Ricketts waiting on Hendry's short list

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Ricketts waiting on Hendry's short list

Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010
3:40 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

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.

Cubs expect Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell to be ready for Opening Night

Cubs expect Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell to be ready for Opening Night

MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs expect Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell to be ready for Opening Night, downplaying any health concerns about their All-Star middle infielders. 

One week out from facing the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, manager Joe Maddon spent part of Sunday's media session saying how he had no concerns with his World Series MVP's stiff neck and his franchise shortstop's stiff back.

"You can tell with 'Zo,'" Maddon said at the Sloan Park complex. "He'll come around and let me know specifically if he feels it's going to be anything longer than that. He's talking either tomorrow night or the next day."

Zobrist, who spent nine seasons with Maddon's Tampa Bay Rays, hasn't appeared in a Cactus League game since March 19. Maddon also signaled Russell is close to returning to action after being a late scratch from Friday's lineup.

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Not like this, but the Cubs already planned to schedule extra rest for Zobrist, given his age (36 in May), the playoff stress on his body from back-to-back World Series titles and emerging options like Javier Baez on a mix-and-match team. 

All along, Maddon hasn't worried about finding enough at-bats for Baez, knowing that injuries are inevitable and the Cubs have insurance policies up and down the roster that should pay off across a 162-game season. But in this case, it doesn't sound like the Cubs are testing that theory with Zobrist and Russell.

"None of this stuff is really threatening," Maddon said. "The trainers have no real strong issues with anything. It's almost like you'll be overly cautious right now. And that's all we're doing."

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Joe Maddon's T-shirt slogans can get a little old at times, but the Cubs manager found a new audience in Brett Anderson, who liked the idea of "Be Uncomfortable" after signing a one-year, prove-it deal with the defending champs.

"It's been awesome so far," Anderson said. "That's my running joke – we're a month into it now or whatever it is – and I don't hate anybody yet.

"That's a testament to the group as a whole – and maybe me evolving as a person."

Yes, Anderson's sarcasm, social-media presence and groundball style fits in with a team built around short-term pitching and Gold Glove defense. The if-healthy lefty finished his Cactus League tour on Saturday afternoon by throwing four innings (one unearned run) during a 7-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies in front of 13,565 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Anderson will open the season as the No. 4 starter after a camp that has been remarkably low-key and drama-free.

"I'm kind of cynical by nature, but it's a fun group to be a part of," Anderson said, "(with) young guys that are exciting and happy to be here. And then obviously the mix of veterans, too, that are here with intentions of winning another World Series."

To make that happen, the pitching staff will have to again stay unbelievably healthy. Anderson rolled with a general question about how he physically feels now compared to where he's usually at by this time of year.

"Obviously better than last year, because I was walking with a gimp and all that stuff," said Anderson, who underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a bulging disk in his lower back last March. "No, my body feels good, my arm feels good and you're getting into the dog days of spring training where you're itching to get to the real thing."