9:49 AM CDT, October 19, 2011
Maybe it’s me, but it seems silly to hire an interim general manager to replace your interim general manager to hold the spot for your desired and reportedly signed general manager who can’t be your general manager officially because you can’t settle on compensation.
But that’s where Cubs owner Tom Ricketts seems headed.
Of course he is.
Should it really be this difficult to replace Jim Hendry?
In August, Ricketts said his new GM would have the freedom to name his staff, and then Ricketts signed the scouting and development chiefs to new deals. Excuse me? So, the alleged Theo Epstein has the freedom to name Oneri Fleita and Tim Wilken to his staff.
But before Epstein gets here --- if he gets here --- the Cubs will replace interim GM Randy Bush with interim GM Jed Hoyer. That’s the latest rumor coming out of Ricketts’ clunky deal-making. Ultimately, this might make sense. Jeez, I hope it does. I hope order gets restored.
But so far, Ricketts looks like he’s Pac-Man, chomping through a maze of trouble, devouring things in random order, assuming he’ll get to the next level, trying to make sure his game doesn’t blow up.
If this is the way Epstein wants it --- pay attention to the man behind the Red Sox’s curtain --- then fine.
And not fine.
If the Cubs steal Hoyer from the Padres, they would name him their GM. They would name him Epstein’s GM-For-Now. Or Epstein’s placeholder after working under Epstein in Boston. Sorry, I don’t recall a San Diego World Series title. I recall Hoyer’s Padres blowing a six-game division lead in the last month of the 2010 season.
Point is, I would want Epstein as my GM --- with that title, in that office, doing that job. If he wants to get the band back together, great. But I want him actually getting the band back together. He’s the one with the rings. He’s also the one responsible for the handcuffs of Hendry-like contract disasters that ought to scare Cubs fans.
But Epstein won. Twice. He also turned the Red Sox into a scouting and development machine. That’s why Ricketts is willing to negotiate endlessly with a baseball organization that in fact might be headed by Kim Jong-Henry.
Sports protocol calls for a team to let one of its employees move to another organization for a better job. So, the Cubs likely will make Epstein the team president. If that bucks down the current team impediment Crane Kenney, then he’s worth the $18.5 million and whatever bodies in compensation.
But again, I don’t want Epstein doing team president stuff. I want him doing general manager stuff. That’s what he did in Boston. Again, that’s why the Cubs have been willing to put themselves through this public, expensive, protracted and potentially humiliating process.
Maybe it’s me, but I’d have a lot more confidence in the credibility-challenged Ricketts if he could do the right thing in the right order.
If it works out that we’re dealing with phony-baloney titles solely to satisfy protocol, then fine. But remember, the Cubs screwed this up with Andy MacPhail in the 1990s, making a quality GM a team president who brought in Ed Lynch who . . . forget it. Sorry I brought it up again, Cubs fans. You’ve suffered enough.
Sorry. Couldn’t resist. Moving right along . . .
My point was, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to waste Joe Ricketts’ money.
If this is what Epstein wants in a front office of underlings and minions, then great. Congratulations, no matter how awkward the process has looked. But if this is something Epstein is stuck with, then someone found the Tribune Co.’s leftover stupid gas.
Oh, and if the Epstein deal doesn’t get done at all and the Cubs have to act like a bailout candidate is a wonderful choice, then wait till next owner.
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