Jim Hendry & The Offseason of Doom

January 07, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Arcturus

I know we're not a Cubs blog anymore, but what the hell is going on in Chicago this offseason? Did Jim Hendry get a bad batch of donuts or what? Before the Cubs folded like a wet stack of paper dolls in the post-season, they had easily won 97 games to take the Central. In a few short months, Hendry has made some questionable moves that has changed the chemistry and make up of that team. Let's take a look:

1. Jose Ceda to the Marlins for Kevin Gregg.

At first glance, this looks okay. A minor league pitcher for a major league closer. I thought it would be pretty cool at first, the idea in my head to go Gregg-Marmol-Wood in innings 7, 8, and 9, thus shortening the game for the starters. Then I started hearing rumblings about how good Jose Ceda really is. It seems maybe we'd have been better off to hold on to him and let him be one of our setup guys. He's cheaper and younger than Gregg, so this trade doesn't make a whole lot of sense anymore. And my dream of 7-8-9 fell apart with Hendry's next move, or rather, non-move.

2. Letting Kerry Wood Walk Away.

Okay, I know the Cubs have economic factors that influenced this move, but I still don't like it. The Indians signed Wood to a 2 year deal for $20 million, which I know the Cubs were probably unable to match. Still, Wood was the longest tenured Cub, one of the faces of the franchise, not to mention pretty damn good as a closer. I think what I like least about letting him walk is the lack of depth in the pen. I have no doubt Marmol can close, but the 1-2 punch of Marmol-Wood was imposing. If Wood stays, you have two guys who are capable of being lights out on a given day. Plus Wood was a gamer. Sure, he blew some saves, but there were some games where he was in tough spots that he got out of. Spots maybe Marmol wouldn't have had the veteran composure necessary to get out of. I think before it's all over, we're going to miss Wood.

3. Trading Mark DeRosa/Signing Aaron Miles.

This is the ultimate in dumbassery. Last year, the Cubs were so balanced, you couldn't really say who the MVP of the team was. If I could have picked one guy, it would have been DeRosa. Not only did he play multiple positions balls-out all year, he also had a career year at the plate batting .285 with 21 homers, 103 runs scored, and 87 RBIs. I know the team needed to clear salary, but you send this guy to Cleveland for three minor league goobers and then sign Aaron Miles? You've gotta be kidding me. We finally get guys like Neifi Perez and Ramon Martinez out of town and you go and get the white version? Crazy. DeRosa is one of baseball's rarest commodities: a utility man who actually swings a decent bat. Not only that, but he seemed like one of those solid clubhouse guys as well. I'm not sure he can be replaced and I know damn well Aaron Miles isn't the guy to do it. And this pushes Mike Fontenot into an everyday role at second base. Mike Fontenot the fill-in player is a bad mother. But Mike Fontenot the everyday second basemen scares the life outta me. A two headed monster of Miles/Fontenot doesn't sound much better. This is a total downgrade.

4. The Milton Bradley Signing.

I've got nothing against Milton Bradley. While he was healthy, I had him on two fantasy teams last year and he was awesome. Let me stress: while he was healthy. I don't care about his anger issues. He's still not half the prick that Jeff Kent is or capable of being as big an ass as Barry Bonds. What does concern me is giving three years to a guy who hasn't played a full season (that I can recall) since he's been in the big leagues. I do sort of worry about him going up into the stands after less than polite fans, although I personally believe that anyone who makes any racial comments deserves a Bradley beatdown. That would actually entertain me, so long as said beatdown is justified. Still, $30 million seems a lot to spend for a guy who may miss lengthy chunks of the season. Hell, I'd almost rather bring Jacque Jones back*. Sure, he can't hit the long ball any more, but at least he played almost every day. Milton Bradley sounds like Rondell White '08 to me, until he proves otherwise. Still, I was wrong about both the Reed Johnson and Jim Edmonds signings last year, so maybe Hendry scores again here. I don't think I would mind this signing as much had the Cubs retained DeRosa. When Bradley hits the DL, you could have slid DeRosa into RF and not lost too much in production.

5. The Failure to Resign Hank White.

Sweet Jebus, I heard the other day that the Cubs were considering bringing Paul Bako back. Holy God, why? This is another illogical move. Yeah, I know, Henry Blanco is the backup catcher and backup catchers are a dime a dozen. What other backup catcher is a living legend? Has his own fan club? Yeah, I thought so. Blanco's another player with intangibles. He calls a great game behind the plate and is capable of giving you the big hit. He's a team guy and someday will probably be a hell of a manager when and if he steps away from the tools of ignorance. He's been a great mentor to Geo and I think he brings a lot more than is readily apparent. Losing one clubhouse guy is bad enough, but two? Come on Jim. Blanco is expensive for a backup, but at least I don't cringe when he steps to the plate. With Hank White, there's always the chance he'll do something awesome. Plus his tattoos rock and I honestly think he helps keep El Toro Loco in check. Without Hank White's calming influence, I think Big Z might start breaking bats over his pitching arm. (Don't ask me how he would do this.)

I'm hopeful that there is some greater purpose to the DeRosa deal and that it provides us a chance to obtain Jake Peavy or Brian Roberts. As it stands, I really think the Cubs may come to regret trading DeRosa. Probably right about when Milton Bradley's surgically repaired knee goes blooey in the outfield sometime in July. At least Jimmy made Jason Marquis go bye-bye, even if all we got from the Rockies in return was Luis Vizcaino and a case of tequila, which Luis probably will drink on the flight to Chicago. All hope is not lost, but I have to say I'm not real impressed thus far. I know the Trib is bankrupt and the economy is in the shitter, but goddamn, I've been having Andy McPhail/Ed Lynch flashbacks and there's nothing good about that.

*Arcturus only wants Jacque Jones back in uniform-any uniform-because the wind generated by Super Jock's red bat provides electricity to his small Midwestern town. Come back Jacque, this blackout must end!