Monday, February 8, 2010

A Member of the Diatribe

Recently, The Great Rabbino conducted an interview with Sam Fuld. I would encourage you to read it.

And speaking of Fuld, I'm not too thrilled that Jim Hendry signed Xavier Nady to be the Cubs' 4th outfielder. I was of the opinion that Fuld had earned that job. As it stands right now, he may start the season in AAA. Uh, not cool.

How do I hate Jim Hendry? Let me count the ways. These are in no particular order, and this is just stuff from the last few years; Hendry has been the Cubs' GM since 2002.

1. Kerry Wood was drafted by the Cubs as the 4th overall pick in 1995. He spent 13 years in the organization and will probably be best remembered for his 20 Ks against the Astros as a rookie sensation in 1998. Ultimately, because of injuries he never lived up to his potential. When he was asked to close in 2008, he didn't disappoint. In 66 1/3 innings, Wood posted career-bests in ERA+ (141), WHIP (1.085), BB/9 (2.4), and K/BB (4.67). His 11.4 K/9 and 0.4 HR/9 should also be noted. Wood had 34 saves in his first year as a closer. He wanted to return to the Cubs and, in fact, warranted a return to the Cubs to end his career in Chicago. Hendry had other plans. For the record, Mark Grace was my favorite Cub of all time. Wood is a distant second, but he was my favorite Cubs pitcher.

2. Hendry replaced Wood with Kevin Gregg, whose 4.72 ERA and 1.7 HR/9... well, nuff said. Gregg is to closers what Cristobal Huet is to goalies. Just as Huet blew a 5-1 lead to the Minnesota Wild in the 3rd period, Gregg blew a 3-run lead to the Marlins with 2 outs and no one on in the 9th inning.

3. Hendry traded Mark DeRosa to the Indians for 3 Minor League pitchers. DeRosa did everything that was asked of him. He was an excellent utility man. He played 2nd base, 1st base, 3rd base, shortstop, left field, and right field. In his 2 seasons with the Cubs, he put up a line of .289/.373/.451 for an OPS of .824, which was well above league average (109 OPS+). DeRosa brought a lunch pail and a hard hat to work every day, and as a result quickly became a fan-favorite.

4. Hendry let Michael Wuertz go. Wuertz was drafted by the Cubs way back in 1997. He got a late start to his MLB career after eventually being converted into a reliever. Wuertz played for the Cubs from 2004-2008. In those 5 seasons, Wuertz posted an ERA+ of 127. This year for the Oakland A's, Wuertz set career-bests in innings pitched (78 2/3), ERA (2.63), WHIP (0.953), H/9 (5.9), BB/9 (2.6), K/9 (11.7), and K/BB (4.43). Could've used him, Jim.

5. In 2007, Hendry signed Alfonso Soriano to an 8-year deal worth $136 million ($17 mill a year). Soriano was 31 years old at the time. He hasn't played more than 135 games with the Cubs and just came off his worst season ever. Soriano is the 6th highest paid outfielder in baseball. His knees are shot, his defense is bad, he can't lay off low and away junk, and he has 5 years remaining on his contract. The future looks bright.

6. Hendry deluded himself into thinking a notorious head case like Milton Bradley could play in a big market like Chicago. Hendry signed Bradley to a 3-year deal worth $30 million. I would remind you that Adam Dunn and Raul Ibanez were both available. As I recall, Dunn even expressed interest in playing for the Cubs. To anyone who says that The Big Donkey's defense was reason enough to spurn him... have you seen Milton Bradley play in right field? He's lackadaisical, and to say he throws like a girl would be an insult to girls. Everyone talks about the play where Bradley catches the ball in right field, sighs, rubs his stomach, and thinking there are 3 outs he proceeds to toss the ball into the bleachers. But I'll remember Bradley for a play in San Diego where Kyle Blanks hit a rocket that caromed off the center field wall and somehow wound up in right field. Kosuke Fukudome chased the ball down, and Bradley was nowhere in sight. That's the kind of impact player Hendry likes to get in bed with.

