Needless to say, I have been overwhelmed by the response to Brett's post regarding my book. For those who have/are planning to purchase, I thank you and will attempt to thank you all personally. For the next few days I will be previewing some of the 104 reasons from the book. The font is not the same(another reason to buy!)...so just consider these teasers...
Reason 35 comes from Chapter 3, which deals with the Cubs' poor draft record. I do not break down all 47 Cubs' drafts, but there have been enough to warrant a chapter of reasons.
TY GRIFFEN versus ROBIN VENTURA
In 1981 the Cubs hired Dallas Green away from the Philadelphia Phillies to be their General Manager and Executive Vice President. Mr. Green came in with his “Building a New Tradition” slogan and brought many of his top people from Philadelphia. Coincidently (or not), with Green’s people in scouting and development, the Cubs’ drafts from 1981-1987 were pretty good. They were better than the first 16 years of previous Cubs’ drafts…combined. There were some busts (Drew Hall, Vance Lovelace), but consider the players drafted between 81-87: Joe Carter, Shawon Dunston, Greg Maddux, Jamie Moyer, Joe Girardi, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark Grace and many key contributors like Dwight Smith, Jerome Walton and Damon Berryhill.
Green departed the Cubs in 1987, and coincidently (or not) the poor drafts resumed. In 1988 the Chicago Cubs selected Georgia Tech 2B Ty Griffin with the 9th overall pick. Just one pick later, the Chicago White Sox selected Robin Ventura from Oklahoma State. The selection of Ty Griffin over Robin Ventura warrants its own discussion. Bad drafting has long been a Cubs’ habit, but in Reason 35 we will look at this one really bad choice. Let’s first compare the two players by using some statistics.
CATEGORY ROBIN VENTURA TY GRIFFIN
Batting average above .280 six times one time…in the minor leagues
Seasons over 20 HRS nine times never….. not even in minors
90 RBI’s or more eight times nope
MLB All-Star games four take a wild-guess
Gold-Glove winner six times never made it to majors
I could include more categories, but I would be just piling on Mr. Griffin. Ty Griffin was a terrible pick compared to the guy taken just one pick after him. Griffin only made it as far as AA, where he never hit above .237. Ventura finished his major league career with 294 HRs, a .267 AVG and was a solid defender throughout his 16 years.
How much different might the Cubs’ fortunes have been in the 1990s with Ventura in the line-up? How different would the Cubs’ infield have looked with Ventura and Grace at the corners? (Yikes! Two lefties in the same Cubs’ line-up?! ) Ventura, known as an impeccable clubhouse leader, could have been a positive influence on the North Side. Ventura’s foray into managing in 2012 proved to be successful and further cemented his image as a solid baseball man. In any organization you never have enough quality people; the 90’s Cubs could have used Robin Ventura. The Cubs’ fortunes in the 90s could have been radically different with Robin Ventura playing third base at Wrigley Field.
A blunder such as taking Ty Griffin over Robin Ventura, Reason 35, is an example of why the Cubs are the Cubs. Ty Griffin did not make it to Wrigley Field as a player. Perhaps he visited, but he played as many games there as you and I. Dreadful decisions like these can doom a franchise and can extend historical losing streaks…for longer than a century!