In what would be Epstein and Hoyer's first move to change the on-field team in their image for 2012, the Cubs fired manager Mike Quade. The firing came only days after Theo Epstein flew down to Quade's home to personally talk with him about his future with the team and their philosophies.
While everyone saw the writing on the wall about Quade, Theo and Jed gave Quade a chance to plead his case. However, his preference for lackadaisical veterans over enthusiastic, hard-nosed youngsters sealed his fate.
Before the Cubs began their managerial search in full force, Epstein called Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg to explain that, while Ryno had quality credentials, they simply weren't what the Cubs were seeking in their new manager.
Sandberg will return to the Phillies' AAA affiliate for the 2012 season as manager, but was publicly grateful to Epstein for the gesture of calling to explain the Cubs' stance.
While many Cub fans wanted Sandberg to be hired (including the fan who owned the team at this time last year), it clearly wasn't meant to be. The 2011 Cubs team was a doomed one, and Quade was the perfect sacrificial lamb. Imagine if the team had struggled this bad, but Sandberg had been managing. Imagine the backlash over having to fire Ryno.
Of course, in retrospect, it seems easy to say that Ryno couldn't possibly have been as bad as Quade, who somehow garnered a trip to the All-Star Game. Quade, though, seemed a solid candidate for the job. The players liked him, they won under his brief tenure in 2010, and he was a Chicago boy—an Evanston native who rode the El and could talk about the Bears with you.
It just wasn't meant to be for the baseball lifer.