7. How do you solve a problem like Milton? If you're Hendry, evidently you trade him for Carlos Silva, who has been dreadful the past 2 seasons for Seattle in a pitcher's park. If Silva ends up toeing the slab for the Cubs, they're in a lot of trouble. What would I have done? I'll tell you what I would have done. First of all, I wouldn't have signed Bradley. But assuming I had lost my fracking mind and inked him for 3 years, I would have aggressively pursued a trade with the Giants for Barry Zito. Bradley and Zito both have 2 years remaining on ghastly contracts. The Giants are in desperate need of pop and guys who can get on base; Bradley fits that description. Giants fans also seem to embrace talented outfielders with bad attitudes. See Barry Bonds. The Giants possess a great 1-2 punch in Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. They also have Jonathan Sanchez, who is on the rise. They could replace Zito with Madison Bumgarner and not really miss a beat. Is Zito the pitcher he was in Oakland? No, but you could do much worse at the back end of your rotation. For instance, you could have Carlos Silva.

8. This one isn't really talked about that much, but it's not insignificant. In December of 2006, Hendry signed Jason Marquis to a 3-year deal worth $21 million. Marquis was coming off his worst season, but he returned to form with the Cubs and pitched slightly above league average at the back end of the rotation in 2007 and 2008. In January of 2009, Marquis was traded for reliever Luis Vizcaino. Vizcaino pitched a whopping 3 2/3 innings for the Cubs before being released. Meanwhile, Marquis pitched 216 innings for the upstart Rockies and won 15 games. Marquis has never failed to get into the postseason. The Cubs had made it to the postseason with Marquis in 2007 and 2008. Different story in 2009.

8. In December of 2007, Hendry signed Fukudome to a 4-year deal worth $48 million ($12 mill a year). Fukudome is the 13th highest paid outfielder in baseball and has hitherto performed under league average in his 2 years of MLB service. And now the Cubs are talking about platooning him because he can't hit lefties. Hendry's scouting is without peer. He somehow failed to notice that Fukudome bails out more than anyone I've ever seen against southpaws. This is a trend you may have observed with other Japanese players. Ichiro also does it, but not to the extent that Fukudome does. And Ichiro has the kind of bat control that results in a lifetime BA of .333. As for Fukudome, he has yet to crack .260.

9. Who are the highest-paid starting pitchers in baseball? C.C. Sabathia, Johan Santana, Roy Halladay, and Carlos Zambrano. Who doesn't belong in this list?

10. And now Sam Fuld gets the shaft. Fuld has paid his dues, gets on base at a high clip, is a good baserunner, goes out and gets it in the outfield, hustles out of the box, and brings energy and excitement to a team full of overpaid underachievers. So, naturally Jim Hendry would overlook him and undervalue him. Why am I not surprised?


William said...

Great diatribe and spot on. I'll add a few more:

1. Re-signing Marmol as a closer. No, those aren't fire ants in Cub fans' pants, it's the reaction of watching Marmol protect a lead.

2. A SS/2B combo that averages and OPS+ of 82.

3. Keeping Lou Pineilla who just doesn't have it anymore for this team.

4. Signing or trading for Aaron Heilman, who single-handedly cost the Mets the 2008 season. So he might as well come over and help the Cubs blow some games too.

5. Totally screwing over the confidence of Samardzija. They have really handled this one very poorly.

What has Hendry done right? Lilly, Dempster and Derrek Lee. Hardly a fair trade-off for the disasters.


Josh Borenstein said...

And he got lucky with Dempster. No one expected anything out of him as a starter. I'd give Hendry credit for Aramis Ramirez as well.

The SS/2B is a great point. I'm not a big fan of The Riot like some fans because I really don't see where his value comes from. In 2008, he got on base and was good at the top of the order.

Last season, he became pull crazy and didn't walk nearly as much. He plays out of position, doesn't get any extra-base hits, gets caught stealing a lot, and last year he abandoned the only the thing that gave him value (plate discipline).

Here's hoping Starlin Castro develops and gets called up soon.