Jim Hendry, as you’ve no doubt heard, was fired by the Cubs today after just over eight years as GM. Some of the highlights of his tenure as GM: he took a blue-clad team with a long and proud history to the playoffs three times, including two seasons in a row; he hired a big-name manager more famous for his successes elsewhere; he gave up too much for Juan Pierre; he signed Ted Lilly to a long-term deal; he had a fascination with short, white, scrappy infielders (remember, Mike Fontenot, Ryan Theriot, and Aaron Miles were all Cubs); he dealt with a messy ownership situation; and he watched as an expensive roster laden with poor choices sunk into mediocrity. Though his club certainly had their moments under his watch, ultimately it wasn’t enough to save his job.
If that all sounds familiar… well, congratulations, you’ve punctured my thinly-veiled premise of “Jim Hendry as Ned Colletti”. That alone isn’t why we’re talking about this, of course. If Colletti were to get fired in Los Angeles, you can guarantee we’d be bouncing off the walls with our favorite young prospective candidates. There’d be a Kim Ng or Logan White here, a Ben Cherington or Tony LaCava there. It’d be great. We’d have a ball, and that’s what I assume many happy Cub fans are doing right now.
Except… there’s a name that keeps popping up where you wouldn’t expect it to, a name that when I first saw it appear on Twitter, all I could do was laugh. See if you can spot who:
Jon Heyman, Sports Illustrated:
In addition to Bush, possible candidates to replace Hendy could include Pat Gillick (though he’s said he he’d prefer a team president job) plus Brian Cashman, Andrew Friedman, Ned Colletti, Rick Hahn and Josh Byrnes.
Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune (from June):
Some potential candidates long have been working behind the scenes to try to grab Hendry’s office. The Cubs easily could wind up with one of them or another happy-to-be-there GM with Kenney involved in the process. But could they get around his negative image to raid the Red Sox’s talent pool for Allard Baird or Ben Cherington or find a way to finesse Ned Colletti away from the Dodgers.
Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune (today):
Ricketts could wait a couple of months to see if guys like Cashman, Friedman or the Dodgers’ Ned Colletti become available.
Danny Knobler, CBS Sports:
Other names that are sure to come up are White Sox assistant Rick Hahn, who interviewed last year for the Mets job; Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, who grew up in the Chicago area and got his start in baseball many years ago with the Cubs; Yankees GM Brian Cashman, whose contract runs out at the end of the year (but is considered unlikely to leave); possibly Rays general manager Andrew Friedman, who has been more prominently mentioned in Houston; former Astros GM Gerry Hunsicker, working as an advisor with the Rays (and could also be a possibility in Houston); Rangers assistant Thad Levine; Blue Jays assistant Tony LaCava; and A’s assistant David Forst.
Gordon Wittenmeyer, Chicago Sun-Times (from July):
And don’t bet the house that the next GM will be an improvement, especially considering the cast of baseball newbies and wannabes who figure to be making that hire. Considering some baseball insiders believe Josh Byrnes and Ned Colletti would be near the top of the Cubs’ list, head-hunting fans might want to be careful what they wish for.
Colletti, of course, has well-known ties to Chicago; in addition to having grown up there, he got his start in baseball with the Cubs and his brother Doug has been a long-time member of the Bears radio team. (Sidenote: try to come up with a more Chicago name for two brothers than “Ned” and “Doug”. You can’t.)
It’s hard to tell if this is just “oh, the Dodgers are a mess and Colletti will either be swept out or look to jump ship, and oh, hey, he’s from Chicago right?” lazy reporting, or if there’s actual fire to this smoke. My guess is probably the former, and with so many qualified candidates out there, it’s hard to think that Cubs ownership would really want to go in this direction. (Besides, even if Colletti were to be gone in time to get the Cubs job, that would still be before the Dodger situation is sorted out, greatly limiting the external candidates who would even be interested in replacing him here.)
Still, the 0.0003% chance there’s actually a prayer of this happening is more fun to think about than the 99.9% chance that the team we’re watching right now is going to finish 74-88. So have at it, friends.