Of all the general-manager scenarios being talked about internally by the Cubs, the most involved Ã¢â‚¬â€ and one of the most intriguing Ã¢â‚¬â€ involves a chain reaction that winds up putting Albert Pujols in a Cubs uniform.
According to a major-league source, the scenario raised during informal discussions would start with the Cubs going after Cincinnati Reds general manager Walt Jocketty, who would, in turn, hire his old manager, Tony La Russa, from St. Louis. La RussaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s relationship with Pujols would then lead to the Cubs landing one of the top free-agent hitters on the market.
Depending on how far the Cubs get Ã¢â‚¬â€ or donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Ã¢â‚¬â€ with a GM wish list that starts with the likes of Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman, the Jocketty-La Russa-Pujols model might not be as far-fetched as it seems at first glance. Jocketty and La Russa are both in contract years, and La Russa is said to be ready to leave St. Louis.
As for JockettyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s interest in the Cubs job, Ã¢â‚¬ËœÃ¢â‚¬ËœI canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t comment on that,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ he said before the CubsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 2-1 loss to the Reds on Tuesday night. Ã¢â‚¬ËœÃ¢â‚¬ËœIÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m under contract here. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m happy here.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬â„¢
Okay, he can’t comment. But Jocketty did say this:
Ã¢â‚¬ËœÃ¢â‚¬ËœIÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sure everyone feels that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an attractive position because itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a storied franchise and one of the great brands in the game,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ said Jocketty, whose teams have finished ahead of the Cubs in 11 of his 17 seasons as a rival GM. Ã¢â‚¬ËœÃ¢â‚¬ËœThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a lot of history, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a great challenge, because they havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t won a championship there in a long time. And I think everyone believes that theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re the ones that would hope to be able to break that streak.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœÃ¢â‚¬ËœPlus you should have great resources to work with there. At least youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got the new ownership that seems to be aggressive in wanting to win.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬â„¢
Reds owner Bob Castellini says he expects Jocketty (and Dusty Baker — woo hoo!) to return in 2012.
For the last couple of months, I’ve actually expected that Jocketty would sign a new contract with Cincinnati, and Dusty Baker would be fired at the end of the season. That’s based on nothing more than a gut feeling and a reading of the tea leaves.
With all the speculation about a disconnect between Jocketty and Baker, maybe this is an opportunity for Walt to escape? This could be an interesting off-season.