Does GM Jim Hendry have embarrassing pictures of Cubs CEO Tom Ricketts? That's about the only conclusion one can draw after hearing yet another vote of confidence from the Cubs bossman for his embattled GM.
Look, the fact that you own a team does not automatically give you special powers of evaluation. The average Cubs fan may grouse about what should be done over a beer at the local bar, but he lacks the pedigree to do anything about it.
But Ricketts has the power to do something about it. Only he cannot because he is no different than the average Cubs fan at the bar in terms of knowledge on how to run a baseball team.
In short, being the owner of the Cubs did not anoint Ricketts with some secret sauce or special recipe on how to build and maintain a winning baseball organization.
However, instead of asking for help as most smart businessmen would do, he feels he is capable of doing this without the help of a true baseball man.
Ricketts is not a baseball guy, capable of evaluating the performance of a major league club.
Yet that's what Ricketts has entrusted himself with and unabashedly clings to with seemingly no humility. It's a form of arrogance that is appalling given the current state of the team and is concerning going forward.
Hey, it's his right as the owner of the team to do as he pleases. But having that right and being right are two completely different animals.
A smart businessman surrounds himself with capable people. Meanwhile, Ricketts apparently feels he needs no help in assessing the state of the ballclub.
"I've never bought into the (idea) that I should have a baseball guy to watch my baseball guy and his baseball guys," he said. "Then what do you get, a baseball guy to watch the baseball guy who's watching your baseball guys?"
"I trust Jim to do the best he can to get the best team on the field. I trust Mike to manage those guys effectively and give us the amount of wins that he can. And so, I really haven't thought about an extra baseball guy, and I'm not regretting having an extra baseball guy at all." (Quote attributed to Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan.)
So just how can a regular guy judge a ballclub when he is not trained in how to run a ballclub, nor has the benefit of assistance?
The W-L Record
Perhaps the easiest and most obvious way to gauge success is to look at the club's ability to win on the field.
Since they last won consecutive division titles in 2007-2008, the Cubs record is a miserable 186-205.
They finished fifth in 2010 and again sit in the fifth position of the NL Central division, with only the Houston Astros worse than they are.
In fact, only Houston is worse than the Cubs in the entire major league so far this season.
It's not as if the Cubs spending has been miserly. In fact, only five teams have higher payrolls in 2011 than the Cubs, who sit at $125,047,329, according to USAToday.com.
And even if they continue to stink up the season, they will be hard pressed to receive any kind of salary or player relief by trading underperforming players or potential free agents because of all the no-trade clauses.
In their own division, the first place Brewers spent about $40 million less on payroll, while the Pittsburgh Pirates—yes, the Pirates!—are above .500 despite a payroll that's around $80 million less than what the Hendry cash machine is paying.
Okay, Mr. Ricketts, the team stinks, but look at all those youngsters! But wait, for upon closer inspection you will see that this is a mirage.
Sure, Starlin Castro is the real thing, but kids like Darwin Barney and Tyler Colvin are not everyday players. Andrew Cashner is on the DL, so he gets an incomplete, but the only young outfielder who looks to be a major league regular on the horizon is Brett Jackson, and many scouts do not see him as a superstar.
The fact is, in Hendry's time either running the farm or generally managing the club, the farm simply hasn't produced. "Sure things" like Corey Patterson and Felix Pie have come and gone, and no middle of the order star has emerged in all the Hendry years.
Yes, they do seem to be loaded with high-floor players who have the potential to be above-average or better big leaguers but aren't there yet. But then again, we've seen that movie before.
Keith Law ranks the Cubs organization at No. 20 following the Matt Garza trade.
Furthermore, the only plan we're aware of that Hendry has is to fly by the seat of his pants. He is not into statistics, does not subscribe to modern baseball thinking and there does not seem to be any organizational philosophy.
In short, there is nothing that says to the average fan that things are looking bright for the Cubs, yet Ricketts apparently knows better.
"I have 100 percent confidence in Jim," he said.
Great, Tom, that makes one of us. Wish we could say the same about you.
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