Odds and Predictions for Cubs New Manager
by Alan Matthews - 7/24/2010
Lou Piniella announced Tuesday that he was retiring as manager of the Chicago Cubs effective at the end of the season, and while on the surface his tenure on the North Side looks like a success as he led the Cubs to the NL Central title in 2007 (going from worst-to-first in Piniella’s first year) and 2008, in reality it probably qualifies as a disappointment overall because Chicago didn’t win a single playoff game. Notice I didn’t even write ‘series,’ I wrote ‘game’ as the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers swept the Cubs in the NLDS in ’07 and ’08 despite being favored in both.
But it does no good to look back as you can’t really bet on things that already happened. What you can bet on, however, is who will replace Piniella. And the Cubs’ job is certainly one of the top five jobs in all of baseball with the fan support, high payroll and just the allure of the city of Chicago and Wrigley Field. Plus any manager who finally brings the franchise a World Series would automatically be sainted in the Windy City. That’s a challenge that lured Piniella.
Bodog lists the following candidates and odds:
Ryne Sandberg: 5/2
Joe Girardi: 11/2
Bob Brenly: 6/1
Joe Torre: 13/2
Alan Trammell: 6/1
Bobby Valentine: 7/1
Tony La Russa: 15/2
Field (Any Other Manager): 5/2
Sandberg should be the favorite, as the Cub legend and Hall of Fame second baseman seemingly is being groomed by managing Triple-A Iowa. This is his fourth year in the Cubs’ system and he has worked his way up from managing Class A Peoria. Sandberg already has flat out said he wants the job and that he believes he is ready. And GM Jim Hendry already has confirmed Sandberg will be a candidate. It would be a popular move for the Cubs fans, and you can bet Sandberg would be used big time in marketing, not that the Cubs need much to sell out. The only negative here is that Sandberg has no experience even as a coach in the majors, much less managing.
Girardi would probably be the leading candidate if he wasn’t coaching a certain other baseball team right now – if there’s one job better than with the Cubs it’s certainly the Yankees. But Girardi grew up in Illinois, went to Northwestern and used to play for the Cubs. It has long been said that was his dream job and Girardi has said his goal is to coach the team someday. He narrowly lost out to Piniella when the job was open in 2007. But could he really leave the Yankees, especially if they win another World Series? That seems very unlikely. But if the team somehow flames out in the playoffs and he’s fired (also unlikely), move Girardi to the front of this list.
Brenly, currently a Cubs broadcaster, already has said he has interest in the job. And he has experience and a World Series ring when he led the Diamondbacks to the 2001 title. But Brenly hasn’t been shy about ripping some of the players on air he would have to manage – Alfonso Soriano immediately comes to mind. He interviewed in 2006 for the Cubs job but never really was in the running. Not sure why that would change now.
Torre’s track record speaks for itself and his contract with the Dodgers is up after this season. He said this week that he would let the Dodgers know in the next month whether he wanted to even keep managing and added that he’s “not looking to move” to another team. But he also didn’t 100 percent rule it out. Torre is already 70 and may just retire. But you could see him possibly bailing on the Dodgers with their ownership situation a mess.
Trammell is currently the Cubs’ bench coach and managed Detroit in 2003-05. He had a 186-300 record, including a record 119-loss season in his first year. I would say Trammell has little chance but will get an interview.
Bobby Valentine reportedly was nearly named the Marlins’ manager earlier this season but instead remains at ESPN. He at worst will get an interview but that has the feel of a retread hire that the Cubs wouldn’t make.
La Russa would be snapped up in a minute by the Cubs, and of course he currently manages the rival Cardinals and used to manage the crosstown White Sox. He is in the final year of his contract, but the Cardinals undoubtedly will bring him back, especially as they appear headed back to the playoffs if not the World Series. Plus La Russa is good friends with White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and probably wouldn’t want to thus work for a team that overshadows the Pale Hose in the city.
As for the field, the Cubs are expected to interview former Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, and he has a long personal relationship with Cubs GM Jim Hendry when they both were with Florida. But Gonzalez is almost a lock to replace Bobby Cox in Atlanta when Cox steps down at the end of the year.
For what it’s worth, Hendry has said the process will take “a couple of months” and certainly the Cubs aren’t going to name a manager during the season for obvious reasons – some candidates are still working.
I would like to give you a reason not to bet on Sandberg, but I think he gets the job as even the Chicago media seems behind him. The only way he doesn’t get it is if Torre does show interest and then maybe Hendry signs Torre to a short contract and as part of it instructs Torre to put Sandberg on his major-league staff to groom Sandberg for the job when Torre does retire.
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