Crane Kenney seems to have a vision. That vision looks east, to Boston, where the Henry family ownership and a smart front office have turned the Red Sox from one of baseball's saddest stories to one of its most perennially dominant teams -- both on the field and the balance sheet.
If the Cubs are going to remake themselves into a top baseball franchise, it will have to be in that mold. Which is why it's good news for Cubs fans that new owner Tom Ricketts and family have decided to retain Kenney as the team transitions into new ownership. Kenney's role with the team is uncertain, but if Rickettses are smart, they'll leave Crane where he is.
For one, he's allowed Jim Hendry to spend money. That's something Cubs fans never experienced before, say, 2003: the Cubs, for better or worse, became a player in the big-market land of high-level professional baseball. As any Cubs fan can attest, that money doesn't automatically buy wins. The money has to be spent well. But Kenney's green light to Hendry has placed the team in a whole different level year-in, year-out of baseball competition, one most Cubs fans have never seen before.
He's also managed to see, like the Red Sox in Fenway, that some advertisements are worth the brief fan outrage. The Under Armour decals that adorn Wrigley's outfield walls were briefly considered sacrilege by some fans, but most are over it now. In the meantime, those ads are bringing in extra millions to the team. Rather than build a new park, the Cubs need to merely do what the Red Sox have done -- find a way to tastefully squeeze every last dollar out of the charming ballpark they already have.
Kenney isn't exactly a perfect executive. There are things he could do better. (Frankly, working on scouting and development and expanding the front office where possible is atop the list.) But in his tenure as chairman of the Cubs, Kenney has gotten much more right than he's gotten wrong. That's more than we can say for the rest of the organization.
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.