The news that Cubs fans have been waiting to hear may soon be coming. Throughout the 2011 season, many fans have criticized chairman Tom Ricketts for not taking action already. But if the Cubs chairman has proved anything during his time as Cubs’ owner, it is that he is smart and will be patient when it comes to making decisions about the Cubs future. But that does not mean that Ricketts is doing nothing. Ricketts has spent most of the past two months touring the Cubs minor league system, getting a first hand look at various players, coaches, and talent evaluators within the Cubs organization. There has also been whispers that Ricketts is doing research on potential front-office types such as Josh Byrnes and Pat Gillick. Soon, Ricketts may be providing answers to all the questions that surround the Cubs future.
Accoridng to Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago, Ricketts will address the Cubs future and give his state of the team address within the next 10 days. Unlike previous press conferences from Ricketts, this presser is based solely on what the Cubs plan to do for the future. Until this point, the Cubs chairman has been unwilling to address the team’s future. But after touring the minor league system, having a successful draft, and presumably doing research on front-office candidates the Cubs chairman appears to be ready to talk about the Cubs future.
There are three main areas that Ricketts is expected to address. The job status of general manager Jim Hendry will likely be addressed, as well as the job status of manager Mike Quade. In addition to the general manager and manager position, Ricketts will likely spend some time discussing whether or not he would sign off on a mega-deal for either Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols. Of course, Ricketts will refrain from mentioning Fielder or Pujols by name. There is also a good chance that Ricketts will address the Carlos Zambrano situation, though at this point, there is not much that can be said that hasn’t been mentioned already.
There has been a recent surge of hope from Hendry apologists that the Cubs general manager will be retained after the season. That hope was generated from a Bob Nightengale tweet over the weekend that suggested barring a change thinking from Ricketts, Hendry will be retained after the season. But that appears to be premature reporting by Nightengale, and inaccurate for that matter. The consensus going around the local beat reporters is that Hendry’s job status is still in question. In fact, most believe that the odds are against Hendry remaining the team’s general manager after the season. It will be interesting to see how Ricketts addresses Hendry’s job status. Since the press conference is about the Cubs’ future, Hendry’s status will likely be addressed considering the general manager position is a vital part of the Cubs future.
As for Mike Quade, it seems to be the overwhelming consensus that Quade will not be back next season. No matter what happens with Hendry, Quade has put himself in a bad position. One of the reasons Quade will likely not be back next season is because his blatant defiance of his general manager. Despite Hendry trading Kosuke Fukudome to give Tyler Colvin an opportunity, Quade has given Colvin’s playing time to Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker. The same can be said when Hendry wanted to examine D.J. LeMahieu and Wellington Castillo at the major league level, but Quade rarely gave those two playing times. When a general manager and manager are not on the same page, it does nothing but affect the organization negatively.
As for the Cubs plan when it comes to free agency–more specifically Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols–the Cubs chairman already mentioned that the Cubs will have the available resources to offer a mega-contract to one player. But, Ricketts also said that the organization has to be sure that is the type of player that is deserving of such a contract. With Fielder, an appropriate contract would be 6 years, $125 million. The 6 years would cover the prime years for Fielder, and the contract would expire before Fielder’s production begins to decline. The Cubs would be wise to stay away from Pujols, sounds crazy I know, but giving Pujols a 7 year contract would be a risk.
The beginning of the future begins when Ricketts takes the podium to divulge his plan for the Cubs organization. This press conference will likely be the most anticipated presser from Ricketts since he took control of the organization.