With news coming out this morning that Eric Wedge being named the manager of the Seattle Mariners, the Chicago Cubs have one less option to fill their void.
Honestly, I never really felt that he was ever a real option to be the new manager of the Cubs. In my mind, there have always been only three true options to take over the job. On the list of people who I feel will take the helm are Mike Quade, Ryne Sandberg and Joe Girardi. At the moment, two of the three are available and looking for managerial work, while the other is currently leading the New York Yankees to what could possibly be their 28 World Series title. In some peoples minds, that could put a potential kink in any plans of hiring him. Not in mine though.
I fully believe that the plan to interview him is clear. Earlier in the off season, General Manager said that he wanted to have a new Manager named by October 15, which was yesterday and obviously didn’t happen. The owner of the Cubs though, Tom Ricketts, quickly followed up Hendry’s October 15 suggestion with a date of his own. The date he suggested was November 15, which would give Hendry and Ricketts a chance to interview a manager who was unavailable because he was still working. Someone like Girardi. Some fans would question though, as to why Girardi would even consider leaving a job as prized as the Yankees for the Cubs. In my mind, and yes I have nothing to go off of other than my own thoughts, Girardi will be the new Manager of the Chicago Cubs.
Before I start in on why I think Girardi will be the new manager, we need to make clear his contract situation. He and the Yankees have a mutual option for 2011. What this means, and sorry if it sounds as though I am talking down to you, is both sides must want to be back in order for this to kick in. One would have to assume that if the Yankees win the World Series, their ownership will want him back and exercise their option, but if Girardi does not want to come back, he will not be there. Same with if the Yankees do not win the World Series and Girardi wants to come back. If the Yankees don’t want him, he will not be.
Back to why I fully believe Girardi will be the new manager. Ricketts is not a stupid man, you don’t become a billionaire by making stupid decisions. He would not be waiting as long as he says he is willing to, if he did not have a good hunch that he will get what he wants. But why would Girardi be so willing to leave the Yankees for the Cubs job?
Go back four years ago when both the Cubs and Yankee jobs were open. Girardi openly stated that the only two jobs he would covet the most were the Cubs and the Yankees. We all know how that ended, the Cubs signed Lou Piniella and Girardi headed to the Yankees. He now had one of the two jobs he wanted about all others, and he was very successful. In his third year with the Yankees, he won the World Series and still had a year left on his deal. He proved that he could lead a team, no matter how loaded with talent, to a championship. This year, he looks to be leading another strong favorite to yet another title. After winning back to back titles, Girardi would have nothing left to prove in New York. He could very well be up for another challenge. A much harder challenge of leading the Cubs to their first World Series in 65 years, and their first championship in 102. A daunting task no matter who you are.
I know that this is just speculation, but the thinking surrounding the situation makes sense the more you think about things. This is no sure thing, even though one report has Girardi’s agent saying Girardi would take the Cubs job. One thing that may stop Girardi from taking the job, is already being saddled with a hitting coach and a pitching coach. He may not like the idea that his coaches are already chosen for him. He may demand they get fired so he can bring in his own guys. That may very well be what keeps Girardi from being the Cubs new manager.
According to one report earlier in the week, Will Carroll started a rumor where Quade would be named the Manager with Sandberg being his bench coach. While this idea would have been fine with several people, according to Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley on 670 The Score, a friend of Sandberg basically said that if Sandberg was not named the manager, then he wouldn’t be with the Cubs. Now, this is just third or fourth hand news, much like the game of telephone, so you don’t know how reliable the friend of Sandberg is. However, Carroll retracted his thoughts of what might be the following day.
This would be a bad idea, because the moment the Cubs started a long slump the fans would start demanding Sandberg take over. You would have a split fan base and a split club house. That is no way to win. You have to have a manager who the fans and players know are the boss. If Girardi was named manager with Sandberg as the bench coach, that would be different. There would be no question that Girardi was the man in charge.
Quade though, should be considered a very serious candidate. He took over a team, granted when there was no pressure, and put together a fantastic record. He took a team that apparently had no idea how to win, and actually made them win. He has the backing of several players who have already given their support to him, and said they would fully support him as the manager going into 2011. He may very well be the right man for the job.
Taking out the record he put up as manager of the Cubs, the greatest qualification he might have is the current roster. He knows the players who will be on the team better than either Girardi or Sandberg. While Sandberg may know the kids better, Quade knows the veterans and already has their support. one thing you need if you are going to succeed as a manager, is the respect and support of your players. That is likely one thing Piniella lost as the season went on last year. Despite the complete lack of managerial experience, only a month and a half, that alone might very well make him the favorite for the job.
One reason he might also be the man to take over, is the Cubs can have more power over him than they would Girardi. They can tell him that if he wants the job, he must keep both Larry Rothschild and Rudy Jaramillo as his pitching coach and hitting coach. You can easily force that on someone who is looking for their first real job. Much more than someone who has already cut his teeth in the majors.
