Oh, look, Starlin Castro went and did something stupid. Surprise, surprise.
And, oh, look, Dale Sveum and the Cubbies brass talk the talk, but eschew the walk while doing something quite similar to twiddling their collective thumbs — thumbs that tend to be stuck in proverbially unpleasant places.
Hmm. Haven’t we been here before with Castro? Yes.
Hmm. Haven’t we heard the same old “we gotta change the Cubs culture” mantra before? Yes.
Hmm. Haven’t we been bombarded with mythical imagery supposedly brought in on the wings of a SABR nerd? Yes.
And yet here we are, witnessing the same old Chicago Cubs.
I believe Albert Einstein was the one who said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.” Einstein was a pretty smart fella. Maybe it’s time the Cubs took notice of that notable quip of truth.
Instead of threatening to bench a spoiled star with as much talent as he has cluelessness, why not just bench him? Why not teach him a lesson? Why not teach the entire team — a team that is continuously caught with its inflated head in the clouds — and show them that there are no more third, fourth, fifth chances?
I’m a Cardinals fan. To the death. Part of being a Redbird fanatic is jousting with our arch rivals; but our rivals to the north are so bad that it just isn’t fun anymore. I long for the days when our regular season match-ups actually mean something.
Unfortunately, as long as the Cubs continue to simply “try” to get better mentally, with little effort, rather than actually DOING anything about it, I’m afraid we’ll just have to rehash that same old “Brogglio for Brock” snafu.
Hate me ‘cuz I’m deliberate, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Here’s an idea that will never become reality, but just for fun, let’s think about it.
Albert Pujols, while somewhat showing glimpses of his old self, is on pace to hit 15 homers and drive in 70-some RBIs — a whole lot less than the Halos thought they’d get from a a man making $24 million a year… FOR THE NEXT TEN YEARS.
And how about the $20 million a year the Red Sox are paying Carl Crawford… FOR THE NEXT SIX YEARS. Good thing Theo got out of town!
Of course, Theo already knows, you don’t have to go outside of Chicago to find a big, fat pile of head-scratching contracts. Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano (yep, sCrUBBIES are still payin’ the bulk of that awful) are the most high profile, but until this year, the Dunn, Peavy and Rios contracts made Kenny Williams one of the south side’s most hated.
If only front offices could act like the rest of the planet when it comes to doling out large sums on a contract basis, perhaps they could save themselves years of embarrassment and avoid the ear-piercing “we’re in rebuilding mode” verbiage.
The truth is, when money is on the line, pro athletes perform better. Consider the beyond stellar starts of Andre Ethier, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Kyle Lohse, Jake Peavy, Zack Greinke and many, many more. The one thing these fellas all have in common is… THEY’RE IN CONTRACT YEARS!
If your paycheck is on the line, you try harder. This is FACT. But if you have the means to fall back on (Albert, Carl, et al.) and you have no pressure to git ‘er done ‘cuz you already got BAZILLIONS in the bank, what incentive is their to be the superstar you’ve always been? I don’t care how bad@ss you are, the trend in performance speaks loudly: once a player reaches his monetary apex, he regresses.
There’s nothing wrong with paying a dude $25 million a year if he puts up $25 million a year numbers. So why not reward those who do and save money (and face) by doing it on a year-to-year basis?
In the real world, if you underperform, you’re gone. Period.
In the baseball world, the $100 million contract rarely works for both sides, yet teams keep handing them out; and then they wonder why there is backlash from the fans, media and baseball-politico bloggers who think very highly of themselves.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
So the Cubs traded their best lefty (Sean Marshall) for Travis Wood and then Travis Wood doesn’t even make the team. Is Theo doing it right?
Remember when Barack Obama first came into office and the U.S. and world economies were doing their best impressions of 1929? Well, that’s kind of where Epstein sits right now. It would be easier to just burn the place down and start over (which is always an option when you’re talking about Chicago) but there’s no way anyone would support that. So, he’s going to have to make the most of what he has and slowly try to rebuild.
That doesn’t necessarily mean simply accepting the situation, though. Normally, when you pay big money for a guy or give up a big name in a trade, the expectation is that new guy is going to play and you’ll just have to suffer if he doesn’t quite catch his groove right away. Think Carl Crawford on the Red Sox. Think Dontrelle Willis on the Tigers. Think Barack Obama with TARP. But leaders don’t always accept that situation. Sometimes they have to make the tough decisions and break with expectations. That’s what Obama did with GM and even made the government some money in the process. It appears like maybe that’s what Epstein is trying to do with the Cubs, too.
