Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts must be a good poker player. Ricketts’ poker face is so sincere that he had many local reporters believing that former general manager Jim Hendry would return next season, even though, Ricketts already made the decision to fire Hendry in late July. Along with the end of the regular season for the Cubs, Ricketts also issued another state of the team address. While I felt Ricketts handled the address perfectly, I am not a believer in some of the comments that he made.
As what should have been expected, Ricketts spent most of his time yesterday addressing the Cubs’ general manager search. While I generally believe Ricketts in what he said about his search for the general manager process, I believe the process is for more advanced than what Ricketts is leading us to believe.
"“It’s like I’ve said all along, we’ll do it 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.” ESPN Chicago"
Most believe that a new general manager will not be in place until late-October at the earliest. Ricketts is interested in front offce officials’ form various playoff teams–more specifically–Andrew Friedman of the Tampa Bay Rays. Thanks to some late-inning drama, the Rays prevailed over the Boston Red Sox for the American League Wild Card. Meaning Friedman is not going to be available until Rays’ post-season run concludes. Assuming Ricketts wants to interview or inquire on every Candidate–Friedman included–the process will likely not conclude until late October or early November. But given the magnitude of the Rays’ unbelievable run to the post-season, I have a hard time imagining that Friedman is looking to leave the Rays’ organization.
But, there also is a belief going around that the Cubs may already have their general manager in place. Today’s report from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, confirmed that Ricketts may at least be dwindling down the candidate list. According to Wittenmyer, San Diego Padres vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes is no longer a candidate for the position. Byrnes’ would have been a risky hire for Ricketts , considering the criticism Byrnes’ has faced for how he operated the Arizona Diamondbacks while he was their general manager. Though, Byrnes’ is one of the main reasons why the Diamondbacks are the National League West division champions this season. In addition to Byrnes, Wittenmyer’s report also indicates that Oakland Athletics’ general manager Billy Beane is no longer among the top candidates for the position. Meaning Beane may be a fall-back option if the Cubs’ fail with land one of their first choices.
The fact that the proverbial candidate list is already shrinking should be a good indicator that Ricketts already has an idea who the next general manager of the Cubs is going to be. While Both Epstein and Friedman are intriguing candidate, I get the feeling that the next general manager is going to be someone who is currently a highly touted assistant. Rick Hahn of the Chicago White Sox and Ben cherington of the Red Sox are who I would peg as the front-runners to be the next general manager of the Cubs. Both are available for Ricketts to interview and possibly hire.
Believe it or not, the Cubs may have their next general manager in place by the time the World Series starts.