My "War And Peace" length proposal for the 2009 team did exactly what I'd hoped it would do -- provoke discussion, and a lot of good ideas from all of you, about what direction the team should take next year.
I think Gordon Wittenmyer's article this morning on Jim Hendry's contract extension illuminates my point. Hendry's backloaded deals are beginning to rear their ugly heads, which means that payroll can't really be increased by massive free-agent signings. Jim's going to have to be creative. My suggestions were made in that spirit. If you don't go out and get the specific players I mentioned, or if you don't like those, the point was that you have to get players like those. Role players, guys who know their spot on the team and produce in those roles.
And, you need someone like Kevin Millar, who was the leader of the "idiots" that were the 2004 Red Sox. Those guys had a monkey on their back almost the size of the one the Cubs do. And that has nothing to do with all the lame stuff that Mike Imrem writes about, yet again, in the Daily Herald today (geez, Mike -- you can do better than that, can't you?) -- but I do believe that the sheer length of the title droughts has to weigh on every player's head. Mark DeRosa even said during the postseason that every guy who signs with the Cubs wants to be part of the team that finally breaks the drought.
Of course they do, and of course every manager who signs wants to be the guy who leads them there. Wouldn't you? That'd give you baseball immortality.
But what it also does is put tremendous pressure on you, whether you realize it consciously or not. The Rays are in the World Series on talent -- but also because I think they don't know they're not supposed to be this good. They never thought about winning for one second, I think -- they just went out and did it.
The Cubs need a Millar type, someone who can get all the stuff OUT of their heads. Whether that's Millar himself (I do think he'd be a useful bench player) or someone like him, Jim Hendry has to identify that person (or people) and go out and get them. He has to balance that by making sure that those types of players also have talent and can fill the needed roles on the team.
He's got work to do, and some of it may include trying to dump a contract or two (I still think he could get someone to take Jason Marquis, which would free up almost $10 million). I opened this thread up primarily because, with nearly 600 comments on the other one, I figured you'd want to keep the discussion going today.
Finally, this was posted in the FanShot section but I wanted to bring it to a more prominent place on the front page. The Tank McNamara comic strip, which I have enjoyed for more than 30 years since it started, and which has skewered sports figures (deservedly so, in most cases), has decided to take a swipe at the Cubs and Cubs fans this week. This time, they missed the mark, and bigtime, by mentioning the same, lame, old, tired mass media cliches that we all agree have got to go. Yesterday's strip was a particularly egregious example of this nonsense.
Suggestion: you can sign up and post comments on the site. It appears, from one of the comments left yesterday, that Bill Hinds, one of the strip's writers, actually reads them. You might want to let him know that this time, they really missed the mark.