Phil Rogers wonders how much longer Jim Hendry and Crane Kenney will be employed by the Cubs in his most recent article.
In baseball, you usually can see the end coming, whether it’s for a player, manager or executive. It was a relief for almost everyone, not a surprise, when Lou Piniella opted to resign last August. His team was in freefall, having lost 20 of 24, and a feeling of defeat had taken hold on the franchise.
That feeling has returned over the last couple of weeks. Recurring mistakes, a run of injuries and a lack of timely hitting have buried first-year manager Mike Quade under a 24-36 record, and both the schedule and the public outcry for change are unrelenting.
Something has to give, and probably soon, even if the calls for an organizational clean sweep have yet to penetrate the clubhouse doors.
I recently said that Mike Quade would be fired before long and I still believe that. Take the last two managers who have left mid-season. Don Baylor was fired in 2002 (Hendry was assistant GM) and Lou Piniella was forced to resign last season. The 2002 Cubs were 35-50 when Baylor was fired. The 2010 Cubs were 51-74 when Lou resigned. Baylor’s team was playing .408 ball while Lou’s team was playing .412 ball.
The 2006 team is the only other team in Hendry’s time with the Cubs as assistant GM or GM in which the team has played as poorly as that and that was in 2006. That is until 2011 of course. Baker was not fired as you know and was allowed to finish the season. Two other times though, the manager has been relieved of his duties.
You may say that Baylor and Lou were in the final season of their contract and that’s true, but each of those managers was due about the same amount of money after being let go as Quade is through the end of his contract. Money isn’t going to prevent the Cubs from firing Quade. It didn’t prevent them from spending the same amount in getting rid of Baylor or in getting Lou to retire. I doubt it stops them now.
The other thing to consider is that while actual attendance was down late in 2006, the reported attendance was 4,000 higher per game than it already is in 2011. The 2006 tickets sold were higher than in 2004 and 2003. Attendance is already down and it will only continue to decline. The empty seats we saw at the end of 2006 are already comparable to the empty seats we saw early in the 2011 season. The empty seats we see late this season will be similar to the empty seats we regulary saw in the 1980s and 1990s.
Even if it’s a mostly empyt gesture, the Cubs will have to be seen as doing something to correct the problems we see on the field. Unless this team turns it around, and if you look at the roster you realize that’s not possible, I find it hard to believe Quade lasts the entire season.
I also doubt Jim Hendry does either. I’m not sure what will happen with Crane Kenney and don’t actually care. Phil Rogers points out that Andrew Friedman is not under contracty by the Rays after this season so I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him named the next General Manager.