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Tom Ricketts is nothing if not true to his word.

When he announced that Chicago Cubs’ General Manager Jim Hendry had been let go, he said that the Cubs would conduct a thorough, but quiet, search for Hendry’s replacement.

And so it has been. Rumors have been aplenty, but leaks have been non-existent. We can make educated guesses about Ricketts’ plans, but you want confirmation? Forget about it.

That’s why, when Tom Ricketts, himself, speaks about the search, we listen as though Moses is holding up two stone tablets and shouting at us from a mountain. Yesterday, Ricketts headed to San Diego to address the team and the media on the final day of the season. As usual, his comments pleased and impressed me.

“It’s like I’ve said all along, we’ll do [the search] quickly and sufficiently as possible,” Ricketts said. “But it’s a big decision. There’s no point in rushing it. You have to have the right guy at the right time. However long it takes, it takes.”

Ricketts went on to confirm that he’s been hard at work on the process, speaking to people throughout the industry.

“It’s an ongoing process, but I have talked to a lot of people,” Ricketts said.

Presumably, he talked to many of those people about, among other things, his decision to extend Farm Director Oneri Fleita for four years before the new GM is in place. It was a decision that has generally been well-received.

“The fact is that Oneri is a very valuable part of this organization,” Ricketts said. “Any GM coming in would agree with that. That’s a step we took so we had good continuity and to make sure we keep building on things we are doing well.”

Similarly, Ricketts discussed Scouting Director Tim Wilken, whom Ricketts would like to retain at least for the length of his current contract (through 2012), but whom Ricketts refused to offer an extension.

“We think Tim does a terrific job,” Ricketts explained, “but he’s signed through next year, and we’ll kind of leave it the way it is.”

With those kind of public comments, it sounds like, as Ricketts goes through the process, he’s keeping candidates apprised of his intentions with respect to the organizational structure, and the importance of keeping guys like Fleita and Wilken in place – at least in the near term. If the new GM comes in guns blazing and wants to make changes, it seems like Ricketts won’t stand in the way.

In the meantime, Ricketts is clear that Randy Bush is the team’s GM. If decisions need to be made before the next GM is in place, Bush – with input from Ricketts – will make those decisions.

“Randy is our GM,” Ricketts said. “He keeps an eye on all the decisions coming up. He’s done a terrific job the last few weeks. If we have to make any decisions before the new GM comes in we will address it as it comes up.”

The GM search discussion was, perhaps, the most important part of Ricketts’ comments yesterday, but he did make a number of other interesting statements.

“One thing we’ve seen in baseball over the last few years is that turnarounds can happen pretty quickly,” Ricketts said of the team’s immediate future. “So I don’t think it’s fair to describe a year as a rebuilding year or reloading year. That fact is you get the right players on the team and they stay healthy and they play hard, a team can go from 70 wins to 90 wins.

“It can happen pretty quickly. Look at the Diamondbacks and even the Cubs a few years ago. So that’s how we look at it.”

The optimism is, of course, nice, but expectations for 2012 should remain tempered – particularly until the new GM comes in and starts laying out his vision.

Finally, although Ricketts wouldn’t commit to a payroll for 2012 (and why should he? It will depend on the direction the GM wants to take things), he did say that he expects the overall baseball operations budget to remain the same in 2012. That means there will be money to spend on the big league team, as well as the amateur side.

Each time Ricketts speaks, I feel a little better about the long-term future of this organization. Yesterday’s comments were no exception.

 

 

  • EQ76

    I’ve been saying that next year could be good with the right moves made.. I do believe if Rickett’s truly wants to follow the Red Sox model, he knows damn well that payroll could keep going up.  I believe Ricketts does want to build a strong team from the ground up but I also believe that means spending more..shoot, spending more on draft picks is a pretty good start.  I believe that in 2 years this team might have the 3rd highest payroll in the MLB..  hopefully next time it’s spent more wisely.

  • Toosh

    Yeah, there’s no rush. The new GM won’t have too many things to do as soon as he’s hired.

    • EQ76

      accept for sacrificing a live goat.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Hey leave us goats out of this…. See after that damn ESPN docudrama we are hated again. Stop the goat hate. baaaaaaa

  • ari gold

    Brett, how do you see the front office shaping up? When I look at the Red Sox front office, they’re loaded with Presidents, VP’s, and Assistant GM’s. The Cubs have a GM, assistant GM, and Kaplan. Seems much more lean than the Red Sox and I hope that doesn’t leave us too thin.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I definitely think you’ll see increased layers, and the addition of a number of non-ceremonial front office positions. The current front office actually does have a few more members than just the GM, assistant GM and Kaplan, but not much.

  • Dan0mite

    Buster Olney was saying after the games last night that he has heard from Theo’s friends that he may be open to the Cubs job.

