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By now, most assume that Jim Hendry, though under contract through 2012, will be out as Chicago Cubs’ General Manager after this season.

If that’s true, it’s time to start thinking about the future of the Cubs’ front office – not just whom the next GM might be, but also what structure the front office might take (i.e., will there be a Director of Baseball Operations above the GM?). Ken Rosenthal offers some thoughts:

Speculation persists that owner Tom Ricketts might hire Hall of Fame inductee Pat Gillick as club president. In theory, Gillick could retain Hendry, and the two could work together to fix the club. But the entire idea seems far-fetched; Cubs fans want change, and both Hendry and manager Mike Quade seem likely to be replaced.

The real intrigue would begin once Ricketts began his search for a new GM.

White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn is generally regarded as the game’s leading GM candidate, but many in the industry believe that the Cubs’ job also might draw interest from some of the game’s top current GMs.

Phil Rogers suggested some weeks ago that Hahn was a likely GM candidate for the Cubs after the season, so you can expect to continue hearing his name. I hope you can get past the White Sox thing.

Speaking of Hahn as an up-and-comer, Will Carroll put together a list of some of the top up-and-comer types, many of whom the Cubs are likely to consider for a GM opening. The list includes Hahn (at the top), as well as Rangers’ Assistant GM Thad Levine, Giants’ VP of Baseball Ops Bobby Evans, Yankees’ VP of Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer, Dodgers’ Assistant GM DeJon Watson, Braves’ Director of Baseball Administration John Coppolella, Pirates’ Director of Baseball Ops Tyrone Brooks, Indians’ Assistant GM Mike Chernoff, and MLB Senior VP of Baseball Ops Kim Ng.

Rounding out Carroll’s top 10 is an in-house option for the Cubs, Ari Kaplan, the team’s Manager of Statistical Analysis:

“Ari Kaplan has a passion for baseball and he combines this with a thoughtful and intelligent approach to the game. In my view, he is at the very top of the line when it comes to the development and understanding of the analytical programs available to a Major League team. Ari also has the ability to communicate with all levels in the game; from the minor league pitching coach to the top team executives.”

— Fred Claire, former Dodgers GM

Kaplan is a name many won’t know, even inside of baseball. That could change rapidly if Kaplan is given a larger role in running the Cubs baseball operations, something many inside the game feel is coming soon. One baseball exec compared Kaplan’s role with the Cubs as what Stu Sternberg did with several current Rays execs in the year before he assumed control. If Kaplan was shadowing the organization, helping Tom Ricketts make decisions about building his own front office, it would surprise no one. It would be a bit more of a shock if Kaplan were given the Andrew Friedman role, however. “There’s no question that [Kaplan] is one of the smartest guys around, but he’s just a stats guy,” one current NL staffer told me. “The scouts won’t work for him because he pitched his consulting gig as almost replacing them for years.”

Another MLB staffer questioned his personality: “I like Ari, but any comparison to Andrew Friedman means they haven’t met both guys. Friedman played up to a level and is great with the media. Ari doesn’t have that comfort level yet, and I’m honestly not sure he ever would. Putting him in the line of fire of a Chicago media would be like the cow kicking the lantern.”

Even those who think Kaplan is ready believe he would need to be paired with a baseball type, in the way that Friedman has Gerry Hunsicker available. One person familiar with the Ricketts believes that the new Cubs ownership knows that their decision on Jim Hendry and his eventual replacement could define them to the fans. “Risking their reputation on a nobody is tough. It worked out in Boston, but remember that the first choice was Billy Beane there.”

Kaplan came to the Cubs only recently, as the club works to “modernize” their scouting approach and philosophy.

Other names you’ll continue to hear as the front office rumors heat up later this year include Padres’ Director of Baseball Ops Josh Byrnes (which we discussed here a few weeks ago), Red Sox Vice President of Player Personnel Ben Cherington, as well as a number of current GMs, including the Yankees’ Brian Cashman and the Tigers’ Dave Dombrowski, each of whom are “free agents” at the end of the year.

  • Cheryl

    Since Kaplan is a recent hire and people are complaining about the organization it seems a reach to consider him for anything other than what he’s doing now. And, if a new president and GM are named he may be let go too. I still think the Yankees guy will be either preident or GM.

  • http://www.cubsstats.com/ Brad from Cubs Stats

    Awesome! This confirms all of my wishful thinking here: http://www.cubsstats.com/2011/07/chicago-cubs-franchise-is-not-doomed.html

    I’m hoping Ricketts assembles a crack front office team, and then goes out and hires away Rays bench coach Dave Martinez.

  • Lou

    I like Dombrowski as both Cubs GM and president. Why hire two guys when you can get two for the price of one ?

  • auggie1955

    I just can’t wait for Hendry to be out the door. Here’s a guy who would pound his chest and announce his next can’t miss: Patterson – a five tool player, Theriot, a scrappy 2nd baseman with a .690 OPS who we will play at SS, or Soto a C whose only goal is to catch 100 games. One thing Hendry is good at is BS’ing the fans and the media. I guess you have to be good at that when you haven’t won the WS in over 100 years.

