Posted on: September 5, 2011 12:20 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 11:52 pm
By Matt Snyder
Having fired Jim Hendry, the Cubs have a vacancy at general manager and chairman Tom Ricketts reportedly has his eye on a number of high-profile candidates. Well, he can kiss any chance of getting one goodbye now. Over the weekend, news broke that the Cubs had "quietly" extended the contract of personnel director Oneri Fleita (ChicagoTribune.com), who oversees the minor-league operations and international scouting.
In and of itself, this wouldn't be a bad move. Many within the organization are said to respect Fleita's work and the farm system has improved under his watch, according to most outlets that rank such things. Then again, it's not like the Cubs have a Royals-like farm system at this point and Fleita's been on the job for four years. One report indicated Ricketts' hand may have been forced, as the Tigers were courting Fleita (ESPN Chicago).
Still, Ricketts has no general manager and that has to be a higher priority than retaining Fleita and possibly turning away potential general managers. The director of player personnel is one of the spots some of the high profile GMs would likely want to fill themselves. If nothing else, don't you at least leave the spot open and recommend Fleita to the new general manager? Instead, Ricketts is going to have to convince potential GMs that his guy is better than theirs. That's a good way to get high-profile GMs to walk away. Even if they like Fleita, there would be the question of having complete control over the organization.
Not that the Cubs had the ability to land them, but for the sake of argument, try to imagine Theo Epstein or Brian Cashman leaving his current situation in order to take over a team that already has a player personnel director firmly in place. It's pretty difficult to envision that happening.
The best guess is Ricketts has taken the possibility of a home-run hire off the table, which only makes the 100-plus years of futility more likely to continue.
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Posted on: August 25, 2011 11:39 am
By Matt Snyder
Friday will mark exactly one week since the Cubs announced they had fired general manager Jim Hendry. Cubs' chairman Tom Ricketts asserted he wants to find a GM with a strong track record, an analytical background and with an emphasis on player development. The latter two criteria would seem to point to someone opposite of Hendry -- who had a recent history of big contracts and trading prospects for veterans. The former criterion points to an experienced general manager, not a first-timer.
So many names have been tossed around for what is absolutely an attractive job. Now, this is where the Cubs haters all jump up and down and start screaming about how bad the Cubs "suck." No one in his right mind can deny nearly any general manager would want this job, though. As the Cubs' general manager, one would have the capability to work with a payroll that dwarfs any other in the NL Central. One would have a rabid fan base that is absolutely desperate for a World Series, so residing over one would be the ultimate sports accomplishment. Also, in the present, the Cubs have more than $50 million falling off the payroll next season, so there's a chance to basically start over. No ballclub can compare to the resources the Yankees have, but there's no reason the Cubs can't eventually be the Red Sox of the National League -- and there is no Yankees in the NL.
With this in mind, you'd have to figure almost every name is initially in the mix with few exceptions. And it sounds like that's true. Let's sum up the recent rumors:
• ESPN's Buster Olney said earlier this week that Red Sox GM Theo Epstein "could" be a name for the Cubs to consider. What Epstein did under John Henry's ownership group is something similar to what the Cubs want under the Ricketts family, so it makes sense. Of course, Epstein also has very strong Boston roots and is currently in a better situation than what he'd be taking over with the Cubs. Unless he wants a fresh, new challenge or is simply tired of competing with the Yankees, it doesn't seem like he'd have any incentive to leave. For what it's worth, Henry emailed Red Sox reporters about the speculation:
“This kind of speculation happens from time to time to successful GMs and managers,” Henry wrote (BostonHerald.com). “The Cubs have one of the best presidents in baseball. I think this shows how highly regarded Theo is by the media and baseball in general.”
• Speaking of AL East powers, a "long-odds" option is Ricketts calling Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and trying to convince him to head to Chicago as a package deal with manager Joe Girardi. Cashman's contract does expire at the end of the season. (SunTimes.com) This is total speculation on my part, but there's not much more Cashman could accomplish with the Yankees and he could very well be tired of ownership forcing his hand (a la the Rafael Soriano contract this past offseason that he didn't want to give). Also, keep in mind Girardi had two different stints with the Cubs as a player and was born and raised in Peoria, Ill. This scenario makes sense, if Ricketts could convince the two to leave New York. But, again, this was reported as a long shot.
• More AL East: Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman has been named by pretty much every reporter in the business as a possibility. Friedman should be incredibly attractive because of what he's helped do with the Rays. He now has experience building a farm system basically from the ground up and in Chicago he'd be able to sign and keep higher-priced players. He also wouldn't have to worry about attendance or moving. ESPN's Olney wrote about Friedman's tough decision this coming offseason.
