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.