Archive for October, 2011

Morning Roundup

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Thought #1: Sean Payton got taken down in the first half of Sunday’s game, resulting in a torn MCL and a fractured shinbone. He was taken into the locker room just before halftime and did not return to the sideline. The Saints lost their play-caller, and went on to lose the game.  Maybe coaches should get a little more recognition for being the finishing piece to every team. You could have all the talent in the world, but without good play calling, they will not flow like a well-oiled machine. Do coaches deserve a pay raise? I think so.

Thought #2: The Red Sox are under fire for letting some of their players drink beer and eat fried chicken in the clubhouse. Jon Lester got a little worked up, and ripped the Boston media for making the accused players look fat and lazy. Yes, the Sox had the worst collapse in history. Was the collapse of the Sox really the fault of a delicious combination of food and drink, or was it because they played badly? It couldn’t be in part because the pitching staff acquired a 5.84 ERA in the month of September, could it? Beats me.

Thought #3: The World Series starts on Wednesday. Frankly, I do not care who wins or loses. Yes, I have “friends” that are fans of St. Louis. Yes, they are obnoxious. If the Cardinals win, the Cubs will be average at best next year. The Cardinals have earned their way to here. St. Louis is an excellent ball club, and they have built themselves to where they are now. The Cubs have a ways to go before they will be a solidly good team. The fact that St. Louis is a solid ball club does not make me dislike them any less. It makes me dislike them more. Why is it so hard for the Cubs’ leadership to figure out the formula? But I digress. Nolan Ryan is predicting that the Rangers will win the Series in 6. Is he far off with his prediction?

Thought #4: The Packers and Badgers are still undefeated. It’s great to be a Wisconsinite these days.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Could He Be A Cub: Michael Cuddyer

Monday, October 17th, 2011

So the Cubs got their man in Theo Epstein. The new GM’s long list of tasks will include addressing the dilemma at 1B, 3B, and possibly RF. Free agent Michael Cuddyer could be a fit for one of those spots.

The 32-year-old Cuddyer has been a fan favorite in Minnesota. In 11 seasons he’s put together a line of .272/.343/.451 with 141 home runs in 4,072 at bats (which is about a homer every 29 at bats). His best season at the plate was probably 2009, when he slugged 32 bombs, easily a career high. His 2006 campaign was solid as well, including a .362 OBP.

“Versatile” is a word frequently used to describe Cuddyer. Since breaking into the majors at age 22, he’s played 690 games in the OF, 210 games at 1B, 171 games at 3B, and 79 games at 2B. I know what some of you are thinking, but forget it. He’s not a 2B.

Cuddyer made $10 million in 2011, so he’s not in the “superstar” salary class. However, when the Pujols-Fielder dust settles, he may get a healthy emergency offer from a desperate GM who missed out on the big two.

How many years will he command on the free agent market? I’m not psychic, but I’d be willing to bet three or four. Would the Cubs be interested at say three years, $33 million? If so, do they settle on one position or move him around the diamond?

Cuddyer is a useful player, but is he a difference-maker in the lineup? My prediction is that Theo will pass on Mr. Cuddyer’s services and let another team overpay for him.

A surprise contender could be the Phillies. In case you missed it, Ryan Howard suffered an Achilles tendon injury on Friday.  Would the Phillies bring in Cuddyer to play 1B in Howard’s absence? If so, where does he play once Howard returns? Does Cuddyer lower his contract expectations to possibly win a title in Philly?

Under any scenario, Cuddyer looks like an unlikely fit in Chicago.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Morning Roundup: Death & Taxes

Monday, October 17th, 2011

It’s often said that nothing is life is guaranteed except death & taxes.

Death: Dan Wheldon, IndyCar driver, died after being involved in a terrible collision during the 13th lap of the IndyCar season finale. I’m not a racing fan, but if you watch the video I think you too will be amazed that tragedy doesn’t strike motorsports more often. Wheldon was 3 years older than me and is survived by a wife and two young sons essentially the same age as my two – I can’t imagine the sorrow for his young family.

Death, Part 2: This guy was cut up and eaten by cannibals. His girlfriend managed to escape, but it seems like she had been marked as dessert. Lesson here: don’t hunt goats with locals on some remote island in the South Pacific. (Note the second to last paragraph in the article)

Taxes: Friendly accountant here to remind you that today is the deadline for filing your extended 2010 federal income tax returns. Whether you think they take too much or not enough, the IRS will impose confiscatory penalties for non-filing if you are delinquent. If you have a reason to visit the post office and can wait until tomorrow, I suggest that you do – the line will be long and filled with angry procrastinators.

