To be full service in team sports these days, general managers have to be able to manage either a salary cap or a budget and their own mistakes.
To do so they must be able to conjure exit strategies that aren't obvious.
In other words a general manager has to be as much imagineer as technician and as much creator as tactician.
Think of a golfer with seemingly no shot, or a point guard trapped at half-court, or a quarterback with a play that was busted from the snap.
Somehow they find a way out, and that's Cubs GM Jim Hendry's assignment between now and baseball's July 31 trade deadline.
Hopefully for the Cubs, Hendry wasn't fooled by Monday night, when the Cubs looked like the Phillies and made the Phillies look like the Cubs.
Heck, Rodrigo Lopez even looked like Roy Halladay and the Cubs made Roy Halladay look like Rodrigo Lopez.
In the process of winning 6-1, the Cubs might have played the best three innings that they have played in the past 103 years.
OK, so that's a bit of a stretch, but both these teams did make some uncharacteristic plays, for better on one side and worse on the other.
Hendry missed the role reversal because he was in Des Moines checking on the Triple-A Iowa Cubs and didn't see the parent Cubs actually looking like a major-league team.
Hendry likely understands anyway that the Cubs are a mess in need of a makeover. He likely also understands it must begin by exorcising some of the Cubs' cumbersome contracts this month.
The myth is that those players can't be moved. Few other teams would to take on all that money and too many of the Cubs are reluctant to waive no-trade privileges, right?
These all are convenient excuses, but please don't accept them as reasons.
All it takes to consummate deals involving these players is Hendry being smarter than some of the dumb GMs around the game.
Many an awful contract has been traded to a desperate team in the heat of a pennant race. Money sometimes becomes no object when winning becomes the only object.
A GM needs to be like a surgeon probing to locate the problem area. Put surgeon's gloves on, Mr. GM, and probe what it'll take to perform a transplant on the Cubs.
Like, what will it take for a team like the Yankees to take on Aramis Ramirez's contract? At the same time, what will it take to work out the contract's complexities with Ramirez himself?
It's up to Hendry to figure all that out.
While he's at it, as impossible as it seems, Hendry can find a taker for the remainder of Alfonso Soriano's contract, and Carlos Zambrano's, and for the final couple of months of Kosuke Fukudome's.
The NBA has demonstrated that no player is immovable. Seriously, how many times have you thought a team is saddled with a horrible contract and suddenly the player is gone in some crazy deal?
A baseball general manager should find it simpler to dispatch a player because there's no salary cap and he's allowed to send along money in the transaction.
Look, whatever anybody thinks of Hendry, he knows the whole board, as in which contending teams have holes and which of his players can fill them.
All the Cubs' GM has to do is imagine a match of this with that and create a way to make it happen.
Just do it, GM Jim.