Kap's Corner

How to Start Rebuilding the Chicago Cubs

If the Cubs do not show signs of life heading into the all star break I fully believe that we will hear from Chairman Tom Ricketts on his and his family's thoughts about the team and their plans for cleaning up the mess. So with that in mind here is what I would advise them to do to prepare for a very tough meeting with the media and the July 31st trading deadline.

1) Management must let the fan base know how frustrated they are with the on field performance and also let them know that it will not be tolerated and that change is coming to the Cubs in a big way.

2) Identify those pieces that have trade value and can be moved. That means there are no untouchables on the roster. However, it would take a huge deal to pry some of the best youngsters away from the Cubs.

3) Be willing to eat significant dollars to clear out the dead wood on the roster so that a complete overhaul of the team can begin as soon as possible.

4) Show the paying customer how much this season has upset you. They are paying a tremendous amount of money to support your team and they also invest their heart in a team that has broken it more times than they care to remember. They have to know that you are as upset as they are or you could see further declines in attendance and support.

5) Lay out a plan for the future. The Cubs fans will buy a plan if it is spelled out to them in a clear and concise manner. There has never been a definitive plan to rebuild the team. It has always been about trying to upgrade and compete all at the same time. Unless you spend Yankee level money that plan has very little chance of succeeding.

6) Talk about playing with pride and fire. That is much more of an indictment on the players than it is on the manager. However, when you see players like Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez struggle day after day and they continue to remain in the 3-4 hole on the days that they are playing it is no wonder that it appears as if poor play is accepted. Lee and Ramirez have been awful all season long but never have we seen them dropped down to the 6-7-8 spots in the order.

When the White Sox were struggling in early June we heard Kenny Williams say that it would not be tolerated and that changes were coming if things didn't improve. He also said that "I'm tired of looking at this and so are our fans." By doing that he let everyone who buys a White Sox ticket know that he was as frustrated as they are and that it was unacceptable. We have not heard much of that from the North Side and that too is unacceptable.


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8 Comments

dorkimoe said:

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Am I the only one who is annoyed by the constant lineup changes? I understand you are trying to get the best players into the game. But playing every other game is not going to help anyone get into any sort of groove. You can't put Colvin in for a day and then take him out the next because he didn't go 4-4 he only went 2-4. Let him see some pitching and get into the groove. And quit taking him out against lefties.

Also they players complained they needed a better clubhouse to relax in. Well I think they are to relaxed. They got their fancy clubhouse in the off season now they are terrible.

Didn't the Cubs have the best record in spring training....bring up the young kids and play them. They actually try and have something to work for. Lee just doesn't look comfortable at the plate. And everyone else tries to hit 9 run home runs, just put the ball in play.

Max Power said:

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The main problem with having a firesale, would be the person in charge of doing it. If they merely want to dump salary, Hendry might be capable of doing that. Otherwise, get a real GM in to start the rebuilding process.

And with such a crappy offense, they might want look into hiring a hitting coach. I hear Gerald Perry is available.

joeydafish said:

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max...awesome comment, way to go! Burn Hendry any chance we can.

TracyT said:

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Thanks Kap. Some of my own thoughts:

* My number one priority is to hear from the owners the exact game plan to build a consistent winner. Do they know? Or are they just going to defer to the existing GM and club president? Ricketts must become more visible and audible, for the fans' sake. Yeah, we've heard that they want to build the farm system and bring up young guys. But we haven't heard much beyond that, such as are they willing to tear this completely down and go through some lean years while we nurture young players? Are they committed to significantly cut payroll? Would they be willing to eat significant sums of money in order to move these contracts out? We need vision, now.

* I have some faith that Hendry will be able to move some of these big contracts, starting this coming off-season, but I see the baseball landscape changed so much and see top-spending teams unwilling to help out and take these contracts off, especially contracts to players who aren't very good. My fear is that this is going to create an impasse and it will take much longer to change over the roster. Especially if the Ricketts don't agree to eat cost.

* I don't want to hear from management or upper-management that they are just a few tweaks away from contending again. Any reasonable Cubs observer will tell you this is BS. Most of the core veterans on this team (Zambrano, Lee, Ramirez, Soriano) will never help the Cubs get back into contention. Because...

* The door is completely closed. It started closing after the Arizona series, half-way after the Dodgers series, and shut completely when Zambrano went off. I will be very disappointed if I hear anything different.

* Does Ricketts have the guts to blow this thing up? Eat significant portions of contracts in order to move overpaid, underwhelming veterans? Call up young players from the minors even though they might not be ready?