  • Mike S

    With the Red Sox fallout this season, does that maybe intice Epstein to come to Chicago??

  • Jason

    I agree Brett – I like Ricketts more and more every time I hear from him and think he’s going to steer the organization in the right direction.

    Having said that, I think it’s overly optimistic to see this team winning 90 games next year. Thin FA market coupled with the fact that two of our most productive position players are no longer under contract make competing next year a daunting proposition.

    • EQ76

      I’m sure many felt that way after the ’02 season, and again after the ’06 season..  you know what, we may suck next year.. we may be average, we may win 90+ games.  none of us know.. it’s not overly optimistic or pessimistic, it’s reality.. every year someone turns it around.  We have a large market, money, an aggressive owner, and hopefully a next GM that can get us there.. I have no doubt that it’s possible.

      • Jason

        Could it happen? Sure…

        Will it happen? Well, let’s just say I won’t hold my breath

        And don’t forget – the spending binge that we went on to become a good team after 2006 is the reason for the mess we’re in right now. Be careful what you wish for.

  • jstraw

    Mmmmm… Kool-ade.

    I’M KIDDING!

    • CubFan Paul

      lol, i was going to make that joke earlier but Brett loves Ol’ Tommy boy so i left it alone

      i’ll share that pitcher of KoolAid when Ricketts chooses his 1st GM, that will say a lot as far as Ricketts staying true to his words

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Haha.

  • Cheryl

    I like his whole approach. He’s smart enough to listen to others who’ve been around baseball for a while and he doesn’t go for the headlines. There isn’t a need for him to comment on individual players and he hasn’t except for the Zambrano incident. He may like the Boston model but it appears as if he won’t go top-heavy with administration. I think the cubs will improve in terms of the type of players and draftees that come aboard in the future, but like Jason I’m not optimistic about the numbers of games to be won next year.

  • Steve

    Coppolella!!!!!! With the Bravos done, I may get my wish.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah, I’d say now might be as good of a time as any to give him a look.

  • auggie1955

    Actually Ricketts is kind of pissing me off here because he is talking like Hendry.    Ricketts is comparing how the  Cubs are handling their situation is the same as how the the D-backs handled theirs.    It is not!!!    

    First off the D-backs fired their worthless manager,  AJ Hinch on 7/2/10 and named Kirk Gibson interim manager.    Did the Cubs fire Q-ball?  Secondly  the D-backs also fired their GM,  Josh Byrnes.   Their interim GM,  Jerry Dipoto,  made trades like Edwin Jackson for Daniel Hudson and Dan Haren for Joe Saunders.   What trades has Randy Bush made?      

    In fact Ricketts did the complete opposite of Arizona.    He told Hendry he was fired a month in advance,  but asked  him to stay on until after the trading deadline.     

    I’m fed up with this organization thinking they can continue to BS the fans. 

     

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The D-backs had a DiPoto – the Cubs don’t. If the Cubs had a DiPoto, I think you would have seen things play out a bit differently. There’s a reason DiPoto is consistently named one of the most attractive GM candidates out there.

      • EQ76

        I think we’re reading WAY too much into Ricketts’ comment about the D-Backs.. He’s just using them as this year’s example of how every year a team seems to turn things around.. Shoot, the Cubs did it twice last decade.. I don’ think he was saying “we’re copying exactly what the D-Backs did”, he’s just saying, it can be done.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Totally agree – was just explaining.

  • RY

    The look on Ricketts face in this picture says it all. At the end of the day, the Cubs have all the money and resources in the world with the exception of the New York teams and yet nobody knows how to fix them; History has proven that everything this organization tries, even when they think they have brought in good free agents or talented organizational people, it always turns to shit! Which begs the question, can the Cubs ever be fixed or is it just gonna be mediocrity forever with a really good season sprinkled in here and there??

    • Cheryl

      RY, Have the cubs ever really tried to depend on a good draft and their farm system? It seems like at times they’ve had a few good players in a draft but not a really good draft where several of the draftees look like they’re the real thing (I know it takes time to evaluate a draft.). But this draft looks like the exception. And if they have another good draft next year they may be on the way to developing a good team without relying so much on free agents.That may be where the success will come from, not tossing so much money toward free agents. They can’t just depend on two drafts. It has to be a real commitment.

      • Fishin Phil

        Cheryl, this is where I have the most hope that Rickets is setting up the franchise for continual success.  The only way to do that on a consistent basis is, as you said committing to the draft.  You need to have that continual pipeline of young talent pushing up from the minors.  I think this is finally the direction we are heading.

  • RY

    Cheryl, you make a really good point and I would have to answer no they have not. I have just become so skeptical with the Cubs over my 30+ years of fandom that I don’t trust anything they do! Only time will tell I guess, I just hope I have the patience for it!

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