The last time we heard from Tom Ricketts, who is currently on an admirable tour of the minor league system, he was in Peoria, telling folks he didn’t want to answer any questions about the future of the Chicago Cubs’ front office. The Cubs’ owner and Chairman was given an opportunity to once again give General Manager Jim Hendry a vote of confidence, and he declined to do so.

Since then, as has been customary with Ricketts, he has remained mum about the future of the Cubs.

That may change soon.

ESPN Chicago’s Bruce Levine is reporting that, according to a source close to Ricketts, the Cubs’ Chairman “will make an announcement on the Chicago Cubs’ future and share his view of the state of the team within the next 10 days.” Ricketts’ public relations director Dennis Cullerton has confirmed that “Ricketts will be addressing some major issues of interest to Cubs fans very soon.”

You could interpret this a dozen ways, but to do so would be little more than an exercise in educated guessing.

The the first – and perhaps most logical – conclusion to which you would jump is that an announcement about the future of Hendry is forthcoming. But Cullerton cautioned that drawing any conclusions about the status of the front office right now would be premature.

While not impossible, it remains very hard to see Ricketts coming out and pledging allegiance to Hendry through the offseason and 2012. I have no illusions that Ricketts is a reader of, for example, Bleacher Nation, but I’m certain he knows which way the wind blows. Any whisper of Hendry returning next year is met with overwhelming disapproval among fans. And, while fans won’t directly make the decision, they’ve certainly made their position known by way of the empty seats at Wrigley.

Dave Kaplan, who has been saying there will be big changes in the Cubs’ organization for months, agrees, saying that “I fully expect the Cubs to make major organizational changes and I can’t believe that national media types think Hendry will return.” Kaplan added that Ricketts is more on top of things than folks realize, something I’ve mentioned here several times. The thing is, coming from a highly visible business background, if Ricketts wants to work quietly in the background without huge leaks, he knows how to do so.

If the announcement isn’t going to be about retaining Jim Hendry, what will it be about? Canning Hendry? I doubt that, too.

To the extent Ricketts even approaches naming names – which I doubt he will – I suspect he’ll stick to what he’s been saying for months: Hendry is the GM for the rest of the year, and then Ricketts and his advisors will evaluate the front office structure and personnel after the season. And that’s exactly how things should proceed at this point – some of the most attractive front office names out there are currently employed by other teams and aren’t likely to be interviewable until after the season.

So, what will the announcement be about?

Again, I say what everyone else should be saying: I don’t know. If I had to guess, I’d think it would be something about organizational philosophy going forward. Given that the Cubs just had a hugely successful draft – a draft that could easily demonstrate a shift in organizational philosophy and a strong commitment to putting dollars to work on the amateur side – and the fact that Ricketts will have just returned from a trip around the farm system, it certainly seems like a good time to discuss the state of the Cubs going forward on an organizational level (as opposed to a personnel level).

I reached out to Bruce Levine’s colleague, the always responsive and thoughtful Sahadev Sharma, on this theory, and Sharma guessed that the timing of the announcement relative to the draft was just a coincidence.

So, you see, even I’m wrong.

The lesson here is to not let yourself get worked up into a tizzy on this one. Ricketts’ “announcement,” if it even occurs, could range from the mundane rah-rah, to the earth-shaking hiring-firing. Right now, we just don’t know.

  • Cara

    Maybe he’s gonna announce he’s selling the team to mark Cuban. Wishful thinking?

    • Brett

      Probably a smidge.

    • CubsFanatic

      But a wish worth hanging onto. * I myself keep hoping for this*

  • Chris

    My guess… and it’s just a guess… is that he’s going to announce that Jim Hendry has been “promoted,” ie – you’ve earned a place in the organization and you have a decent head on your shoulders, but you stink as a GM. (hey, everyone gets burnt out on their job if they do it long enough. The logical side of my brain, you know, the one that doesn’t own a torch or pick axe says “Hendry did a lot of good for this team early on and didn’t really start to suck until the last few years.”)

    Also, he’ll probably address the Zambrano thing. Maybe not directly, but he’ll probably say something about a “change in philosophy” and a “new attitude organization wide” and how “certain things will no longer be tolerated.”

    Of course, these two bits will probably be saved for last, as the headliners never go on before the opening band. There will probably be a little bit of rah rah rah and a little bit of patting-on-the-backs of the scouts and numbers guys for a successful draft. He’ll probably touch on stuff like strengthening the farm system, etc etc. Mention a bit about the new Dominican facility and the new Arizona facility. THEN he’ll probably announce some promotions.

    I’d be going out a very very big lurch, and it’s probably Kool Aide fueled wishful thinking, but he might go so far as to announce a President of Baseball Operations (maybe Pat “Come On Down” Gillick?). Who knows. Just wishful thinking on my part.

    • Dan0mite

      I too see it playing out this way. I think he will announce that Hendry won’t be GM next year but will have some sort of role with the organization. He will announce a restructuring that includes the new GM and a President of Baseball operations. They will continue to decrease the payroll and try to go young and develope home grown talent. The decrease in payroll will also mean a decrease in ticket prices (wishful thinking?). They won’t give any names since most of the best candidates are currently with other teams.

      • Brett

        If that all happens, you won’t be able to bring me down for months (except for the decrease payroll bit – are you nuts!? :) ).

        • Dan0mite

          Not really, I don’t think they plan to replace the $50+ million that is coming off the books with $50 million more in new contracts. That is how the payroll will drop.

          • Cbrock

            I think that is silly. Mind you, this is just my diluted brain working, but if they can afford it, spend it. Get some high end talent, not the same retreads they always seem to get. But the key is spend wisely, don’t sign another Sori deal…..

          • awesome

            agree on that one.

