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The buzzards are already circling the not-quite dead carcass of Chicago Cubs’ General Manager Jim Hendry.

And it ain’t necessarily a bad thing.

Though signed through 2012, many expect Hendry will not survive 2011 leading the Cubs’ front office. And, in the first of what will doubtlessly be many rumors about the future of the position, one high profile name is already being attached to the anticipated vacancy: San Diego Padres’ VP of Baseball Operations, Josh Byrnes.

Dan Bernstein says that he was told by Rockies’ beat writer Tracy Ringolsby that Byrnes has been “sniffing around” the Cubs’ GM job, and was using his brother’s connection to the Ricketts family to do so.

It’s an interesting rumor, to be sure, and it squares with some things I’d been hearing. Rumor mongering caveats apply, but, according to a source, this thing has legs.

If you are an avid reviewer of the comments, you may have noticed that a few weeks ago I dropped a couple of opaque references to the Cubs’ front office being changed up before 2012. Well, I wasn’t just guessing. I’d heard from a source that someone in the Cubs’ organization – someone above Jim Hendry – was using back channels to feel out the interest of some choice candidates for a front office position with the Cubs. One of those candidates was Byrnes.

The way I heard it at the time, Byrnes was being considered for a Director of Baseball Operations type of job, with other high profile candidates being considered for the GM position. So, combining what my source previously shared with me and the Bernstein/Ringolsby rumor, it sounds like the back channel being used to feel out Byrnes was his brother, and the higher ups in the Cubs organization doing the feeling may have been none other than the Ricketts themselves. Whether the Cubs are interested in Byrnes – and/or others – as a GM or someone higher up on the chain, remains to be seen.

Byrnes has been considered a rising star in baseball for the better part of a decade, though if you ask around Arizona, where he was the GM for five years before being fired, some folks’ opinion of him isn’t particularly high. Before his time in Arizona, Byrnes was an assistant GM under Theo Epstein in Boston (see why the Cubs might be interested given their professed desire to follow the Red Sox model?).

Nothing is likely to happen until after this season for reasons that have been discussed at length around these parts (the folks at issue are under contract, a level of familiarity with the Cubs’ system would be necessary for moves to be made, etc.). But you can probably expect an uptick in these kind of rumors over the next couple of months, particularly as the Cubs’ performance gets worse.

As an aside, let me tell you how much I wanted to run with the rumor when I was first informed. But, my source asked me not to share the information for the time being, and, as is my (obvious) policy, I honored the request. Had I not, I would have looked pretty awesome today, but I would have lost a valuable source. This isn’t about patting myself on the back. This is me reiterating: you can trust me. And by “you,” I mean not only you the reader, but also you the prospective source.

  • Ron

    Hope and change?

  • Toosh

    Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

  • MichiganGoat

    In Ace we Trust!

    • Ron

      I like that better!

  • LouCub

    No Josh Byrnes…..No Josh Byrnes,,,,He f’ed up AZ big time…. He traded Carlos Gonzales and 6 others for Dan Haren..No thanks

  • Cheryl

    Does anybody know how well Byrnes did in developing minor leaguers and whether he liked to stick with veterans like Hendry and Quade do? If he’s in their mold, I hope someone else materializes for the Ricketts consideration.

    • LouCub

      Cheryl, he is responsible for Stephen Drew and BJ Upton but decimated the D’Backs system with the Haren deal, especially losing Carlos Gonzalez and his hiring of inexperienced AJ Hinch was horrid… It would be a crucial mistake on the Ricketts part…

  • LouCub

    Cheryl, he also traded Carlos Quentin to ChiSox for Chris Carter..strike 2

    • STG3

      Chris carter was used in the Haren deal so, I would give him a win on that one.

  • D-Day Simpson

    HOPE

  • die hard

    Ricketts should clean house himself by All-Star game…starting with Hendry…then put money into fixing up park instead of players contracts…if it is built people will come….then let hungry kids come up and let minors feed us players for next 10 years without huge contracts anymore…an upgraded family friendly park will be money maker starting by scrapping all food service and use taste of chicago model to let local restaurants open booths ….would be very popular…also, stop selling alcohol in stands via vendors ….and anywhere else in park after 3rd inning…also raise beer prices to discourage drinking…

    • pfk

      That sounds more like the Kane County Cougars to me. No thanks. No reason we can’t be super competitive by 2013 season. And, no reason we can’t be vastly improved for 2012. No question in my mind that we will eventually get state/city funds for the renovation.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Ace

      That sounds like a plan to ensure a weak on-field product AND lose money…

    • http://calebshreves.blogspot.com Caleb

      Discourage drinking?

