What Is The Doomsday Scenario?


The struggles the Cubs endured this week in Cincinnati have opened the eyes of every Cubs fan to just how fundamentally unsound the Cubs are this season. However, no turnaround appears to be in sight. The Cubs will spend the next five games against the Florida Marlins and Boston Red Sox before returning to Wrigely Field to play the Mets. Both the Marlins and Red Sox appear to be the same caliber of team as the Reds are, which may signal doom for the Cubs.

Bruce Miles had an excellent piece for the Daily Herald’s baseball blog “Chicago’s Inside Pitch.” In the Story, Miles posed the question “Will the Cubs go winless on this road trip?” With the Marlins and Red Sox fighting for a first place spot in their respective divisions, the Cubs clearly will have their work cut out for them. As impossible as it seems, the way the Cubs have played in recent games, I would not put it past them to lose the remaining games of this road stand. But, what would happen if the Cubs do come back after not winning a single game on their latest road trip?

What Would be the status of Jim Hendry?

"–Will Tom Ricketts be forced to give GM Jim Hendry the dreaded vote of confidence on the next homestand? Truth be told, I’m sure Ricketts will keep his feet moving quickly when and if he sees the beat writers, whose questions he never likes to answer. Ricketts’ initial and most fundamental problem was not hiring a baseball man as president the minute he bought the team. A Pat Gillick would have looked mighty good at the top of the baseball org chart, and he would have been a good counterbalance to Hendry’s more impulsive nature.–What will Hendry say? What can he say? He’s signed through 2012, and he’s not foolish enough to walk away from the money. Ricketts isn’t going to fire Hendry and throw the organization into turmoil just a few days ahead of the amateur draft. About all Hendry might say is, “Obviously, we haven’t played up to expectations. Obviously, some of our key people haven’t hit with men on base. Obviously, we’re missing two pitchers from our starting rotation.” And so forth. Daily Herald"

For obvious reasons, Tom Ricketts–no matter how bad the Cubs are this season–will not fire Jim Hendry during the season. But it goes without saying that a 0-7 road-trip would ignite a movement by fans demanding for changes. But as Miles said in the story, it does not serve any purpose to the Cubs to fire Hendry during the season.

Such a move would delay the future of the Cubs. As the first priority would be to get Jim Hendry’s replacement in line as soon as possible. Even then, the Cubs would still have plenty of front office questions. Because the new general manager, would have to determine whether or not he wants his own guys, or Hendry’s guys along with him in the front office. More than likely, a new general manager would want his own guys.  Which would turn out to be a significant hit to the Cubs’ farm system as Tim Wilken, Oneri Flieta, and potentially Greg Maddux would all be removed from the Cubs front office.

Even firing Hendry after the season would not make too much sense. Unless, the Cubs were to pick his successor from within the organization. Maddux, Wilken, and Flieta have all increased their reputation around baseball for being quality front office officials. It is only a matter of time before one of them, if not all them start to be connected to general manager openings around the major leagues. But Ricketts so far has been with Hendry through the thick and thin, meaning there is no reason to believe that Hendry will not finish out his contract with the Cubs. Hendry’s contract expires after the 2012 season.

But onto more short term scenarios, if the Cubs fall to 10 games under .500 or to a point beyond return, how will Hendry and the front office attack this trading deadline? The obvious answer is that the Cubs would be sellers. But who off the 25 man roster would be available in a trade. In the report Miles said that Kosuke Fukudome, Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Dempster, Starlin Castro, and Darwin Barney are all players that are not likely to be dealt between July 31.

The reasons for Soriano and Fukudome are simple, as it would be hard for a team to take on the contract of either player. The Cubs have already shown that they are not willing to absorb a lot of money when trading away veteran players. It is a rarity that see a move like the Angels made this off-season when they traded for Vernon Wells.

Due to the fact they both have 10-5 rights and in part because of their production this season, Ramirez and Dempster both appear likely to finish the season with the Cubs. Plus, there has been no indication that the Cubs are willing to part ways with either player. The Cubs will attempt to re-sign each player after the season to a more team-friendly contract. Mainly referring to Ramirez, whose option will not be picked up by the Cubs after the season. Meanwhile, Dempster has a brief window in October where he could opt out of his current deal with the Cubs. However, that does not appear to be a likely scenario for Dempster.

It goes without saying that Castro and Barney are untouchable as they both are pieces to the long term future for the Chicago Cubs.

As for players that are likely–or–have the best chance of being moved this season, Miles notes that Geovany Soto, Marlon Byrd, Carlos Marmol, and Sean Marshall are likely to be rumored targets by other teams this season. However, I find it hard to believe that the Cubs will trade either Marmol or Marshall. Both are cornerstones in the Cubs bullpen, and without them, the Cubs would be in a much worse predicament.

Of all the players on the 25 man roster, Marlon Byrd figures to have the best chance of being traded this season. Not because of his production, but because the long term planning for the Cubs. Top prospect Brett Jackson is bound to be ready at some point this season, meaning that Byrd would be out of a position. With Fukudome not heading anywhere, Byrd then becomes a movable piece for the Cubs.

Geovany Soto is an intriguing trade option for the Cubs. Considering his age and potential when he is healthy, he could net the Cubs a healthy package of prospects. But, his value may not be as high as some think. Soto has struggled with injuries throughout his time in the major leagues, and has also suffered from inconsistency on offense. None of the Cubs catchers in their farm system appear ready for the major leagues–including Wellington Castillo–so, the Cubs may be hesitant to pull the trigger on a Soto trade this season. But if the right deal came along, the Cubs may have a hard time saying no.

As you can tell, even if the Cubs keep up their comedic play, there still will be plenty of storylines to follow throughout the season.