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?
Even while injured, Miguel Cabrera is a force to be reckoned with. The 33-year-old slugger has been playing with a contusion on his knee since Wednesday, according to postgame comments made by Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus.
That didn’t stop him from whacking a 410-foot home run against Atlanta right-hander Matt Wisler on Friday night, skirting the center field fence to put the Tigers up 3-0 in the first inning. In the third, he lead off the inning with another long drive off of Wisler, targeting his changeup for a 421-foot shot, his 38th home run of the season:
It’s Cabrera’s sixth two-run homer game since the start of the season, and his first against the Braves since 2005. He needs just two more home runs to keep an even 40 on the year, which would return him to the kind of league-leading levels that accentuated his MVP case in 2012 and 2013. If he can do it by the end of this Tigers-Braves game (unlikely, but not unheard of), he’ll be the 15th major leaguer to hit four home runs in a single game.
The Reds will roll with manager Bryan Price for at least one more season. Per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, Price has been extended through the 2017 season with a club option for 2018. He won’t be the only familiar face leading the team, as the Reds have reportedly asked the entire coaching staff to return as well.
This is Price’s second consecutive season with 90+ losses since Cincinnati signed him to a three-year contract back in 2014. While he hasn’t been able to replicate the same kind of success that former skipper Dusty Baker found in 2012 and 2013, he’s been saddled with a team that’s still in the throes of rebuilding, not one that looks on the cusp of playoff contention. It is, after all, the same team that has not seen a healthy season from Homer Bailey since Price’s arrival, one that unloaded Jay Bruce for a pair of prospects earlier this year and one whose pitching staff set a single-season record for most home runs given up by a major league team.
Justifying Price’s extension requires a different kind of yardstick, one that measures player development and individual success over the cumulative win-loss record. Here, Price has overseen solid performances from contributors like Adam Duvall, who is batting .244/.297/.506 with 2.9 fWAR in his first full major-league season, as well as young arms like Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen, among others.
From comments made by Reds’ CFO Bob Castellini, Price’s success within a rough rebuilding process appears to have cemented his place within the club, at least for the time being.
I like the young, aggressive team Walt and Dick have put together with players from within our system and from recent trades. […] Bryan has been here seven seasons now. He’s comfortable with the direction we are heading with our young players, and we are comfortable with him leading us in that direction.