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It’s fun to see winning baseball once again. On a game to game basis, there’s no doubt about it. But, with each additional win, I can’t help wondering whether there’s a tipping point at which this Cubs team only does harm to the future of the organization. How many more wins until the Ricketts family understandably (but regrettably) starts to reconsider their plans to gut the front office at the end of the year? 20 more? 10? 5?

  • Is the deterioration of the Cubs’ farm system another knock against Jim Hendry? During his tenure, the Cubs’ organizational ranking from Baseball America has looked like this: 2002: #1, 2003: #3, 2004: #7, 2005: #10, 2006: #15, 2007: #18, 2008: #20, 2009: #27, 2010: #15, 2011: #16. This year’s system has suffered through ineffectiveness and injury, so, even with the anticipated additions from the draft, it’s not inconceivable that the Cubs will be middle of the pack again next year.
  • Speaking of the farm system, one of the long-term efforts to improve the system is a state-of-the-art facility the Cubs are building in the Dominican Republic. Construction will take place over the next couple years.
  • Mike Quade leaves open the possibility that Tony Campana could be a starting-caliber player soon. “Campy’s working on his offensive game, and you saw him as good as he can be [Friday], and if he continues to do that he won’t be a bench player for long,” Quade said. “He’s been effective doing what we’ve asked him to do off the bench.” If that’s to be, Campana will have to do something about that OBP. At .313 – which is essentially a season high for him – the Cubs can’t afford to have him starting every game, however fast he might be.
  • Peter Gammons reported last night that the Cubs placed Carlos Zambrano on waivers, which you already knew for two reasons, both of which are included in this post: (1) collectively, teams place a bajillion players on waivers each year, particularly ones with large, untradable contracts like Carlos Zambrano, and (2) I said the Cubs had placed him on waivers. Zambrano will clear waivers (if he hasn’t already), and the Cubs will be theoretically free to trade him to any team for the rest of the year.
  • Jeff Samardzija attributes his success this year to increased use of his slider and an uptick in velocity. What do you know? Those are the two things that look impressive about him this year when you watch him. It sounds like the current 2012 plan remains to leave him in the bullpen, but, expectedly, he remains open to a move back to the rotation.
  • A magnificent Carlos Zambrano quote on his homer yesterday: “I’m not [Tony] Campana, you know? I’m a big man, big men are supposed to hit the ball with authority. Inside the park, I’ll leave that to Campana. But it was a good pitch to hit. Thank God I was able to crush it.” Thank God I was able to crush it.
  • Starlin Castro is on a seven-game hitting streak (during which he’s hitting .500), and has scored in eight consecutive games. See if you can guess why.
  • Toosh

    Very well put, Ace. The Cubs’ farm system IS middle-of-the-pack. At best. So, if Hendry is as good a judge of talent as some of his defenders claim, what part of his job is he doing well if the farm system is middle-of-the-pack and the major league team sucks? I really hope Ricketts makes forward thinking changes as soon as possible.

    • http://Bleachernation Bric

      Hendry’s lost touch. The stats show the farm system isn’t that great. I’ve been saying this for about 2 years now and have been disagreed with just about every time. Again, how many C grade utility players do you think you can try to fill out a roster with? Yet we still talk about guys like Vitters, LaHair, and LeMahieu (not highly regarded by most scouts) when we already have too many on the roster as it is (Baker, DeWitt, Barney, Campana).

      If Hendry knows what he’s doing then please explain how these guys are going to 1.) even have a spot on the roster, and 2.) find any kind of playing time. Having five .220 hitters doesn’t equal one .300 hitter. But the worst part of his hypocricy is if the minor system is so great like he claims, then why for the last four years is the only off season topic about which free agents we going to get? Where’s our farm system, Jim?

      • Toosh

        Agreed. I believe a GM’s job is basically twofold. Built a minor league system that continually develops productive major league players and/or build a winning major league team. Starting with 2003 the Cubs are barely over .500 under Hendry. He needs to go.

  • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

    Because he’s not interfering with himself?

  • MichiganGoat

    Oh Q and his love interest Campy. This is bad news for multiple reasons:

    1-even if Campy can gets his OPS above .350, his defense is still horrible. He takes horrible routes, he has a noodle for an arm, he over-commits on plays and regularly takes horrible dives and misses the ball completely.