  • http://calebshreves.blogspot.com Caleb

    Just read through the long list of possible baseball peeps. Good read! Amazing that we hardly know any of these names, yet they’re so important to an organization.

    Also, please note that I am excluded from the “most” category of people who think Hendry will be gone. Same with Quade. Ricketts wants to show that he’s responsive to what the fans want (good luck defining that, btw), but he also doesn’t want to seem reactionary and unwilling to honor commitments. Hendry and Quade have contracts- why not honor them? It’s just another year, and it’ll take at least some time to put all the new pieces in play.

    Could Ricketts add somebody to the organization that might be a replacement soon? Sure. Move Hendry to a new position? Yeah. Find a perfect fit and bring in a replacement GM regardless of contract? Yeah, possible. More likely, a perfect guy would be found right after Hendry “retires” due to personal reasons.

    Shitty season aside, I highly doubt Quade will be gone next year.

    • http://Bleachernation Bric

      All good points except the fact that Hendry put together this pityful team and Quade’s staff is managing it into the ground. It’s tough to support an investment that you over paid for in the first place that ate up just about all of your available capital assets only to see its value steadily decline to the point that an article was written about it in the Wall Street Journal. So Ricketts’ decisions this year should be all about the money. It’s gonna be tough to have to eat those contracts but the reality is if he doesn’t make management moves soon his investors (the ticket buyers) will force the Cubs back into chapter 11. And then they’d be removed anyway.

      • http://calebshreves.blogspot.com Caleb

        Good points, but with the Rickett’s money I don’t think there’s any immediate danger of bankruptcy.

        However, if the Cubs get healthy and STILL suck this bad for the rest of the season, I think it will be more likely that H&Q will be gone. But if they play decent, or even… good, I think the more respectable business decision will be to say:

        “Yeah, this was a disappointing season. But we had a lot of key injuries and things didn’t really go our way. We were closer to being a good team than our numbers suggest. We’re going to make a few slight changes, honor our contracts to H&Q, and see what we can do this (2012) year.”

        What he’ll mean is “I’m not going to fire a manager after 1 year- I promised him two, by God he’ll get them. I’m not going to bring in a new GM without giving him the authority to hire a new manager, plus I like Jim, so we’re keeping him this year. But the door is wide open for new management as of next (2013) year, so start sending in your applications.”

        That’s what I would do, and I’m a genius. Since I have to fully assume that Ricketts is also a genius, that’s probably what he’ll do, too.

        Or not. This is a crazy game we all love!

  • die hard

    two words Steve Stone

    • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

      Two words: Vom it.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’ve got to believe that, by now, he hasn’t been given a chance for a reason.

      • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

        Precisely.

  • philoe beddoe

    I am one of rare people who doesn’t hold Hendry soley responsible for this mess, and think it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he came back. Being an older gentleman with a long history of watching bad Cub teams, Hendry’s reign has actually produced more results (3 division titles, 2 other contedning years) than anyone in my lifetime. From what my sources have always told me is that it was Crane Kenney and Zell who pushed for Soriano deal….don’t get me wrong, I won’t shed a tear if they replace him…Zambrano’ deal was awful, and so was Bradley….but people forget his successes…getting Ramirez in trade for nada, getting Lee in a trade for Choi, signing Lilly, taking a flyer on Dempster, signing Maddux in 04 was a cool move….everone wanted Pinella and he got him, everyone wanted Baker he got him, the Sox offerd Fukudome more money and he got him….I might get boo’ed off of this site…but he hasn’t been all bad, and it’s a busines which is a second-guesser;d paradise…I say blame Ricketts for not coming in and changing culture right away…so we have had two years spinning our wheles with Kenney and Hendry in limbo….if you can fire him now, you should have fired him when you took over the team…

    • Hogie

      You are right, not everything Hendry has done has been bad. It was under his reign that we changed from a fan nation that expected to lose, into one that expects to win (he was given a huge amount of cash to do so, but…). However, this is a what have you done for me lately society, and lately Hendry has been garbage. To be fair, some of the blame has to fall on the players underperforming, but as many on this site have pointed out, a good GM has to be able to use his network to predict some of that (ex.-Grabow, Bradley, Pierre, Fukudome, ect.). Hendry has put together some very good teams for us over the past decade, but never a great one. He has had his chances, with plenty of resources, and I just don’t think he should be given a chance to try it for the third time. I do agree that Ricketts should have made the changes in the last offseason, I can only hope that he corrects his mistake before his second full year of ownership begins.

    • Jeff

      I would agree with you on the point that it’s not all Hendry’s fault. I could blame the Tribune for “forcing” him to spend money, I could blame Reinsdorf and Selig for blacklisting Cuban even though he was obviously the best choice, and I could blame Dusty Baker just because.
      I can also look at the list of Hendry’s moves as GM and say that most of those moves have been made with short sightedness and may have been influenced by Hendry trying to keep his job through some uncertain years. He’s a reactionary GM without having ever had a long term plan of execution. Almost every positive move he’s made has been when he’s in win-now mode, and his attitude seems to dictate that he still thinks this team is a winner. He relies on his scouts and plays the “what if?” card way to often. His past success is noted, but when you have a top 4 payroll and a bottom 2 record, and it’s not the first time your team has underperformed this badly, it’s time to move on and let someone else take over.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Appreciate your thoughts, but I must disagree. I attribute the Cubs’ (relative) success under Hendry’s reign to an unprecedented increase in payroll spending, rather than to any particular GM’ing prowess on Hendry’s part.