Non-Sports: The “Occupy” protests saw a rash of arrests over the weekend in various cities. I feel like we should take a role call here on VFTB to make sure we didn’t lose anyone. Or maybe buddy-up like the mall scene from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I’ll buddy with Bob “Genghis” Khan. Put out an APB for BLPCB.

Sports: A few other sporting details from the weekend:

The World Series starts on Wednesday in St. Louis with the Cardinals taking on the Rangers. If you plan on rooting for the Cardinals I suggest you keep that to yourself.

The BCS is a two conference race right now. Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State are the top four. The SEC and Big 12 teams will face off during the regular season; Bama v. LSU on Nov. 5th; OU v. OSU on Dec. 3rd. It’s quite reasonable to think that at least one team will enter each of those games undefeated. If you like NCAAF, circle those dates on the schedule, it’s “can’t-miss” TV.

The NBA shows no signs of an agreement, and I for one, couldn’t be happier. Currently, they are “hoping” for Christmas Day games – but the outlook is less than promising.

Cubs: Theo Epstein still hasn’t been hired, but there are reports that Ben Cherington has already been promoted in Boston. The Cubs and Red Sox continue to fight over compensation, but it’s been strongly suggested that a resolution will come before the World Series starts (the league mandates that no major personnel business can take place during the World Series).

Aramis Ramirez wants “several years” or he’s going to move on from the Cubs. The Cubs should thank Aramis for his time with the club and tell him that he’ll need to find “several years” elsewhere. Someone will give it to him (see: Angels…Anaheim, LA, Irvine, Tustin, Diamond Bar…wherever they’re going to hail from in 2012).

With the timing of the expected Epstein announcement, it seems likely that Quade is still on board through the World Series. I strongly suggest that the Cubs look at Charlie Sheen to replace Quade. Why? For starters, most managers have minimal impact on the actual game; also, a manager doing blow in the clubhouse didn’t stop the two-time defending AL Champion Rangers. Plus, if it’s all about ego management, we’d be turning the tables on the players – they’d have to manage his ego, not the other way around.

Final Question: In a matchup that before the season would’ve been the unlikeliest marquee game of Week 6 in the NFL, the 49ers bested the previously unbeaten Lions in Detroit. After the game, head coaches from both teams got into on the field after Jim Schwartz took issue with Jim Harbaugh’s post-game hand shake/back slap. Terry Bradshaw in an uncharacteristically lucid, even eloquent moment described that his problem was with the whole idea of the post-game handshake. I have to agree with him, it’s one thing to promote sportsmanship in Little League games or even observe the post-series playoff hockey tradition of center ice hand shakes; but grown men who are doing a job shouldn’t be forced to march across the field and congratulate a guy/team who just established his dominance.  What say you?

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

GirlieView

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

If you aren’t aware, I am a student, as well as a Resident Assistant that juggles two other jobs. Needless to say I have had my energy sucked out of me almost every single day since September rolled around. In the midst of all this, it feels good to see the Cubs organization actually going about their business the way I used to see it done. The change that the hire of Theo Epstein brings feels like a step in the right direction. Hopefully my life can follow suit. I am swamped as of late, and would love to catch a break.

Regardless, reading your thoughts on the week was a nice change of pace. Let’s get to it.