• Another small-market guy who might enjoy getting to have a few extra payroll dollars for once is A's general manager Billy Beane. According to Susan Slusser of SFGate.com, Beane "might consider an offer" if the Cubs came after him. Slusser also reports the Cubs are "expected" to talk to Beane. Another reason Beane might want to bail on Oakland is how long it's taking to get the A's stadium situation resolved. Beane is signed through 2014, but the report indicated owner Lew Wolff would let Beane out of the deal if he wanted.
• Dodgers GM Ned Colletti is an option, despite that he's a bit more old-school than Ricketts seemed to say he preferred. In the case of Colletti, one reported benefit would be that he'd bring Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg back to the organization as the Cubs' manager, the job which Sandberg didn't get last season. (SunTimes.com)
• On the flip-side of much of the above notes, SI.com's Jon Heyman reported that the big names -- Cashman, Beane, Epstein, Friedman -- are not likely to take the job. Heyman instead reports it's going to come down to Rick Hahn and Josh Byrnes. Hahn is the vice president and assistant general manager of the White Sox and is considered a true up-and-comer by several in the business. In fact, several outlets have ranked him as the top GM candidate in baseball (excluding current GMs). The issue, of course, is he doesn't have experience as the top dog. Byrnes is the vice president of baseball operations for the Padres and has previously been the GM of the Diamondbacks. He had a hand in putting together the 2007 playoff team, but when things fell apart afterward, he was fired in 2010.
• According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, Cashman is "very unlikely" and the Cubs might have to pay something like $10 million a year to pry Epstein away from Boston.
So there you have it. Several huge names, a hot-shot up-and-comer and lots of things we don't know. We need to keep in mind that initial interest in either side doesn't necessarily mean a job offer -- or acceptance of the job offer -- is coming. We also have to keep in mind that guys presently on the job, especially those in the middle of pennant races, will publicly deny interest no matter what.
Ricketts will likely want a new GM in place very quickly once this season ends, but until then -- about five weeks -- we'll continue to see the names swirl.
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Posted on: August 19, 2011 12:38 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
The Cubs announced the firing of Jim Hendry today, but the decision was made July 22 and Hendry had been working as the ex-general manager for nearly a month.
"At the moment I decided we needed to make a change, I thought the right thing to do was to let him know," Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said in a press conference at Wrigley Field on Friday. "In that conversation I said we had work to do, we had a good draft, we had a great draft, and we had to make sure those players went from that trade board to the our organization and we had a trade deadline coming up. We needed someone to get through those hurdles."
Besides getting rid of outfielder Kosuke Fukudome at the deadline, Hendry didn't do anything else at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
This week, however, the team did spend $12 million in signing bonuses to its draft picks including $2.662 million to first-round pick Javier Baez, an infielder and $2.5 million to 14th-rounder Dillon Maples, a right-handed pitcher, who had a scholarship to kick at North Carolina and had demanded at least $3.5 million going into the draft. The team also signed the sons of two well-known athletes, outfielder Shawon Dunston, the son of the team's former shortstop, and first baseman Trevor Gretzky, the son of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.
Although a decision had been made before the deadline, it seemed odd that the team would keep Hendry on. Ricketts said it didn't influence Hendry's decisions at the deadline, however the lack of moves may show otherwise.
"He never missed a beat," Ricketts said. "It's a credit to his character that we were able to operate the way we did and get the job done," Ricketts said. "We had the trade deadline coming up and I didn't think it made any sense to change horses mid-stream."For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 19, 2011 9:56 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
See, now that's how replay's supposed to work -- maybe.
However, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire didn't agree.
"In my opinion, and this is what I told them: 'If one replay shows it could be fair and one replay shows it could be foul, and no one is really positive, how the heck do you change it?'" Gardenhire told reporters (via MLB.com). "I don't get that. They told me they saw a view on TV. But I could show three views right here where the ball disappears behind the pole. It just depends on the camera angle."
While I'm all for expanded replay, we must keep in mind it's not going to solve all of baseball's problems -- and the last two days have shown that.
Fair or foul? You be the judge (Yankees broadcast, Twins broadcast). It sure looked foul to me, but I understand the argument. It's what the NFL calls "incontrovertible visual evidence" and I'm not sure it's there. It's something to keep in mind, even with replay, humans are in charge and the chance for human error is always great, no matter what tools are at our disposal.
Hanley on hold: Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez may not return this season, Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post speculated. Ramirez sprained his left shoulder on Aug. 2 while chasing down a fly ball. Ramirez hasn't played since. He had surgery not he same shoulder following the 2007 season.
