Left to right: Andy MacPhail, Jim Hendry, Dusty Baker
Seriously, what else can you say about last night's nationally televised disgrace, a 10-6 loss to the Cardinals?
We've already discussed in detail in last night's game thread, the perplexing choice Hendry made in calling up Les Walrond to start against the Cardinals. Walrond leaves this game, and likely his Cub career, with a 16.88 ERA, seven hits and three walks in less than three innings, and sixty-eight pitches made to get eight outs.
That's not totally fair to Walrond -- more dumb defense, by Jacque Jones, who did get charged with an error, and by Ronny Cedeno, who didn't, helped the Cardinals to a four-run second inning. But the fact that he was there at all, as a "reward" for having a "good" year at Iowa, is a damning indictment of any good sense that Hendry might have left in his head, particularly when Sean Marshall made an excellent, 100-pitch rehab start at Iowa yesterday.
It was a no-brainer, Jim. Marshall's the future of this team. Walrond isn't. This isn't the sort of business where you "reward" that sort of performance.
To their credit, the Cubs clawed their way back from the 6-2 deficit to tie the game, thanks to a Jones HR (and the fawning the ESPN crew did over him was ridiculous), and a couple of hits by Boom-Boom Bynum, which is also unfortunate, because that only means he'll start more games this week.
Then, the overworked Bob Howry, making his 71st appearance of the season (and as I pointed out yesterday, he's almost a lock to break the club record for appearances -- a record set 41 years ago and matched only once, 26 years ago), throwing in his third straight game and fourth in the last five, loaded the bases with two out and gave up the game-winner, a grand slam to Gary Bennett. Check out these stats:
Bennett vs. everyone else, 2006: 20-for-111 (.180), 1 HR, 13 RBI, 6 BB, 24 K
This game was about the last straw for me; I've been saying that because of the ill-advised contract extension given to Jim Hendry, that we are stuck with him. But after the Walrond move, I'm going to jump on the bandwagon. Time to eat that contract, Andy MacPhail -- admit you made a mistake. In fact, there's no need to even look outside for a replacement. Take the job back yourself, and try to remember what it was that made you a successful GM for the Twins -- that club won two World Series during your tenure as GM there.
This has been just about the worst Cub season I've ever seen, and I've seen some bad ones, including the 103-loss debacle of 1966. Dusty Baker was asked again about whether he wants to return next year, whether he feels wanted, and he said, "Sometimes."
That's cryptic, as Paul Sullivan writes, but this isn't: Go, Dusty. You don't really want to be here, and we don't really want you here. It felt like the right fit three years ago, but it sure isn't now.
Finally, Derrek Lee will return from the DL tonight. It'll be interesting to see who will be removed from the roster to make room -- maybe Walrond, since the Cubs have an off day this week and a fifth starter won't be needed till next week, and by then rosters will be expanded, or maybe the Cubs will ship the suddenly-hot (.362 in August) Phil Nevin somewhere. Lee has played in 34 games this year and been on the active roster for 39. In those 39 games the Cubs went 19-20 and without Lee they were 35-56, implying that with a healthy Lee they could have been a .500 ballclub, which in this year's NL, passes for a contending team. This doesn't mean the Cubs don't have to make major changes to contend in 2007 -- only that one of the missing pieces, Derrek Lee, is already here.