The Wizzies

  • Every time Fielder puts a charge into one, you don’t hear the sound of the bat making solid contact with the ball. You hear a cash register opening, cha-Ching! as Fielder just keeps adding to his contract this winter.
  • Chunky psycho vegan? or old guy that has problems with shadows? They both sound like losers to me.
  • Samardzija’s a one-trick pony. His trick is getting off the mound quickly before people realize how hittable he is.
  • But Buddy..he’s scrappy….he’s got grit, and moxie, and he hit over .300 in April!!??? Oh he’s got no power, and doesn’t get on base? This isn’t 1976? Oh. Well then of course, they should look to upgrade there.
  • Years ago, one of my college roommates had a girlfriend that moved in “temporarily.” Well, you know how that works out…she was there for a year. She had three yappy small dogs. The best thing about living with Maltese: when they get all spooled up and out of control, you can reset their simple little brains with a few shots of water from a spray bottle. I wish there was a blog equivalent of that spray bottle to quiet this goddamned nonsensical yapping.
  • Now I’m wondering if not having access to VFTB for three months wasn’t so bad.
  • When I was a kid, we had a cat. Nobody really liked the cat, but he was good at chasing mice. One day, the cat ran away. My brother thought he saw him in our neighbor’s yard, but it was actually a racoon. My dad wouldn’t let us have a racoon, and my brother was really upset. The next night at dinner….I forgot what my point was.
  • Did I mention that I saw Carlos Pena eating lunch prior to the last game of the year, a big bowl of pasta. The server for his table was left handed and it looked like Pena was only able to eat about 14.3% of his pasta.
  • Jihad and baseball don’t mix. Soccer with a goats head in Alibabastan maybe.
  • Well in defense of Dusty Baker,er… *crickets* I got nothin’…
  • This is also why I despise the Braves. May the fleas of a thousand camels infest their jock.
  • 7) Don’t quit “The Zack Attack.” You can make time for your day job and your band.
  • Maybe the Cubs will change their name to the Chicago Clutch Grinders. Then right after that, a giant meteor can destroy the Earth.
  • Chicago Oprahs, Oprah Cubs, Oprah’s Baseball Club, Oprah’s Book Cubs. Something like that…I’m sort of tired.
  • The Oprah Feel Good Secular Tofu Eating Grinding Chicago Cubs!

Top Wizzie Contributors

Buddy-35

Doc Raker-35

Jswanson-30

BLPCB-23

Seymour Butts-21

Doug S.-20

Aaron-17

Chet-11

Jedi-11

Eddie Von White-8

Larry Sproul-8

Question of the Week

 Now that it is (almost) officially upon us, what is the best part about fall?

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Welcome to the Theocracy

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Late Tuesday afternoon, semi-confirmed rumors (are there any other kind?) started to swirl that the Cubs had reached a basic agreement with the Red Sox to hire away from Boston one of the youngest and most-successful GM’s in baseball, Theo Epstein.  At the time, I was preparing a post for today that would broadly survey the careers of some key candidates in Tom Ricketts’ search for a new Cubs GM (Epstein included).  I’ve never been so happy to throw away an idea.

Try to mentally rewind to late August.  Remember some of the names that were thrown around in the days after Jim Hendry was fired?  Epstein was part of the conversation from the beginning, but with another year on his contract and the Red Sox sitting in good shape for the playoffs, he was not considered one of the prime candidates for the job.  He seemed firmly planted in the “wishful thinking” category, along with Brian Cashman, Andrew Freidman, and Pat Gillick.  In fact, he was perhaps the least-likely of those elite possibilities.

So you’ll forgive me if I feel the need to extend a hearty, long-distance pat on the back to Tom Ricketts* for accomplishing the near-impossible, or at least the highly-improbable.

*Just a side note about Ricketts–for more than a year now, it’s been hard to get a good read on what kind of owner he will be.  It was no surprise when he took over the team and didn’t immediately conduct a scorched-earth campaign to clean house–it’s clear he’s not Jerry Jones, Mark Cuban, or a Steinbrenner.  But his inactivity since those early days has looked to many–including me–like complacence.  What’s more, his defense of Hendry and Quade, and his quote about injuries being the only thing that held this team back from contention made him sound like a buffoon, and did not inspire any confidence in his fanbase.  I got a sense there might be more to him the day he fired Hendry, but it wasn’t until this week that I felt like he really might be showing his true colors as an owner.  What’s clear now is that he did really want to get an inside look at what was right and wrong with the team, and it seems like he’s taken his time not just to sit and watch, but to formulate a plan for success.  We’ll have to wait to see what the next step is, or if it will work.  For now it’s just reassuring to know the Cubs are heading in a new direction, and that Ricketts is committed to it.

And certainly it wasn’t all Ricketts’ doing–he had to rely on the alignment of stars well beyond his control to make this dream a reality.  The historic collapse of the playoff-bound Red Sox, the mysterious character assassination of beloved manager Terry Francona, the allegations of clubhouse antics and division, and the rampant overspending in Boston all conspired to bring Red Sox owner John Henry and team president Larry Lucchino to the tipping point where they were willing to part ways with GM-ing wonderboy and noted gorilla suit enthusiast Epstein.

