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Monday, September 15, 2008

Your SKO Random Third Baseman of the Day: Shane Andrews

Name: Shane Andrews
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6'1'' Weight:215 lbs (Lies!)
Years as a Cub: 2000

The moment his back shattered, recorded for posterity.

Take a look at this box score and you'll notice a few anomalies. 1) Eric Young is flirting with an .800 OPS. 2) Felix Heredia has a 1.29 ERA. 3) Kyle Farnsworth won as a starter and 4) Shane Andrews has a 1.148 OPS and a .286 average.

Andrews is the perfect example of the ineptitude of Ed Lynch as a General Manager. In order to understand the process that lead the Cubs to sign Shane to play third base, you have to go back to before the 1998 season. Before 1998 the team Lynch had put together was widely panned as a mottled collection of aging veterans and untested rookies. The New York Times sneered at a roster of "oddballs and castaways." After 1997's 0-14 start and 68-94 record the outlook was bleak. Then the season began and a combination of two freaks-of-nature (Wood, Sosa) and several surprise years by veterans Kevin Tapani, Steve Trachsel, Mickey Morandini, Lance Johnson, and late-season pick up Gary Gaetti, the Cubs managed a miraculous 90-73 record and a Wild Card championship. Then the playoffs began and the team regressed back to the mean, losing three straight and leaving as quickly as they arrived.

Despite the playoff result, Lynch was, understandably afraid to mess with the roster, and thus the Cubs ignored the warnings of age and injury and entered 1999 with largely the same team, with the huge exception of the injurd Kerry Wood. The results were terrible, as the veterans of the previous year played to their age and the team quickly plummeted to 67-95.

It was after this disaster that Lynch truly failed. Convinced that the core of 1998 team would result in a return to winning form under new manager Don Baylor, Lynch chased no big free agents and made only minor tweaks to his roster, replacing Lance Johnson with Damon Buford, Morandini for Eric Young, Jose Hernandez/Jeff Blauser for Ricky Gutierrez, and last but not least leaving Shane Andrews as the starter at third base for 2000. Andrews had been acquired late in the 1999 season after the Cubs had released Gaetti and the Expos had finally given up on Andrews, their former first round pick, and released him. The Cubs picked Andrews off waivers and played him in 19 September games and were impressed with the power he showed by posting 5 homers and a .537 slugging percentage with 14 runs batted in.

The Cubs had decided that this 19 game stretch was enough of a sample to ignore his terrible career .220/.298/.421 line and named him the starter going into the 2000 season, with Willie Greene, who hit .204 the previous year, as their only insurance in case Andrews faltered or his injury history plagued him again.

Thus our story brings us round to the 2000 season, Lynch's last hurrah. Lynch's status quo approach to team-building results in a 65-97 season surprising no one but Lynch. Andrews displayed the inconsistency and injury problems that had plagued his career with the Expos as a hot start that had him among the league leaders in homers in April faded to mediocrity and a back injury sidelined him for much of the summer. His final line for the 2000 season:
.229 avg., 14 homers, 39 rbis, .329 OBP, .474 Slug.

Lynch himself seemed to realize that his tenure as GM had dissolved into an abject failure and attempted to resign as early as May. His brilliant boss, Andy MacPhail told him to wait and see if the team would turnaround from their 20-33 start. After that regressed to a 35-51 mark at the all star break, MacPhail mercifully accepted Lynch's resignation, and Ed and Andrews were both gone by the end of the 2000 season.

Andrews disappeared from MLB after the 2000 season, with just one 7 game stint with the Red Sox in 2002 before his retirement.

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