1. The New Regime - As much as he comes across as a great guy, Jim Hendry has to go. He gave out a lot of bad contracts, and that is why I couldn't clear more space. Honestly, there's talent on this team, but realistically, I'm not going to get much talent back if I'm asking them to take on some pretty bad contracts. Luckily, the Mets have boatloads of cash, so they really saved us there. Jim Hendry deserves credit in having great relationships throughout the game, and it has helped foster some very good trades that he has made in the past. Honestly, I'd love to keep him around in a complementary role, but he can't be the head guy anymore. Let's look at the candidates, where we have the unrealistic, the realistic, and the idea that's so crazy it might just work.
A. The Unrealistic - I want to get this out of the way before Cubs fans start thinking it's a possibility, because it's not. Billy Beane will not be joining the Cubs. Beane likes the small market, and he has a very good relationship with the owner. He loves being on the coast where he can relax a little bit, and I don't think it's reasonable to think the Cubs can lure him away from that. Beane has stated that his dream job would be to be a general manager in the English Premier League, so let's just move on.
B. The Realistic - When I first started thinking about how to rebuild the Cubs, this guy's name immediately came to my mind as the perfect candidate for the job. Then I read Will Carroll's excellent look at the Top 10 General Manager candidates who have never held that position. He was talking to a current GM about one of the candidates where the GM stated, "I don't see him as someone that will get looked at by someone like (Cubs owner) Tom Ricketts, someone who'd want a Moneyball guy." Well, we're not getting Billy Beane, but we could get the next best thing in Paul DePodesta. DePodesta is currently in the Padres front office, and is proving that he is way smarter than I am because somehow the Padres are good this year. DePodesta had the GM job with the Dodgers back in 2004-2005, but was fired because their owner is a moron. I cannot think of another example of a GM only getting two years to prove himself. He actually built a good team in 2004, but they fell off in 2005 due to injuries, and the team that he had built for 2006 made the playoffs, just under a different general manager. This is about as perfect of a match that you can find, and would put me back into full-fledged fandom if they hired him.
C. It's so crazy it might just work - I wish I could take credit for this idea, because it is so monumentally awesome that it nearly made me shit my pants. Credit again goes to Will Carroll's review of top GM candidates on Baseball Prospectus. The Cubs could make a play at a young guy who is already a top GM. Well, it'd basically be impossible to steal a guy away from another baseball team, so this isn't a well-thought out idea. Au contraire, my friend, because we would not be stealing him from another baseball team, we'd take him from a basketball team. That's right, the Cubs could pursue Sam Presti of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Since me and Sam are good friends (we talked like three times during my Seattle days), I could probably help convince him to come to Chicago to help
When looking at the options, and since I want this to be a realistic look at how the Cubs could rebuild, there is only one choice that makes sense for the Cubs.
The Chicago Cubs fire General Manager Jim Hendry and hire Paul DePodesta to a four year contract to be the new General Manager.
Now that we have our GM, it's time to figure out who's going to lead our troops on the field.
2. Time for a change - Sorry, Lou, but we're not renewing your contract. You're not worth the money to me. For some reason, I can only find the salaries for 2007 for baseball managers, but that will be good enough for this exercise. Lou is making $3.5 million. The lowest is $500,000, and the median is about $1 million.
This one is actually fairly easy since the Cubs have been grooming him to take over the job for quite a few years. Ryne Sandberg makes sense on a lot of different levels. He's paid his dues managing in the minors, the Ricketts are Cubs fans meaning that they'd love to have Sandberg managing, and as long as he doesn't go Dusty Baker on us, he should be able to be a fine manager. I will offer him a four year deal worth $6 million which should probably put him above average for managers, but he has no managing experience in the majors so he doesn't need Joe Torre or even Tony LaRussa money.
The Chicago Cubs choose not to exercise their option on Manager Lou Piniella and hire Triple-A Manager, Ryne Sandberg as Manager.
That's all I've got for today, but tomorrow I'll be going into how all of this cash savings is actually going to lead to the Cubs being an exciting and successful team for 2011.
P.S. AFLAC tried to get me to interview for a job with them, I told them I wasn't interested. I am the most comfortable unemployed person on the planet.