It’s hard to feel bad for a billionaire, but I feel bad for Tom Ricketts. He is the proud owner of a franchise that specializes in dysfunction, under-achieving, and just plain stupidity. He has got a stadium that is held together with bubble gum and broken playoff dreams. A front office that has not earned a paycheck for the last 18 months. He has got a coach who looks as if he is just there because he has to be, and players that are thinking about going to the club before the game is even over. It has been a long a ugly mess starting with the playoff sweep a year ago. So in my first blog about the Cubs, I am going over what the Ricketts actually got (Wrigley, 95% of the Cubs, and 25% of Comcast Sports)
Wrigley: Outdated and Dilapidated\
Ricketts bought a lemon with this part of the deal. I am a die-hard Cubs fan and even I cannot defend the amenities at Wrigley. The outside of the stadium and the surrounding area cannot be beat in any baseball city, but the inside is from the ivy in is atrocious. Please for the love of God tell me why can’t Wrigley get some real replay technology. I understand purists, but progress does not destroy antiquity. I want a replay board somewhere in the stadium. Preferably right underneath the original scoreboard or off to the side. Also, the concessions at Wrigley are some of the worst in the major leagues. From the food choices to the appearance of the concourse its just depressing. Chicago is such an amazing food town and this is what we get for enduring with the Cubs! And lets face it, urinal troughs are absolutely disgusting. I have no desire to stand in a thin sheet of urine every-time I need to get an Old Style out of my bladder. Wrigley is beautiful and I hope Ricketts has some spare change to sink into it to make it the premier ball park it once was.
Comcast Sportsnet: I like this part of the deal. I thoroughly enjoy Comcast and am always happy with the quality of coverage. Sure they do not get the big names to broadcast like ESPN, but in some ways that is an advantage. Comcast delivers an edgier commentary than ESPN and its nice to get mostly local sports in one place. Congrats Ricketts a small success.
Now onto the team……
C: Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill: Soto has provided the fans with his own sort of anti-marijuana campaign this year by stinking out the joint (haha). Cheech has been consistently in the .220’s all year, and much of his rookie power has been replaced with weak flyballs and ground-outs. Luckily, for Soto the Cubs will probably give him plenty of more chances to prove his rookie year was simply a success because the league had not adjusted to him yet.
Koyie Hill: Here’s a guy who’s interesting fact during ballgames is that he sliced his fingers off with a saw. If that is not a ringing endorsement what is. Granted Koyie does a much better job handling the staff than Soto, but watching him hit is about as fun as a being punched in the face. He is a career minor leaguer that is not thrust into the starting role because Soto is too busy ripping bongs and eating fast food (Soto looks like the munchies are getting the better of him lately).
1B: Derrek Lee, Micah Hoffpauir, Jake Fox
Lets start with Derrek…. There is not much to criticize Derreck Lee for. He is one of the few Cubs who earns his paycheck. He has had an amazing bounce-back year, and has regained his power stroke. His glove has never been an issue, and he makes the cubs poor fielding infield look better than it is. Combine that with that Lee does not make excuses and is an all around good guy, he is one of a few Cubs Chicagoans can actually root for.
Micah…Please demote him. He can’t hit, he can’t throw, and he can’t field. He’s a no-tool player.
Jake Fox…I know it is not his only position, but it will probably be the position he settles into. I love Jake Fox. The guy can flat out hit, and with only 6 errors all year he is not killing the Cubs in the field. It really is a testament to how little Lou cares at this point that Fox does not play everyday. He is going to be a good hitter for a long time in the MLB, but as it looks right now it’ll probably be with another team. The Cubs are stubbornly hanging onto to guys who are no where near as productive, and Hendry has no choice cause if Fox plays he gets fired (nationally admitting expensive mistakes usually does that to GM’s).
2b: Mike Fontenot, Aaron Miles, Andres Blanco
Mike… This is probably Hendry’s worst mistake. Thinking this guy could be anything more than a utility infielder vs. righties was just awful. Mike Fontenot cannot hit lefties, like at all. He is hitting .224 vs lefties this year. Also, its not like he is a fielding wiz, while his errors are low his range factor is just as low. Hendry killed the Cubs with this personel choice. Mark DeRosa is a major upgrade and he was given away (for Vizcaino who isn’t even a member of this team anymore) to clear space for Peavy, who by the way is a member of the White Sox.
Aaron….This guys plain sucks. I’m not even going to get stats to back up my claim, if your a fan watching him play baseball should make you feel like you have had a bad breakfast burrito.
Andres…I got to admit I like Blanco. I like my middle infielders to be handy with the glove if they are not going to hit. Blanco is definitely not Chase Utley with the bat, but he can play the position. I think he is the best of the worst.