Time will tell. But it is definitely time to start making changes.

cubs217 said:

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I definitely agree the Cubs need an extreme makeover on many levels. It's like they know they need changes but they don't want to commit to it yet because it would mean accepting that the season is pretty much over. I know the players can't come out and say, "hey, we're out of it, we're going no where this year". But as crazy as it sounds I would really love to hear a player say it. That it's not just the fans being dramatic, it's July and nothing has changed, its gotten worse actually. Well, the pitching is still good so I can't complain on that.

I was at the game today, the 12-0 2 hit game. And during the 7 inning I heard a fan scream "I want my money back". I've always thought okay I'm choosing to be a fan of this team, I know that this team is not going to win every game, they will have bad days, I know that the game I go to they might lose and you pay for the Wrigley experience - the fans, the tradition, the beautiful ball park - along with the game. I enjoyed my day at the game despite the loss. But is it selfish to want a little acknowledgement from the organization for the fans? We were all there, ready to go at 1:20 with all the hope and optimism Cubs fans have (even if it is a bit blind). I think we do our part, if we have a part in it. Any other team that performs like the Cubs have been, you don't have 40,000 you have half that if you are lucky. It may not matter in the grand scheme of things but it would really mean a lot to me to have just 1 player say "hey fans thanks for showing up even though we don't sometimes". I love the Cubs and I always will. Here's to next year...or the year after that.

CubsW said:

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I agree with your comments, but it is very disappointing that the new ownership did not step up before this season got out of hand. It was clear in the offseason that this team was not ready to compete with the Cardinals, yet there was no sense of urgency. A few comments for the Ricketts:

I want to hear ownership acknowledge that Cubs fans are always ready to go when the season starts (even before the season), and I want to hear a promise that future teams will be equally ready to go.

I want to hear a commitment to on-base percentage, working over quality starting pitchers, driving up pitch counts, playing the game the right way. Embrace statistics, it's ok. You have to find out if your GM and hitting coach share this thought.

As I said when the Ricketts took over, the number one priority is finding an exit strategy on Soriano. It hurts financially, but you have to move on from this or we will not win for several more years (his stock is actually slightly up right now - get him off this team).

I want to hear a promise that we will consistently make the playoffs and we will WIN THE WORLD SERIES! This team is again in danger of losing more young baseball fans to the team on the South Side.

You have a guy in the broadcast booth, Bob Brenly, who deserves a chance to manage this team next year. We need a guy who clearly understands the pressure and the passion here.

Turn this around fast - none of us watch to watch the Cubs of the past, and that is what we are seeing right now.

Edelweiss said:

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One thing that has become obvious is that either Theriot or Fontenot must go, unless they can both start at different positions. It probably doesn't matter which one; that depends on the Cubs' future plans. Since the Castro call-up, both have had problems, and neither has been able to do what he does best. Theriot has seen his OBP go down, and he can't do his job as a table setter. Fontenot hasn't been able to hit for power, and has committed more errors this year than in his last 2 seasons; his plus-defense has taken a hit since he has to compete for playing time. Theriot and Fontenot cannot compete with each other, and trying to do so causes each to not perform at his best. Keep in mind that Fontenot was given Theriot's second base job in college because Mike was too small and has not yet developed the arm strength to play short, and now Castro has done the same thing to his shortstop job. They were not close in college, but became friends when Fontenot was traded to the Cubs; he is now godfather to Theriot's youngest child. They probably both feel guilty about taking playing time from the other. This situation cannot be helping the team morale. Unless Fontenot can get significant playing time any any infield position, one of them needs to go where he can play regularly. Fontenot is like a kid to older fans, but it is time to cut the apron strings.

Frank said:

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First and foremost, hire a true baseball man to run the baseball side of the business. Tell Crane Kenny to keep to his side of the park and worry about running the business operations only.

Second, give him total authority on hires and fires. If he want's to designate Sorryano for assignment, then let him do it. True, give him a budget, but the team is his to run from the top to the bottom.

Third, stop making excuses for poor play, if someone doesn't want to hustle, then put them on the bench. Play with only 24 players until that player decides that playing hard is the only way to get on the field.

Lastly, can we stop using the excuse that they play too many day games. It should be more difficult for the teams coming in than the Cubs but that just hasn't been the case. The reason why they've gone over 100 years between WS victories is because they had P.K. Wrigley for an owner and they accept poor play. He knew nothing about baseball and it showed. I could go on about some of his dumber decisions but I don't think anyone want's to hear it.

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