I know it’s way too soon in the Chicago Cubs ownership career of one Tom Ricketts to say too many things about him, good or bad.

All anyone can do is evaluate the man on what he says and, more importantly, what he does.

He says he’s a Cubs fan, and that’s a positive of course. He even met his wife in the bleachers supposedly.

All well and good.

He wants to win by building through scouting and development.

Another “attaboy” there Tom, that’s a solid plan.

He thinks the seventh-inning stretch guest conductor thing is “a nice tradition.”

Um, personally I think it’s long since run its course, but it’s not a big deal either.

He understands the need to draw additional revenue and put it back in the team. Things like potential naming rights and the Toyota sign, etc.

More reasonable stuff here.

Ricketts wants to preserve Wrigley Field and understands the need to make improvements.

OK, it doesn’t really matter to me; I just want to win—someplace, anyplace—but he knows that Wrigley is a cash cow.

Smart businessman.

He fully supports manager Lou Piniella and general manager Jim Hendry, and thinks both are doing a fine job.

Wait. One. Second.

New owner, say what?

“The fact is we like Lou, we support Lou,” Ricketts said on Wednesday on “Waddle & Silvy” on ESPN 1000. “He’s done very well for this team. He wants to win. He’s the kind of guy you want leading your team. The players respect him and he’s doing a good job.”

I have to tell you, here we disagree.

I think it’s time for a fresh voice, a change in the manager’s chair. Lou isn’t the Lou I thought he was.

However, I can live with this as a Cubs fan. But what really gets me going is what Ricketts had to say about Hendry.

“We’ve got a guy we trust, who has put together some pretty good teams over the years, and we’re going to back him.”

Now, I understand the part about backing him, and allowing him to make his own decisions so that he can hold him accountable.

That’s smart.

But what I don’t understand is how anyone can walk in as the new owner, say they have been a Cubs fan, and not already know that Hendry is simply not a very good GM.

If I’m the new owner, I already have a baseball guy in mind to lead the franchise when I take over. It was a long process, it’s not like this was an overnight fire sale.

At the very least, I move aside Crane Kenney and hire a truly knowledgeable baseball man to make that evaluation for me.

I certainly wouldn’t have Hendry continue to report to a suit like Kenney.

Some say it’s smart not to make changes right away.

I say that’s only true if you don’t know what you’re doing. Yet if that’s the case, there’s even more reason to get a real baseball guy in to help you.

I mean, is Ricketts really qualified to make that decision? Sure, he has the right and the power as owner to make that evaluation.

But is he baseball savvy?

Even Tom says no to that one.

Look, anyone can judge a team by wins and losses, but a lot more goes into the evaluation of a GM than that.


For example, does he have an organizational plan?

We know Hendry tends to fly by the seat of his pants, changing his philosophy from year to year.


Does he embrace new ideas and the latest metrics?

Hendry is not one to believe in advanced metrics. That’s too bad, because they could have warned him when a player’s BABIP is artificially high and that his luck is due to run out.

No, Hendry is the kind of GM who still thinks a pitcher can be judged by wins and that RBI matter.


Is he a good evaluator of talent?

Well, judging by his stint as farm director, I’d say no.


Is there a consistent message being driven throughout the entire organization?

Well, if so, then it must be that walks are bad, because we keep on getting young players with poor plate discipline.

Geo Soto appears to be an exception, but prospects like Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, and Josh Vitters walked very little in the minors.

And Corey Patterson and Felix Pie can blame at least part of their failure on not knowing the strike zone.

And those are just the guys we are familiar with.

Hendry hasn’t developed a star position player ever. Perhaps Castro will be the first, but that remains to be seen.

But even if the win-loss record is the bottom line, Hendry’s teams have been inconsistent, despite a high payroll. Hendry’s teams have lost eight consecutive playoff games.

In the meantime, we lost the opportunity to hire a really smart and savvy young GM in Jed Hoyer, who went from Boston to San Diego over the winter.

Meanwhile, by saying he will let Hendry decide Lou’s fate, Ricketts is essentially ensuring that Hendry will be back next season, since he expects Lou to finish out the season. 

So where is that accountability?

It sounds like the decision to retain Hendry has already been determined, regardless of what happens this season.

Otherwise, why would you allow a GM you don’t want to make such a key decision?

Ah, such is life as a Cubs fan. We all wish we could own the team, then a guy who is actually a fan comes along and buys the team, and all is well.

Or is it?

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