (.154 WPA)

3rd Star – Freddie Freeman (.112 WPA)

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Game 127 – Sweepless in Chicago

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Cubs 2, Cardinals 6

Box Score / Highlights 

What Went Right

Hot Corner – Aramis Ramirez was the lone standout for the Cubs on an otherwise rough night against the Cards, driving in the team’s only two runs in the game. In the 3rd inning, he came to the plate with two runners on and delivered a single that allowed Geovany Soto to score from second. In his next appearance, Ramirez hit a long fly ball on the first pitch that, while not quite finding the bleachers, was more than deep enough to get Starlin Castro in from third. Overall, A-Ram was 2-3 and has now hit at a torrid .487 clip over the last ten games.

Bullpen (mostly) – Aside from James Russell’s brief appearance that saw him give up a run on two hits in just 1/3-inning, the bullpen once again looked sharp. Jeff Samardzija, John Grabow and Ramon Ortiz stopped the bleeding and kept the Cardinals off the board for the final 3 2/3 innings.

 What Went Wrong

 Meatballs – Rodrigo Lopez got absolutely hammered, pretty much from the start of the game. Four of the first seven batters hit the ball either two the wall or over it, the latter being the case on two consecutive pitches to John Jay and Yadier Molina in the second inning. Lopez grooved pitch after pitch and should consider himself lucky to have only surrendered four home runs (numbers three and four came off the bats of Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, again – not in that order).

 El Hombre – I’m sure fans of most National League teams feel like Albert Pujols kills their team every time he faces them…but man, it sure seems like Pujols kills the Cubs every time he faces them. Pujols had a routine 4-5 night, including the fourth home run of the night off Lopez in the sixth.

 The Molina Brother – St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina isn’t exactly known for being a power hitter (he has just 52 home runs in 7+ seasons in the Majors), but reputation doesn’t matter when Lopez is throwing fastballs over the heart of the plate. Molina put two of Lopez’s offerings into the bleachers in just his second career multi-home run game.

 E6 – Starlin Castro added to his season error tally and very nearly had a second later in the game. In both cases the Cubs’ shortstop make great grabs deep into the hole only to deliver less than ideal throws – one that nearly ended up in the stands and another that ate up Carlos Peña at first as he tried to dig it out of the dirt. His biggest sin, however, was the crucial role that he played in Bobby Valentine’s inning-long diatribe about Castro not playing the game correctly. He may have been right, but pretty much just repeated himself over and over and over for about 20 minutes.

 Misc. Notes

  • Bobby Valentine – I almost put Bobby V. into the “What Went Wrong” category. I tend to complain quite a bit about announcers, but Bobby Valentine may get on my nerves more than anyone else in the business not named Joe Buck. His burying of Castro was overbearing and repetitive and actually caused me to mute the TV briefly.
  • Pujols ain’t coming – Can we stop with the “The Cubs would really like Pujols” storyline? Of course they would, as would pretty much every other team in Major League Baseball. I don’t think there is any chance he ends up as a Cub next year though. I’m looking at you Mr. “Custom Pujols Cubs Jersey Wearing Guy”…he’s not coming, move along.

 The Takeaway

In the long run, it really doesn’t matter if the Cubs won this game or not. A sweep against the Cardinals would have been great, but at this point, I’m ready for September to get here so we can get some MLB at-bats for guys like Brett Jackson and see what happens. Sunday night was pretty much the same performance as the previous night, with the notable exception being the quality of the starting pitching.

Speaking of starting pitching, Tom Ricketts made an appearance on the ESPN broadcast for a half-inning and was asked if he could see Carlos Zambrano pitching for the Cubs again. He admitted that he would “have a hard time seeing it”, which pretty much says all you need to know about the future of Big Z in Chicago.



