Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Smorgasbord of Disappointment

I haven't written a post in a couple of weeks. It's not that I haven't had anything to say. In fact, I've had plenty to say. It's just that I don't have anything new to say.

Things haven't changed for the Cubs. Watching them every day has been a smorgasbord of disappointment. The smorgasbord has included everyone in the organization from Andy MacPhail all the way down to the 25th man on the bench. And instead of getting better and showing some promise, things have instead gotten progressively worse.

My disappointment in Jim Hendry is well documented. I personally believe that Hendry's poor roster construction is "ground zero" in the catastrophe that is the 2006 Cubs. And with each passing day, my disappointment just grows and grows. How can the GM of a team with two key starting pitchers and the team's best hitter on the DL not make any meaningful trades? To improve the club, Hendry's big deals so far have been to trade for Freddie Bynum and Phil Nevin. Andy MacPhail claims that the Tribune Co. is prepared to spend the money necessary to improve the club, yet nothing happens.

Dusty Baker has also been the target of my wrath. Granted, Hendry didn't give him a team that could compete, but even so, Baker has done an unbelieveably poor job of using the talent he has been given. Day after day, Baker trots out a line-up that defies explanation. For instance, who could possibly justify playing Neifi Perez as much as Baker does, let alone bat him 2nd in the line-up? Baker has also misused the double switch on several occasions. To add insult to injury, Baker has decided to platoon Matt Murton and Freddie Bynum in left field, and Todd Walker and Phil Nevin at first base.

Matt Murton is currently in a slump and he had far too few RBI during the month of May. Even so, Murton is hitting .284 and has been one of the more consistent bats on the team (although that's not saying much). Murton needs to be allowed to play through his struggles rather than be benched in favor of a guy who should probably be in AAA.

With the injury to Derrick Lee, Todd Walker has stepped in at first base and has done an admirable job. Walker's offense, as well as his play at first base, has been one of the few bright spots for the Cubs this year. But lest we forget, Walker is a second baseman and is the best hitting second baseman on the team. So why then has Baker chosen to sit Walker when he has Nevin starting at first? For a team like the Cubs who have struggled horribly on offense, wouldn't it make more sense to have Nevin play first base and have Walker play second? But instead of doing that, Baker has played weak hitting Neifi Perez or Tony Womack play second when Nevin is playing first. It just can't be justified.

For all of the talk about the poor job that Hendry and Baker have done, let's not forget the players themselves. Todd Walker has had a respectable year. Matt Murton and Ronny Cedeno have performed fairly well for rookies. Michael Barrett has had his moments. On the mound, Greg Maddux started out strong, Carlos Zambrano has been brillant at times, and Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry have done well. That's eight players out of a roster of 25. Everyone else has been disappointing.

The Cubs season may be over for all intent and purposes, but that's no excuse for not trying. Hendry needs to try to make some moves to improve the team, if not for this year, then for the future. Baker needs to try to win every day by using his talent wisely and developing his prospects for the future. And the players need to start doing what they are being paid to do. With 68% of the team on the "Underperforming" list, there's plenty of room for improvement.


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