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I know this doesn't sound good, but Ricketts must be patient
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 8/24/2009 12:06 AM

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When Tom Ricketts takes over as Cubs owner he should keep Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella in place for another season.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking: B-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!

With all due respect to your pain, that's still what I'll tell Ricketts to do when he phones me for advice after closing on his purchase of the Cubs.

Unless Ricketts is networked throughout baseball better than anyone should expect, retaining his general manager and field manager for a while is the only way to go.

Ricketts' agreement with the Tribune Co. to buy the Cubs was finalized last week. Unless there's a big upset he'll receive approval from all parties sometime around November.

It would seem that first on Ricketts' agenda as the new owner will be to address the issues of Hendry, the Cubs' general manager, and Piniella, the field manager.

But that isn't Priority 1. If Ricketts is smart - indications are that he is - he will hire somebody else to determine the fate of Hendry and Piniella.

Published reports say that Ricketts already has been trolling around baseball for a Cubs president.

One prominent name mentioned is former A's general manager Sandy Alderson. In fact, I mentioned it to Cardinals manager Tony La Russa last month.

"That would be a smart move," said La Russa, Alderson's manager in Oakland.

(Personally, I would check first to see whether La Russa would move from the Cardinals' dugout to the Cubs' presidency.)

Anyway, the key to the process is whether Ricketts has cultivated enough contacts in the game while waiting for the Tribune to ordain him.

A good guess is Ricketts hasn't. As an outsider he should be patient before making a decision as important as a club president responsible for reshaping the organization.

Let's say Alderson is qualified. Somebody else might be just as qualified and a better fit for a franchise as unique as the Cubs.

Too many new owners come into new situations and act like they have all the answers to all the questions.

It's easy to ask around about a candidate for president, meet with him, be conned by him and be set back a few years by him.

Patience is a terrible characteristic for an old Cubs fan but a good one for a new Cubs owner. The status quo sometimes works, as long as the status isn't quo-ed too long.

Oh, one more thing: Ricketts will have the luxury of time once he moves his checkbook into Wrigley Field because Hendry and Piniella aren't the worst guys to have around.

OK, you have the right to boo again. They have looked awfully idiotic recently as the Cubs sank further and further behind the Cardinals.

Still, Hendry and Piniella did guide the Cubs to National League Central titles the past two seasons. Then they suffered two playoff sweeps and panicked into some dumb moves last winter and this summer.

But Ricketts' wrong first move would be to fire them too soon. They deserve to stay until a baseball man is hired to decide what to do with them.

In other words, Ricketts should resist jerking his knee when he takes over, at least until he has time to phone me for advice.