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.