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"A season of questionable in-game decisions by first-year Cubs manager Rick Renteria found another spotlight in the seventh inning of Wednesday's 11-1 loss," Gordon Wittenmyer reported this week in a sort of first crack of the shield around the Cubs' hapless rookie skipper.
"That's when a quick succession of pitching changes in a three-run game, early in the inning, turned into a five-run inning, with Kyuji Fujikawa left in to take the brunt of the beating and face seven batters.
Renteria's bullpen use - which includes a penchant for frequent changes combined with an apparent paranoia over how much he uses a guy - has drawn criticism and head-shaking throughout the season from within the organization as well as among baseball people outside the team."
Whoa. And we're just hearing about this now?
Another piece of evidence illustrating our argument that the local sports media is largely giving Theo Epstein a pass - and the Cubs' kid-glove treatment.
After all, for all of Epstein's alleged talent evaluating acument, he chose wrong with his first manager, and doesn't look great with his second.
"Epstein seemed to refer to it last week when asked by a doting member of the local media about how well Renteria has performed in his first season as manager."
(Name that doter!)
"The No. 1 challenge we gave him was to provide an environment for the young players to continue to develop and thrive at the big-league level, and that's easier said than done," Epstein said. "He's lived up to everything that we had hoped for, especially the priorities that we gave him.
"As for the X's and O's and the in-game stuff, he's growing into that, and it's kind of nice that he can grow with this team."
Renteria isn't supposed to be learning, he's supposed to be teaching. Epstein, though, is essentially saying that Renteria, too, is a minor-league prospect in a major-league uniform.
Wittenmyer returned to the topic a couple days later:
"The rookie-development program the Cubs are running at the big-league level has conspicuously included first-year manager Rick Renteria, whose game management has been called into question by longtime baseball people inside and outside the organization," he reported.
Renteria has been handed organizational mandates on the use of first-year relief pitchers and guidelines for how to use young players in general, but he also said he has been given the daily freedom to manage.
"They've allowed me my flexibility," he said.
His predecessor, Dale Sveum, was allowed even more freedom. And after Sveum's first year, team president Theo Epstein - who hand-picked the former Red Sox third-base coach to become his first Cubs manager - raved about Sveum and suggested his quickly developing reputation already had become a recruiting tool.
"Dale's making a name for himself as a manager that players want to play for," Epstein said. "Free agents recognize that we had a good clubhouse [in 2012] despite the difficult season that we had."
A year later, Sveum was fired, and Epstein said it was because the manager was too hard on young players such as Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, despite players in the clubhouse almost universally expressing respect and support for Sveum privately.
Renteria was hired from the Padres' coaching staff with a reputation for having a good bedside manner with developing players and strong, bilingual communication skills.
But several players questioned his daily-affirmation methods as early as spring training, and by early in the season, his occasional head-scratching moves, quick hooks for starters and inconsistent communication had worn thin with many.
Again: And we're just hearing about this now?
In August, I coined the nickname Rick Rentamanager for Renteria. It seems clear he's not going to be managing this team should it become a contender. Like Wittenmyer says, he's basically in charge of running player development right now. Once players develop - or don't - he's out.
And it's hard to see how much developing he'll be responsible for; he's on a tighter leash from the front office than Sveum ever was. His job is really more like self-help guru.
Dale was a disaster. Ricky is just oblivious.
The Week In Review: Got swept by the Blue Jays and lost two of three to the Pirates. Here come the kids!
The Week In Preview: The Reds, Dodgers and Cardinals come in for the final homestand of the season, followed by a trip to Milwaukee.
Wrigley Is 100 Celebration: The Cubs have 100 problems, and 99 of them are Tom Ricketts.
Mad Merch: Monday's game against the Reds kicks off Big Ten Rivalry Week. Really.
Prospects Are Suspects: Remember how excited the Cubs - and their kiss-ass media colleagues - were about pitcher Jacob Turner? A former first-round draft pick of the Tigers (ninth overall), Turner was acquired from the Marlins for two no-name pitchers and immediately anointed the Next Big Thing. Well, after Sunday's loss he now has a 6.20 ERA on the year; he's given up 136 hits in 103 innings.
One better than eight!
Laughable Headline Of The Week: Is Welington Castillo Part Of Cubs Core?
Well, at .244/.302/.392 he certainly fits in, but no.
Billy Cub vs. Clark Cub: Clark has already moved on to football.
Advantage: Billy. Er, no, Clark!
The Junior Lake Show: Dude's .210/.241 is way better than Javy Baez's .174/.229.
Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Jorge Soler is at his highest value.
Jumbotron Preview: 5,700 square-feet of Theo Epstein announcing his third managerial pick.
Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til
next year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021.
Over/Under: Number of remaining games the Cubs win: +/- 4.
Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Rick Renteria is a terrible manager.
Update to today's #Cubs lineup: Alcantara CF, Baez SS, Coghlan LF, Valbuena 3B, Castillo C, Kalish RF, Olt 1B, Watkins 2B, Wood P— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 7, 2014
The Cub Factor: Unlike
Alfonso Soriano Starlin Castro, you can catch 'em all!
The White Sox Report: A Good Guy Who Wore Black.
The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour: Panic At Bear Mountain.
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