Sunday, August 06, 2006

Cubs, Hendry, Baker: Early November '06

There has been a lot of talk going on here (and other places) about the near-term future of the Chicago Cubs. Mostly because the present is just SO BAD, but also because I think everyone sees major changes are right on the horizon. I believe, this upcoming off-season, one of three scenarios has to play out, in regards to the Cubs management organization.

  1. Jim Hendry is retained/Dusty Baker is not: This seems to be the most widely held belief among Cub fans, but if this were to occur you should be looking for a retread or other short-term solution. No young , high-quality managerial talent will interview with a 2-year GM, if he values his long-term potential as a Major League manager. 60% chance
  1. Jim Hendry is retained/Dusty Baker is retained. This is just wholly unlikely. Not only will the Cubs/Tribune get AWFUL publicity/public sentiment by doing this, but they also will probably need to pay Dusty something like $9 million over the 2 years of the extension. Even the Tribune management team, will understand the absurdity of paying a man one of the top managerial salaries in the League after finishing one of the worst year's in franchise history and being an unmitigated disappointment since early 2004. 15% chance
  1. Jim Hendry is removed: This clearly is the most hopeful of all scenarios. However as Cub fans we do have a couple things to hang our hats on.
    1. Does the Tribune want to pay Dusty Baker $4+ million per year to come back, when they could find a much cheaper option AND appease the fan’s contempt of Baker?

    2. Assuming Baker is let go, does the Tribune want to sign a managerial retread, like Jimy Williams, to manage the next two years? Sadly this might be yes, but MAYBE some of the empty suits in the Tower have the sense that business as usual just makes the Organization look more ridiculous daily.

    3. There are many suitable replacements on the market. Some of those names include Theo Epstein assistants and former one-month Boston general managers Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherrington, University of Chicago graduate and public relations honey pot, Kim Ng, and wrongfully-terminated wunderkind Paul DePodesta, amongst others.

    If Hendry were removed immediately after the season ended, MacPhail could take the three weeks during the playoffs to line up interview candidates. If done correctly, a new general manager could be announced the 1st or 2nd week of November, leaving plenty of time for laying out a plan for free agency, hiring a manager/coaching staff, and assessing the team’s Major and Minor League system for potential trades. 25% chance

I still believe the Cubs will make the wrong choice and retain Hendry and sign a Jimy Williams/Lou Pinella/Larry Bowa, but I also think we have at least a puncher’s chance of the right decision being made – removing Jim Hendry immediately after the season and starting from scratch with talented people.

As Cub fans, it’s in us to be hopeful and although I have no hope for 2007 on the field, I do have a fool’s hope that the losing team I’ll be watching won’t be wholly assembled by the Gym Teacher on a Booze Cruise.

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