Sean Marshall is a good reliever. According to Epstein, he’s maybe the “most valuable left-handed reliever in all of baseball.” But what good is having the most valuable left-handed reliever in baseball if your starting pitching is terrible, your defense is atrocious and you can’t score runs? Epstein realizes the Cubs aren’t going to be a winning ball club this year. He realizes they probably won’t be a winning ball club next year either. But he’s setting himself up for success three or four seasons down the line.
Remind you of anyone else? Bailing out the auto industry wasn’t popular but three years later, after watching the recession crest and slowly subside, we now see hiring going back up and the economy beginning to grow again. That’s the difference between guys like Epstein and Obama and wannabes like Hendry. Attempts to implement quick fixes for immediate results more often lead to systemic failure. Epstein, like the president, has to slowly flush that through, suffering short-term difficulties for long-term success.
So, long story short, yeah, Theo is doing it right. But that’s not going to stop people from yelling and screaming during the first few painful years. Marshall is gone and Wood got sent to the minors. But they have more money to go after other important pieces, they have a solid prospect in the minors who could work his way back and they didn’t try to force someone into a role they simply couldn’t handle at this point. When you think about it, Theo seems positively presidential.
_ _ _
For all of the sCrUBS fans chugging the Theo Epstein Kool-Aid, talking about how the “Cubs Culture” is “changing” and how “new leadership” is taking them in a “new, respectable direction”, just remember: Jeff Samardzija isn’t drinking it.
Hate me ‘cuz I hate the Cubs, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
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HOLLA BACK, Y’ALL!!!
It’s time for THE FILIBUSTER to settle back in the Sunday slot at RSBS! The Interns are excited. Mr. Krause is excited. And I AM EXCITED TOO! No matter what the query, send it to RSBSBlog@gmail.com and we’ll let you know what we think.
Sunday in the Park with George
I want children so I can play dodge ball with them or at the very least have them pose while I paint a mural of them getting eaten by large cats for my own amusement. But that’s not why I called…
In my favorite Mandy Patinkin musical he sings “I need to finish the hat” in the role of George Seurat. Or as Groucho famously said “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” Or as Josh Hamilton is probably saying “there are no bars in hospitals and that’s why people hate hospitals.”
I don’t know about the Cubs’ chances for 2012, but I do know I want a Sunday in the park with a friend. I want to think nice things as baseball approaches but sometimes you just don’t know what hell is coming. Sometimes I feel like Lisbeth of the Dragon Tattoo movies: I just get shot in the DAMN head when I think of the 162 Cubs games that are coming.
I don’t know if I’m finishing the hat or if Theo is.
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Rool: [to the tavern cat ) You are so beautiful! Your eyes! Your whiskers! I have to kiss you!
My behavioral standards have long kept me from attending the Cub’s Convention. Sorry. Sometimes you gotta rob a cop, pee on Ronny Woo Woo and knock out Sam Zell! BUT, I still have my SPIES so I know…
Kerry Wood and his pocket missile are back!
I’d like to see how the sausage is made, Mr. Epstein.
I suspect Wood will probably be gone at the trading deadline to a real contender, but dumb Cubdom is happy for the moment. Yes, Theo let me down a little by letting the children have their hero back. But oh well.
OK KIDS LET’S HAVE A PIZZA PAHHHTYYY!!!!
What is this? Contenders might be looking for someone just like him if he can still bring the goods in the 6th, 7th, 8th innings.
I understand that Woody wants to be the next Mr. Cub but why not end your career with a winner? He’ll get what he wants when he comes back at the end. It’s his choice, I guess.
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“ No one in Russia believes in god.”
You know why? Because it’s cold! It’s cold there like it’s cold in Chicago right now!!
I know it’s not manly to act depressed while living in a wonderful place like this but, it’s cold. AND I’M NOT A REAL MAN.
Despite my depression, I know one thing that will bring me happiness. MONEYBALL PART TWO: EPSTEIN BRINGS THE PAIN! The Cubs win it all and Matt Damon stars as Theo Epstein. I’ve already completed the first scene:
I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab or the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? Because my name is Theo Effin Epstein. THAT’S WHY.
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