    2-his only plus is speed and without average defense and the ability to get on base regularly speed is useless

    3-if he becomes a starter Q is going to feel the urge to bat him leadoff- which means the hottest hitter is going to be taken out of a spot where he is absolutely dominating (if this happens then I’m certain Q hates Castro).

    The only good thing about starting Campy on a regular basis is it will result in losses and make Ricketts decision easier.

  • fire hendry and quade

    if the brewers finish the season playing 500 ball over the last 48 games we would only have to go 39-9 to catch them. add in the 7 game wimming streak we would actually have to finish 46-9 to catch them. damn thats depressing

  • philoe beddoe

    I don’t think Campy (Quades nicknames drive me crazy) is a future star…but I was surprised to see he is only 25…the kid has overcome cancer…obviously a tough little sh#t…think he could be a nice 4th OF, spot starter…

    he would be on my keeper list for 2012…you could platoon him and play him in those April/May games where power doesn’t matter…,yet we still run out a slow pitch softball team everyday and wonder why we can’t score…

    • awesome

      Campana and guys (speed) like him are used for D and pinch running late in games. Quade has used him many times as a pinch hitter in the 6th inning w/2 outs, then he’s out of the game. pee wee league managers know better then that. as long as Quade is here we’ll see softball line-ups.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Used properly – i.e., as a 25th man – Campana can be a very useful piece on a very good team. The problem comes in if the Cubs view him as a long-term starter. The other problem? The Cubs already have about five great “25th man” types. They need a few better “1st and 2nd man” types.

      • http://BleacherNation Bric

        Ace, totally agree. If you look at the teams with winning records you don’t see the daily questions of who’s starting in the OF, who’s starting at second, etc. The reality is if you’re not sure which guy should start the answer is probably neither.

        And one more time…”Bring back Ace, bring back Ace…”

        • philoe beddoe

          OKay, to have a little fun Brett/Ace’s comment about 25th men…lets break down the hitters/players
          25TH MEN TYPE- CAMPANA, REED JOHNSON, DEWITT
          BACK-UPS ON GOOD TEAMS- BYRD, BAKER
          IN MINORS ON GOOD TEAMS- BARNEY, COLVIN
          START ON SOME TEAMS- SOTO, PENA
          START ON MOST TEAMS- RAMIREZ, SOTO
          BANTHA FODDER(OBSCURE STAR WARS REFFERENCE, MEANS WORTHLESS)- SORIANO, HILL

          YES…WE SUCK

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            That is awfully depressing.

          • philoe beddoe

            TYPO ALERT..I MEANT RAMIREZ AND CASTRO….

            I WILL FIRE MY EDITOR IMMEDIATELY

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              How about all the caps? Typo, or intentional?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Ace is dead(ish). Long live Brett.

          • http://Bleachernation Bric

            Ace is not dead! Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

            • http://Bleachernation Bric

              Or alternative vague quote #2:
              Ace is not dead! He’s only mostly dead…

              • MichiganGoat

                Give you points for Princess Bride ref.

                • http://BleacherNation Bric

                  Nice job, you got it right away. So I guess I’ll have to whip out vague reference alternative #3:
                  “Ace is not dead! If one I see more posting saying Ace is dead, into the F***ing oven you’re gonna go, head first!”

                  • philoe beddoe

                    that would be Goodfellas…

            • MichiganGoat

              Uh, it wasn’t the Germans. **ashamed teacher puts hand over face**

  • terry

    i think the cubs should give up long term plans of moving castro down in the order because he hits so well in the leadoff spot. then just put the next leadoff candidate in the 2 hole. someone who hits like that leadoff is very valuable.

    • terry

      plus after years of hitting leadoff he would master it and become even better and more valuable.

      • hansman1982

        Like Soriano?

  • wernert

    I get the whole don’t win to win thing but I don’t get it. As a Cubs fan I worry about a lot but being rational is not one of those things. Do I know deep down that the Cubs won’t catch the Cardinals or the Brewers? Yes, I guess do. Do I think the Cubs can some noise, leap frog the Pirates and the Reds and thus be more attractive to the free agent first basemen playing for the Cardinals and Brewers? Yes. No matter what, this team will change next year. We won 100 or close to it that year and we still made changes.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I guess I’m just afraid that, if the team finishes well again, the *right* changes won’t be made. And those changes start at the top.

