As the entire world knows, Carlos Zambrano retired from baseball for all of about 24 hours. Being the proverbial multi-million dollar baby that he is, Zambrano pouted off the field in dramatic fashion yet again which has Cubs fans saying ‘enough is enough.’ The mere fact that Zambrano stormed off the field belies the fact that the Cubs franchise–a well-storied franchise–is being made a mockery from the top-down.
In reaction to Zambrano’s outburst, Cub’s manager stated “I’m really disappointed. His locker is empty. He walked out on 24 guys. I don’t know where he’s gone or what he’s doing.”
Quade has sidestepped the problem, saying he’s “disappointed.” That’s not what the Cubs need right now. A quote like that is appropriate when you are a game and a half up on a divisional race; not when you are fighting for league respect, fan support, and (most importantly) your job.
This incident, in combination with Quade’s questionable lineups, poor pitcher-management (which led to Marcos Mateo’s injury), and ridiculous off the field choices (such as calling out youngsters Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney instead of veterans Ryan Dempster and Carlos Pena) all show the inexperience Quade has with handling a Major League roster.
The Zambrano incident also shows Cub fans how weak of a hold Jim Hendry has on this organization. It was Jim Hendry’s idea to retain Quade as manager this season over Hall of Fame second baseman and fan-favorite Ryne Sandberg.
Jim Hendry’s ability to dole out long, sizable contracts has been poor, as sunken costs like Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, John Grabow, Derrek Lee, Kosuke Fukudome, Milton Bradley, Rich Harden, and Jason Marquis contaminate his signing record. These signings not only took draft picks away for free agent compensation, but they also didn’t gain any draft picks either, since none of those players (with exception to an outside shot of Zambrano gaining Type B status) gained, or will gain enough value as a Cub to garner even a Type B free agent status.
Hendry’s ability to trade isn’t even all that flourished, since in the past ten years only Aramis Ramierz, Derrek Lee, and Matt Garza were the only players who have succeed from his trades. Garza has been an exceptional add to the 2011 team, regardless of ERA or his win/loss record. However, Hendry gave up a trade package to the Tampa Bay Rays that was considered more valuable than the Brewers-Royals trade involving super-duper-awesome pitcher Zach Greinke.
The Major League team isn’t the only part of the franchise to have seen turmoil.
The Cubs’ farm system has also taken a severe hit, with centerfield prospect Brett Jackson having the only positive year among the top ten prospects. The number two prospect, Trey McNutt, has thrown nearly as many walks as strikeouts. Chris Carpenter has had a mediocre season after last year’s breakout. Jay Jackson and Hayden Simpson both have ERA’s above 5.00, without a K/BB rate above 2.0.
Outside of Brett Jackson, D.J. LaMahieu has performed the best, and with no disrespect to LaMahieu, that is a huge disappointment to a farm system that ranked in the top half of the league before the season. After Cub Owner Tom Ricketts said he was going to transfer a lot of the payroll to player development, his general manager traded four top prospects and saw the farm system drop into the lower third of the league.
Legitimately nothing has gone right for the Cubs this year. Promising pitchers like Andrew Cashner and Marcos Mateo saw their seasons slip away due to injury. Starlin Castro has had to essentially carry this team, and that’s not something you should have a 21 year-old do in his sophomore season. Carlos Marmol signed a $20M deal in the offseason, but hasn’t proved he deserves it.
Currently, this franchise is in total disarray. Even still, Bob Nightengale is reporting that Tom Ricketts will keep Jim Hendry as the general manager into next season. No, Tom, that’s not a good move. This team needs to be blown up. It should have been blown up at the trade deadline. If this report is true, the Cubs will remain in Jim Hendry’s free-fall until Ricketts sees that Hendry shouldn’t be at the helm of the decision-making process. That will most likely be when the Cubs are twenty games under .500 again next season.
No longer is the Lovable Loser Motto “wait till next year;” it’s now “can’t wait till we get rid of everyone.”