Quade safe?: Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has been supportive of embattled manager Mike Quade and when he talks to the media during a homestand starting today, it's expected he will support his manager. [Chicago Sun-Times]
Little slugger: I wrote about Indians infielder Jack Hannahan's son the other day, but if you missed it, go here. Anyway, Louisville Slugger sent the youngest Hannahan a bat with his name, birthday and birth weight on it. A cool gesture for Johnny Hannahan, whose dad also uses Louisville Sluggers. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
Hanson on hold: Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson won't return from the disabled list on Tuesday as previously scheduled. The Braves aren't sure when they'll get him back from shoulder tendinitis, but it may not be too long. It looks like rookie Mike Minor will stay in the rotation, at least through Tuesday. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Congrats?: Brewers infielder Craig Counsell was believed to have dodged setting the record for most consecutive at-bats without a hit recently when he snapped an 0-for-45 skid one hitless at-bat before the record set by Bill Bergen in 1909. However, the Elias Sports Bureau went back and found that Bergen's went 0 for 45, meaning Counsell and former big leaguer Dave Campbell tied Bergen for baseball's longest streak of futility. Campbell achieved the feat in 1973 while with the Padres, Cardinals and Astros. The original 0 for 46 mark was from Joe Dittmar, who had researched it as a piece on Bergen for the Society for American Baseball Reaserach in 1997. Dittmar went back to check his work and saw that he was off by one and Elias was right. So, congrats Counsell and Campbell, or probably more accurately to Bergen, who is no long alone with his streak. [New York Times]
Confidence is key: Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion said his belief in himself has been able to get him through another difficult year. It looked as if Encarnacion might be the odd man out when the Jays were set to promote Brett Lawrie at the end of June, but since Lawrie broke his hand and his call up was delayed. Since June 28, Encarnacion has hit .325/.414/.580 with nine home runs and cut down his strikeouts to 25 with 22 walks over that time. He's also been helped by being taken off third base where he's struggled throughout his career with consistency -- making the really difficult plays and botching the easy ones. [Toronto Star]
Please stay Rays: St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster said Thursday that he has a "detailed plan" to keep the Rays in St. Pete, but refused to disclose any details. The city clerk said she knew nothing about it, but Foster claims it exists. Don't get too excited about this plan, though, while he didn't spill any beans, he did "clarify" that his "detailed plan" may not include a new stadium. [Tampa Tribune]
Hold on: The Nationals' Tyler Clippard has a pretty good shot at breaking the holds record this year. If you can't quite remember who currently holds it, you're forgiven -- it's not like we're talking about Babe Ruth's home run record (I kid). Clippard got his 32nd hold last night and has a decent shot at breaking Luke Gregerson's record of 40 set way back in 2010. [Baseball-Reference.com]
M.C. Doc Halladay?: Rapper Game references Phillies ace Roy Halladay on his new album. That's all. Just found it interesting and liked the mental image Dave Brown gives of Halladay at the Source Awards. [Yahoo's Big League Stew]
Making dad proud: The other day I teased Reds scouting director Chris Buckley about the team's pick of his son, Sean, in the sixth round. Another team official was there and rightfully noted, "nepotism picks comes in the 40s, not the sixth round." They're right -- and early in his career, Sean Buckley is proving him right. Buckley has 13 home runs already in short-season Class A with the Billings Mustangs, including one that cleared the batter's eye in center field. [MiLB.com]For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: AL Central, AL East, Bill Bergen, Blue Jays, Brewers, C. Trent Rosecrans, Chris Buckley, Craig Counsell, Cubs, Dave Campbell, Edwin Encarnacion, Hanley Ramirez, Indians, Jack Hannahan, Justin Morenau, Mike Quade, Nationals, NL Central, NL East, Pepper, Phillies, Rays, Reds, Ron Gardenhire, Roy Halladay, Sean, Tom Ricketts, Twins, Tyler Clippard, Yankees
Posted on: July 22, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 2:18 pm
By Matt Snyder
If there is interest in Gillick, however, the feeling is reportedly mutual.
"If the situation was right for Pat, he would definitely consider the Cubs," one of his longtime associates told ESPNChicago.com.
The Cubs currently have maligned general manager Jim Hendry at the helm, and they don't even have to fire Hendry to hire Gillick, if that's the direction Ricketts wants to take. Gillick reportedly is interested in a team presidency role, if he leaves his current consulting post with the Phillies. And just because Ricketts said he hasn't spoken with Gillick doesn't mean he's uninterested or won't eventually speak with him.