  • RoughRiider

    From my perspective the Cubs have done a decent job in drafting or signing free agents in the past few years. Not great but decent. I know I’m writing in generalities and I don’t have any hard facts to present. But, any rankings that Baseball America gives has to be taken with a grain of salt. Baseball Americas’ predictions of how good players are or aren’t doesn’t really mean much. It’s interesting to read but they get it wrong more than they get it right. Frank Castillo was the next Greg Maddox. Mark Priors delivery was so mechanically sound that he should never have arm problems. Compared to Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Juan Cruz, Rich Hill…. Carlos Zambrano was nobody. Yet who has the most career wins? Patterson and Pie were great, right? If they really knew as much as they are purported to know they would have a different job. It’s not an idictment of Baseball America. It’s just the nature of baseball and predictions.

    • Jeff

      Regardless of who or what ranks the system/minor leagues, the end results are easy to read. The number of guys brought up through the system who are long term contributors to the team is the ultimate measuring stick. The consistency of guys from the Cubs minor league coming up to the majors and helping the team win is average at best. There are a few bright spots; Castro, Marmol, Marshall, and there may be some more on the way, but there have been too many years that there was nothing in the cupboard to back up injuries or poor performances during Hendry’s tenure.

      • Toosh

        You are right. The player development system is meant to do just that. Develop professional baseball players and hopefully have them progress from the lower levels as far as their skills allow. I agree rankings mean nothing, but if Hendry is drafting these guys hoping they make it to the majors, he’s failed.

        • RoughRiider

          I just see a difference since the Cubs changed Tim Wilkin was brought on. The Cubs do appear to be on the right track in the efforts to bring in good young players. It remains to be seen if they have the right people to coach and/or teach them. I have my doubts.

    • MichiganGoat

      Regardless of the validity of the ratings, the importance of having a highly regarded farm system for large market/high payroll teams is all about trade leverage. The Cubs need a respected and highly ranked farm system so when it comes time to trade we have the “prospects” that other teams want. Simply look at the Phils to see how important prospects are to building a championship team. They got Lee, Halliday, and Pence for prospects and they still have some highly regarded prospects in the minors.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      To be fair to BA, ranking prospects is a bit like rumormongering. Even the best of the best are still wrong 75% of the time.

      • Toosh

        True. I wouldn’t care if any of the Cubs’ “prospects”/suspects were ranked among the best or not even ranked at all. I would like to see some of them make it to the majors as regular contributors and on a regular basis.

      • RoughRiider

        TO BE FAIR?
        How is it fair to blame Hendry for drafts that were made by others when Andy McFailure was in charge?
        Since Hendry hired Wilkin, the amateur draft and free agent signings have improved immensely. Could it be better? Absolutely. But it has been better than any time since the draft began with the possible exception of the time that Green was the Gm.

        You guys don’t really believe that other teams care what BA thinks of a rating on a player or organization do you? If they did they could save a lot of money and get rid of the scouts and just read BA when it’s time to make trades and draft players.

        I too “would like to see some of them make it to the majors as regular contributors and on a regular basis”. Isn’t that what we are seeing with Castro, Soto, Barney, Marmol ? I know it’s hard to be patient especially how the team has played this year. And after 50+ years of being a fan I can’t believe that I’m saying it. But, what is in the past is in the past. We need to be patient and trust that the new owners will produce a winning team. You may say that all the care about is making money. Winning teams with great bplayers make more money than losing teams.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I don’t much care what the BA rankings say, either (though they know a lot more about prospects than either of us do). What I care about is how relatively unproductive the Cubs’ system has been in the last decade despite frequently drafting in the upper half of the draft. Yes, it’s fair to lay some of that blame on Hendry.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            To be clear: I’m not saying the Cubs’ system is/has been a wreck. I’m just pointing out that other people who rank for a living are saying it. And it’s interesting.

          • RoughRiider

            Brett.
            For the most part we agree. I’m not saying that Hendry doesn’t deserve some of the blame. Just not all of it. He deserves some credit as well for producing players and not all of that either.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              To use the word of the day – that’s fair.

  • heath

    clean house!!! big deal 7 game winning streak and you still not close to five hundred in the winning percentage. its a 162 game season not a seven game season. should not change a thing. go get a 1b, pujuls or fielder get rid of sori, byrd, zambrono, keep bullpen intact and pay woody what he is worth. show some aligence to a guy who has showed he wants to be with the team and still is productive in his role. if you cant trade dempster trade him, pick up some different pitching talent. more than likely by free agentcy.

  • heath

    fire quade the hiring was a joke, he couldn’t even coach third base well when that was his job in previous years.

