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Blow It Up


"I don't think you have to blow this thing up and start all over again."

- Dusty Baker

"To be successful next year, a blowup's not in order."

- Jim Hendry

"We've got a good group of players. We've just got to make a few adjustments."

- Aramis Ramirez

Please. Blow it up. Now.

It may not seem like the Cubs have much to offer on the trade market, but they actually do. Several of their players are worth more now than they will ever be. The value of Michael Barrett, a lousy defensive catcher having a career year at the plate, will never be higher. Trade him. The value of Jacque Jones, having a strong year at the plate but a lousy defensive player, will never be higher. Trade him. Aramis Ramirez, having a relatively mediocre year at the plate and a lousy defensive player, isn't at his highest value, but could be worth something in a trade. So trade him. Greg Maddux will never be worth more for the remainder of his career. Trade him. Juan Pierre will be a free agent at the end of the year. Trade him unless he is the centerfielder of the future. In which case, trade Felix Pie. Dump Neifi Perez and Todd Walker. Stock the team with young prospects in return. Sign a couple free agents in the off-season. That's how you get back to contending.

*

Jim Hendry continues to evaluate Dusty Baker, but Jim Hendry and Andy MacPhail seem safe from accountability. Don't forget: Hendry was in charge of Cubs scouting from 1995 to 2000. Then he became assistant GM under Andy MacPhail. If the problem is the organization, that means Hendry and MacPhail.

*

Jim Hendry complaining that the media misconstrued his remarks about evaluating Dusty Baker over the All-Star break:

"My stance hasn't changed. Despite what people have written or said that I had a so-called deadline -- I don't have a time frame. And if I don't have a timeframe, how can someone else have one?

"In the end, I will make a decision. That hasn't changed. I will do what I feel is in the best interest in the Cubs."

"It's something you do every year after the first half," Hendry said.

What Hendry said on July 5, according to the Sun-Times:

"You certainly want to give us a chance to see if we can make a run here before the break,'' Hendry said about the five games left before the All-Star Game. "See if we can do well the rest of the week. I'll spend a lot of time over the break not just with the way the situation is, but with your own players. I'll sit back and reflect on the first half.

"You are getting ready to go into a month where you have to evaluate what you have. It's one of those [things] where you want to give everyone a fair chance to succeed. I'll continue the process of evaluating the whole situation on a daily basis. When you are 20 games-plus under .500, I'm evaluating everything, all situations.''

*

Early in his Cubs presidency, according to George Castle of the Northwest Indiana Times, Andy MacPhail said, "It's a failing of the front office when you fire a manager." So they don't want to admit ailure?

*

The MacPhail quote is included in an interview Castle did with Dusty Baker, in which Baker's religiosity made him sound a bit like George W. Bush believing God put him in the presidency for a reason.

Excerpts:

The Times: The Cubs' losing syndrome seems like a tiger that can't be tamed. Can it ever be tamed?

Baker: I think so. Nobody ever thought Boston could be tamed. Everything can be tamed. Just because everything has been gobbled up here, you don't quit throwing stuff at it. Sooner of later, you're going to throw stuff and throw stuff, and he won't be to gobble 'em up. Then you'll be able to tame him and ride him.

The Times: Do you still believe you can be that tiger-tamer?

Baker: I hope so. That's why I came here. I still believe that's why I was sent here.

The Times: Do you think you're being unfairly blamed - even crucified - for the Cubs' problems?

Baker: Ever since I've been here, most things that have happened adversely, my name seems to come up one way or another, whether I've had anything to do with it or not. But most of the time, stuff is thrown at the strong, stuff is thrown at those who believe more than those who don't believe. People try to bring those who believe down to not believe. I refuse to let it happen no matter what people feel. "Ever since I've been here, most things that have happened adversely, my name seems to come up one way or another, whether I've had anything to do with it or not. But most of the time, stuff is thrown at the strong, stuff is thrown at those who believe more than those who don't believe. People try to bring those who believe down to not believe. I refuse to let it happen no matter what people feel.