      • EQ

        so Brett, are you saying the money was the only or main reason we’ve won more under Hendry’s watch… because no other GM ever had the resources Hendry does..?

        • CubFan Paul

          EQ i’ll say money is the only reason why the cubs have won recently & the lack of spending is the reason why the Cubs havn’t won the last 2 seasons. Its fine to sign & resign aging vets (i.e. soriano, ramy, pena, byrd, fukudome, grabow, wood) if you’re gonna compliment those vets (spend or acquire thru trades) with supporting talent and not AAA talent (campana, dewitt, wells, russell -as a starter & so on) Hendry was had a closed pocket book for 2 seasons and “you get what u pay for” ..in this case, aging vets with declining ability & cheap inexpensive talent around them not providing major league support

          there’s a reason why the Brewers traded for Morgan, Marcum, Greinke & K-Rod when they were already capable of winning 80plus games in our Central division: You have to upgrade annually or like all assets that you pay for: they will depreciate

          • MichiganGoat

            So you think we should spend as the Yankees/Red Sox spend a $200M payroll, get the best FA each year and eat cost when needed? If that’s what you believe then I understand your position on ARam, if the 14M we save on him is arbitrary we might as well pick up his option, sign Fielder, out bid the Yanks for CC when he opts out of his contract, and spend on Kemp in 2013 among others. If Ricketts can supports a $250-300M payroll there is no stopping us by 2014! But this is not the reality we are in and we still have to be fiscally responsible and still have the money to upgrade Wrigley. I wish we could have unlimited payroll and get anyone we want every year, but tickets already too expensive.

            • CubFan Paul

              the Cubs make at least $250million a year (i cant find an exact number but thats the baseline) ..you do the math

              • MichiganGoat

                If 250M is the annual revenue and we figure an fiscally reponsible business attempts to keep payroll around 30% but since Ricketts is has said all “profits” will go right back into the team we can look at 60% payroll leaving 40% for operating expenses, building expenses etc. At 60% we would have a payroll around 150M, about where we are at, all revenue can’t be spent on payroll.

              • MichiganGoat

                Here is a good list of teams value and gives revenue and player expenses (payroll) if one does the math the average cost on payroll is just over 50% of the revenue creating a number of 150M for the Cubs vs 250M for the Yanks yet the payroll/revenue percentage is about the same.

                http://www.forbes.com/lists/2011/33/baseball-valuations-11_rank.html

                • CubFan Paul

                  we’re not even spending $150mil…. my point is proven, the same point about the salary, veterns &cheap owner

                  &not all profits are going back into the team, Ricketts is a business man not an idiot ..operations expenses are no where near 40% either ..i’ll do research tomorrow when im sober

                  • MichiganGoat

                    The Forbes rundown looks at players expenses (contract + bonus $ + benefits) and gets our price to 157M. My argument is that our player expense to revenue is in line with other top teams. I look forward to your math tomorrow.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          It’s the main reason – the Cubs’ payroll increased dramatically in the 2000s, and their output on the field increased commensurately. That’s not Hendry making wise decisions, it’s just a team spending more. I’d argue that a better GM would have seen much better results with those resources.

  • Toosh

    You are a rare person, indeed!

  • die hard

    Hendry finding it much more difficult to operate without blank check….. I say we play the hand we are dealt and thus keep everyone for next year….absent injuries, should win 80 games…would rather have had Silva struggling than let him go…..Hendry backing his new pitching coach in pissing contest with Silva cost Cubs 10 mil….inexcusable

    • philoe beddoe

      you guys are smart on this site…it is probably time for Hendry to go….I do like the referrence to how Cuban was blacklisted by Reinsdorf…not many people know that…there was no way Jerry was going to let Cuban be his competition…I have resented Reinsdorf since his “I would trade all six Bulls championships for one world series title” comment, as a former Bulls fan and non-White Sox fan that pissed me off. I still think his buddy Bud might have helped in 2005…how else did A.J. get to run to firstbase after striking out?

      Let me pose a question…Do you guys think it is a crazy notion for the Cubs to sign Pena for a two year deal? He is a nice plus that has gone unnoticed in this shit sandwich of a season….I really don’t think Fielder at 23-25 per will be the answer….I would love it sure, but he isn’t exactly captain fitness…his skills could go south in a hurry..

      • MichiganGoat

        I’d be okay if we didn’t get Fielder and it was resonable like 2/12M and he was okay with being a platoon/mentor 1B to help us develop someone else. But his average is hard to stomach, but his defense and leadership is a value, not to mention he is a Boras client so it will never happen.

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