Dusty Baker was released about four days ago by the Chicago Cubs, by my count. Joe Girardi was released about three days ago by the Florida Marlins. The Marlins hired a new manager, Fredi Gonzalez, who a lot of baseball folks project to be a pretty damn good manager, probably the second best on the market behind Girardi, approximately 2 days, 20 hours ago. The Cubs are still managerless, as they have been since, oh, let’s say Vietnam.
What the hell is taking so long? Girardi has all but said that he would kiss every dude in Chicago for the Cubs job. Matt Herges, a veteran reliever for the Marlins, has said that Girardi is the greatest human being in the history of the world. Girardi has begun building a house in the Chicago suburbs. The only person in all this who thinks that Girardi isn’t perfect for the Cubs job is Marlins owner, self-promoter, and well-known douchebag Jeffrey Loria.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING, JIM HENDRY?! Hendry has said that he needed time to “digest.” If he’s talking about his breakfast, he’s not going to get around to hiring a manager until the 2009 campaign. If he’s talking about thinking about who will be the next manager, why the hell did he wait this long to do so? Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it a foregone conclusion that Dusty was not going to be back sometime around the All-Star break? Wasn’t Girardi practically run out of town sometime in August? How has Hendry not yet connected the dots here? Well, I have a couple of theories:
- Hendry does not want to hire a popular manager, as all the blame will fall on him when the team inevitably sucks next year. Let’s face it. This team is terribly constructed, and as long as Hendry is at the helm, I have no faith that it will get any better. I guarantee he goes into this offseason penciling Mark Prior in for 30-33 starts. That’s just stupidity. Hendry should enter the offseason counting on Mark Prior for zero starts, and expect anything greater than zero to be a bonus. The lineup is solid, as long as you don’t mind gaping offensive holes in center field, right field, shortstop, and second base. Hendry has more holes to fill this offseason than Mark Foley. If he hires Girardi, the fans will heroize Girardi and be left with no one to blame but Hendry.
- Hendry is foolishly gunshy. Haven’t we played this game before? Wasn’t Hendry’s “top priority” last offseason Rafael Furcal? That worked out well. The only start I remember Furcal had when the Cubs were on the field included Furcal slamming into Lee like he’s slammed into so many trees after so many drunken benders, shattering Lee’s wrist and any Cub hope into a million little pieces. Hendry’s total failure to land Furcal also cost the Cubs three good young pitching prospects in Sergio Mitre, Reynel Pinto and Ricky Nolasco in order to get the one-year rental Juan Pierre. Nolasco proceeded to go 11-11 with a 4.82 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. For perspective, that ERA would have been better than every single Cub rookie, save Rich Hill, who the Cubs trotted out there this season. In the brief cup of coffee Pinto had, he pitched oustandingly except for the walks. He almost certainly would have been more effective in the Cubs bullpen than Roberto Novoa. Pierre, on the other hand, didn’t get a hit until July, still hasn’t drawn a walk in a Cubs uniform, got thrown out trying to steal second by a combined 36 miles this year, and has the most hollow 200-hit season in the history of Major League Baseball. It sure seems like all of this could have been avoided if Hendry had gotten his man. Sure, the Dodgers overpaid for Furcal. But if the Cubs weren’t wasting money on the likes of Glendon Rusch and Neifi Perez, they would have had more than enough to get Furcal, save Derrek Lee’s wrist, insert Pinto into the bullpen and Nolasco into the rotation, and possibly cure cancer. I would be willing to bet that if the Cubs have not hired Joe Girardi by Wednesday of next week, he will be managing the Nationals. If that’s the case, I hope he shoves it up the Cubs’ collective asses every time his team plays them.
- Hendry is waiting to hire one of the managers currently in the playoffs. Someone suggested this theory to me. Who? Ron Gardenhire? Why would he leave an organization with young talent, a deep farm system, homegrown position players, and possibly the best 1-2 punch of Santana and Liriano in baseball to come manage the bullet train to hell that is the Chicago Cubs? Don’t be stupid, Hendry. Gardenhire shouldn’t give you the time of day if his phone rings.
- Hendry got so excited when Buck Showalter came on the market that he fell and broke his hip in a scramble to get the phone. Hendry, just say “no” to Buck Showalter. He’s not good at managing a baseball team. He’s really not. He’s just like Dusty: a big name manager with neither the credentials nor the brains to deserve to manage this team.
Whatever Hendry’s excuse for not getting this done by now, I’ve officially tempered my excitement about possibly getting Girardi. The longer this goes on, the more likely Girardi goes to the Nationals rather than the Cubs. Be prepared for that, loyal Cubs fans. If that happens, I will be purchasing the Extra Innings package next year and officially becoming a Twins fan.