The Cubs definitely need a change at the top in some form. Despite having one of the largest payrolls in baseball, the Cubs have the second-worst record in the majors -- only fellow NL Central bottom-feeder Houston is worse. If Hendry isn't fired after the season, perhaps bringing in a brilliant mind like Gillick will help build a stronger organizational foundation and prevent crippling contracts in the future.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: June 15, 2011 9:26 pm
Edited on: June 15, 2011 9:50 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said the team would have the means to spend in the free-agent market this offseason, but whether it chooses to do so will be at the discretion of general manager Jim Hendry, not the ownership group.
"We do have a lot of money coming off the books, everyone's aware of that," Ricketts told reporters before the Cubs' game with the Brewers (via the Chicago Sun-Times). "Whether or not that goes back into a large free agent contract will be Jim's decision."
Recently there was a report from the Los Angeles Times that the Cubs were one of nine teams in violation of MLB's debt-service rules, as well as another report from the Sun-Times citing a source that the way the team was purchased would preclude the team pursuing a big-ticket free agent in the next couple of years.
Still, when asked if the Cubs could afford to keep payroll at its current level -- with the stipulation that $50 million comes off the books from expiring contracts -- Ricketts sidestepped the issue.
"Even if we knew where it was going, we wouldn't talk about it," Ricketts said. "We don't talk about where we're heading on payroll. We'll make that decision at some point later this year when we see what's all available and we go through all the possible options."
Ricketts also backed Hendry -- saying he has "100 percent confidence in Jim" -- and manager Mike Quade.
"I think Mike's done a great job," Ricketts said. "Mike's got those guys playing hard. You know they're not giving up, and there's a good spirit in the clubhouse. So those guys' [jobs] are fine."
There's plenty more in the interview, including Ricketts saying he doesn't see the team leaving Wrigley Field anytime soon.
So, in summary, Ricketts is fine with the status quo -- and with a team 12 games under .500 and declining attendance, why shouldn't he be?For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: June 4, 2011 10:46 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs' current debt structure will keep the team from signing any high-ticket free agents for the next two or three years. Wittenmyer spoke to a source with "first-hand knowledge of the Cubs' purchase deal and debt structure" and noted it's consistent with the message Tom Ricketts has been preaching since taking over the team that they team would build through player development.
Friday the Los Angeles Times reported the Cubs were one of nine teams that were in violation of baseball's debt service rules. However, commissioner Bud Selig told the Chicago Tribune that he has no concern about the Cubs' current debt level. According to the Tribune, the Ricketts financed more than $400 million to purchase the Cubs in 2009, a deal that was worth $845 million.
"I have zero concern," Selig told the Tribune of the Cubs. "Everything we've ever asked of them, they've done it and then more. … I'm happy that a story [like this] reflects badly on the Chicago Cubs under Tom Ricketts. There is no reason anybody should have economic concerns. … It's so unfair to Tom Ricketts and the family. I normally don't talk about our business, but I can't let this go on. This is wrong."
Selig said the team is free to do whatever they want without interference from his office. But just because the bank says it's not foreclosing on your house, that doesn't make going out and buying a new Bentley is a good idea.
Posted on: February 19, 2011 11:58 am
Edited on: February 19, 2011 12:24 pm
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts left the door open on a potential play for Albert Pujols next season.
Ricketts talked to the media Saturday morning in Mesa, Ariz., and was asked about the possibility of the Cubs adding a long-term "megadeal" in the future -- and the owner didn't shoot it down. According to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, Ricketts said the team would have more "financial flexibility" after this season and he'd be "open-minded" about adding a big-ticket item (i.e. Pujols).
When asked specifically about Pujols, Rickets said, " I don't have any insights or thoughts on any of that situation. All I know is what I read in the paper. I guess it'll just have to sit until the end of the season."
Also speaking "generally" Rickets said "any owner would say the length of the deal is often a bigger problem than the amount of dollars, so you're going to have to be very careful if you're going to sign one of those longer deals. If you're going to take on a guy for seven, eight, nine years, you better make sure that's the guy you want."
Even if the Cubs don't have interest in Pujols -- and with Kosuke Fukudome, Carlos Pena, Carlos Silva and Aramis Ramirez possibly off the books for next season, they will have some payroll opening up -- it behooves Rickets and the Cubs to at least pretend they do. First off, it's a great dig at their biggest rival, the Cardinals. More importantly, right now the Cardinals are bidding against only themselves and hypothetical offers, no real concrete offers. The Cubs can feign interest and even if they don't get Pujols, they can drive up the price the Cardinals could ultimately wind up paying.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans