Cubs Must Improve Front Office First

Ricketts should hire better puppet masters before he fixes the strings

By Eamonn Brennan
|  Thursday, Aug 27, 2009  |  Updated 10:21 AM CDT
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Cubs Lack Front Office Talent

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A change is gonna come; front office improvements should be the first.

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Over the past 10 or so years, baseball knowledge has exploded.

"Moneyball" ushered in an era of mainstream sabermetric acceptance that now forms the backbone of what most successful baseball franchises -- the Red Sox, especially -- use to evaluate talent and predict performance. With that, the need for experienced, innovative and savvy personnel has exploded.

Meanwhile, the Cubs have the second smallest front office in baseball.

Yes, only the Marlins have fewer front office personnel members than the Cubs. Jim Hendry and Crane Kenney are working with the equivalent of a three-man rotation. And why? The Cubs have recently proven themselves willing to spend on just about any veteran free agent available, ballooning their payroll to heights previously seen only in New York and Boston. But the Cubs won't spend on the staff spending the money in the first place.

An improvement in the front office could lead to improvements elsewhere. Perhaps the Cubs could develop a prospect or two. Maybe scouting and development gets a boost. Maybe, instead of buying free agents based primarily on name, the Cubs could have a higher hit rate on value-for-dollar. (Alfonso Soriano, please stand up.) Frankly, there are all sorts of efficiency-related things a better, more thorough front office could accomplish. It just makes sense.

It's no guarantee of success, no more than a large payroll guarantees wins. A front office, like a baseball team, is more about quality than quantity. But when you're the Chicago Cubs, and revenue is pouring out of your ears, there's no reason you can't have both.

In the meantime, there will be plenty of other things to fix -- new bathrooms, better concessions, a practice facility for players, stadium repairs, all of that. But this is the quickest fix the Rickettses can make, and quite possibly the most important.

Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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