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I had a sobering chat with a member of a rival front office as the trade deadline was coming to a close.

“If it was our front office you, would have seen a much different trade deadline,” he told me of what he believes his organization would have done in the Cubs’ shoes. “Pena and Marmol and Garza would all be gone, just to start. Anyone who didn’t have a no-trade clause would be on the block.”

Clearly, he was talking about a major rebuild project, but many believe that’s precisely what the Cubs’ organization needs. It may sound scary to trade someone like Matt Garza, but do you really think the Rockies, for example, are planning to suck for three years simply because they dealt Ubaldo Jimenez? No. They’re not. They simply understand that Jimenez had tremendous value in this market, and they could try and pick up several good, young players by trading one.

It’s this forward-thinking approach that seems to have eluded the Cubs for decades. As Aramis Ramirez said, “you can’t rebuild in a big market.” While that may be literally true, the Cubs’ position on what constitutes a “rebuild” has clearly been out of whack for some time. And the fans suffer for it.

Maybe Hendry is simply too nice to make the kind of hard moves necessary to turn this franchise around.

“Hendry just seems too close to his players,” the front office member told me, “and has lost sight that this is a business.”

His final words to me don’t bode well for Hendry’s future with the Cubs, but dovetail with what we’ve been hearing – and saying – for months.

“If you don’t produce wins, major changes must be made.”

  • MichiganGoat

    Agreed, Hendry is too much of a player GM to make sound business decisions. Maybe there is a job in the players union for him. I’m still not sure about trading Garza, I’d have wanted more than the Rockies got, I think Garza under the right mgmt might shine and Ubaldo is a hot/cold type pitcher.

  • Dean

    Aramis Ramirez: “You can’t rebuild in a big market.”

    Instead, the Cubs have chosen to be a perpetual expansion team.

    • Doctor_Blair

      Agreed… Rameriz would have been right if the Cubs weren’t virtually mathematically eliminated by the all-star break. I personally thinks fans would appreciate a rebuild effort. A rebuild effort is certainly more exciting than knowing that even if the starting pitcher throws a fantastic game one or more of the following is assuridly going to happen:
      – Bats won’t show up
      – One or more run scoring errors will be allowed by the defense
      – The bullpen will give the game away

  • Brian

    Now is the time for bold changes

    • Joe Cartwright

      ^not

      Now is “not” the time for bold changes.

  • Cara

    The only bad thing is, the players with no-trade clauses are the ones we needed to get rid of, whereas the ones he mentioned are actually some-what worth keeping.

  • awesome

    major changes, is Ricky the guy to make them?

  • EQ

    Let’s not rule out the fact that Pena & ARam might still go in August… that would at least help things out.. but hey, like i’ve said, JH might be gone at season’s end and Ricketts may let the next guy make the decisions on trades this off-season..

    we need too pull for Soriano to finish hot and get close to 30hrs to end the season.. maybe some AL team will take him off our hands when we pay 75% or more of his contract.

  • BFM

    I am not happy with the lack of movement on trade day!
    However, I can see both sides of the story. I think people are getting confused on who to trade and who is part of the future. Now i’m not suggesting the Cubs should keep everyone, however, they shouldn’t just give them away either. I am glad they kept Pena b/c there is nobody in the organization to take his place, yet. And no guarantee the Cubs will land a good first baseman in the offseason. At worst, Pena is a safety net!

    I feel that the Cubs need to keep key elements in place and build around them, not pull a “Florida Marlins” and have a fire sale.

    Keep Z, Garza, Dempster and go get another mid rotation starter.
    Keep Aramis (at a reduced salary for shorter time), Castro and Barney.
    Or move Aramis to first and go get a decent 3rd baseman if the opportunity presents itself.
    Move Soriano or Byrd. Byrd would be the easiest.
    As for the bullpen, keep Marshall, Marmol and Wood.
    Trade Grabow, and “mr. Notre Dame.

    This is not a bad team.

    In order to compete, they can’t keep bad players or have a team full of minor leaguers who are not ready.

    There needs to be leadership. Speaking of leadership, Fire Mike Quade.
    They should have signed Sandberg from the start.

    And I don’t care what sports writers say about how he turned the ship around after Piniella left. Those wins came against teams who were already out of it or playoff bound teams that were resting their stars………..poor decision on JH to hire Quade.

    This could be a good team with some good additions and vital subtractions.

    BFM

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks for your thoughts, BFM. I’m going to do what I do too often (sorry), and pick on one point. You said “this is not a bad team.” I guess it’s not just one point, because it underlies the premise of your entire comment.

      Here’s the thing that I can’t get around: this IS a bad team. It’s a very bad team. We’re being sold a bill of goods that this is simply an unlucky team. An injured team.

      But even the most unlucky teams – indeed, the most injured teams (ask the Twins) – don’t fall 22 games below .500 by the end of July. That is not the product of injury or the alignment of the stars.

