On Friday, the Cubs announced that general manager Jim Hendry had been fired after a little over nine years on the job. Hendry had more success at the job than most of his predecessors; the Cubs made the playoffs in three of his first six seasons, most notably falling one Bartman short of a trip to the World Series in 2003. Alas, they were swept out of the playoffs in both 2007 and 2008, the latter following an NL-high 97 wins. They've been well under .500 in each of the past two seasons, and with a fair amount of dysfunction as well, much of it centered around the now-departed Lou Piniella and the ever-unhinged Carlos Zambrano. With the team currently holding the NL's second-worst record, it was Hendry's time to go.
It didn't take long for at least one wag to start speculating that the job opening could appeal to Brian Cashman, whose contract with the Yankees is up at the end of the season. But aside from the fact that the Cubs play in a large market and have a big payroll, it's difficult to see why the Cubs' position would appeal to Cashman. The Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. If you think the pressure to win a championship every year while in pinstripes is something, imagine being on the spot at the helm of a team that’s gone 103 years without winning. Furthermore, the Cubs have an historic but nonetheless crumbling ballpark, and more than $100 million in future commitments to Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Demptser and Carlos Marmol, principals whose lousy performance has played a large part in getting the Cubs to this low point. The team's minor league system ranked in the bottom third coming into this year, whereas the Yankees' was easily in the top third. Why would Cashman want to leave?
According to YESman Jack Curry, he doesn't. Stringing together three of his tweets from yesterday on the matter:
With Hendry being fired as Cubs GM, speculation has already begun about Cashman, who is in final yr with Yanks, as replacement. He dashed it
Cashman on his future: "I have a job I'm doing. Hal will evaluate that at the end of the year. My interest is to stay here."
More Cashman on his future with Yankees. He noted that NY "has been home for quite some time" and that's relationship he'd like to continue
If that’s an attempt to gain leverage, it’s a pretty poor one, because Cashman went further than Joe Girardi did last year when the team had a managerial opening just as the Yankee skipper's pact was set to expire. While it's true that the general manager put off some strange signs this past year, speaking his mind so freely that it's clear he's tired of playing the usual reindeer games with the New York media, it's also true that he's got another team headed for the playoffs despite moves that had us scratching our heads five or six months ago (Bartolo Colon? Freddy Garcia?). If he hasn't been as aggressive as some of us might prefer when it comes to promoting blue chip prospects like Manny Banuelos and Jesus Montero so that they could reach the major league roster before September 1, it's also true that he didn't undersell them for meager gains at the deadline.
The standard refrain about those who like to speculate about Cashman's departure is that at some point, he must be up for a new challenge of turning a loser into a winner. Yet through at least three renewals of his contract, there's never been any evidence to suggest he really wants to be elsewhere. He's shown exactly as much appetite for tackling famine in Africa as he has for turning somebody else's radioactive waste dump into a winner.
It's tough to bluff when you're actually putting your cards on the table for everyone to see, so hopefully we can be spared further chapters of this non-story. Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.