Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Mighty, Mighty Brewers

The Cubs lost again today to the Mighty Milwaukee Brewer. For the series, the Cubs dropped three of four and they have lost nine of ten home games, driving their record to 29-49, 20 games under .500. There was a time when losing three of four to the Brewers would have really angered Cubs fans. But this year, although it doesn't make Cubs fans happy, it's pretty much expected.

The Cubs and Brewers are two teams going in opposite directions. The Brewers GM, Doug Melvin, has built a competitive team on a limited budget ($58 million). The team is made up of proven veterans, up-and-coming youngsters, and a good pitching staff. They have built the team through trades, a few FA signings, and have developed players in their farm system.

Well, that's not really all that unusual. In fact, you could say the same thing about the Cubs, except that the Cubs have spent much more money ($95 million) and have emphasized pitching more than the Brewers. So why the drastically different results? The main reason is that the two teams have spent their money very differently.

Milwaukee doesn't have nearly the budget the Cubs do, so they've had to be much smarter than the Cubs. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that Doug Melvin has been much smarter than Jim Hendry. Melvin's philosophy was to get the best players he could sign with the limited budget he had to work with. Jim Hendry's philosophy has been to avoid overpriced superstars and instead sign overpriced journeymen and rehab projects. In other words, Melvin has spent his money trying to get the best talent he can. Hendry has focused on "safe" transactions and not spending too much on high profile signings. One is playing to win, one is playing not to lose.

Another difference is a little more obvious. The Brewers are in the Wild Card race in the NL and will likely be buyers at the trade deadline (although they may have to part company with Carlos Lee). The Cubs have been out of the playoff picture for a month and should be looking at rebuilding the team. Regardless of the philosophy with which the teams were built, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Results are what matter. Doug Melvin has gotten some good results using his philosophy, while Jim Hendry is too busy trying to justify his philosophy to make any meaningful changes that would/could/might lead to better results. And that's the difference that's really important.


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