  • necusfan

    Re: Quade’s nicknames.
    I guess I understand the idea for trying to build camaraderie through nicknames, but Quade’s always seem to emasculate his players.
    Cassie and Campy sittin’ in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

  • Toosh

    If Hendry goes, Cousin Eddie goes too.

    • MichiganGoat

      Da da da dum snap snap… Perfect

  • HotRuta

    The recent winning streak has me thinking about re-apportioning the blame for the current status of the system. I’ve always been willing to cut Hendry a LITTLE slack based on the feeling that he was operating under some limitations from higher up. But the most recent play actually looks pretty decent, and that leaves me thinking that Quade is a lot more responsible for the outcome this year than I previously had thought.

    Last year, we got to see what kind of results you get from a team when the Manager is disinterested … this year, we’ve gotten to see the results when the Manager is incompetent.

    Sure, early in the year we had some bad injury losses. But that doesn’t excuse the failure to perform of the ones that were healthy. The buck has to stop somewhere, and in this case I think it stops with Quade.

    I know that few of us had any positive expectations for this year; even Hendry’s annual cheerleading didn’t convince anybody this time around. But I don’t think that anybody expected this team to be downright embarrassing. After the .500 start (which was about what most of us were expecting, I think) things completely fell apart. Maybe if the injured guys had come back quickly that wouldn’t have happened, but by one month into the season all the talk had changed to unloading payroll and rebuilding the team from the molecular level. Where was the Manager when it came time to instill professionalism in the players’ approach to the game? At the very least, a player should know that the better they perform, the better the team that they would end traded to — if a team is competitive and looking to get more so, then the last thing they would want would be a player who is dogging it on a team playing so badly that it would be easy to be a stand-out.

    That’s why I thought that this team reached it’s nadir just before the recent trading deadline — and why it’s taken off since then. The clouds have been removed from over the players heads, and I see the improved, relaxed performance (like at the end of last year) shows that the team has been playing in turmoil for the past months, and now that these guys no longer are looking over their shoulders all the time they are able to focus on the game. Of course, they still could be traded (or released), but, that aside, what does that say about the leadership? In this case, I think the focus HAS to be on Quade, because he obviously does not have the attention/confidence/respect/etc. of the team.

    You want to have a team full of players who want to be starters — and are worried about holding on to their positions against their internal competition. The concept of “giving everybody a chance to play” does not belong in the equation. News flash to Quade: this is not Little League. This is not Rookie League. At this level, the players should be fighting for their positions — and guys NOT starting should be worried that they might not get another at-bat for the rest of the season.

    I used to think that it didn’t make much difference whether or not Quade kept his job. But I’ve changed my mind — I don’t think we want to finish the season with him still in the dugout. So, I say get him out of there …

    … as soon as the win streak ends …

  • pfk

    Watching Wells from the center field camera and this guy just has nothing. amazing he’s made it this far. He’ll not make it thru 6 again today. He’s a long relief/spot starter pitcher, not a staple of your rotation, even in the 4th or 5th spot.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He looked like a different pitcher in 2009 and 2010, in my opinion.

  • pfk

    Wow, is Soto ever brutal defensively! He just can’t catch a foul pop up. No error but bad anyway. He does this regularly.

  • pdx cub fan

    Thanks for the great site Bret. Been reading for awhile, love the site and discussion. Thanks to everyone who takes part.

    I read the article below on the Mariner’s trade deadline deals and just laughed. Ricketts wants the Cubs to be known as the team that is the best at drafting and developing. Seems again the Cubs might be 10 years behind the times. I’m neither fan or foe of Billy Beane, but I do believe what he says in Tom Verducci’s piece makes sense. It would only be so nice to have a GM that sees and understands what is actually happening in baseball and adjust if possible.

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/marinersblog/2015807952_a_must-read_column_for_mariner.html

    The Cubs do need build a great system (which I believe starts with gutting all upper management) just as much as they will need the payroll room to add quality and star free agents. It is the only way in today’s baseball era that you can be a consistent contender. Chicago is a big enough market for the Cubs to be one of the top payrolls in the MLB. I’m afraid we are getting ready to have several years of a flat payroll with all these future stars that never pan out. I wonder if all the over slot draft picks this year is just Hendry throwing money at a problem (bad farm system). Are these players that great???

    I notice on Bruce Miles blog today that he feels that there is a good chance Hendry will be here next year. Great.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks for sharing that, pdx, and for your thoughts. Even if payroll stayed flat over the next five years ($135 million), the Cubs should have enough money to be competitive if they do the development thing properly. The problem is, they’re already behind the 8-ball in that regard.

