Sunday, July 31, 2005

At least someone is hopeful...

The following comments are from Cubs GM Jim Hendry, yesterday, and with regard to the anticipated return of Wood, Garciaparra, and the addition of Williamson:

As for the roster, things have a way of taking care of themselves. We just have to play well for the five days. Hopefully we will get a big lift from them. You know, obviously we're hoping Woody will give us a big lift in the pen. He threw very well the last two pens here with no discomfort. Scott, you never know how that's going to go. He's throwing very well - he's been working steadily at 90-93, working mostly at 92s. His slider is pretty good. Hopefully, we can get good fortune like we did last year with Ryan Dempster. Scott has already spent his whole career in the 8th and 9th innings, so it wouldn't be the same adjustment that Ryan had to come back.

For Nomar, Oneri (Fleita) was with him in Peoria and he really showed no signs of any problems. He looked just like the guy moving around in spring training. Obviously, we wanted to get him a few more at-bats. He's chomping at the bit to go now, but you do need more than 7 or 8 at-bats. Hopefully, we'll get a good taste of the old Nomar and that will give us a big, big boost.

As far as the roster goes, you know you might have some ideas today of how you're going to do it, but that can change by Friday. Somebody else could come down with some tendinitis and make the pitching decisions easier. I'm not really worried about it. I'm very hopeful that they will all come back and be at least a great percentage of what you would expect them to be.

I've bolded every time he used some form of the word hope in that statement. As you can see, there's a lot of hope, apparently, at 1060 W. Addison these days.

Is such hope, well founded? Well, Here are just a few of the questions I have:

How long will it take Nomar to get back into full form? And how long do the Cubs have, exactly, in terms of making a move up the wild card ladder? If you'll recall, it took Grudzie about two months to finally get back to form when he came back from his achilles injury last year, while a capable Todd Walker wasted away on the bench.

What about Wood and Williamson? Well, hope is about all you've got with these two very uncertain propositions - Wood out of the pen (never done or even attempted) and Williamson returning from Tommy John (Dempster certainly didn't have the form when he returned last August that he has now).

Is this uncertainty what Hendry is pinning his hope on? Hope for what? The playoffs this year? Are you kidding me? Is Nomar going to instantly transform this team so that they can consistently put together hits and runs? Will Wood and Williamson pitch perfectly out of the pen (which is what this team needs with the razor thin margins this offense produces)?

Surviving what exactly...

More Jim Hendry comments, from Friday's Tribune:

Hendry said the Cubs could survive with what they have, especially if Garciaparra returns successfully from surgery in another week. "Nomar's a pretty good hitter," Hendry said when asked if he absolutely needed one more bat. "Hopefully we can do something by Sunday, but it's not a situation where [we're] desperate."

I'm not sure what context he is using the term survive, because clearly he cannot be talking about the team surviving the playoff race.

I can only conclude that Jim Hendry must have been referring to his job when he talked about being able to "survive" when these three join the roster later this week. After all, someone has to begin to ask questions about the effectiveness of a GM who has cobbled together a team that is near the top of the league in payroll and yet struggles to hover around .500.

So the question is - is he right?

Will the addition of these three enable Hendry to survive another year of high salaries and mediocre results?

Most probably. Blind faith Cubs fans (with apologies in advance to Al) have proven themselves particularly astute at enabling an inept franchise whose only true skill seems to be an uncanny ability to consistently produce substandard teams.