Ricketts waiting on Hendry's short list


Ricketts waiting on Hendry's short list

Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010
3:40 PM

By Patrick Mooney

Tom Ricketts stood at a podium with oversized black glasses on his slender face, a tribute to Harry Caray. His employees openly sipped from Budweiser bottles on a Wednesday afternoon at the corner of Sheffield and Waveland.

A band played in the background as the Cubs rededicated a statue for their legendary broadcaster just outside an entrance to the Wrigley Field bleachers.

Ricketts doesnt need another reminder that this isnt running Incapital LLC, the securities and investment banking firm he co-founded 11 years ago. But it sure seemed like one, surrounded by people drinking beer on the street and singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

Within this industry, the Cubs chairman understands that this hire will be on general manager Jim Hendry.

Its Jims responsibility here to go out and find people, Ricketts said Wednesday during an interview with four beat writers. What hell do is prepare a short list and Ill meet with everyone on the short list.

Were essentially talking about a middle-management position. He wont do much hiring or firing, and someone else will pick the players and set the budgets.

But the 52nd manager in Cubs franchise history assuming Mike Quade doesnt keep the job will be a face of the franchise, meeting with the media daily for almost eight months a year, and before and after every game, communicating with a global fan base.

Quade is viewed as a legitimate candidate. If he wasnt, he wouldnt have taken over for Lou Piniella last week. Triple-A Iowa manager Ryne Sandberg is the other in-house option.

Hendry has already interviewed Eric Wedge, the former Cleveland Indians manager, and he is close with Fredi Gonzalez from their time together in the Florida Marlins organization. Ricketts doesnt know if the bar will be set higher for an outside candidate.

That would be up to Jim, Ricketts said. Well let Jim decide. Its his responsibility to bring us a short list and talk some names through and come up with the right answer.

Forty-three days ago, Piniella announced that he would be retiring at seasons end, freeing Hendry to look for his replacement. That afternoon, Piniella didnt intend to take two leaves of absence before walking away from the Cubs on Aug. 22, breaking into tears during his final news conference.

Ricketts hasnt spoken with Piniella since then, but would like to visit with him to get his input for the search process, as well as his insights into this years team. They have not discussed a potential consulting role with the Cubs.

Piniella usually didnt take the easy way out, accepting jobs in Cincinnati, Seattle and Tampa Bay, markets that had economic, ownership and stadium issues. Initially, he didnt grasp the magnitude of managing at Clark and Addison either.

I've always enjoyed different challenges, Piniella recently told New York Daily News columnist Bill Madden. I never really waited for the right job and I went to a lot of places other people wouldn't have gone. But everywhere I went, I was always confident I'd win.

Chicago, however, there was just so much negativism that I wasn't aware of. My only regret is that I couldn't win a championship for the new owners there. I just didn't realize the futility there and it's probably gonna take them a couple of years at least to get untracked.

If youre looking for a quick fix on the free-agent market, Ricketts hasnt set the payroll parameters for 2011 and beyond. It remains to be seen ifhow much it will come down from approximately 145 million.

We havent got to the point where we talked about that for next year, he said. There are a couple contracts that roll off that might give us a little bit of flexibility and well see where that takes us.

Hendry has hired celebrity managers in Dusty Baker and Piniella but could go in a different direction this time. Even if Hendry doesnt sign a big name like first baseman Adam Dunn this offseason, Ricketts doesnt want the guy on the top step to be the draw. Sandbergs No. 23 was retired and flies from the right-field flag pole, but it sounds like that shouldnt matter.

Its about winning, Ricketts said. I dont think we need a marquee name to sell tickets. What we need is a team that produces on the field.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Morning Update: Cubs open World Series tonight; Hawks lose in shootout

Morning Update: Cubs open World Series tonight; Hawks lose in shootout

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Why Cubs wouldn't pay the price for Andrew Miller and got Aroldis Chapman from Yankees

Why Cubs wouldn't pay the price for Andrew Miller and got Aroldis Chapman from Yankees

CLEVELAND — As the New York Yankees marketed Andrew Miller this summer and prepared for their first sell-off in a generation, their demands started at either Kyle Schwarber or Javier Baez — and the Cubs still would have been forced to throw in more talent to get the All-Star reliever.

This could be the fascinating what-if for this World Series. The Cleveland Indians paid the price, giving up a four-player package headlined by outfielder Clint Frazier (the fifth overall pick in the 2013 draft) and left-hander Justus Sheffield (the No. 31 pick in the 2014 draft) to get what turned out to be the American League Championship Series MVP.

The Cubs didn’t make Schwarber untouchable because they thought he would be ready in time for the World Series, but he’s preparing to be their Game 1 designated hitter on Tuesday night at Progressive Field after a remarkable recovery from major surgery on his left knee.

“It was impossible to avoid some of the names — particularly the Cubs — (with) the year they were having,” Miller said. “Whether I wanted to avoid it or not I heard it. Guys in the clubhouse, our media was certainly bringing it to us.”

Even in other possible deals for pitching, the Cubs never came close to selling low on Baez, who broke out as the National League Championship Series co-MVP for his offensive production and defensive wizardry. 

Instead of getting Miller’s late-game dominance for three pennant races — and giving up five potential 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons with Schwarber — the Cubs closed a different blockbuster deal with the Yankees for a left-handed power arm.

The Cubs wanted Aroldis Chapman’s 100-mph fastball to get the last out of the World Series and would rationalize his 30-game suspension to begin this season under Major League Baseball’s domestic-violence policy. Already holding an age-22 All-Star shortstop in Addison Russell, the Cubs surrendered elite prospect Gleyber Torres.

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“Gleyber’s a good baseball player,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That kid’s going to be really good. So you have to give up something to get something. But also our guys felt if we got Aroldis this year, we’d have a chance to be sitting here and answering this question. And they were right.

“It’s an entirely different thing when you get a guy out there throwing 100 miles an hour. You feel pretty good about it, regardless of who is hitting. So he’s really a big part of why we’re doing this right now.”

Chapman has saved five playoff games — and become that reassuring ninth-inning presence at Wrigley Field — but he clearly responds better to a scripted role.

Miller has been untouchable during the postseason, throwing 11 2/3 scoreless innings and striking out 21 of the 41 batters he’s faced, giving Terry Francona even more freedom to manage a lights-out Cleveland bullpen.

“To be utilized like Miller,” Maddon said, “not everybody is cut from the same cloth mentally, either, or the ability to get loose and prepare. Andrew Miller — having done a variety of different things in the big leagues as a pitcher — is probably more suited to be able to be this guy that can get up in the sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth and warm up in a manner that gets him in the game both mentally and physically.

“Whereas Aroldis — if he wanted to do that — I think that would have had to be done from spring training. He’d have to differentiate his mindset. He’d have to have a different way to get ready. I do notice he throws a heavy baseball before he actually throws a regular baseball. That’s his routine.

“Whether you agree with it or not, that’s just the way it is. So with a guy like Aroldis — to ask him to attempt to dump his routine right now (and) do something else — I think you’re looking for failure right there.

“We stretched him to five outs the other night, which is a good thing, I thought. So now going forward he knows he can do that. But to just haphazardly throw him in the sixth, seventh or ninth, I think would be very difficult to do.”

Even in a World Series featuring historic droughts, Cy Young Award winners, MVP candidates and star managers, this October could come down to the bullpens shaped by deals with the Yankees.

“Both teams made aggressive trades,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “Both teams are still standing. There’s something to that.”