    • hansman1982

      Many of the players that the Cubs took this year fell on signability concerns but were considered top talent.

      I liken the current Cubs to a stock car racer that is making right turns when everyone else is making left turns…you could either: A) keep making those right hand turns and hope that somehow you win or B) you can stop the car, do a nice 3 point turn and get going…

      Sure the Cubs are 10 years behind but at this point it would be best to stop the organization and turn around so you’re going the right way before you try to rethink the game.

  • 1060Ivy

    At the start of the season believed that if this Cubs squad could compete for the playoffs, Hendry would save his job. This squad has as much chance of making the playoffs as I do winning the lottery – and I don’t play the lottery – so Hendry should go.

    The Cubs recent win streak has had more to do with the quality of their competition as the Hendry or Quade’s baseball acumen so let’s not get too concerned with wanting the Cubs to lose to ensure management changes.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Good point.

  • Cheryl

    Brett, Thanks for the eye-opener about the farm system. I didn’t realize it was so middle of the pack, but when you start to think of its weaknesses in terms of pitching and position players it makes sense. It also makes sense that Ricketts is concentrating on that area to begin with and has relied on the scouts recommendations for financial commitment, not Hendry’s. It was a needed article. And the conclusion you reach if you hadnt before is Hendry has to go!

  • jim

    1 legit win over the cards, the other wins over down-trodden Pittsburg (note: the brief ride to success is over this year, and the losing Reds. Its nothing to really brag about except we have improved. Everyone is sold on Tim wilken but I am not. He made a very poor performing pitcher in Simpson who was rated in the low 100’s & we had I think the 15th pick. Simpson at one time was 1-6 with a 19.0 era. Wilken also stated if Hendry is released that he is gone too. Both men can easily be replaced as their are better GM & Scouting candidates out there that would love to have an opportunity to improve the Cubs. My understanding is that flieta is doing a good job in the Dominican setting & hopefully he will stay & lead like he has. The new facility will help immensely.

    Quade was hired as a “YES MAN” to hendry. Randy Bush, the asst. GM was college room mate of Quade’s, so that says alot why quade was chosen. Quade does not give many kids an opportunity to play as he won last year (24-13) playing his best buddies, the veteran players that wanted him in because he was their buddy. Quade is far from a big league manager in his poor decision making, stupid quotes like “BRING IT ON”, lack of discipline on vets such as Ramy, Soriano, & Soto. Big Z was accurate in his assessment of the Cubs being AAA. His only mistake was mentioning Marmol which was resolved. Quade has no clue when to get someone warming up in the bullpen as he makes that mistake almost every game.
    If we can’t get Cashman (real longshot & another Cubs dream, maybe look at Hahn, asst. GM to kenny Williams as he grew up a Cub fan & would love to team up with say Gillick from the Phillies who has shown interest in the Presidents position. Sox fans secretly would love to get ryno if Ozzie leaves which would really be a slap in the face of all Cub fans. Ryno’s team is leading all the minor league teams in attendance (9,000 fans per game), is in 1st place 15 games or so over .500, & obviously up for “Manager of the Year” for the 3rd straight year in 3 different leagues. Hendry was low class if the article written this past week on Jimbo telling Ryno he wasn’t even 4th or 5th choice & never offered the AAA Iowa job officially after the interview is a sickening type of scenario of selfishness & not looking out for the future.

    Every Cub fan wants change from the top level of Management to the coaching staff. A new regime will take care of the player business. We need to start looking at some young minor leaguers that we think are future major leaguers to see who can help. we have seen enough of this crew. I hope some other Bleacher Nation counterparts have the same thoughts. I think we all are tired of the nicknames as we learned that in grade school.

  • Dick

    I think Quade’s dumbest decision this year was keeping Samardzija in the bullpen after Wells and Cashner got hurt. I guess he thought he was more valuable pitching in the 7th inning of losses than using him as a starter. I guess I shouldn’t complain, because we were able to give youngsters like Davis, Lopez, and Ortiz a chance to pitch in the bigs.

  • Odd

    “the Cubs can’t afford to have him starting every game, however fast he might be.”

    Or what, they might fall out of playoff contention?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That line refers to the *future* of Tony Campana as an every day starter. As in: 2012. That was, perhaps, unclear.

  • Toosh

    The future is now.

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