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Jim Hendry shouldn’t be only casualty when Cubs clean house

FILE - This June 20 2011 file phoshows Chicago Cubs' general manager Jim Hendry left Chicago White Sox general manager

FILE - This June 20, 2011, file photo shows Chicago Cubs' general manager Jim Hendry, left, and Chicago White Sox general manager Kenny Williams, before an interleague baseball game in Chicago. The Cubs have fired Hendry after another disappointing season. The Cubs announced the move Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, before a game with the rival St. Louis Cardinals. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

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Josh Byrnes, Padres VP of baseball operations: Was considered a rising star when he was named GM of the Diamondbacks in 2005 but was fired last season when the team slumped.

Ned Colletti, Dodgers GM: Chicago-area native started with Cubs, working in media relations and baseball operations. Took Dodgers to the playoffs in 2008 and 2009. Has signed several free agents, but the tumultuous status of the Dodgers’ ownership has stunted his career. Andrew Friedman, Rays GM:

Put together World Series team in 2008. Won AL East last year. With no additional revenue sources on the horizon, many speculate he wants to move on. Rose through the player development side of the business.

Rick Hahn, White Sox assistant GM: Considered by many to be the next likely GM from the assistant ranks. A Winnetka native, he has spent 11 seasons with the Sox and is ­intricately involved in contract negotiations and player personnel matters.

Mike Rizzo, Nationals GM: Another Chicago native, he took over as ­interim GM in March, 2009 and was given the position permanently in August. Spent six seasons as director of scouting for the Diamondbacks and was part of its 2001 World Series championship team.

Toni Ginnetti and
Gordon Wittenmyer

Updated: November 3, 2011 11:30AM

Jim Hendry knew it was coming long before he was told on July 22.

Sitting with him in his office at the Cubs spring training facility back in February, the now former Cubs general manager didn’t duck a single question in a 28-minute interview.

He was candid, honest, but most of all realistic about what this season meant for him.

“When I look at it overall, I certainly think that we could have, and should have, won it all once by now since I’ve been in this chair,’’ Hendry said. “I’m harder on myself than anyone else can be and I fully expect us to be a lot better this year. If we’re not that responsibility falls on me.’’

It officially did on Friday, axe and all.

So why should Cubs fans wake up this morning feeling completely unsatisfied? Because Hendry’s dismissal was more sacrificial than the actual cleanup of a culture knee-deep in sewage.

“We just didn’t win enough games,” owner Tom Ricketts said of the move. “Nothing should diminish Jim’s tenure here. We won three division titles while he was here.’’

Rickets then used the phrase “culture of accountability.’’

A phrase that could come back to haunt him.

You don’t march the firing squad out to clean up the culture, and have them shoot at one man. Not when so much has gone so wrong for so long.

Heck Tom, you had all the media there, might as well make it worth everyone’s time.

Mike Quade is not going to be the manager on the North Side next season, so why drag on the inevitable? Then there’s the 190-pound clown in the room that is team president Crane Kenney. To hear Ricketts talk about Kenney doing a “good job’’ running the business end of things for the organization was one of those throw-up-in-your-mouth moments.

Kenney a liability, too

The business of the Cubs is baseball. A business they have failed in for 103 years now.

Kenney is a laughing stock around the league. His very ­presence cheapens the value of the GM position for the Cubs.

Ricketts promised that the GM would report to him, not Kenney. Sure. Kenney has a history of showing he can’t help but make himself more important than he really is.

Considering the cleanup job the Cubs will be undergoing the next few years, the team’s GM is not as ideal a job as it once was in the first place. Add some goofball suit sitting in on meetings he has no business sitting in on, and good luck landing the likes of an Andrew Friedman from Tampa Bay.

“When I talk to a candidate, he must share a commitment to player development,’’ Ricketts said, “and someone from a winning culture who can bring that.’’

Obviously, he must also like animal balloons, squirting flowers and big red shoes, as long as Kenney is around.

If Ricketts can get Friedman to look the other way on that front, ink him tomorrow. If not, 1B on that list should be Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn.

He is savy, well-liked in the industry, a genius with contracts and his baseball scouting ability has grown by leaps and bounds the last five years.

Hahn won’t tip his hand

“Like everyone else here, my focus is on the 2011 White Sox,’’ Hahn said in a text on Friday, when asked about his interest. “Questions about my personal future can wait for another time.’’

And don’t rule out Hahn bringing a certain sharp-tongued Venezuelan manager with him if Ozzie Guillen and the Sox can’t see eye-to-eye in the direction of the team this offseason, as well as the club refusing to sign Guillen to a contract extension beyond the 2012 season.

Forget change of culture for the Cubs, that would be the culture shock that they need.

As for Hendry, he’ll be fine.

He’s a well-liked baseball guy, and after a short break, will end up a valuable scout in some big-league organization.

“To be honest with you, when I first took over in 2003, I fully expected that we would have won a championship by now,’’ Hendry told me in that February interview. “In my mind, under my watch we haven’t done that. I’m not pleased with that.’’

Then Hendry said something that I thought was strange at the time.

“You know,’’ he said with a sigh, “what does wear on you, though, is there are some burdens around here.’’

Even after Friday, those burdens still didn’t go away.

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