      • Chris

        I definitely think Hendry is more likely to get promoted to “new-position-to-be-created-that-gets-him-out-of-the-public’s-cross-hairs” than promoted to “customer.”

        • Fishin Phil

          I’m hoping Hendry gets the new Asst. VP of Groundskeeping position.

          • Toosh

            Asst. VP of Groundskeeping in charge of fertilizer application.

            • Brett

              Don’t be silly.

              Asst. VP of Groundskeeper in Charge of Fertilizer Production.

          • NyN

            I would so take the position of Asst. VP of Groundskeeping, fertilizer application or fertilizer production at Wrigley Field.

            However, Fertilizer production sounds like the best of the bunch. I could sit around, take a crap and watch the Cubs. What a life

            • Toosh

              Can you spread s— as good as Hendry?

              • hardtop

                no one can!

              • NyN

                IDK but I am sure I could just as good of a job at screwing things up.

                • Brett

                  I don’t think the players would respect me when I asked them to do laps.

        • Brett

          What a customer he’d be, though, AMIRITE?

  • jim

    RICKETTS “needs” to let HENDRY go!
    RICKETTS “needs” to let QUADE go!
    RICKETTS “needs” to “unload” some players!
    RICKETTS “needs” to open his stinking wallet &
    go after some QUALITY players!

  • CUB5

    This is obviously nothing more than an announcement that a last minute deal has been struck to keep Old Style.

    • MichiganGoat

      Ha, I’d be happy with that

  • EQ

    With all the minor league happenings, draft signings, Big Z’s meltdown, etc. I’m expecting nothing more than a “look at us we’re trying to make things better” speech… I would love to hear how Gillick’s on board now, Hendry’s out, or how they’ll increase payroll to whatever it takes to finally win it all, or something like that, but I seriously doubt we’d hear anything that cool.

  • EQ

    either that or he’s gonna say “Wait until next year”

  • PFK

    I’ve been saying all along that I think Ricketts is going about things the right way and he has backed it up with his pocket book and actions. He got Mesa to build what will be the most state-of-the-art spring training facility in a innovative maga-plex called Wrigleyville West. He is building facilities in the Dominican Republic. He’s expanding the Asian scouting. He’s paying out for draft signings. He’s actively pursuing financing for the Triangle Building and the aging infrastructure at Wrigley. He’s turning the rooftops into his own extra seating and working with the owners – instead of fighting them. And I’m sure there’s more. The most important piece is the front office and I can’t blame him for wanting to get a really good feel for things and learn more about a front office before wildly pulling the trigger. This is a huge decision and he should be 100% comfortable when he pulls the trigger on a re-org. He may not be as vociferous as we’d like but that’s just not his style. I’m OK with that as long as I see his actions going in the right direction. He’s a big believer in the farm system and building from within (see Atlanta). He’s committing the bucks to doing that – and his recent tour of the system and helping Boise get a new facility are exactly the encouraging steps I, for one, am happy to see.

  • EQ

    Out of curiosity, I wonder where our draft ranks right now.. i know it’s impossible to tell until years from now on how good it really was, but as of now, what are they saying about our draft class, top 10??

  • Cheryl

    I think PFK’s sense of what will happen is on the money. Ricketts has taken his time in assessing the cubs which he should do. He’s probably fully aware of mistakes in the past – no trade clauses, long-term contracts that leave little if any wiggle room and actions that are a detriment to the team. It should be apparent after the conference that he works effectively behind the scenes and doesn’t rush to make changes. My sense has been over the last month or so that he is on top of things and knows exactly what he is doing.

    He deserves kudos for his commitment to building from within and has come to the conclusion that in the long run that is the most economical course. I doubt it will be just a rah rah conference. He could do that without a major news conference.

    I believe he will announce a change in the major league manager position, prior to the end of the season. He will keep Hendry on as a consultant and possibly name a new president of baseball operations. He will state this is the beginning of changes in organizatinal philosophy but won’t name a GM until after the season.

    • hardtop

      Man, you guys sure paint a rosy picture. I hope you are right! unfortunately, it remains to be seen. kudos on the spend-dest in the draft, but still a long way to go and a lot to do. if he makes the move that most of us have been hoping for for awhile, shit can hendry, i’ll be in his corner. until then, i’ll question his motives and his sanity.

  • philoe beddoe

    the free agent class for 2012 “Su, su, su sucks” (to quote Judge Smails) just to say Ricketts needs to spend, spend, spend is not the answer because he would be buying crap, crap, crap…they will have to make some trades and I still say that Hendry has more good trades on his resume than bad, so if you are going to replace him you need an experienced GM that has many of the same relationships/connections…now Hendry’s free-agent record…not as good, but all of the “insiders” still say he wasn’t responsible for Soriano…Bradley-awful, Lilly-very good if not great….my biggest beef with Hendry ,where I would second guess, would be Quade over Ryno…that one still baffles me, other than that, I will get tarred and feathered for saying it, but I think he is being blamed for everything right now….but I would condone the firing just for Quade…

  • rylan

    just heard on the game how you can enter to manage a game with mike quade….

    ‘mike, it’s been 6 innings and he’s thrown 110 pitches…let’s make a switch’

  • Toosh

    “with mike quade”? How about “instead of”.

  • Cheryl

    Maybe we need a volunteer to manage Quade, like put in a different lineup. I wonder how Colvin might do behind Castro and Barney behind Colvin, then Pena, Johnson in left field,
    Byrd in Center, Sota, and then DeWitt at third. I’d reserve Aramis and Soriano as a pinch hitters (and hopefully not use them at all).

    • TWC

      Wasn’t the 1-2 punch of Colvin and Castro (surprisingly) pretty effective during Mike Quade’s “turn it on when it doesn’t matter” tour of September 2010?

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