The final candidate for the Cub job is Sandberg. He is the obvious fan favorite for a majority of Cub fans, though not all of them. From the very beginning, he was the man most fans wanted to succeed Piniella and lead the Cubs into the future. He fits each and every qualification that Ricketts said he wanted in the next Cubs manager, and would seem to be the favorite. If the Cubs are going to go on the cheap and bring in a bunch of rookies, than I would agree that Sandberg would be the man to hire, mainly because he knows the kids that will be up here and what they can do. He knows exactly what he can expect out of them, and how hard to push them. Much like Quade has the support of the veterans on the team, the kids in the minors are all pulling for Sandberg, likely out of being familiar with him and the feeling that they have a better chance to make the club if he is the manager. Who knows for sure though.
Like Quade, the Cubs can also have control over him and tell him who his coaches are going to be if he wants the job. Both Rothschild and Jaramillo have contracts and are not likely to be fired. Sandberg would have to keep them on board if he wants the job. That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world though, as he could use all the help he can get with the current roster. They know the players better than he does, and could help him along the way. That is a much better scenario than a rookie manager starting with a team where he barely knows any of the players, with a pitching coach who needs to learn the pitchers and a hitting coach who needs to learn the hitters.
Quade and Sandberg, while being stuck with both Jaramillo and Rothschild would still be able to name their own bench coach.
Out of the three, I still have to believe that Girardi will be the man to take over. While Ricketts and Girardi can not officially talk until the end of the season, we all know that conversations take place through back channels. A “friend” of Girardi’s talks to a “business partner” of Ricketts or something like that. The rule that blocks conversations is the easiest rule to get around, because of all the back channels. I just can not believe that Ricketts would risk ruining relationships with the other two candidates just to talk to Girardi if he did not have something to give him the idea that he would in fact take the job. By giving the impression that you don’t want to hire anyone until you talk to Girardi, you are basically saying that he is your top choice for the job. How would you feel if you were Quade or Sandberg then? Yeah, we want you as our manager, but only because he turned us down. You were not our first choice.
One reason they are waiting, is because they can. Apparently, despite reports, no one is banging on Sandberg’s door to be their manager. Reports were that he was in the running for the Toronto Blue Jays, but how real are those reports? He doesn’t have the power to tell them to wait on his answer. Being a rookie manager, if he were to tell them to wait, they would laugh him off and go in another direction. Plus, he would be stupid to turn down a chance at a job because he wants another one.
No matter what happens this next month, nothing is certain. All we know, is there will be a new manager. Who that is, no one can be certain.
The regular season for the 2010 campaign is now officially over, but that does not mean that your baseball world has to stop. While we, as fans of the Chicago Cubs, have no real rooting interest in who wins the World Series, we do have the choice of which former Cub do you want to see win a ring, and who you don’t. There are five of the eight teams which have former members of the Cubs on their rosters, who have a chance to be on the active roster once the playoffs begin.
With the Texas Rangers, you have Rich Harden. The Yankees have two former Cubs, Joe Girardi and Kerry Wood. In the National League, the Atlanta Braves have Derrek Lee, while the San Francisco Giants have Mike Fontenot. The final team, the Cincinnati Reds have Dusty Baker and Jim Edmonds. Nine former Cubs all have the chance to win a ring, with someone other than our home town heroes. Who are you rooting for, and who are you rooting against?
Obviously, we will have our disagreements on who we want to win and who we don’t. That is why I am here today, to clear the air with my thoughts on which of these former Cubs I want to see succeed, and who I want to fall flat on their faces. Of course, there will be explanations for each. Let’s see if you agree or disagree with my thought process.
The first team I want to see knocked out of the playoffs, are the Reds. I know the old mantra is root for your division before all other teams, but I have a hatred that can not be matched by any other former Cub than for Baker and Edmonds. While Baker has indeed been one of, if not the, best manager the Cubs have ever had, I have a very long memory. Getting the Cubs within five outs of their first World Series in 58 years is something special which I will never forget. What I can also not forget, is how he cost us that game. Sure, people blame Steve Bartman (which I do not), or Moises Alou, Alex Gonzalez and Mark Prior, but in my books they just played supporting roles to Baker. All he did was sit on his butt while the team fell apart around him.
As far as Edmonds goes, now that he is a former Cub, I can go back to hating him. I hated him with a passion when he was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, but fell in love with him when he was a Cub. Just saying that makes me feel dirty; however, watching him play the game the way you are supposed to play, one would have a hard time hating someone like that. That being said, I do hate him once again. He wont be known as a former Cub, but a former Cardinal.
I take back my original thoughts though, I don’t want to see them be the first team knocked out. I want to see them be five outs away, and to have Baker blow things once again.
As much as I love Lee, now that he is a former Cub, I can go back to disliking him. While he is one hell of a baseball player, as well as a person, much like with Baker, I can not forgive him for 2003. He helped eliminate the Cubs in that ugly game six, and if memory serves, he had the game winning RBI. Since he helped beat the Cubs to get his first ring, I am not so sure that I want to see him win a second now that he is no longer with the Cubs. Especially since he is one of the reasons the Cubs failed to go anywhere this year. I loved what he brought us his first few years with the team, but I can not root for the man who helped deny us our dream, now that he is no longer with us.