      This is a bad team. A poorly-constructed team. I’m embarrassed that it took half a season for me to see it. And the Cubs should be beyond embarrassed that they’re currently taking a course that risks this very same bad team taking the field in 2012. Except one year older.

      • BT

        But is it really the end of the world if we end up with the same bad team taking the field in 2012, if the alternative is bringing in a bunch of Brett Wallach’s? I think you said in another thread that the Cubs could have topped the offer for Uehara or Adams if they traded Marmol. I find that almost impossible to believe, as badly as Marmol has played lately, and with the fact he is owed almost 17 million over the next 2 years.

        If the Cubs turned down solid prospects for Pena or even Byrd, I’d be annoyed. My guess is that people (rightly) tried to rip the Cubs off, and Hendry didn’t bite.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I almost couldn’t believe it either (about the possible return for Marmol). But it came from someone – without saying too much – who was very close to the action. Still, because my gut had the same trouble you did, I didn’t make too big a deal out of it.

          Byrd’s the one that gets me. We’ll never know the offers, but frankly, I would have taken half of what the Astros got for Bourn. It’s hard to think the Cubs couldn’t have gotten that, especially if they did a little shopping.

          • BT

            Obviously I wasn’t in the room, but I just can’t imagine a worse time in the last 3-4 years to be trying to unload Marmol. I’d also guess that if he can keep his poop together until the end of the year, they should be able to trade him then. I just think dealing him now would be selling low.

            As for Byrd, I don’t know what the market was, but if you are just judging by 2011 performance, he isn’t in the same zip code as Bourn. I don’t know if we could have got half of what the Braves did. But I could be wrong.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              On the Marmol point: the Rangers asked the Cubs, not the other way around. It may well be a bad time to deal him, but it’s not like the Cubs were shopping him. Also, his performance and contract can get worse. A lot worse.

              On the Byrd point: I know OPS+ isn’t perfect for a variety of reasons, and it doesn’t consider defense, but… Bourn’s current OPS+ is 116. Byrd’s is 117. Those zip codes are right next door. And Byrd’s house has a slightly nicer garage door.

              • BT

                The fact that the Rangers asked could simply reinforce the idea that they were hoping to get him on the cheap. You have better sources than I do (none), so you might be right. I just find it hard to believe.

                Good point about the OPS plus, but I’d ask your sources who they’d rather have this year. I know for me, it’s the leadoff hitter with a .360 OBP and 39/46 SB ratio. That’s not to say Byrd’s no good, just that I think Bourn is viewed much differently than he is.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  You’ll get absolutely no argument from me on Bourn versus Byrd. I’d much rather have Bourn this year.

                  But, given the stats, the similar defense, and Byrd’s more established track record (Bourn has actually been solidly below average every year until this one), I think the argument that Byrd could have netted half of what Bourn did is a pretty strong one.

          • EQ

            I agree & disagree with the “this isn’t a bad team” statement. In some ways this is actually a good team, in others, they’re awful.

            Here’s my point.. they have several good players, actually having solid seasons.. the reason they are 22 games under is due to 3 stats… (fielding percentage, team era, quality starts). We are dead last in baseball in these 3 stats and I believe it’s the reason why we’re not around a .500 team this year.

            We were 1st in baseball last year in quality starts with 3 of the same starers and added Garza who’s been our best pitcher this year.. I think when BFM says this isn’t a bad team, he’s assuming what I assume.. these starting pitchers are better than this and should be better than this.. they didn’t all lose it at the same time in one year and I think we all are waiting for them to turn it on and are surprised they haven’t yet.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              A problem with the pitching point, and a big reason that quality start stat deteriorated from last year to this, despite 3/5 of the same rotation: two of those three are Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster. They’re aging. They were bound to be worse this year than last. Maybe not this much worse, but worse. And come 2012, they’re bound to be at least as bad, if not worse. That’s simply how aging works, which I know you don’t need me to point out.

              • EQ

                yeah, but from 1st to worst? That’s a pretty aggressive downfall.. Especially adding Garza to the mix… I tend to think that Rotheschild maybe had more value than we thought.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Yeah. I keep blocking the Rothschild part from my mind because it makes me sad.

    • hardtop

      im going to pick on something else.
      “I am glad they kept Pena b/c there is nobody in the organization to take his place, yet.”
      Lehair is killing it in trip A, so we definitely have someone to replace him. He is not a long term replacement, but would work to finish off this miserable season; the 29 year old lehair would have been good enough to play on the second worst team in baseball, a team that would be lucky to play 500 ball from here on out, for a couple months. again, lehair isnt the long term answer but neither is pena. i dont know what his defense is like, but it cant be prince fielder bad or he wouldnt still be playing professional baseball, even at the minor league level. Hendry should have made this happen! somone was willing to give up something for a really good defensive first baseman who bats left and hits the long ball. im not worried who we have to replace him becasue we only had him for one year anyway.
      anywho.Does anyone know if the pirates gave anything up for d-lee?

