Now that Lou Piniella has announced he will retire at the end of the season, the Cubs can turn their attention from just losing to losing and searching for his replacement. Here are their best options:
His contract is up at the end of the year and he is regarded as one of the best managers ever.
Most Cub fans can’t stand him, however.
But hey, if Chicago fans could embrace Dennis Rodman after his days with the Pistons and Jim Edmonds after his days with the Cardinals, anything is possible.
If LaRussa could bring a championship to Chicago, the fans could probably overlook the years of hatred.
But if he didn’t win right away, Cubs Nation wouldn’t be very patient with LaRussa’s tricks (like the pitcher hitting eighth).
Bringing along Dave Duncan as a pitching coach would be a huge plus, but overall, it just might not be a good fit.
From the language being used, it seems like the Cubs would prefer to bring in someone who could be around long-term.
Torre would not fit that role as taking a Cubs job would probably signal his last hurrah a la Piniella.
He would bring a lot of respect to the position, but this doesn’t seem like a good fit for what the Cubs are looking for either.
A fan favorite in Chicago, he would probably be welcomed with open arms.
However, it remains to be seen if Girardi is a great manager or if he won a World Series because he had the highest payroll and best players.
Sure, not just anyone can win with the Yankees.
But no one has won with the Cubs since 1908.
There is a Yankee fan contingent that believes Girardi’s success lies strictly with the team he has been given.
Brenly led the Arizona Diamondbacks to a championship in 2001 and then a division title the following year, so he knows how to win.
He’s also gotten a good feel for what it’s like in Chicago while doing the color commentary for the Cubs the last couple of years.
Brenly is a likable guy but he also expects a lot from his players.
His frustration with the Cubs' lack of discipline and fundamentals has been evident.
He might not be the sexy hire, but might be the right one.
All indications point to Sandberg being groomed to be the next face of the Cubs.
And really, that’s what the Cubs need.
Having a long-term manager at the helm and being a constant in the dugout would be huge for the Cubs moving forward.
Right now, there is no Tommy Lasorda/Dodgers or Joe Torre/Yankees connection with any recent Cubs manager.
As loved as Sandberg is in Chicago, he could be that guy.
The only problem is, we don’t know how good of a manager he is yet.
He’s spent time in Peoria (Single-A) and now with Iowa (Triple-A), and has made it clear that he wants the job.
It’s hard to gauge whether he’s ready for it yet, or if he could use a few more years of developing his managerial skills.
One thing is for sure—a combo of Sandberg and Greg Maddux as a pitching coach leading the Cubs to a World Series victory would be a perfect storybook ending.
A couple of disastrous seasons could also put a damper on the fans' love affair with Sandberg.
Alan Trammell, Ozzie Guillen, Bobby Valentine
Read more: John Mark runs a blog that covers the Cubs and the Cardinals over at TheOutfieldIvy.com