With the Rangers, I couldn’t really care less about them and Rich Harden. I know he is a favorite of at least one of my followers, but he was not with the Cubs nearly long enough for me to have any kind of bond with. I am glad he gets another shot, but don’t care if he wins a ring or not. Honestly, I don’t really feel he is much worth my time or attention. He did good things for us in his short Cubs career, but not enough to make me root for him.
The Giants and Fontenot might get my vote, because while he is not a great ballplayer, Fontenot is someone I liked. Mainly because there is finally proof someone my size can play baseball in the majors. While he was better for us in 2008 than he was in 2009, he never really stepped up to be the player we all hoped he would be when they traded Mark DeRosa (no, I am not saying we should have kept DeRosa). The Giants, based on my rooting for former Cubs would get my vote in the National League, if not to win the whole thing.
The Yankees, or the Evil Empire, I would not mind seeing win. Wood will always have a special place in Cub fans hearts. Out of all the former Cubs, I think I would want him to win a ring first. The only problem with this, is that would also mean Girardi would win one as well. I have nothing against Girardi, but if he wins a World Series, or maybe even if he gets there, he will likely want to stay in New York one more year, which would take him out of the running for the Cubs managerial job. Out of all the candidates for the Cubs manager, I think I want him to get the job. Nothing against Ryne Sandberg, I just think he would do a better job.
Now, if I were to take the mindset of some fans of the Cubs, which is to say “if you didn’t win one for us, I don’t want you to win at all” then I would go for the Minnesota Twins beating the Philadelphia Phillies. Why the Twins over the Phillies? Well, that would stick things to the Chicago White Sox, and I don’t want to see the Phillies win another title. I have never been a fan of any team in Philly, and don’t plan on liking one any time soon.
If I have to chose, I would say the San Francisco Giants and Fontenot winning over the Twins, or vice versa.
Now that you have seen and read my thoughts on the former Cubs and the playoffs, what are yours? Which former Cub, if any, do you want to see win a ring? Why and why not?
Since the news first came out, the person that I wanted to be the new owner of the Chicago Cubs, was Tom Ricketts. I wanted him as the owner, because he is a Cubs fan, and knows of the pain and torture we have been through over the past hundred years. I felt that he was the right choice, because we would finally have a face to the ownership team, and someone who would be passionate about what happened on the field, and would not just be about the bottom line. I will hold off judgment on how he has handled things in his first year until a later date, but if you have been following my blog this whole year, you know that there have been financial restraints, which I have mentioned a few times in earlier blogs.
For now though, I want to address one thing with him. Mr. Ricketts, please do not let your Cubs Fandom overtake your business smarts. Do not let that little kid inside of you tell you how to run your ball club. These thoughts are coming straight from the Chicago Businessman lunch that recently took place this past week, where a major player from each of the Chicagoland teams held a Town Hall meeting of sorts. Your description of what you want your new manager to be shows me that you are letting your fandom overtake your business smarts.
For those who missed what he said about what he is looking for in a new manager, allow me to fill you in on what was said. Directly from his mouth (as reported by Chicagobreakingsports.com) Ricketts said the following “We have to have a manager who really understands … the scrutiny you get and (must) be able to handle those periods in June when you lose three games in a row and people start talking about Year 103 of the curse,” Ricketts said. “We have to someone who understands what they’re getting into.”
Going off that quote, one would absolutely have to assume he wants either Joe Girardi or Ryne Sandberg to take over the role of manager of the Cubs in 2011. Personally, I would love to see either one of these two men wearing Cubbie Blue, leading the Cubs into the future.
The problem I have though, is the thought that he believes the Cubs need a manager who “understands the scrutiny” that comes from being the Cubs manager or being able to handle things when “people start talking about Year 103 of the curse” Those are not the qualifications I would be looking for when selecting the next manager of the team. The Cubs do not, I repeat do not need a manager who understands the Cubs culture to be successful. The Cubs do not need someone who knows what it would mean to Chicago and the fans of the Cubs to win a championship here. Personally, I would much rather have someone who is the best available candidate than someone who “knows the Cubs culture”.
Who knows, perhaps Sandberg or Girardi are the best two candidates available. If they are, then great; sign them up to lead the Cubs in the coming years. Just do not hire either of them to be the manager just because they understand the pressures of playing for and winning with the Cubs.
Mr. Ricketts, you are a very smart business man. Too smart too allow your heart to overtake your head. Do not pander to the group of Cub fans who truly believe that we need someone who knows about the past to be successful. That is just not true and you know that. However, from your words of what you are looking for, I wonder if that is truly what you feel or if you are just giving that group of fans what they want.
If that is truly how you feel, and what you think we need in a manager to win, then I am afraid that the wrong man bought the Cubs. I am glad a Cubs fan owns the team, but I don’t want a fan to run things. That is not how you win a championship. You don’t win by letting your heart control things. Find the best man for the job Mr. Ricketts, and don’t select him just because he happened to play for the Cubs.
Again, if that best man is either Sandberg or Girardi then great, there would be no finer end to the long drought than seeing an old face lead the way to the promise land. But the taste of champaign will taste just as sweet with someone else at the helm.