Among the Chicago Cubs’ GM candidates, it is easy to give the top handful a “favorite” label. Brian Cashman is the “favorite” of Tom Ricketts. Andrew Friedman is the “favorite” of the fans.
And, if those are true, then Rick Hahn is the “favorite” of the Chicago media.
The 40-year-old Chicago White Sox Assistant GM is considered by many to be the top assistant in the game, and grew up a Cubs fan. He will almost certainly be considered by the Cubs for the open GM job, and, if various media have their way, he’ll get it.
There have been too many Rick Hahn pieces over the past few days to cohesively (and usefully) put together a singe-body piece, so we’ll do this bullet-style to ease your consumption:
- First, from Hahn himself, who didn’t offer much when asked about the Cubs’ GM job: “Like everyone else here, my focus is currently on the 2011 White Sox. Questions about my personal future can wait for another time.”
- Bruce Levine reports that Hahn’s contract includes a clause that allows him to interview with certain teams for a GM position. The Cubs are, predictably, one of those teams. This could give Hahn a small edge over candidates who are also under contract with other teams, but for whom the Cubs must request permission to interview. Obviously a delayed interview isn’t going to stop the Cubs from getting the man they want, but Hahn could get in early, and become the leader in the clubhouse.
- Phil Rogers, who has been trumpeting for Hahn for some time now, isn’t going to change his tune. “Barring any proprietary issues with White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who has been Hahn’s boss since late 2001, there is no reason to look further for Jim Hendry’s successor,” Rogers writes. “Ricketts said Friday he wants the next GM to be someone who believes in finding and developing young players, knows his way around a computer and comes from a winning climate. Hahn goes 3-for-3 in those categories. He’s also a strong people person whose relationships extend to scouts and minor-league coaches, as well as Scott Boras and other agents.”
- David Haugh agrees. “Ricketts identified three criteria without naming names: 1) an emphasis in player development, 2) a strong statistical base and 3) experience in a winning culture. That makes Hahn a natural, sensible place to start,” Haugh says. “In addition to spending a decade in the front office of a Sox team that won a World Series, the Winnetka native graduated from Harvard Law School and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. His work in a sports agency under Leigh Steinberg for two years exposed Hahn to contract negotiations, his area of expertise with the Sox. He respects sabermetrics but lets what happens on the diamond guide him as much as what he sees on his computer screen …. Hahn also offers the Cubs a rare advantage of hiring somebody local already fully immersed in the often idiosyncratic Chicago baseball culture. There would be a shorter transition for understanding all the nuances that come with being in charge of the Cubs: day baseball, the goat, the media. Familiarity matters.”
- Even White Sox writers are turning out to support Hahn. “Rick’s as down to earth as they come in this game, and he’s got the sense of humor, too,” Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald writes. “Is he GM material? I’ll put it this way – I was stunned when the Mets chose Sandy Alderson as their new GM over Hahn last off-season. Fortunately for the Cubs, Rick is still available and he’s got the baseball experience, financial smarts, knowledge of the game and drive to do a great job.”
- Bruce Levine notes that Hahn is the highest paid assistant in baseball, and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf may not be so eager to let him go. To that end, he could promote GM Kenny Williams to a president-type role, and move Hahn up to GM. I’m not sure that that kind of token promotion – with little other change – would be enough to keep Hahn from throwing his hat into the Cubs’ GM ring, though.
- Speaking of Williams, Kenny is happy to give his current assistant a strong endorsement. “I’ve made no secret about it, Rick Hahn is, to me, one of the most qualified men to assume the position moving forward,” Williams said. “What Mr. Ricketts does is his own business. He’s a guy that’s had a lot of success in business and in his world, and his world over there is none of my business at this point in time. But if he called for a recommendation on Rick Hahn, I absolutely would give him my highest.”
- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is also a big Hahn backer. “It’s not my department but looking from the outside in he’s very prepared,” Guillen said. “He has gone through everything in the system. He knows baseball very well and helped this organization. This man is very prepared. I don’t know if they are going to talk to him. I talk to Rick all the time, he knows baseball.”