Cubs might not be so far away

No, it's probably not going to happen overnight. Gordon Wittenmyer:

    Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts says it's up to general manager Jim Hendry to identify the right guy to replace Lou Piniella as manager.

    But no matter how good Hendry's new manager is, if the Cubs plan to contend next season, that's probably going to be up to the Ricketts ownership.

    Because without at least two or three significant free-agent additions -- probably on the pitching staff alone -- it will be a long, slow climb back toward the top of the National League Central. And it's unclear how big a hit Hendry's opening $146 million payroll will take for 2011 as he tries to fix all that broke down this season.


    One thing ownership won't do, Ricketts said, is favor a managerial candidate for marketing and fan-draw value, such as Ryne Sandberg.

    "The fact is, it's Jim's job to decide which manager to bring in," said Ricketts, who expects to get involved as part of the interview process once Hendry has a short list of finalists. "But it's about winning, not about marketing.

    "I don't think we need a marquee name to sell tickets. What we need is a team that produces on the field. That's really what's most important to us."

If you're a Cubs fan, that's exactly what you want your owner to say.

Reportedly, Ricketts once lived across the street from Wrigley Field and met his wife in the Wrigley Field bleachers. His love for the Cubs seems genuine. Today, much of his great wealth comes from the family business, but even before joining the family business he seems to have done quite well for himself. And he seems to believe in modern objective analysis.

I don't know if Ricketts is good at hiring people or managing them. I don't know how he'll respond to another losing season (if there is one). But less than a year into his ownership, he's said most of the right things and the Cubs seem to be in pretty good hands. They're down now, but I don't expect them to be out for long.