SS: Ryan Theriot… He is a fan favorite, and one of the Cubs that plays hard (which for this team is a serious accomplishment). I personally would love to see the Cubs move Theriot to 2b (his natural position) and find a bona-fide shortstop. But no one can argue that Theriot is a top of the lineup guys. He hits for a high average and takes his walks, and has even found a little power this year. He is a legitimate major leaguer (did not suffer a sophomore slump like Soto).
3b: Aramis Ramrez… This guys is a perennial stud, and his injury was the single most crippling event of 2009 (besides Hendry being replaced with someone who apparently knows nothing about baseball). He has performed when he has been able to play, but this position was saved by the aforementioned Jake Fox. Both of them have put the Cubs in a nice place when it comes to third base.
Lf: Alfonso Soriano…There is not enough space on the Internet to say how much I hate watching Soriance play baseball. Sure he is capable of huge months at the plate, but as players get older those months are few and far between. Soriano has done nothing this year to suggest that he is still the player that can carry a team for a stretch (and yes one year can be the start of this drop off in production). Worse than his play is his attitude. He finally accepted a drop in the line-up (because he absolutely cannot bat lead-off in the majors anymore), and has continued his free-swinging approach. I am also convinced that he is the only major leaguer that goes to the plate with no plan or sense what he wants to swing at. It is just blind fury. Along with that is the fact that he is one of the worst outfielders in baseball. He routinely dogs it to fly balls, never takes a good route, and is scared of the wall. To make matters worse he jogs around the bases these days, making us forget he ever stole 40 bases in a year. I would be happy if I never saw him suit up for the Cubs again( but again good luck trading him Hendry since you got him for 5 years and somewhere around 80-90Million, not even AIG makes that bad of investments).
Cf: Kosuke Fukudome, Reed Johnson
Kosuke….Overpaid? yes. Valuable, definitely. Fukudome has proved this year that he can be a very good fielder and on base machine for the entire year. He takes a ton of pitches and plays a sparkling center field. He also runs the bases very well, and rarely makes the fundamental error. Fans get on his case for the amount of money he is paid but that is not his fault. He actually plays hard and never gives up a play. A rare hustle player on a team of malcontents and idiots.
Reed.. I wish he was not hurt for most of the year. He seems like a guy everyone likes and one of those glue guys every team needs. I would love to see him and Kosuke in the outfield together, which would improve the team D. Reed is a perfect 8 hitter in the NL, and its a shame Hendry did not over pay him, because if he did he would get to play in the crowded Cubs outfield.
Rf: Milton Bradley…The biggest waste of 30 million dollars I have ever seen. I think it would almost be better if he got hurt and was not around the team. From umpire conspiracies, to his teammates not liking him, to Lou telling him off in the middle of a game, now onto racist fans its never ending. He is a problem everywhere he goes and he looks for trouble. Worse is that he is not producing. He was brought in to be a middle of the order presence and now he is batting second with an embarrassingly low amount of RBI’s. The guy has single handily ruined the team chemistry and has made the Lovable Losers very uncuddly. He is like Linsey Lohan after a coke binge driving drunk; unruly, stupid, and dangerous to everyone around him. Hendry should be fired right now for this signing, especially when he had ample opportunity to get Raul Ibanez (consistent producer) or Adam Dunn (40 HR and on base machine, who is left-handed too) for the same price.
Starters: Big Z, Lilly, Dempster, Harden, Wells
This staff has been above average to very good at times. Wells has been a nice find, but I feel like next year the leagues will figure him out and he’ll get crushed. Big Z is at this point a third starter on a good team, especially since I am pretty sure him and John Daily are workout buddies. Lilly has emerged as an excellent and consistent lefthander, and was one of the few bright spots for Hendry’s tenure. Dempster’s contract looks like a winning lottery ticket with the way he predictably fell back to Earth this year. Harden is Harden and he is a perpetual tease because of his stuff. All in all though I would take this five over a lot of other teams in baseball.
Bullpen: Besides the emergence of Angel Guzman (future stud and closer) this group has been a disaster. Kevin Gregg should join Hendry in the unemployment line this winter. An AWFUL trade ( they trade a guy who through 100mph by the way). Marmol cannot throw a strike to save his life, and constantly creates trouble in late innings. Heilman looks like an out of work pipe-fitter on the mound. Jeff S. should go to the NFL. And whoever the hell else they found in the bottom of the farm system should stay there. Terrible job of assembling the bullpen, which is the hallmark of poor management.
Manager… Sweet Lou… This guy looks like he has had enough. I don’t blame him. The cubs are moody overpaid children who have lots of excuses and losses. I wish this guys had a team of people who could actually play, cause Lou can manage. Hopefully he comes back next year with some new personnel. I can almost here him yelling at Hendry when they signed Milton Bradely. Either the players go or Lou goes, cause this arrangement isn’t working.
So good luck Tom. Your a Chciago guy, so you know us and our love for sports. I hope you can pull it all together and bring one home cause right now I don’t even want next year to come if this is going to be the team I am forced to watch.