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updated: 8/19/2011 6:39 PM

Cubs' GM search more fun if Hahn jumps in

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  • What will White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf do if the Cubs decide to go after Sox assistant general manager Rick Hahn to replace the fired Jim Hendry?

      What will White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf do if the Cubs decide to go after Sox assistant general manager Rick Hahn to replace the fired Jim Hendry?
    Daily Herald file photo

 
 

Rick Hahn might hold the key to Chicago baseball's two general manager jobs.

The most interesting thing that could happen around here would be that the Cubs pursue the White Sox' assistant general manager, as many want and expect them to do.

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But only Cubs' chairman Tom Ricketts will determine whether Hahn is even a candidate to replace Jim Hendry as Cubs' GM.

The Cubs' job is so tantalizing that Ricketts should have his pick of men with experience as major league general managers, some of them with records of success.

Plus, Ricketts values scouting and development and some will come from organizations that built from within better than the Sox have.

Still, it would be more fun than a Carlos Zambrano tantrum -- in a perverse way of course -- if the Cubs make a play for Hahn.

The question would become what a lot of questions in baseball are: What would Jerry do?

The perception for a while has been that Hahn is the next great general manager, whether for the Sox, Cubs or some other team.

If Sox' chairman/baseball power broker Jerry Reinsdorf stays in character, Hahn would be the replacement whenever Kenny Williams decides he no longer wants to be a general manager.

Or for when Reinsdorf, who hates firing people, decides it's time for a change.

Let's say that the Sox don't win the American League Central this season after Reinsdorf allowed Williams a $128 million payroll.

Would that be enough for Reinsdorf to ease out Williams? Probably not.

Let's say that the demands of the job get to Williams the way they did his predecessor, Ron Schueler, and he decides it's time for a life change.

Would Reinsdorf appeal to Williams to stay? Probably.

But if necessary in either of those scenarios -- Reinsdorf tiring of Williams or Williams tiring of the GM job -- Rick Hahn would be the fallback.

Perhaps Reinsdorf's most enduring pattern the past 30 years is he doesn't like going outside to hire top operators for either of his sports franchises, the Sox and Bulls.

Reinsdorf hired team broadcasters, Hawk Harrelson and John Paxson, as general managers. He promoted the likes of Williams and Gar Forman. Way back when he made Sox' scout Jerry Krause the Bulls as GM.

Schueler came from the A's and that worked out OK. But Reinsdorf brought Larry Himes from the Angels and that resulted in success on the field but a personality conflict off it.

Reinsdorf wouldn't want to go through another Himes and won't have to with the Sox as long as Hahn remains with the team as a viable Plan B.

Ah, but what if Ricketts steps over the boundaries of both Madison Street and his relationship with Reinsdorf to offer Hahn the Cubs' job?

What would Jerry do?

He likely would talk himself into wanting to keep Williams regardless of how the team finishes this season.

Then Reinsdorf likely would sit down with Williams and ask for a long-term commitment.

The other alternative is for Reinsdorf and Williams to agree on the short-term with Hahn guaranteed the Sox' GM job in a couple years.

But as a North Shore native, maybe Hahn would rather be on the North Side than the South Side.

Anyway, this could get really interesting with Rick Hahn right in the middle of it all.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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