Take it as a sign of Red Sox Nation’s speedy transformation from long-suffering loyalists to entitled front-runners that Epstein’s departure was met with anything less than weeping and gnashing of teeth.  After all, this is the guy who led Boston out of the perennial also-ran wilderness and into the promised land of two** world championships and routine playoff contention.  That he left town with little more than a collective shrug of the shoulders from Boston fans might be at least part of the reason he was ready for a change of scenery in the first place.

**Some naysayers will say “Nay,” pointing out that Epstein inherited a contending team that included Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez, and that his World Series victory is more a credit to the front office he replaced.  And while it’s true that he had many advantages in his first years with the Red Sox that he won’t enjoy with the Cubs, he did return to win another World Series with an overhauled team in 2007.  I don’t expect a dramatic one or two year turnaround, but I think it’s clear he knows how to build and sustain a winner.

Or perhaps Epstein just wanted a new challenge?  It’s hard to say for sure what could attract a guy like him–a Boston native who grew up in the shadow of Fenway Park and achieved the highest level of success in what may well have been his dream job–away from the deep pockets of the Red Sox and the fierce competition of the AL East.

What is sure is that the Cubs present some different challenges for Epstein.  He’s essentially starting from scratch, attempting to build a winning franchise from the ground up.  Matt Garza looks to be the anchor of our pitching staff moving forward, but he’s not Pedro Martinez.  And aside from budding superstar Starlin Castro, Epstein’s inheriting a collection of overpaid veterans and under-skilled role players.

The minor league cupboards might be just as bare.  To my knowledge, there aren’t many future Kevin Youkilises and Jon Lesters in the Cubs’ farm system.  Is it possible?  Certainly, but it’s hard to tell right now.  Player development has not been the Cubs’ forte since, well, ever, so it will take more than Epstein’s presence alone to get the prospect pipeline moving in the right direction.  Fortunately, Ricketts seems willing to pour additional funds and resources into the farm system.

But player development has been only one aspect of Epstein’s success in Boston.  He’s also clearly not afraid to spend big on the free agent market.  Many skeptical fans and sportswriters have already pointed out that Epstein’s free-spending ways with the Red Sox mirror some of the bad contracts handed out by Jim Hendry in the last days of the Tribune’s ownership.  In fact, you could make a case that Epstein’s signed far more bad deals than Hendry ever did, and you’d probably be right.

But I do see one significant difference between Epstein’s circumstances in Boston and the situation he’ll face here in Chicago: the absence of the Yankees.  When Theo said goodbye to the Red Sox earlier this week, he also said goodbye to the constant arms race of the AL East.  He won’t have the same pressure in Chicago to keep pace with the Yankees spending, and he won’t need to throw money at players to keep them out of the Bronx***.  I expect Epstein to be a little more selective with how and where he spends big, now that he’s not trying to operate in the shadow of the Steinbrenners.  Neither the Cardinals, Brewers, or Reds can compete with the money the Cubs can spend if they want to–and as long as they spend it wisely, I’m on board.  All that remains to be seen is how financially committed Tom Ricketts is to winning.

***The signings of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Carl Crawford in particular always seemed to me to be as much about bringing those guys to Boston as they were about keeping them away from the Yankees–which seems to be what you have to do to compete in the AL East (unless you’re the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and you draft high for more than a decade straight).

And it’s still too early to say what Epstein’s responsibilities will even be.  The initial reports were that he was coming over to the Cubs for a position higher in the organization than the one he had in Boston.  That might mean he will be the President of Baseball Operations, or something similar, and hire his own GM beneath him–possibly Josh Byrnes, Rick Hahn, or someone out of the Boston organization.

But none of that matters until the Cubs have actually signed Epstein to his reported five year, $15M contract.  The main holdup right now is over compensation for Boston.  In return, the Cubs want to give them cash; the Red Sox apparently want players, too (there’s a rumor that one of the players they covet is the reportedly untradeable Jeff Baker, which cracks me up for some reason).  Also still undecided is who Epstein will be allowed to bring with him to Chicago from his front office staff in Boston.  And there’s speculation that both teams are getting pressure from the MLB to slow things down so that Epstein’s official announcement and press conference can happen on a day without a playoff game–possibly Monday or Tuesday.

For now it appears things are in a holding pattern until there’s an official announcement from either team.  In the meantime, I’ve linked some key stories an articles below, and I’ll continue to update the links throughout the weekend as more news and details become available.

  • What do we know about Epstein away from baseball?  He’s a dad.  He’s a philanthropist.  He’s reportedly a hard worker and a genius–which is good news, because the Cubs need both.  And he’s a fan of Pearl Jam and fake mustaches, and reportedly followed them on a tour through South America during his brief hiatus from the Red Sox in 2005.  Maybe he can work it out with Eddie Vedder to play “Someday We’ll Go All the Way” at Wrigley Field after losses?  Maybe not.
  • Dave Kaplan tells the inside story on what Ricketts did and said to bring Epstein to Chicago.  Specifically, it sounds like some of Tom Ricketts’ recent moves–and the substantial money he committed to his draft picks this year, in particular–convinced Epstein that the Cubs’ owners are willing to do whatever it takes to win.
  • ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski explains the cautious optimism felt by many Cubs fans, and asks some good questions about what we can and should expect from Epstein.
  • The Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh with some thoughts on what Epstein’s hiring says about Ricketts’ plans for the team.
  • Also from the Tribune, Phil Rogers takes a look at what led to the Red Sox/Epstein divorce, and why Boston might regret it.
  • In case you missed it yesterday, our own Dustin Godsey wrote up a nice to-do list for the Cubs next GM.
  • And here’s a link to Cubs page on MLBTradeRumors.com, where you can usually find he latest rumblings on what’s going on with the Epstein situation, and the team in general.
  • UPDATE: Red Sox owner John Henry made a surprise appearance on a Boston sports radio station today to discuss a variety of topics concerning the state of the Red Sox.  His statements about Theo Epstein, which you can read in part here, made it clear Epstein has parted ways with the team.  In fact, Henry and team president Larry Lucchino were already talking in broad terms about parting with Epstein at least a day before the rumors of him joining the Cubs caught fire.  Why then is the transition still stalled?  Despite the fact that they’re already moving on without him–including a semi-announcement that team VP Ben Cherington is going to be the new GM–they still think they’re owed something in return for releasing Epstein from his contract.  They might just be dragging out the inevitable, or they might steadfastly believe they deserve a combination of prospects and cash in return for a GM they seemed set to fire earlier this week.  Either way, expect it to take into early next week before there’s any official announcement from the Cubs.
  • UPDATE:  Dave Kaplan with some further insight into the holdup on Epstein–essentially, Boston is dragging this out to make things difficult for Epstein.  The short article includes some scathing quotes about Larry Lucchino from an unnamed baseball executive.
Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Morning Roundup

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Thought #1: Apparently, Lebron James has been tweeting about joining the NFL. I don’t follow him on there because he is a little bit repulsive and annoying. But because the first two weeks of the NBA season are cancelled, he has nothing to do. It would be interesting to see him try to play. He is tall enough and fast enough, but is he tough enough?  When he gets taken out in basketball, he acts like soccer player. Do you think he could take a hit by James Harrison? I’m skeptical, but it would be interesting to see him try.

Thought #2: Justin Verlander, my favorite pitcher, helped keep the Tigers from being eliminated from the ALCS last night. He gave up a home run to Nelson Cruz, but who hasn’t (he has 5 home runs in this series)? Justin has been phenomenal this season. How great would it be if good ol’ Theo could pull some strings on that one…?

Oh, and the Brewers won.

Thought #3: My fourth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers are 5-0. Wisconsin doesn’t just win though. They destroy you. The most points scored against them? 17. The fewest points scored by Wisconsin? 35 (and that game was a shutout). It is weird seeing the Badgers have a star player on any of their teams – after all, we are the Dairy State. Not much here except beer and cheese. College football has never been a huge point of interest for me, but this is kind of ridiculous. I just hope they can beat Minnesota and Ohio State. We’ll see how that goes.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Dustin’s Drivel: The Theo-do List

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

So, Theo Epstein, you’re the new General Manager of the Cubs, huh? I tend to have a bit of a pessimistic streak, but I am truly excited that you’ve decided to leave your dream job and continue on your quest to become a Hall of Fame curse-killer in Chicago. Now, while I’m extremely confident that you are more than ready for the job, I took it upon myself to prepare a short list of tasks that will make your westward transition a little easier:

1)    Seize on your one chance to make a good first impression: Do you want to ingratiate yourself with Cubs fans immediately? Here’s your first move: introduce yourself to Mike Quade by hanging a red tag in his locker. Want to really hit a home run? At your introductory press conference, announce that you’ve hired Ryne Sandberg to replace him. Rumors are that you tried to get him to Pawtucket to skipper the Paw-Sox last year, and who would blame you? All he’s done is win. Make it so.

