The Cubs’ press release in which Sweet Lou calls it a career has him announcing his decision to retire now because “it gives Jim Hendry ample time to find the next manager and he doesn’t
need to do so in secrecy.” I take that as a license to speculate:
- Ryne Sandberg: That’s the name you’re going to hear over and over. He’s the fan favorite, certainly, and he certainly hasn’t been down managing in the minors for his health. He wants the top job and all indications to date have been that the Cubs are grooming him for it. I’d have a hard time coming up with reasons why Chicago shouldn’t give Sandberg the job. The best I can think of is that the Cubs are likely to get worse before they get better and the team doesn’t want to saddle their golden boy with a rebuilding project right out of the gate. But what’s the alternative? Sandberg won’t wait five years, will he? Someone else might snatch him away.
- Alan Trammell: The bench coach and my boyhood hero. Sadly, neither of those things qualify him for the job. To be honest, he may be most qualified to be Sandberg’s bench coach because he went through the “local icon takes the reins of his old team when they’re about to suck hard for a couple of years” thing back when the Tigers gave him their top job.
- The lateral move: Paul Sullivan throws out some names today, one of which is Joe Torre. I can’t see what the Cubs would gain by bringing in another Piniella figure (i.e. manager emeritus) like Torre would be. It seems right now that the Cubs have to build for the long haul. That counsels hiring a guy closer to age 50 than 70. And wow, I had no idea that Sandberg is 51 already. I still think of him as a really young guy.
- Field: There are all kinds of Bob Brenly/Bob Melvin/Willie Randolph types hanging around baseball, any number of whom might make sense. Some of them skew more re-tready. Others — like Randolph — may be smart hires. I actually think Randolph deserves another shot somewhere, although I think it’s more likely that he’ll hang on in Milwaukee where he’s coaching right now and take over when Ken Macha gets canned, which may be any day.
Sandberg makes the most sense, I think, but who knows what Chicago will do. College of Coaches anyone?