In the days after the firing of Jim Hendry as Chicago Cubs general manager, chairman Tom Ricketts has still faced some criticism. Not for the way that he handled the Hendry firing, but, because of the firing that he did not make. Ricketts issued a vote of confidence to team president at the Hendry farewell press conference, but as baseball has taught us many times before, sometimes the vote of confidence could be a pre-cursor to that specific person being fired.
Tom Loxas of Cubs Insider was told by a source that Kenney will be out as team president upon the conclusion of the regular season. Loxas was the one reporting on Hendry firing months before it became official; so whenever he issues up a report like this, we should treat like Rod Blagojevich treated the Barrack Obama senate seat, “F’n golden.” The source told Loxas that Ricketts “milked” Kenney for all that he is worth. Loxas also notes that Ricketts may have kept Kenney on board for as long as he did because he wanted Kenney to continue making progress on the production of the Triangle building, as well as the Cubs’ efforts to build a new spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona.
There have been clues that a decision like this from Ricketts may be in the works. After the Cubs fired Hendry, it wasn’t Kenney that took over the baseball operations, it wasn’t interim general manager Randy Bush that took control of baseball operations, it was Ricketts himself. The Cubs chairman has made a number of baseball related decisions withing recent weeks; including the extension given to vice president of player personnel Oneri Fleita, then imminent extension to scouting director Tim Wilken, as well as hiring a new vice president of communications and an official to review the Cubs baseball budget.
As Loxas mentioned in his piece, it starting to look as if Ricketts is entering the baseball operations side of the organization. In previous seasons, Ricketts left the baseball operations in the hands of Hendry and Kenney, but after observing the inner-works of the front office the Cubs owner appears ready to make his mark on the baseball operations. There will likely be more baseball decisions coming for Ricketts in the near future. That decision will revolve solely around Aramis Ramirez. It has been widely discussed that both the Cubs and Ramirez will opt out of the final season that is in Ramirez’s contract for the 2012 season. But the window has not been closed on a possible return to the Cubs next season for the Cubs third baseman. Ramirez is seeking a multi-year contract, and given his status as one of the top offensive players on the market, a decision on whether to bring him back or not will likely come before the new general manager is hired. Meaning Ricketts will have to be the one to decide whether Ramirez has future with the Cubs’ organization.
Speaking of the Cubs next general manager, the news that Kenney will be out as the team president after the season should only make the general managerial position that much more attractive to the big name candidates. For instance, Theo Epstein likely would not leave the Red Sox to make a parallel move and only be the general manager of the Cubs. However, offering Epstein the general manager position along with the team president position may be enough to persuade him to leave the Red Sox organization. The same can be said about Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics, or Andrew Friedman of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Then again, given the recent activity by Ricketts, it would not be out of the question to think that Ricketts himself could assume that position.