This weekend, a tipster indicated that the Chicago Cubs do indeed have a plan in place if the team falls far out of contention by mid-season. Other teams have already started sniffing the not-yet-dead carcass of the Cubs, but the organization is letting those other teams know that they will not consider selling pieces off until and unless they fall 10 or so games out of the race by mid-season. Among the names already being scouted: Marlon Byrd, Ryan Dempster, and Matt Garza.
As always, it’s worth mentioning the huge caveat: teams scout other players all the time. One of the teams allegedly sending scouts the Cubs’ way is the New York Yankees – a future opponent. They could have any number of reasons for scouting the Cubs. And, even if teams are scouting players for trade purposes, that doesn’t mean a trade is imminent, or will even ever be proposed.
That said, it seems very likely that, if the Cubs are far out of contention by mid-season, they will do their best to unload pieces they do not see returning next year, and will allow some youngsters to come up and play. Depending on your optimism for this season, I know some of you would be pretty excited by that possibility.
An interesting and related issue: Jim Hendry is signed on as GM through next season, but reports this weekend (that one is from Ken Rosenthal) indicated that, if the Cubs don’t show “progress” this year, Hendry will be guided to an early exit. No surprise there, but what makes it particularly interesting is the obvious internal conflict – Hendry’s goal is to win and to win now. To show “progress.” The organization’s goal is to do what’s best long-term, especially if winning now becomes unlikely. If the Cubs fall out of it, is Hendry the right guy to start unloading pieces? Would he pull the trigger on a move that cripples the team this season, but brings back a healthy haul of prospects, knowing he might be signing his own pink slip?
For what it’s worth, Rosenthal mentioned Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti, Padres’ VP of Baseball Ops Josh Byrnes (yes, please), and White Sox Assistant GM Rick Hahn as possible replacement candidates.