2)    Rekindle some of that Nomar/Manny Magic: Two of the best moves you made as general manager in Boston was to dump two beloved stars from the team before they became albatrosses around the neck of the franchise. Well, the situation is a little different in Chicago as both Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano are already well past “albatross” stage – but your mission remains the same. Yes, I’m aware that Nomar and Manny each had more perceived value when you sent them packing than both of our guys have combined. However, do you know what other teams like? Money. Pay someone to take them off your hands. I’m not sure you even need players in return. This is pure addition by subtraction.

3)    Be your own man: According to Dave Kaplan, a big part of the reason the Cubs were able to woo you successfully was Tom Ricketts’ guarantee of near total authority over player decisions. Get rid of the “near”. Ricketts seems like a good guy and I think he’s going to turn out to be a good owner (I’m sure you would agree…I mean, he hired you didn’t he?). That said, the less he’s involved in the personnel side of things the better. If he tries to get involved in your business, simply tell him Crane Kenney urgently needs his help…something about hot dog prices…and politely show him the door.

4)    Always Be Closing: You may not have noticed yet, but Jonathon Papelbon did not travel west with you. People may tell you that the team already has a closer in Carlos Marmol. Those people probably also want the Cubs to lose for another 100 years. I hear there is a guy in San Diego that could do the job though. Forget the clamoring for a big name like Pujols and Fielder, I more interested in feeling confident that the Cubs will actually win games in which they lead in the ninth inning.

5)    Commit to youth: Your reputation as a guy that likes to build a team through a strong farm system precedes you. It is debatable as to whether you actually earned that reputation or not, but that’s the book on you and it’s music to my ears. However, I’d like you to go one step further. Mandate that the new manager (see #1) is required to determine what talent is in the system now. I don’t mean just put guys like Brett Jackson on the roster – let them get meaningful at bats and see what is there.

6)    Temper expectations: Want to make the wrong first impression? Tell us all how close the team is winning and that, with a few moves, that elusive title is well within reach. Even if you think that is true, just lie to us. Tell us we’re in for a lot of pain, that you have a plan, and that the plan is going to take time (but that you’re confident it will work). Follow this piece of advice and the only way you don’t look like a hero after five years is if, God forbid, you haven’t won anything. Of course, if that happens, I assure you that you won’t be interested in sticking around anyway.

Now, I certainly haven’t done your whole job for you here, but I think this should get you well on your way to a successful first winter in Chicago. If you need any additional advice, please feel free to grab any Cubs fan you see and ask for it…I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to oblige.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Northside Archives: The Epstein Bar

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

With Theo Epstein “on the cusp” of becoming the 15th general manager (or is he “on the cusp” of hiring the 15th GM?) in Cubs’ history, now is probably the right time to remember what we’ve had. Only then can be truly thankful for what we’re getting.

By all accounts, the Cubs need to agree to some form of compensation for maneuvering Epstein out of his final year in Boston. Then someone has to go tell Crane Kenney that he’s 1) going on a long vacation and/or 2) being neutered. Once that’s done, we should get a press conference.

Even if Epstein’s arrival doesn’t bring about a World Series champion, he (or whoever he hires to be GM) seems destined for more success than almost all 14 of his predecessors. It might require more work to get to the bottom of this list than the top – the bar is incredibly low.

Randy Bush (8/11 – 10/11) – it’s almost unfair to include Bush here, but he IS the Cubs’ interim general manager (as long as I get this posted soon enough!). He was asked to keep the seat warm – Theo will likely find that he’s done his job.

Jim Hendry (7/02 – 8/11) – a lot has been said about Hendry, no need to go back over it. Unfortunately as this list unfolds it’ll become apparent that Hendry was a world-beater compared to most the previous GMs.

Andy MacPhail (7/00 – 7/02) – his true desire was to be a club president. He achieved that goal with the Cubs in 1994, but added GM to his duties in mid-2000. He largely laid the foundation for the Dusty-era Cubs. He also helped the Cubs dump a lot of those guys at his next stop with the Baltimore Orioles. He also got Mark Grace a World Series ring.