      • BT

        Wittenmeyer specifically said in the Sun Times today that there were no significant offers for Pena.

        • Jeff

          And we care what the Jim Hendry lap dog says because????

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I’m not saying Wittenmyer is wrong (given the flexibility of the word “significant,” I’d say he’s almost definitely right), but, surely the current front office isn’t going to let it slip that there were decent offers for Pena, right?

          • BT

            I’m assuming he is basing it on more than just Hendry’s word. At least that is what I’d hope.

          • hardtop

            well the guy the pirates gave up for d-lee doesnt project to be much of a contributor at the big league level. but he’s young and its really unknown. i would have thought somthing would be better than nothing, assuming the pirates were offering the same for pena… but maybe they werent. lee was probably cheaper as his deal with the o’s was for 7.5 as opposed to pena’s 10 and it probably wasnt deferred. even so, hendry could have paid a couple mil of pena’s salary, saved some money in the long run, and maybe got something with an upside. oh well, im not going to loose any sleep over it. i like pena, and with this season making its way out to the ocean, might as well have players i like to cheer for.
            i do hope they sit him in favor of lehair, just to see if lahair will be a servicable replacement for a year or two. i honestly think he could have a better average and obp than carlos, and he’ll play for low bucks… many more millions we can spend on pitching and other holes.

  • Toosh

    The Cubs figure to be 20 plus games out of 1st by the end of August. I wonder if Hendry will be motivated by then to get rid of some of the dead weight.

  • Jason

    Well since the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline has passed Cubs have 2 weeks to sign any players they drafted in June. This is really important and hopefully the Cubs can keep most of their top tier draft picks !!!!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Hopefully we’ll start seeing those deals announced soon. The rumor is most of the tip-top draftees are already locked up.

  • BFM

    Bett

    Let me clarify my “this is not a bad team” remark.

    I should have been more clear.

    When I wrote “this is not a bad team”, I was referring to the team that would be left after the Cubs dump all the junk they are carrying…..for example Soriano. I meant that after all the trades/cuts were done that I suggested, you would be left with decent team. A good foundation to build upon.

    I agree, this is a bad team!!! We are being sold a bill of goods. But instead of reinventing the wheel, the Cubs simply have to cut the junk and keep a good solid nucleus and add to it. It has happened before when JH went and got guys for the 2007 and 2008 team.

    Let’s not unload everyone who may be having an off year. Let’s have some fair evaluations and then make cuts and fill in some good missing pieces.

    BFM

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Gotcha. Good stuff, BFM. I guess I’m just not even that crazy about the nucleus.

  • http://Facebook.com Lalo Sanchez

    I agree that we must get rid of certain players who dont produce, Sorrano is a BUST, Dempster is falling off, Zambrano is a HEAD case, Soto hasnt done anything since his rookie year…Wood is done, Ramierz is getting older but can not lead this team. I’m tired of hoping that next year is the year, we need to make changes in upper management first… Get someone who doesn’t have ties to the players, if not we will be saying the same thing 100 yrs. from now….

  • JB

    I don’t care if the cubs suck for the next three years I mean hell what’s another 3 years when I have been a fan for 30 just give me something to look forward to. If Castro is the future then let’s build the team to peak when he is going to. The cub teams of the later 80s and 90s seem to have a game plan as well as hendry’s earlier teams. In that time period we had 6 playoff performances and two of those teams should have been worl series teams 84 and 03. Outside of the yankees cards and redsox, that’s a pretty strong run for a baseball organization.

    Here is the big problem, dusty lost 2003 for us and people thought we were a player away as we all did. We also thought we had the three best pitchers in the game, which we did. We had a great offense but we blew it. We tried to hold on to that magic but it wasn’t meant to be. We made a strong run at it but now it’s time to rebuild much like the cubs started to do in the late 90s. In 98 our third baseman was Gary Giaetti and it took us to game 162 to make the playoffs with Sammy hitting 66.

    I guess what I am saying is that the tribune really ran this organization for today and not tomorrow. You can’t do that with any business for you are doomed to fail if that is the case. The organization needs to clean everything out and start over no sacred cows and come to the fans with that message. Keep the team cheap until they figure out what they have. Invest into their team keep ticket prices the same and say hey cub nation we have been trying to do it the quick fix way for a while and it’s not working. Come out to the ballpark and watch this team grow( the pirates strategy but the cubs will the money to keep their talent). in fact I would raid the pirates scouting department.

    I want this team to win badly but right now I don’t even watch or listen to the games. I come to this site to check in but I just don’t have time to dedicate time or resources to and organization that is run so poorly. Sorry if there are typos my phone won’t let me scroll up to proofread

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