As the Cubs’ General Manager, Jim Hendry continues the search for the next Cubs’ Manager, A Diehard Cubs’ Fan explains who will advance to the “short list” of candidates and who has the inside edge of landing the job.
While the Cubs and Jim Hendry have been busy taking phone calls and interviewing potential candidates for the managerial position, in the end, there are only three who will be seriously considered. Let’s evaluate the front runners at this time. The “short list” will most likely be the following, in no particular order.
1) MIKE QUADE
2) RYNE SANDBERG
3) JOE GIRARDI
Jim Hendry has also interviewed Freddi Gonzalez, who withdrew his name for consideration. Reports have surfaced that he may take over the Atlanta Braves following the retirement of Bobby Cox.
Pat Listach decided to withdraw his name as well. He wants to stay with the Washington Nationals. Reports claim that he is also interested in the Toronto Bluejays job.
Bob Brenly was interviewed but declined to waste Jim Hendry’s time siting that he was not a good fit for the Cubs. It has been reported that he may seek, and have the inside edge to managing the Milwaukee Brewers.
Eric Wedge was interviewed, but a mediocre managing record will probably exclude him from making the “short list”. Another factor involved would be the fact that he doesn’t have any ties to the Cubs’ Organization. Bob Melvin falls into the same category and therefore will not make it to the next step in the process.
Jim Hendry and Cubs’ Owner and Chairman, Tom Ricketts have planted clues as to who they want to hire which leads me to believe that the “Short List” has already been written in stone, even though they would deny it. What clues? Let me explain.
Tom Ricketts was quoted to say that he wants a Manager that will be the Cubs’ Manager for life. He wants somebody who will remain loyal to the Organization and will be committed to winning a World Series Championship. Ricketts has repeatedly hinted that the Cubs are in the midst of rebuilding and has committed to growing the farm system and developing players from within the Organization. Tom Ricketts is a Diehard Cubs’ Fan himself and has expressed the desire to listen to the Diehard Cubs’ Fans and finding ways to win. He wants a Manager that has either played for the Cubs or has been with the Cubs’ Organization, which will be the starting point to narrowing the field down to three candidates. Preferably, the Cubs are searching for someone who has experienced the 102 year curse of the Cubs, someone that understands the importance of bringing a World Series Title to Wrigleyville, someone who feels the Diehard Cubs’ Fans pain and suffering. Cubs’ Fans are mostly united in wanting a skipper that has formerly played in Chicago, someone who will have their loyalty and support.
Jim Hendry has stated that he prefers that the managerial candidate have previous Major League managing experience.
Let’s look at the top three candidates and decide where they fit in the grand scheme of things.
1) Mike Quade came out of nowhere to make the short list. Following Lou Piniella’s sudden retirement in August, Quade took over the Cubs after all was lost for the season. The Cubs had nothing to play for but Mike Quade somehow managed to turn a disappointing season into a top-notched team. The Cubs were 24-13 under Q and finished very strong. The Cubs were winning series’ and won something like 14 out of the last 17 road games. The Pitching Staff was reborn and the Cubs were starting to play up to their potential. Cubs baseball was exciting again, while it lasted. No one can argue with the job Quade has done to turn the Cubs around. Jim Hendry and Tom Ricketts have said that they were very pleased at the outstanding job Quade has done. Mike Quade has managed for many years at the Triple A level. He has roots in the Cubs’ Organization and that will benefit him when the decision is finally made. The only drawback to Mike Quade is the fact that he only managed 37 games and has not been tested for a full year.
2) Ryne Sandberg has been, and will continue to be a top candidate. The plan has been, for many years, to let Ryno manage at the minor league level, gain experience, then someday, take over the Cubs as Manager. He earned Pacific Coast League Manager Of The Year honors this past season at Triple A, Iowa, and has proven that he too can manage. Sandberg is a fan favorite. His Hall Of Fame status speaks for itself. He was everything a Cub should be, and more. Ryno exemplified what a team player should be and defined what is expected as a player. As a Manager, he teaches the fundamentals of winning. The only drawback for Sandberg is the fact that he doesn’t have any Major League experience managing which is why Joe Girardi failed to land the job in the past.
3) Joe Girardi may have the best qualifications of all. The Cubs have repeatedly stated that there is no need to rush the interview process. They hope to have someone in place by the November Organizational Meetings. What are they waiting for? Jim Hendry has vowed not to let any stone go unturned, which means that he plans to be thorough and cover all the possibilities. The Cubs are waiting until the end of the baseball season. Joe Girardi is in the middle of a playoff race as the New York Yankees strive to win another World Series Title. Girardi is currently under contract and therefore, the Cubs cannot legally contact him until after the season has ended. With Joe Girardi comes many questions. Does Joe want to continue to manage the New York Yankees? If so, do the Yankees want him to return? It will largely depend on what happens in the post-season. If the Yankees win the World Series, then New York will probably pay him well to stay. If the Bronx Bombers fail to win it all, then New York will probably demand that Girardi be gone. That’s how it works in New York, you know. The other question that remains to be answered is whether or not Girardi wants to manage the Cubs. He has stated in the past that he would like to, but what about now? Is he willing to leave the bright lights of New York for the Windy City? We will have to wait and find out.
Joe Girardi is a former Cubs’ catcher. His ties with the Cubs run deep, like Sandberg. The biggest, and most glaring difference between Sandberg and Girardi is that Joe Girardi not only has Major League experience, but has won a World Series Championship. Joe knows how to handle the pressures of having to win. Joe knows how to handle the media. Joe knows how to handle young players and veterans alike. Joe Girardi, most likely, will have the edge in the managerial search if he makes himself available. If he does, then look for Joe Girardi to be the next Cubs’ Manager based on his past in the Cubs’ Organization, experience, and success as a Major League Manager.
If Girardi passes on the Cubs, then look for some kind of combination of Mike Quade and Ryne Sandberg to lead the Cubs next year. Either the Cubs will award the managerial position to Mike Quade for a year while Ryno gets his feet wet at the major league level as the Bench Coach, or Ryno could be hired as Manager and still keep Mike Quade around as the third base coach or as Bench Coach where he can be available to Sandberg for advice. With so many managerial positions available this offseason, Quade could defect and go elsewhere, perhaps wherever Bob Brenly decides to manage, but he is loyal to the Cubs and whether he wins the Manager position or not, I believe he will stay on with the Cubs.
As the drama unfolds, watch the New York Yankees carefully as they make a run for another World Series Title. How the Yankees finish will play a big role in Joe Girardi’s decision to return to Chicago or stay in New York. The Cubs, of course, would be a far more challenging undertaking. If Girardi entertains managing the Cubs then he will emerge the frontrunner and the Cubs will risk losing Sandberg and Quade. Otherwise, it will be a toss up between Quade and Sandberg. In that case, look for Mike Quade to be awarded the Manager position under a one-year contract while Ryne Sandberg gets his feet wet as Bench Coach. Then, in 2012, look for Ryno to step up and take charge.
There it is, the Unofficial Diehard Cubs’ Short list! Of course, this is pure speculation on my part, and only time will tell. Stay tuned and see what happens! It should prove to be an interesting process as the Cubs move forward to a new era.