Ed Lynch (10/94 – 7/00) – best career move ever. The guy hired after Larry Himes was going to be afforded several opportunities to fail. Lynch drafted Kerry Wood No. 4 overall in Lynch’s first crack at the draft. Eight months into his tenure, that was the high water mark for Lynch.

Larry Himes (11/91 – 10/94) – wouldn’t pay Greg Maddux, brought in a bunch of other garbage instead. Grace, who at one point was allegedly dangled as trade bait by Himes, said he wasn’t so upset about being possibility traded as he was about the other guys that Himes forced him to play with.

Jim Frey (11/87 – 10/91) – he performed as GM in a manner you would expect a former field manager. Constantly looking for the guy who had just “been” good, he often let go of guys who “would” be good. It’s hard to see his promotion from manager to GM as little more than a reward for the man who was the first Cubs manager to lead a team to the playoffs in 40 years.

Dallas Green (10/81 – 10/87) – built the foundation for the ’84 and ’89 teams. Traded to acquire Ryne Sandberg, drafted Mark Grace and Greg Maddux, signed Andre Dawson. This is where the bar is for Theo, it’s also when the Cubs first took the modern GM position seriously.

Herman Franks (5/81 – 10/81) – this is where the bar was set for Randy Bush. Franks was essentially the GM during the ’81 strike.

Bob Kennedy (77 – 5/81) – better known as the “head coach” of the College of Coaches. Another former manager who became GM, his tenure started only one season after the Reserve Clause had been removed (and free agency subsequently a new facet of player personnel decisions). Kennedy still operated largely as an old fashioned GM – one whose duties dealt more with off-the-field issues, while also working out the details of players under contract.

Salty Saltwell (7/75 – 11/76) – the reason Steve Stone first left the Cubs, no matter whose side you believe, Stone and Saltwell had a disagreement that led to Stone leaving the Cubs after 1976. In a few months and with limited responsibilities, Saltwell managed a fair amount of carnage. He traded Don Kessinger and Bill Madlock. There are those that would tell you Salty was a bitter man – his background was not in baseball and it showed.

John Holland (57 – 75) – at this point the GM had very different responsibilities from modern GMs. Players had little bargaining power and were entirely under team control. With respect to players, the GM signed them to contracts and traded them; the player had virtually no recourse except to sulk. Holland’s job was often made more difficult by owner P.K. Wrigley who liked to meddle.

Wid Matthews (50 – 56) – helped the Cubs break the color barrier by signing Ernie Banks.

James Gallagher (40 – 49) – presided over the last Cubs’ team to play in the World Series.

Charles Weber (34 – 40) – the Cubs’ first GM.

In my opinion from best to worst (excluding the first four since their duties were largely very different, and the two interim GMs):

1. Dallas Green
2. Andy MacPhail
3. Jim Hendry
4. Ed Lynch
5. Bob Kennedy
6. Jim Frey
7. Salty Saltwell
8. Larry Himes

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Theo Epstein agrees to five year deal

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

According to John Dennis of WEEI in Boston, Theo Epstein has agreed to a five year deal to become part of the Chicago Cubs organization. The official title is yet to be announced, but it is rumored to include the title of President and be seen as a promotion from his Boston gig.

The issue of compensation is also yet to be determined. With no current GM to negotiate the compensation, I asked the Chicago Daily Herald’s Bruce Miles who would be involved in that and he replied “From what I can gather, (Tom) Ricketts is getting input from (Randy) Bush, (Tim) Wilken and (Oneri) Fleita on compensation.” Don’t be shocked to hear that it is Cubs top prospect Brett Jackson.

This is about as good of news as we can get for the GM position. Epstein does have his faults but he has been considered one of the best General Managers in the game ever since he took over as a 28 year old in 2004.

MLB Trade Rumors has a tool you can access to search for all of Theo’s moves as GM:

http://transactions.mlbtraderumors.com/widget/transactions-tracker

It’s a good day. The Cubs get a GM that has already ended one “curse”. Let’s all hope he has the magic touch for a second. He may not do it, but this is about as good as it can get.

*UPDATE 1: The deal will be closer to $20 million over five years than the initial report of $15 million because the Cubs will be responsible for paying a $3.5 million conclusion bonus.

*UPDATE 2: (MLBTR) “There’s some discussion as to whether the Red Sox will obtain minor leaguers or cash from the Cubs, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). It appears that the Red Sox prefer cash.”

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us: