Could Chapter 11 Help the Chicago Cubs Turn the Page?

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IJuly 13, 2009

CHICAGO - JULY 08: Milton Bradley #21 of the Chicago Cubs walks back to the dugout after making the final out of the game as Brian McCann #16 of the Atlanta Braves walks to the mound on July 8, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Braves defeated the Cubs 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Reports on Monday indicated that the Tribune Company is considering an option where the Chicago Cubs would declare bankruptcy.

This news likely confuses many onlookers, who have been taken on a strange journey by the off-the-field news surrounding the Cubs in the last few months.

First the team was sold, then it wasn't, then it was sold to two different groups...and now bankruptcy?

Really?

The reality, though, is that the Cubs filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection would do little more than expedite the sale of the team, Wrigley Field, and the included stake in Chicago's regional Comcast Sportsnet cable television network.

By filing, it might make this thing happen faster.

So what could this rumored bankruptcy mean to the immediate future of the Cubs?

By finalizing the sale, someone could make a decision for Cubs' GM Jim Hendry regarding adding, or subtracting, salary on the 2009 roster.

Right now, Hendry is handcuffed to the under-performing group of overpaid players he's put together because, until the sale is finalized, he doesn't know how much money he's allowed to spend.

If someone, specifically Tom Ricketts, told Hendry he could add salary, then the trade winds might start moving the flags at Wrigley.

The second immediate impact the decision might have on the Cubs is bringing a sense of comfort to players near the end of a contract.

If Hendry can't add salary at the trade deadline, but still wants to make a move, he'll need to unload some weight.

If Hendry wants to unload some salary, guys like Rich Harden and Kevin Gregg, both of whom are looking for new paper in a couple months, could be on the block.

Even the team's one All-Star, Ted Lilly, has just the rest of this and next season left on his deal. Is it unrealistic to think that the team's most consistent pitcher could become available for the right price?

The final impact this could have on the team isn't in the immediate future, but still in the relatively short term. The finalized sale of the Cubs allows the team to commit to veterans, their coaches, and the fans that they are going to try to win.

Until the team is sold, the roster is stuck in limbo, and, more importantly, stuck as it stands.

So while it's hard to fathom how one of the most valuable professional sports franchises in North America could be bankrupt, this latest Chapter could lead to a whole new book on Chicago's North Side.