Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
On The Inside
by Phil Bencomo
Ron Santo made, for once in his lifetime, a valid point on the radio last week. He correctly stated that the Cubs, with all their roster changes and rapid season turnaround, have hardly had to go outside the organization for players. Every pitcher on the current staff either began the season with the Cubs or a minor league affiliate; of current position players, only Jason Kendall was brought in from outside.
That simple fact speaks volumes about the depth and quality of the Cubs as an organization, and of the people running it. When a player has hit the DL or performed below expectations, the Cubs haven't had to make a panic trade that sacrifices good, young players to fill a gap Jim Hendry has been able to send those good, young players up to the majors instead.
It's been years since the Cubs had such organizational quality; last season, the Cubs had to reach deep into the minors, but most of the rookies flopped, hence the last place finish. Not so this year, when the likes of Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol and Mike Fontenot have all done admirably.
Billionaire real estate investor Sam Zell was viewed as a savior in some quarters last spring when he swooped in to orchestrate an $8.2 billion buyout offer for Tribune Co. amid tepid interest for the ailing newspaper publisher.
Now the industry's accelerating decline has some Wall Street experts wondering whether the deal for the parent company of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Cubs could fall apart.
* * * *
Kicking off a three-game series in St. Louis tonight, the Cubs will face a team that has been bad all season long. Only Philadelphia has a higher team ERA, and the Cards have surrendered nearly 100 more runs than the Cubs. A World-Series-winning team or playoff-reaching team, for that matter this is not.
Tonight's starter, Kip Wells hasn't won against the Cubs since 2003, though he did manage eight shutout innings against Florida in his last start. Zambrano is going for his 13th win of the year.