To the surprise of no one, in his first act of office, Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein has fired manager Mike Quade. After Quade guided the Cubs to a 24-13 record at the tail end of the 2010 season, the Cubs went 71-91 this season.
But to the surprise of everyone, Epstein effectively ruled out Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg as Quade’s successor. Amongst the prerequisites Epstein set out was that the Cubs new manager required “managerial or coaching experience at the Major League level.” Sandberg managed in the Cubs minor league system and this past season managed the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The Hall of Fame second baseman has never served on a big league coaching staff.
Yet while Sandberg has been effectively ruled out of Wrigley, the St. Louis Cardinals don’t seem deterred by Sandberg’s lack of big league managerial or coaching experience and are expected to ask the Phillies permission to speak with Sandberg. The Cardinals suddenly found themselves in need of a manager when Tony La Russa abruptly retired following the team’s World Series triumph last Friday.
If the Cardinals hire Sandberg it would be a dagger through the hearts of Cubs fans.
Amongst the possible candidates for the Cubs job is Milwaukee Brewers bench coach Dale Sveum, Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, Philadelphia Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Dave Martinez and Boston Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale. These candidates are also on the radar of the Red Sox GM Ben Cherington as they search for a new manager.
I do feel sorry for Quade. I remember him when he managed the now defunct Ottawa Lynx back in 1993 and was glad when he finally got a chance to manage at the big league level and when the Cubs responded to him late in 2010, I thought he could take them all the way in 2011. Well, we know how that turned out. Unfortunately, Cubs fans are impatient for a winner and the writing was on the wall once Jim Hendry was dismissed shortly after the All-Star Game.
With that said, I think Theo is being shortsighted in his exclusion of Ryno. Should the Cardinals hire Sandberg, Cubs fans will let Theo have it every time they lose to the Cards at Wrigley next season and beyond.