The Cubs and the Noob: A Free Lesson for Jim Hendry
The lights are on and the sirens are blaring. Pull over Jim Hendry, you've been cited for being a part of the biggest fuckshow since 1997 on the North Side. Moves must be made, and they must be made right now. There are teams that will pay a premium on patches for their contending teams. The earlier you give them away, the easier it is to tell the fans we need to start over.
You start by trading your most coveted pieces, such as Aramis Ramirez, Jacque Jones, and Greg Maddux. Ramirez is an absolute dog, but a dog with 35 homer power. Teams have been scouting Jacque Jones for his .295 fluke average (check out his percentage of balls hit in play vs. hits, its way skewed). The Dodgers, among many, covet the service of a no. 4 starter like Maddux. The Dodgers and Ned Colleti still have ties to Maddux from his first Cub go around, and might be willing to part with two pieces from their prize-winning prospect collection. The Yankees need an outfielder, and may not want to give up three premium prospects to net Carlos Lee or Alfonso Soriano, and thus may take a gamble with Jones. Ramirez would have many suitors, as a power bat like his would command much in return, even if you have to offer some salary relief.
You then must decide whether or not you want to trade two of your best pitching pieces, Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry. Ryan Dempster has a no-trade clause, so he's staying, but whats the use of having premium relievers when you're rebuilding? You can demand some blue chippers from contending teams with struggling pens like the White Sox or maybe the Tigers, who might tire of Rod Beck 2.0 in the 9th and could use Howry as a closer. You then complete the dump by giving up any of the following for anything you can get, even if you have to eat the cash. Juan Pierre might be a nice luxury pinch runner for someone, likewise with Phil Nevin as a pinch hitter. Neifi Perez, Glendon Rusch, Kerry Wood: if anyone wants them they can have them, otherwise bite the bullet and cut them.
All of this, of course, is predicated on the fact that Dustbag Baker is long gone. He's is inthe last year of his deal, so no money will be lost. Dusty indeed has a fine track record, but only when managing tiresome steroidal sluggers in a less than Earl Weaver sort of way, that is by doing absolutely nothing but being the manager every player loves: the one who lets their players get away with everything under the sun. I'm one of many tired of his crackpot theories and brainless history lessons. This guy blows, and his excuses suck worse. Bring in minor league managers Pat Listach or Jody Davis to finish the season, and let them take over the youth movement if impressive. Otherwise Lou Pinella is still sitting there for the taking.
Now you have a regime change and a team full of promise who is there to stay. Carlos Marmol and other top prospects take over in the bullpen. And your infield and outfield are now full of youngsters trying to get a job for next year, setting up a competitive environment like the Marlins have done in Florida. This is not to say the cupboard will be bare. Carlos Zambrano and Mark Prior still make a nice one-two punch (Prior will be fine, anyone who saw him hitting 95 mph Saturday knows that his stuff is still there) and Michael Barrett, Ronny Cedeno, and Derrek Lee still will lead a young offense. Henry Blanco, the wonderful handler of pitchers, still stays as a backup. The wonderful thing about this strategy is that you'll have a variety of prospects to fill holes, and about 50 million dollars open for next year to attack the free agent market.
During the winter, you reload the pen and make a strong run at either Barry Zito or Jason Schmidt, and fill the lineup with a new 3b and corner outfielder, maybe a Carlos Lee. You put two of your young starters in the no. 4 and no. 5 spots and sign Zambrano long term. With Zambrano, Zito/Schimdt, and several young guys, Prior becomes worth the risk. Dempster is still the closer, and this year's Howry and Eyre will be available if the prospects aren't ready.
The Cubs need to go young for the rest of this year, to compete for the next ten. Its only one season, and the fans will understand the tear down project at hand. This division is winnable next year, but not with the sad bunch of mopes they have out there this season. Stop insulting our intelligence Jimbo, and treat this like a GM who has some vision beyond the Dunkin Donuts ahead on the left.