      ::sputters and spits::

      Discourage drinking?!

      Take your Nazi baseball back to Germany, hippy! And my metaphorical insults would make more sense, but it’s in 9AM, so… yeah, I been drinkin’.

      • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

        Well, I had something to say here, but Caleb’s Godwin’s Law smackdown pretty much ruined it for me.

    • hardtop

      thats crazy talk. family friendly? make beer harder to get and more expensive? this isn’t an awana’s campout, its the great american past time. These are terrible suggestions, and here is why:

      exhibit a: i was at coors field last night with their dancing dinosaur, playground equipment, flashy scoreboard guessing games, drunken fan cam, and shit pop music blaring: im sure the kids were stimulated, but it was almost impossible to watch a baseball game.

      exhibit b: ticket prices at wrigley are astronomical, and I dont expect they will be reduced anytime soon. No one can afford to bring their kids anyway! or at least not us blue collar folks. I have a 3 yr. old and she uses the playground at coors field. It allows me to take her to games. I basicallly bribe my 3 yr. with play time to let me watch baseball… im pathetic. anyway, at 40 bucks for very very good seats, i can afford to take her (we usually bay about $25) but at $68 for nose bleeds I can’t, or at least not often (she’ll see her first cubs game at wrigley on july15th) The one time a year I got to go to Wrigley when I was a kid, I was excited to watch the game.

      exhibit c: we need the beer to help us forget: how much we paid for the tickets, how bad we feel for leaving our kids at home, and how f’n terrible our beloved cubbies are. its also cold and refreshing, you should try it.

      • MichiganGoat

        Great points, I take my 3 year old to A-ball team here in Michigan and they have a bounce house and playground that she loves, but I’m lucky to see 2-3 innings of the game. The only reason we go there frequently is the $7 tickets, the $1 hotdogs, and I love baseball, BUT I’d never pay MLB ticket and food prices and only watch 3 innings. I look forward to my daughters first Cub game next month and I’m glad their is no superficial games at Wrigley.

        • Coal

          I agree the tickets at Wrigley are expensive, but the 500 level are pretty good bang for the buck (and I go regularly with my kids). As for the 3 year old lasting only 3 innings, I think putting them in the bounce house might be good in the short term, but few baseball games compete with the bounce house in terms of excitement. My daughter has been coming with me to Wrigley 4-5 times a year since she was 6 months (in a backpack). When she was 2 and 3 we watched the birds, the raking of the dirt, the people inside the scoreboard and on the roofdecks, counted vendors, colored (the cubs give free crayons and coloring pages out to kids) and took in a little baseball. Now she’s 7 and will not leave a game early (despite my attempts here and there to sneak home before the 9th) and wants to learn how to keep score. Wrigley has cheap enough tickets and a good enough experience to take your kids. Give it, and baseball, a chance, with the youngsters — if you get them used to the distractions early (instead of creating your own at the game) it might be harder later!!

    • Kyle N

      So you’re saying that there should be limited, expensive, or even no beer to ease the pain of this lengthy minor league rebuilding project you suggest? Ouch. Guessing that wouldn’t go over very well.

      It’s okay, I’m sure people will just flock to the park to eat local food at ten dollars an item to watch the “Iowa Cubs of Chicago” be a black hole of suck. Right?

  • RY34

    Send a message soon, fire quade and hendry now, release hill, davis, lopez, and grabow and go ahead and bring the kids up. they cannot do any worse than what we have already seen. Cubs are now like 1-13 on sundays and like 2-25 or something in games started by lopez, davis, coleman etc……….

  • hardtop

    its not like the padres are knocking on the door, the d-backs are playing well, but it might be despite byrnes previous efforts. let him keep sniffing.
    i like the guy from the rays… lure him in with a good paycheck, the chance to run a top market team, and the promise of never ending fame and fortune if he brings a winner to the north side.

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