Stars of the Game
Base on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Yadier Molina (.256WPA)

2nd Star – John Jay (.178WPA)

3rd Star – Albert Pujols (.172 WPA)


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Game 126 – One Inning Wonders

Saturday, August 20th, 2011


Cubs 3, Cardinals 0

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

What Went Right

  • The Goatee – Who knows what Mike Quade actually said to Matt Garza, but whatever it was it seemed to work. With the bases loaded and just one out in the first inning, the Cubs manager made an early visit to the mound for a short conversation (or monologue as Mark Grace called it, repeatedly) with his starting pitcher. Garza then induced a 6-4-3 double play and didn’t look back from there. He would not find himself in serious trouble again until the 7th inning as he cruised to a shutout win. There is no denying that Garza has been the Cubs’ best starting pitcher this season, and his 6-9 record doesn’t reflect how well he has pitched for much of the year. He has been particularly strong in August, posting a 2-1 record with a sharp 1.82 ERA.
  • 4th-Inning Cycle – Starlin Castro (single), Aramis Ramirez (home run), Carlos Peña (triple) and Marlon Byrd (double) combined to hit for the cycle for the Cubs in the fourth inning, providing all the offensive fireworks Garza would need on Saturday.
  •  Perfect Bullpen – My apologies to Colonel Hannibal Smith, but I love it when a plan comes together. The rotation on the mound for the Cubs today went exactly as you would have drawn it up back in April. Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood, and Carlos Marmol followed up Garza’s strong start by pitching two perfect innings and slamming the door shut on the Cardinals.

What Went Wrong

  •  Quiet bats – The Cubs had four hits in the fourth inning…and two hits in the other eight innings combined. If not for that stretch of five batters in the fourth, this looked eerily like a lot of other Garza starts this season with the Cubs providing him with little run support. Fortunately for the Cubs, all nine innings count towards the final score.

 Misc. Notes

  • The Cubs are now 13-5 in August bringing Mike Quade’s career record in the eighth month to 18-8. Well done Mike, well done.
  • The Cubs will be looking to sweep the Cardinals at home on Sunday for the first time since April 2006. Much like this year, Chicago was terrible that summer. Also similar to this year, they capped the disastrous season by firing their manager.
  • Mark Grace was in the booth today for Fox, and while he’s not the greatest announcer in the game, it was fun to hear him clearly having a good time being back in Chicago. I’m not sure that he completely redeemed himself for the awkward Justin Timberlake interview at the All-Star Game though.
  • Thanks to MLB’s awesome blackout rules on their package, I got to enjoy this game on a three-hour delay.  I found myself confused on a couple of occasions as to why it didn’t appear to be getting dark at Wrigley.

 The Takeaway

Aside from the bottom of the fourth inning, there wasn’t much action in this one. However, no matter what kind of season the Cubs are having, I’ll take a shutout win over the Cardinals any way we get it. Having an opportunity to push the Cards even further out of the playoff race makes it that much sweeter. Coupled with the Brewers win amidst an inferno at Citi Field, St. Louis is now 8 ½ games behind Milwaukee in the division race and an equal distance behind Atlanta for the Wild Card. As for the Cubs, don’t look now but they are just four games behind the Pirates, which is very exciting if you ignore that Pittsburgh has been playing like Pittsburgh for the last month.



Stars of the Game
Base on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Matt Garza (.373 WPA)

2nd Star – Aramis Ramirez (.163WPA)

3rd Star – Geovany Soto (.051 WPA)

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Game 125 – Barney Trouble For the Cards; Cubs Walk-Off Winners

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Cubs 5, Cardinals 4 (10 Innings)

Box Score / Highlights

What Went Right

  • Cubs Win! Cubs Win! – we won today, then we went out and beat the Cards.
  • Darwin Barney – a triple, a HR. Barney flexed his muscle from the 8-hole today, perhaps with a bit of help from the Cardinal OFs.  He was way more crucial to this win than FanGraph WPA stat would indicate. Hey, this just in – Cubs kick GM to the curb!
  • Starlin Castro – another two hits and a stolen base. He’s indefatigable; and no errors, miracle of miracles.  Jim Hendry destroyed.
  • Aramis Ramirez – good at-bats all day. A hit, two walks, RBI…he was in the middle of it. Did I mention Jim Hendry was fired?
  • Geovany Soto – two hits, an RBI, scored the winning run after he’d managed to advance on a sac bunt.  He’s up to .241 now, he’s going to “Derrek Lee” his way to a decent season after all. But everything is a bit rosier today since the Cubs canned Jim Hendry.
  • Tyler Colvin – game winning RBI off of the bench.  It was a good day for the Cubs bench, Pena had a walk and a run scored, DeWitt had an RBI triple, and Colvin won the game. Last Friday, Zambrano quits; this Friday, Hendry is cut loose.  Next Friday…

What Went Wrong

  • Mike Quade – Ricketts did half the job this morning. After seeing Jeff Baker again in the cleanup spot, he better hire a GM to finish the job for him. If Baker has to play against lefties, fine – but why is he our cleanup hitter? I don’t think Jeff Baker’s Mom would fill out a lineup card with her son batting fourth. Hendry left some stale Fritos and cheese curds in the top drawer of his desk – fair warning.
  • I Don’t Care, We Won Twice Today – other stuff might qualify here, but everyone else gets a free pass from me today. Even Campana’s stupid base running blunder in the 9th can be overlooked since we’ve rid ourselves of the millstone around the neck of the front office. To the next GM of the Cubs, “you’re welcome” for the urinal trough in the executive washroom.  Hendry was a big fan of “always being at the game.”

The Takeaway, Part I
Randy Wells was decent, no runs in the first; faltered in the 2nd, but got it back together for an average day. More often than not when he leaves the game, it seems like the bullpen needs to throw up zeros to have any chance to win – that was the case today, the bullpen did and we won.

A few other miscellaneous notes:

  • Campana’s baserunning mistake was atrocious. He NEVER looked at Ivan DeJesus – NEVER. It was Bob Dernier who finally got his attention to come back to first. Theriot and Furcal really hornswoggled him though – can’t be making those mistakes with no outs in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game.
  • Quade’s insistence that Baker hit fourth allowed LaRussa to hold the Cubs hostage in the bottom of the 8th. With Baker due up, LaRussa could leave his righty on the mound until we announced Pena; then LaRussa goes and gets his lefty to pitch to Pena. If instead, Baker is hitting 7th or 8th, you can use someone OTHER than Pena to face a righty, stick Pena in the pitcher’s spot as part of a double switch and avoid using two guys while never getting a single favorable matchup. Pena worked a walk and managed to score on Soto’s double, so maybe it’s alright if Pena sees lefties once in a while – but Baker doesn’t need to be hitting fourth.
  • Four double plays – that’s right we hit into four double plays. We won this game?
  • Bullpen was pretty good, 3 guys (Samardzija, Marmol, Marshall) all with an inning of work and no one threw more than 15 pitches or got into real trouble.

The Takeaway, Part II
We beat the Cardinals and Jim Hendry was fired. This might be more hope than I’ve had as a Cub fan at any point since I drove away from Dodger Stadium after Game 3 of the 2008 NLDS (dodging every manner of object being thrown at my vehicle and the verbal abuse hurled by the angry-but-celebratory Dodger mob).

Hendry always came across as a nice guy, very professional in how he handled his job – but also a little behind the curve. No one has ever accused him of being the smartest guy at the table. He was reactionary, not revolutionary. His off-season shopping lists were made from perceived Cub needs – not from the standpoint of where value was in the market. Consequently he overpaid for positions of “need” and watched those players underachieve, thereby creating a “new” position of need. Look no further than the rotating pie display in RF – it’s been a position of need since we dumped Sammy Sosa.

But this weekend has started out right, with a win and a regime change.


Stars of the Game
Base on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Geovany Soto (.301 WPA)

2nd Star – Tyler Colvin (.296 WPA)

3rd Star – Jason Motte (.278 WPA)

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Cubs Spend Big on Draft Picks

Friday, August 19th, 2011

The deadline for signing players from the 2011 draft was last night and the Cubs followed through on their commitment to spending more money on the draft.

Per Baseball America (pay article), the Cubs paid over slot for each of their first 5 picks.  The Cubs dolled out bonuses of $5.4 on their first 5 picks versus major league baseball’s recommendation of $3.2 million.  In addition, the Cubs spent big on 11th rounder Shawon Dunston Jr., who received a $1.275 million bonus, and 14th rounder Dillon Maples, whose $2.5 million was second only to first round pick Javier Baez ($2.625 million).

