Of all the general-manager scenarios being talked about internally by the Cubs, the most involved — and one of the most intriguing — 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 Russa’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 — or don’t — 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 Jocketty’s interest in the Cubs job, ‘‘I can’t comment on that,’’ he said before the Cubs’ 2-1 loss to the Reds on Tuesday night. ‘‘I’m under contract here. I’m happy here.’’
Okay, he can’t comment. But Jocketty did say this:
‘‘I’m sure everyone feels that it’s an attractive position because it’s a storied franchise and one of the great brands in the game,’’ said Jocketty, whose teams have finished ahead of the Cubs in 11 of his 17 seasons as a rival GM. ‘‘There’s a lot of history, and it’s a great challenge, because they haven’t won a championship there in a long time. And I think everyone believes that they’re the ones that would hope to be able to break that streak.
‘‘Plus you should have great resources to work with there. At least you’ve got the new ownership that seems to be aggressive in wanting to win.’’
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.
Blame Chad for creating this mess.
Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.
You can email Chad at firstname.lastname@example.org.