Today the Cubs go for a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, which would almost certainly end their playoff hopes. At a minimum, it would make them feel very, very embarrassed. Make it happen, Cap’n…
In his Friday press conference discussing the firing of Jim Hendry and the future of the Cubs, Tom Ricketts all but said Crane Kenney was a lock to be retained for the foreseeable future. Ricketts said Kenney handles the business side of things, and handles it well. My only beef with the conclusion was that I would prefer that the Cubs have a “baseball” president/Director of Baseball Ops. As for Kenney, himself, I didn’t really have a broad-based opinion. But the Chicago media clearly does. Phil Rogers says Kenney has meddled in the “baseball” side of things for years, and others frequently call him “Clown Kenney.”
The worst account comes from Gordon Wittenmyer, who says that Kenney gave a press conference at the Winter Meetings in 2008, noting that Jim Hendry would be free to add players as he saw fit, even if it meant adding to the payroll. The Cubs were deep in talks to acquire Jake Peavy at the time, who would have added substantially to the payroll (thank God for unanswered prayers, eh?). Wittenmyer says Kenney stepped off the dais, and approached Hendry in private to remind him that everything he’d just said was a lie, and that if Hendry wanted to add any players, he could only do so where there was a dollar-for-dollar reduction in payroll. If true, it’s an ugly portrayal of a “suit” who was doing his best to keep public perception of the organization at an all-time high when prospective new owners were readying their final bids. If I’m Tom Ricketts’, I’m pretty annoyed about that today. So, given Ricketts’ public stand on Kenney, I’m not sure how much I believe the story, actually. Usually, the truth is a little more gray.
Jim Hendry has suggested that the Sam Zell-led ownership in between the (pre-bankruptcy) Tribune Company and the Ricketts family from 2007 to 2009 is a primary reason the Cubs have been in such a hole in 2010 and 2011. It feels like a convenient excuse, but I’m sure there is some truth to it.
Aramis Ramirez offered a very interesting, tongue-in-cheek quote about his 12 first-pitch homers this year. “I’m Dominican,” Ramirez said. “We go out there and swing. We don’t walk much.” That actually makes me wonder a bit – might it be a cultural thing, coming up in the DR – to swing more freely? Given the development of facilities in the DR propagated by big league teams, I can’t imagine that’s still the case, though.
Phil Rogers says the plan to add an additional Wild Card team in each league is a virtual done deal, and the playoffs will be expanded to include a one-game death-match between the two WC teams in each league. Ugh. I’m totally down with the addition of another WC team, but a one-game playoff? Are you serious? That’s supposed to determine which team is better? A three-game series would be bad enough.
A retrospective on prospect Josh Vitters, and a discussion of whether we should still have our hopes up.
2011 top pick Javier Baez toured Wrigley Field yesterday before heading to Mesa, Arizona to start working. It’s unclear whether he’ll play on the rookie ball team to start, or whether he’ll be doing instructional work. Dillon Maples is expected to check out Wrigley today, and he’ll probably also head to Arizona soon thereafter. Shawon Dunston, Jr., who’s already in Arizona, suggests he won’t be playing until instructional ball starts in the Fall/Winter.
Speaking of prospects, Tom Ricketts plans for all new prospects to receive a book on the history of the Chicago Cubs.
Randy Wells deleted his Twitter account yesterday, claiming it was hacked on Friday night, and the hacker sent out a single tweet: “All you hatred slash bloggers go to bed. Jim Hendry is a great man! That’s all he should be judged on!” The message – again, which Wells claims was not sent by him – does sound similar to statements Wells made about Hendry after the GM was fired on Friday. I make absolutely no statement as to whether Wells’ account was actually hacked by someone who sent out a single tweet that was very much in line with Wells’ opinion, or whether Wells simply regretted what he’d said and took down the account.
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