Last week I read Al's longform posts regarding future moves by the Cubs regarding the free agent and managerial markets. As someone who had just come back to Las Vegas from my second trip as a newly minted season ticket holder his views and everyone's comments were a great diversion from a busy work week. Well done BCB!
To me, Robinson Cano is a pipe dream that's not going to be smoked. Can't see the Yankees letting him go. Let's face it-at age 30 he's (insert cough here) part of their young core. A certain Yankees resigning; possibly the Dodgers or Tigers would be in play.
One of the commenters on a possible Ron Gardenhiring mentioned that they were uncomfortable with handing the reins of the Cubs over to someone who had only American League managing experience. I don't have any idea what the winning percentages are for those skippers who have made the AL to NL switch. In the last 35 years alone the Cubs have had Jim Frey, Don Zimmer and Lou Piniella make this change-with fairly decent results. Will Dale Sveum make it through next year and possibly longer? It's a maddening call. He's been given a ragtag group of players to work with over the last 2 years. His teams have been blown up at the trade deadline in both of those years.
I sometimes wonder about the friendship between Sveum and his coaches being a somewhat negative thing. If you look at playing time spent in the major leagues with the Brewers, Sveum and Bosio match almost identically with Deer and Quirk overlapping for 1 or 2 years. Let's face it, if you or I were given the reins of the visible portion of a multimillion dollar concern and were managing it with 2 or 3 of our friends or family members it more than likely wouldn't turn out all that well. Having said that, how in the hell did they get a great coach like Dave McKay to join onto to what seems at times to be the SS Minnow?
Let's say Sveum survives these years and finally gets a team that can contend for the playoffs. Will he have the game experience, bullpen management skills and perhaps most importantly the presser skills to deflect the video of the next priest Crane Kenney sends into the dugout with holy water? Or will he be a manager like Mike Matheny when Yadier Molina is not able to play? I.E. not very good?
Al and others have mentioned that the Cubs seem to think that the month of April is also part of the spring training weeding out process instead of GAMES THAT COUNT. The Cubs have to have a plan in place for the bullpen that is better than the last 2 years. You cannot break camp with a guy like Marmol with a 10 plus ERA as your closer. Fujikawa should have been given the job. Now sure, he got hurt and is another lost cause but IMHO he earned the job in spring training.
So here is my wild free agent signing idea: Tim Lincecum, Super Reliever.
Sometime in December Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein ring up Rick Thurman and persuade him and Tim Lincecum to fly into Chicago for a little free agent confab:
JH: "Tim and Rick-we asked you for this meeting to discuss an exciting new possibility regarding your free agency."
TL: "Well, I am kind of curious what the Cubs would be interested in my services for."
RT: "It has me puzzled also. You're not really on the cusp of contention in the NL Central; frankly not even for a Wild Card."
TE: "I'll let Jed present our idea to you. Then, see what you think."
JH: "Tim-we want to give you a one year opportunity with our ballclub to be what only one other pitcher in the last 5 years has been."
TL: "Well, what would that be, Jed?"
JH: "A SUPER RELIEVER!"
RT: "We know the super reliever concept Jed, but frankly it hasn't really been tried in the regular season."
JH: "Well, not since the 70's and 80's 3 inning closers anyway. But it worked in the World Series just last year with astonishing results against a loaded Tigers lineup."
TL: "Right, with me."
JH: "Rick and Tim-this is what we envision. Tim will work 2 games a week, or say 5 games in 2 weeks if necessary. We can pick and choose those games randomly or we may want to use him strictly after starts by Travis Wood and Chris Rusin. Especially in the second scenario can you imagine the havoc it would create for opposing managers who play matchups? If Wood or Rusin go 5 or 6 hard innings and then you come in for 2 innings? The other team's lineup gets flipped and we win all of those matchup wars. It could be devastating."
RT: "Well, it all sounds good for Cub dreams. But we have multi-year offers we are mulling over as a starting pitcher for teams that are, shall I say frankly-much closer or are in real contention than your club."
TL: "Fellas, Rick speaks for me and my interests. I'd rather be a starting pitcher on a contending ballclub."
JH: "Tim, your resume does precede your appearance here today. But, let me say this. You could be a revolutionary. That is, a revolutionary in the way the game is played. A revolutionary throwback, if you prefer. By throwing 140 to 180 innings to set up our closer or 8th inning reliever in tie games you could be responsible for a sea change in the way our game is played. And Tim, you are a 2-time Cy Young Award winner and a 2-time World Series winner. Could you possibly imagine being a part of our playoff and World Series winning teams in the future?"
TL: "Wow, to win it all in Wrigley? The parade would last 5 days!"
TE: "Your Q rating would be off the charts!"
RT: "Would player or team options be available?"
JH: "Of course. With the exception of NTC's."
...and that is when my alarm clock rings.
None of this is going to happen, of course. But I sure wish it would.
Al, you and I are basically of the same vintage-I turned 57 in June. I'm sick of the bs and I'm sick of the waiting. I started watching the Cubs on television in 1965 and saw my first game at Wrigley in 1966. I've watched the playoff debacles since 1969 ( and I count that one as a playoff loss due to my Cardinal fan relatives being really obnoxious to me at age13) with each one affecting me less and less as time goes by until sometimes I become numb to it all.
The time is now.
Postscript One: If I could change anything in the last few years of Cubs fandom it would be a reversal of the team's record in the last month or so of the 2010 season from 23-14 to 14-23. Then the manager in the visiting team's dugout today would be managing my favorite team. And I truly believe Sandberg would at least have the Cubs performing 5 games better per annum than Sveum.
Postscript Two: Theo Epstein would never say "Exactimundo" unless Henry Winkler was a shirttail relative.
Your friend in BCBness,