Decisions To Be Made


Before it was made public that Jim Hendry had been fired as Chicago Cubs general manager, it was already believed that the Cubs front office had made several decisions to be carried out during the off-season. Now with Hendry gone–though, some media members remain in bed with the former Cubs’ general manager–it would appear that the decisions that were believed to be made regarding the off-season under Hendry’s watch will have to be reconsidered by the next general manager of the Cubs. Among the decisions to be made by the next general manager this off-season will be whether or not to bring back third baseman Aramis Ramirez next season, what to do with Alfonso Soriano, and of course determining whether or not Carlos Zambrano will return to the Cubs. But assuming the next general manager is not as loyal and friendly as Hendry was, the decisions on each player should be an easy one.

Aramis Ramirez

Before anyone knew that Hendry was already fired as Cubs’ general manager, Ramirez and his agent, Paul Kinzer, felt like there was an understanding between them and the Cubs’ third baseman that the veteran would return in 2012. However, it wasn’t known if Hendry had the intention of picking up Ramirez’s $14 million option, or negotiating a new contract. There is no doubt that Ramirez can be a good player when he wants to be. This season being a prime example. Ramirez’s offensive production to begin the season was non-existent as the veteran had a total of two home runs after the first two months of the season. But Ramirez caught fire in June and hasn’t looked back since. On the season, Ramirez is hitting .311/.357/.529/.886 with 24 home runs and 83 RBIs.

With the exception of the first two months of the season, it could be argued that Ramirez has been the top offensive third baseman in all of baseball. Now his $14 million team option looks like a bargain, as some have speculated that Ramirez could earn as much as $40 million this winter. That is great if another team wants to make the mistake by giving Ramirez that much money this off-season. Personally, I have seen this act one too many times before. For whatever reason, Ramirez seems to be at his best when his current team is no longer in contention. Besides, Ramirez will be 34 next season, and given his history with injuries and inconsistent production, I wouldn’t expect the next general manager of the Cubs to give Ramirez a multi-year extension. In addition, it is expected that Ramirez will void the team option in his contract for the 2012 season and test the free agent market this winter.

Alfonso Soriano

In recent weeks, it has looked increasingly likely that Alfonso Soriano is currently playing his last season with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs have been haunted by the eight year, $136 million contract that some believe the Tribune Company forced Hendry to make with Soriano after the 2006 season. While Soriano’s contract did help the Cubs win back-to-back division titles in 2007 and 2008, the left fielder and his contract have been a tremendous burden on the Cubs since 2009. It was believed that the Cubs tried to dump Soriano on any team that would listen last month before the trade deadline, but I am beginning to doubt the sincerity of those reports given Hendry admitted he wasn’t really looking to make any trades considering his status. Nonetheless, it is believed that Tom Ricketts is ready to pull the plug on Soriano, as reports have indicated that the Cubs may release Soriano at some point before next season.

If Ricketts is already determined on ridding the Cubs of Soriano, the next general manager may not have a say in the matter. Then again, I can’t imagine the new general manager would object to such a decision. Though the new general manager may want the chance to trade Soriano, in order to save face and get something in return rather than nothing. Either way, it is looking pretty clear that Soriano’s future with the Cubs is in serious jeopardy.

Carlos Zambrano

To be honest, the only thing that needs to be mentioned about Zambrano  is that Ricketts has already admitted that he has hard time imagining that Zambrano will pitch again for the Cubs. So the likely scenario is that Zambrano will eventually be suspended with pay for the rest of the season, and then he will be consequently traded this off-season by the new general manager. It will be interesting to see how successful the new general manager is in developing a market for Zambrano. Zambrano’s transgressions and poor production has all but diminished his trade value. While it will be difficult, I fully expect the new general manager to trade Zambrano this off-season.

This will certainly be an interesting off-season for the Cubs, but the decisions to be made by the new general manager will change the culture of the entire Cubs organization.