The Cubs signed 34 of their 50 picks in the draft, their highest number since the 2006 draft (also 34).  More importantly, the Cubs signed 21 of their first 25 picks, slightly below the average for the last 5 years (21.8), but still a high percentage.

Overall, I am impressed with the Cubs draft and their willingness to spend to get the players they want (and need).  It shows that they are committed to building from within and its not just the same lip service we’ve been hearing for years.

By opening up their checkbook, the Cubs were able to aim high for top talent that fell to the lower rounds due to signability concerns, such as Maples and Dunston.  Scouting Director Tim Wilken called it the best draft in his 6 years here and I wholeheartedly agree.

We may not see dividends on this year’s draft for a few years, but its good to see the Cubs finally commit to the future.

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The Cubs Have Fired Jim Hendry

Friday, August 19th, 2011

“My family and I appreciate Jim’s dedication during our time with the Cubs and thank him for his overall 17 years of service to the Cubs organization,” team chairman Tom Ricketts said in a statement. “It is time for a fresh approach in our baseball leadership and our search begins immediately for our next general manager.” -quoted from

Tom Ricketts took a big step toward becoming the owner many Cubs fans hoped he would be today by firing longtime GM Jim Hendry.  The Cubs have promoted Randy Bush as interim GM.  As the story develops throughout the day, please check back here for the latest details and reactions from our writers.

Update 12:05pm

In a press conference this morning, Jim Hendry revealed that he’s known about his dismissal since July 22.  He stayed on for the last several weeks to maintain continuity and oversee the signing of the Cubs’ draft picks.  His inactivity at the trade deadline was intentional–he wanted to allow the next guy to make those decisions.  The wisdom of that is debatable.

Update 1:00pm

Tom Ricketts held a press conference today at Wrigley Field to talk about the firing of Jim Hendry and the state of the Cubs.  In addition to the fact that Tom uses the “Ah-OOO-ga” ringtone for his phone, here’s what we learned.

  • Ricketts kept Hendry on to maintain consistency through the draft pick signings.  He said Hendry develops relationships with the draftees, and he didn’t want to lose any of them because of Hendry’s absence.
  • He said that inactivity at the trade deadline was not merely bitterness or lethargy on Hendry’s part.  The Cubs simply weren’t overwhelmed by any of the offers they had, so Hendry and Ricketts elected to hold onto what the team has currently and let the next guy make his own decisions.  Don’t expect interim GM Randy Bush to make any major moves before the end of the season.
  • Crane Kenney’s job is safe for now.  Ricketts made it clear that Kenney’s job is to run the business side of the team, and that the new GM would answer directly to him.  Don’t know what the chain of command has looked like in the past, but that seems like a non-demotion demotion to me.  If nothing else, it means that Ricketts is taking the reins and the responsibility for the on-the-field product from now on.
  • Regarding the GM search, Ricketts is not considering any in-house candidates.  He’s looking for a baseball veteran who has a history of winning.  He wants an analytical mind, but not just a sabermatrician.
  • He does want to keep Oneri Fleita and Tim Wilken on the staff.  He essentially said he’d go to bat with the new GM to keep those guys in the organization.
  • He also made some comments about educating younger Cubs in the history of the organization.  He mentioned that most of them only knew that the Cubs haven’t won a championship in over 100 years.  To remedy that, the Cubs have put together a book for their players on team history.  Perhaps there’s not much to be taken from all that, but to me it speaks to the culture of the club, and some of the changes that Ricketts wants to see.
  • Ricketts thought sending Zambrano to the Disqualified List was the right move.  It turned out to be Hendry’s last.

Update 2:00pm–My take so far:  Forget the sarcastic commentary on the refurbished bathrooms and the bison dogs.  This is first distinct move Ricketts has made to put his fingerprints on the Cubs since he bought the team.  The comment he made about the chain of command seems particularly loaded–he’s taking full and direct responsibility for the baseball side of things.  Crane Kenney doesn’t factor into the on-the-field product, as the new GM will answer directly to the Ricketts.