*

The [Patterson] Papers

"Hendry said Patterson was mislabeled as a leadoff man, while Patterson viewed himself as a power hitter who should be batting fifth or sixth. That led to internal conflicts.

- Sun-Times, July 5

It was Dusty Baker who insisted on batting Patterson leadoff, instead of the six-hole where he has had the most success.

"He's being Corey and not trying to be somebody he isn't, what they wanted him to be in Chicago," says La Troy Hawkins.

During a recent Braves broadcast, former Cubs announcer Chip Caray said that while in Chicago, Corey Patterson was "chasing the ghost of Lou Brock. Too many people in Chicago wanted him to be the next Lou Brock, instead of the first Corey Patterson."

It was Dusty Baker who said Patterson could be the next Lou Brock.

"Part of Patterson's frustration with the Cubs was the overabundance of advice he received. In Baltimore, he has worked exclusively with hitting coach Terry Crowley, who said Patterson has been very receptive."

"They're all positive here and upbeat," Patterson says.

*

The difference between the real winning manager and the real losing manager was clear after the Cubs' 15-11 victory over the White Sox:

"It was a great game to watch, a great game to manage."

- Dusty Baker

"It was an ugly game. Ugly on both sides."

- Ozzie Guillen

*
More July tidbits.

* "A new victim will come in with high hopes, plenty of energy and a fail safe plan to revive a franchise with no direction, no future, and no accontability."

- The Tribune's Paul Sullivan on the next Cubs manager

* They never learn. "Agent Mark Rodgers' deals with two Cubs draft picks have caused some commotion in the baseball world," Sullivan reported in early July. "Rodgers represented 11th- round pick Chris Huseby, who will receive a $1.3 million signing bonus despite being the 329th player selected. Last year, the lowest- picked player with a $1 million or more bonus was the 33rd pick. The right-handed high school pitcher out of Palm City, Fla., spent the last year recovering from elbow surgery.

"Rodgers told teams Huseby would attend Auburn unless he received first-round money. The Cubs' first-round pick, outfielder Tyler Colvin, received a $1.45 million bonus. General manager Jim Hendry declined to discuss Huseby's deal, which will be done by Wednesday.

"Rodgers was also an adviser to Notre Dame's Jeff Samardzija, who signed for a $250,000 bonus after reports surfaced he was to receive a $7.25 million conditional deal, back-loaded over five years, if he gave up football for baseball.

"The Cubs believe Samardzija would've been a first-round pick if he wasn't expected to play in the NFL, and Huseby would've been a first-rounder if not for the elbow surgery."

* "This is the team they penciled in, the other seven, eight guys. For the most part, this is the team they penciled in for this year."

- Steve Stone on The Score, rebutting the idea that Baker hasn't had "his team" because of injuries

COMMENT: If the Cubs have more injuries next year, does Dusty get to keep his job again until that one magical year when not a single player goes on the DL?

* "I look at this and I see the Cubs in '03, first place; '04, third place; '05, fourth place; '06, fifth place. The trend of this team is not where you want to see it. It's straight down," Stone says. "Accountability is something that everybody has to have, whatever business they're in."

* "The last three-plus years, the Tribune Company has spent more money on this baseball team than they ever dreamed. They've spent enough o win. For $98 million, we should be able to assemble a winner. There's some changes that have to be made."

* Stone compares Dusty's record to other managers in other organizations and it's clear Dusty has been given a long lease on life.

* Stone also points out that the Cubs are terrible in one-run games, which is "not a coincidence," and in a later show points to the Cubs heading toward historic back-to-back losing home records.

* "We're seeing the same things we saw from 2004 and 2005," Stone says. "Missed cutoff men, a lack of bunting, hitting behind runner, baserunning mistakes . . . different players, same problems."

* Stone loves the job Joe Girardi is doing in Florida with a $14 million payroll. Joe Girardi, the guy the Cubs didn't hire.

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