Friday, January 26, 2007

Dayn Perry Strikes Out with Article

I’m in a bit of a bad mood. I’m tired and cranky, so I’ve decided to take it out on Dayn Perry from Perry wrote an article entitled “Cubs Only Have A Decent Shot to Win NL Central,” which to start with is a horrible headline. Even if the article itself proves the headline, it is still a horrible title for an article.

In the article, Perry makes some observations about the Cubs that are wrong, while others are just plain absurd. For instance:

“Long-term, the contracts doled out to Soriano (eight years), Lilly (four years), DeRosa (three years), and Marquis (three years) make little sense.”

Perry is correct that the contracts make little sense, unless you first consider that 1) the market demanded these contracts, so if Hendry didn’t offer the contracts, someone else would have, and 2) by league rules, the Cubs are required to field a team and without these contracts, the Cubs wouldn’t have had enough players.

“But Hendry’s in job-saving mode, and if that means mortgaging the long-term health of the organization, then so be it.”

Why does Perry feel the long-term health of the team is in danger because Hendry signed some players to multi-year contracts? True, Soriano’s contract is unusually long, but Hendry had no option if he was going to sign Soriano. Without the eighth year of the contract, Soriano would have likely been an LA Angel.

As for the other examples Perry used, how many players can he point to that were in demand this off-season that signed one-year contracts? This is especially true of starting pitchers. Considering the way the market operated this off-season, the contracts of DeRosa, Lilly, and Marquis are not unusual at all.

“The Cubs’ moves are of course noteworthy, but the biggest thing in the Cubs favor – at least in the here and now – is that they toil in baseball’s weakest division.”

This is one of those things that, if you say it enough, you actually start to believe it. I think a very compelling argument can be made that the NL West was actually a weaker division than the NL Central in 2006, but regardless, consider this fact: For the past three seasons, the NL Central has provided the NL’s entry in the World Series, with the Cardinals winning the Fall Classic last year. Somehow that doesn’t sound like the weakest division to me.

“However, if the Cubs are going to return to the postseason for the first time since 2003…[Derrick] Lee must stay healthy.”

Why even discuss this? Derrick Lee has not spent a lot of time on the DL. Last year’s injury to his wrist was a fluke and Lee claims that he is 100% healed.

“The annual refrain is that Mark Prior needs to work 200 or so innings, and this year is no different.”

Wrong. The Cubs pitching staff has been built with the thought that Prior will not be available all year. The starting five should be Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Rich Hill, Jason Marquis, and most likely Wade Miller. In the wings are Neal Cotts, Sean Marshall, and Juan Mateo. If Prior doesn’t throw a pitch all year, the rotation is set. If he’s available and effective, the rotation is even better.

“Manager Lou Pinella needs to resist the temptation to bat Soriano in the leadoff spot. Soriano is a great power source, but he’s not an on-base threat, which is what the table setter needs to be.”

In theory, Perry may be right. But in fact, he is wrong. Soriano has been more productive in his career as a leadoff hitter than he has been hitting in any other spot in the order. Plus, if Frank Robinson felt batting Soriano leadoff with the Nationals last year was a good idea, that’s good enough for me.

“Jacque Jones must be platooned. Religiously. Jones has never been able to hit lefties, and with Matt Murton on the roster (and now out of a starting job) there’s no need to run him out there against port-siders.”

First, Jacque Jones has never been platooned in his career and he has somehow put together a rather nice career. During a miserable 2006 for the Cubs, Jones was a bright spot, hitting .285 with 27 HR and 81 RBI. True, Jones does not hit lefties very well, but to say he must be platooned in order for the Cubs to have a chance of returning to the playoffs is a huge, unsupported overstatement.

By the way, when did Matt Murton lose his starting job? According to both Hendry and Piniella, Murton is the starting left fielder. According to the depth chart on, Murton is still the starting left fielder. Where does Perry get his information?

“The pitching staff needs to continue racking up the strikeouts. The Cubs’ team defense, particularly in the outfield, is lacking. So the pitching staff, which led the NL in whiffs last season, must keep the ball out of play as often as possible.”

Striking out opposing hitters is a good thing, but saying it is necessary for the Cubs to make the postseason is nonsensical.

If the Yankees or Red Sox had made the moves in the off-season that the Cubs have made, Perry likely would have praised the teams’ efforts to build a winner after a down year. But because it was the Cubs making the moves, Perry felt obligated to be negative about the team’s off-season. It’s an old story. The Cubs are an easy target. But Perry does a poor job of supporting his argument. Plus, did I mention the article has a horrible title?


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