Ricketts Has "Confidence" In Hendry

By Chris Rewers on Sunday, July 11, 2010

When Tom Ricketts hired Ari Kaplan as the Cubs' statistical analyst manager, it was an indication to many - including us - that the new owner was ready to move his franchise's baseball operations in a different direction.

And the less-than-enthusiastic welcome of Kaplan by general manager Jim Hendry was an indication that Hendry's days were numbered.

"It's a game that has to have a strong human element, whether it's scouting or performing," Hendry said in the wake of Kaplan's hiring. "You just don't draw people up on computers and plug them in and that means they can perform at Wrigley Field in a pennant race. You just keep putting all your information together. You rely heavily on your scouts."

On Friday, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports wrote that Ricketts "must decide whether he trusts Hendry to a) hire the next manager and b) manage future payrolls."

It took less than two days for Ricketts to give an indication of his leanings. Hendry appears to be his man.

"I have the highest level of confidence in Jim," Ricketts told the Daily Herald's Barry Rozner. "We came in Day One and started from square one.

"From there, I thought the offseason was terrific for the organization. We did a nice job filling holes and making trades, and we came into this season very optimistic. For whatever reason, it hasn't come together like we thought it would."

So who is to blame for a team with a $140 million payroll that will enter the second half of the season at 39-50, in fourth place, 9.5 games out of first?

Ricketts won't say.

"I'm not going to assign blame to anyone or anything," Ricketts said before watching the Cubs' 7-0 loss at Dodger Stadium on Sunday. "The fact is when we came into the season, we had what appeared to be a pretty strong lineup. It hasn't worked out for whatever reason. Seems like the guys are putting it together now. Let's just keep on winning."

Since assuming ownership, Ricketts has been widely panned for his aggressive pursuit of new revenue streams, for taking an in-season trip to Africa with his family, and for not issuing a statement regarding the Carlos Zambrano mess.

Ricketts' handling of the business and marketing aspects of the Cubs is subject for debate and there is no question that the on-field product has been mostly disastrous on his watch, but the criticism of Ricketts' African trip is unfair.

It seems like Ricketts is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. If he gets heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of the team, he'll be considered a meddler. If he steps back, as he did last month, he's accused of apathy.

Let's not rush to judgment on the man's performance. He inherited much of the on-field mess. As Cubs fans, we've waited our entire lives for a world championship. Is it unreasonable for us to demonstrate some patience and give Ricketts a bit more time to prove himself?

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