I’m Back….and Still Can’t Figure Out What The Cubs Were Thinking

It’s been almost 2 months since my last post.  I would like to say it was mainly due to laziness.  I don’t plan on taking any more breaks either.  But I will start back by trying to figure out why the Cubs brass did what they did last off-season. 

I just don’t understand what the Cubs were thinking last off-season.
They had a team that had just won 97 games in the regular season.  I
know there was pressure to “tweak” the roster so they could perform
better in the post-season, but the moves they made have backfired.
Jason Marquis, Mark DeRosa, Henry Blanco and Kerry Wood are all gone.
That may not seem like much, but it’s had a huge impact and I am going
to attempt to explain why. 

Jason Marquis may not put up dazzling numbers, but he gets the job done
every fifth day.  What I mean by that is he is one of those guys who
pitches and gives his team a chance to win almost every time out.  As of
today, he is 14-8 with a 3.47 ERA for the Colorado Rockies, who look
like they have a good chance to win the wild card.  Considering the Cubs
injuries to their starting rotation this season they sure could have
used him.  And it doesn’t hurt that the team he’s played for has made the
playoffs every season during his major league career.  But trading him
away for Luis Vizcaino was a mistake, especially considering the Cubs
don’t even have Vizcaino anymore. 
The Cubs also decided to trade away super-utility man, Mark DeRosa.
Not only was DeRosa capable of playing almost any position, but he did
it without complaining or letting it affect his hitting.  With the
injury to Aramis Ramirez this year, the Cubs really could have used
DeRosa at third base.  Or, DeRosa could be the starting second baseman
and Fox could play third when Aramis is out.  Or, DeRosa could play
leftfield or rightfield when needed.  He’s got a good bat and plays
solid defense wherever the you put him.  To make matters worse, he’s now
on the Cardinals.  I wish DeRosa the best, but I would love to have him
back in a Cubs uniform. 
The loss of Henry Blanco may not seem like much to most fans.  But to
me, it was a huge loss.  The Cubs let him get away via free agency last
off-season.  Here’s a guy that was a mentor to Geovany Soto.  Soto went
on to win the Rookie of the Year award and I would like to think that
Blanco was a factor in that.  Plus, he hit well when he did get to play
last season. 
Finally, the Cubs let go of Kerry Wood allowing him to sign with the
Cleveland Indians.  That made me mad.  I understood that baseball is a
business, but Wood had been with the Cubs since 1998.  As the Cubs first
round pick in the ’95 draft, Wood quickly became one of my favorite
Cubs.  While his career has been plagued with injuries, there is not
doubt that he possessed the talent to be a good starter early in his
career and a solid closer now.  So, the Cubs let him go and then go and
trade minor league Jose Ceda for Kevin Gregg.  As much as I want Gregg
to succeed he hasn’t been consistent as the Cubs closer.  So, the way I
see it, the Cubs gave up Kerry Wood and Jose Ceda (and his 98mph
fastball) for Gregg.  Another move that hasn’t worked too well. 

Equally important is the chemistry the team had last year.  The loss of
these four guys wasn’t just a loss on the field but in the dugout,
bullpen and clubhouse.  There is no doubt that this year’s team does not
have the chemistry of the ’08 Cubs.  I believe that loss combined with
injuries to Soto, Ramirez, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly, Reed Johnson and
Carlos Zambrano is the reason why the Cubs are struggling to stay above
.500. 
It will be interesting to see what moves the Cubs make the remainder of
this season and this upcoming off-season.  Will the Ricketts family give
Jim Hendry a blank check book?  Will Lou Piniella stick around for
another year or will Ryne Sandberg be the new Cub manager?  Will the
Cubs even finish this season over .500?   We’ll just have to wait and
see.

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