Tonight, Chicago Cub fans will finally be able to find the peace they have been lacking since the beginning of the season. The last game of the 2011 season will be played, and the Cub fans will finally be put out of their misery. There will be no popping of celebratory champagne for a division clinching performance, though some might throw back a few beers in celebration for what will likely be the departure of current Cubs Manager Mike Quade.
While I will never celebrate in the firing of anyone, I doubt I will shed a tear if he receives news that he will not be retained for the 2012 season. When that happens though, is anyone’s guess. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts may leave that decision for the new General Manager to make; which means that Quade might technically still be the manager of the Cubs for at least a little while longer. No one knows how long the processes will take for the Cubs to find the person they feel is the right choice to fill the spot vacated for Jim Hendry, though I still believe that they almost have to already have reached a handshake agreement with someone to assume the responsibilities of the job. Otherwise some of the recent moves by Ricketts do not make me feel too optimistic about who will be the new General Manager.
In a recent blog, I wrote that Ricketts may not be a brilliant baseball man, but he is a brilliant businessman. This was in reference to the re-hiring of Oneri Fleita as the Vice President of player personnel, saying he would not hire a new General Manager and tell him that he has to take this person on as a key member of his team; at least not someone who was already established in that job. When Fleita was re-signed I assumed that Ricketts and the General Manager that he must have a handshake agreement with had to of signed off on the move to retain him. Now I am not so sure if the Cubs and Ricketts have a handshake deal with someone to take over the running of the team, at least not an already established General Manager.
In yesterday’s Chicago Sun-Times there was a report that the Cubs and Ricketts were reaching out to Ryne Sandberg to mend fences. There was speculation that he may be tabbed to be the new manager of the Cubs for 2012. While I would not be against such a move, I do not want him to be hired before the new General Manager is named. That would almost certainly be the end of any speculation that the Cubs will hire someone like Theo Epstein or Andrew Freidman. There is no way that they would take on a job where they were forced to take someone that they may not want managing their team, that is unless as I have said (and I am sounding like a broken record here) they have a handshake agreement with Ricketts and the Cubs and have signed off on the move.
If the Cubs do not already have something worked out before hand, then I do not want Sandberg hired; at least not yet. They must leave something for the new General Manager to do if you want to get someone who is already known as a great General Manager. I know that the chances of getting Epstein or Freidman has been a long shot from the beginning, but the hope is still alive as long as Ricketts and the Cubs do not take all the decisions out of their hands. In all reality, the Cubs will most likely wind up with the assistant General Manager of Epstein or Freidman, or maybe even the assistant General Manager from the south side Rick Hahn. Those people may be willing to take the job and be told who their most important personnel members will be.
You can explain away keeping Fleita by saying you want the person who knows your farm system, and the young talent keeping his job so you do not lose a step. That is at least understandable to a point, whether or not you agree with that thought process. But hiring a new Manager before the General Manager makes no sense. Neither does firing the current one for that matter. Perhaps the new guy likes Quade and wants to see what he can do given a real team who has a real chance to win. I highly doubt this, as even with a talented team who had actual expectations, I am not sure that Quade could win a World Series. That is not to say that this season completely falls on Quade’s shoulders and he is the reason we looked as horrible as we did. There are other reasons why the Cubs failed besides the apparently ineptness of Quade, but that is another discussion for another day.