I’ve been preaching that Ricketts needed to make this move since I started writing at VFTB, so I’m ecstatic.  Sure, there’s still a lot of looming questions ahead, and this doesn’t automatically make us a playoff team, or even competitive.  But the culture and the roadmap for the organization needed to change.  And today is a big first step.

I’m not sure I fully understand the four-week gap in telling Hendry and telling the world.  But I hope Ricketts has used that time to quietly start his search for a new GM.  It sounds like he has a specific type in mind–he might even have it narrowed down to a few names.  But I think you can assume he doesn’t intend to wait until the end of the season to bring the new guy in–if he is going to wait, then the timing of today’s announcement is even more puzzling.

I will say this for Hendry–I have no doubt he loves the Cubs.  The tears he spoke through in his press conference this morning were real, and they didn’t go unnoticed.  I’ve accused him before of only working hard enough to keep his job, and maybe that was unfair.  Maybe the job was simply over his head?  Whatever the case, I’m not interested in picking over his corpse today.  I doubt this is the end of his MLB career–after all, he is beloved by many in the organization, and praised often throughout baseball.  My guess is he winds up with another team somewhere down the road.

So farewell Jim.  And hello Ricketts-era Cubs baseball.

Reaction from Jedi:

It’s been a long time coming, but the satisfaction today is sweet.  At the very least we’ll have someone new to blame for our troubles.  It’s a point in the Ricketts’ favor that they’ve finally dumped ol’ back-slapping Jim Hendry.  I had essentially given up hope that they would do so before the start of next year, so today is like Christmas in August for me.  He’s not the worst GM we’ve had, but he’d worn out his welcome with me sometime around 2005.

My outlook on the Cubs has totally changed – there IS hope for tomorrow.  Tomorrow brings a new GM, a GM who might not re-sign our corner infielders to multi-year albatross deals, a GM who might get a manager who has a clue what he’s doing, a GM that’s able to properly value talent, a GM who isn’t seen by his colleagues as the moron in the room.  (Don’t get me wrong, this could wind up being the precursor to Larry Himes Part Deux – but I’m not going to assume the worst case, yet.)

Reaction from Norm:

I’m not surprised.  As I wrote in my Devils Advocate article, I think this was the plan all along;  1) let the contracts run their course until they are movable.  2) Losing Hendry probably means losing Tim Wilken, so wait until Wilken can work his magic in the draft and THEN fire Hendry.  3) Hire a guy like Cashman after 2011 because money is available and changes can finally be made.

Ricketts has a LONG term plan since he’s in this for life.  Two years isn’t that long in the grand scheme.  It might seem like an eternity to Cub fans, but it’s only the beginning of the transformation of the franchise.

Reaction from Buddy:

Even though Jim Hendry enjoyed some success in Chicago, it’s obvious that the time had come for the Cubs to move on.  It will be very interesting to see what direction the Cubs take.  Will the next GM be a household name like Brian Cashman?  Will they try to find the next rising front-office star?  Whoever it is, I hope the new head cheese understands the danger of five-plus-year mega-contracts.  Unless you’re signing the next A-Rod in his prime, those contracts are often poison to a franchise.  Even more so for pitchers.

Reaction from Mark:

I’m sad to see the firing, wish it didn’t have to end this way.  But ultimately Hendry had to pay the price – the team did not peform up to expectations and he was given ample supplies of money to get the job done.  Best of luck to Jim in his future endeavors, hopefully the Cubs can land Dave Dumbrowski or Larry Beinfest, perhaps they could persuade one of those guys to come over by combining Crane Kenney’s job with Hendry’s.

Reaction from CubbieDude:

I didn’t think Mr. Ricketts had it in him.  But I’m happy to be proven wrong.  This is only the first step, but it was a necessary first step.

I see the negotiations have already begun: Gillick wants a “higher than GM position,” Ricketts wants a “GM who doesn’t answer to my president, but who answers directly to me!”

Good luck Mr. Ricketts, and welcome back to Cub Nation.  (My apologies to the screenwriters of “Casablanca.”)

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