At the office with the Chicago Cubs-St. Louis Cardinals game on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.
With the announcement of Lou Piniella set to leave as Cubs manager following the season, all sorts of relatively big names in the baseball world and the Cubs world have been linked to the job.
ESPN had a graphic including many of those names. I figured I’d break down the candidates.
- Ryne Sandberg. The former Cubs icon has spent the last four seasons managing in the team’s farm system. I’m guessing he’s a popular choice among the team’s loyal fan base. But you have to wonder too if this is the best thing for Sandberg, taking over a team that hasn’t won a World Series in over 100 years. Bit of a gamble for his legacy, but if he led the Cubs to a championship, his status in the Windy City would untouchable.
- Alan Trammell. The former Detroit Tigers manager and icon is currently the bench coach for Piniella. He managed the Tigers to a .383 winning percentage from 2003-05 before giving way to the team’s renaissance under present manager Jim Leyland.
- Joe Torre. It’s one thing to win in New York, but if Torre could bring a title to the Cubbies, that would be something. Torre going to the Cubs makes a lot of sense to me. It’s been reported that the Cubs owners want to make a big splash, and who better than to land Torre. And from Torre’s perspective, the ownership issues in LA might have him yearning to move on. I’m sure he doesn’t miss the pressure-cooker of the Bronx, and Wrigley Field couldn’t be farther away from that environment.
- Joe Girardi. I’ve heard a couple of TV pundits say that the New York Yankees current manager has said he wants to one day manage the Cubs. Well, that day is not today. I’d be shocked if he went there. He’s got the best job in sports, at least when the organization is being run properly.
- Bob Brenly. The Chicago Cubs broadcaster led the Arizona Diamondbacks to a World Series title in 2001 as manager. Despite the memborable championship, I don’t see Brenly as a "big splash" kind of hire. I do think he’s a solid color commentator though.
- Bobby Valentine. Hey, why not? If there’s a job open, he’s a candidate these days. He didn’t exactly shoot down the idea while working as an ESPN analyst on Sunday, saying the job is one any potential manager would want. And he still considers himself that on occasion.
- Lou Piniella. Isn’t it possible that he simply changes mind? OK, probably not. I just finished reading Bill Madden‘s biography of George Steinbrenner, so the manager flip-flop is still on the surface of my brain.
If I had to make a prediction right now, I’m leaning toward Torre or possibly Sandberg. But ask me again in October.