Chicago Cubs: Looming Offseason Decisions, Part II (Manager)
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This is part two of a series of articles outlining the decisions that the Cubs will need to make this offseason. You can read part one and introduce yourself to their current situation by following this link.
The Chicago Cubs have technically been without a manager since Lou Piniella stepped down on August 22 and without a manager for 2011 since he announced his intention to retire a month earlier.
Several names have been thrown about since then, including bench coach Alan Trammell, Triple-A manager Ryne Sandberg, announcer Bob Brenly, Joe Girardi, Fredi Gonzalez, Eric Wedge, Bob Melvin and Pat Listach.
But as time has passed, the list has gotten thinner and thinner.
Trammell was one of the first names, if not the first name, removed from the list after Cubs general manager Jim Hendry explained that Alan would not be the team's interim manager because he would not be a candidate for the job next year.
Gonzalez and Brenly each removed themselves from consideration after the former turned down the opportunity to interview for the Cubs' position in mid-September and the latter explained later that month that, for both personal and professional reasons, the job just wasn't the right fit for him.
Reports surfaced last week that Listach, the third base coach for the Nationals and former minor league manager for the Cubs, was no longer being considered and Wedge's name disappeared from the list after he was announced as the Mariners' new manager on Friday.
Girardi is obviously a qualified candidate with links to the club, but he's a little too preoccupied right now to even consider the possibility. So for now, the process has moved on without him.
Team owner Tom Ricketts met with the remaining candidates on Tuesday, which still included Wedge at the time, but also included the one name I have yet to mention.
Of the three remaining candidates, he has the most managing experience (17 years), the highest win total (1,237), the highest career winning percentage (.512), the most league championships (three), the most World Series championships (two) and the most Manager of the Year awards (two).
He's also an Illinois native, spent three seasons (2003-2005) managing the Cubs' Triple-A team in Iowa, has been on the Cubs' major league coaching staff since the end of the 2006 season and put up a 24-13 record as the team's interim manager after Piniella stepped down.
Alright, so the league championships came from the Midwest League, the Pacific Coast League and the Dominican League. And yes, the World Series' that he managed were the Triple-A World Series and the Caribbean World Series. In fact, aside from his stint as the Cubs' interim manager, all of his experience has come in the minor leagues.
Still, Mike Quade is due a long, hard look at a managerial opening. If people think that Ryne Sandberg has paid his dues by coaching in the minor leagues the past four seasons, then Mike Quade deserves a freaking medal for what he's done.
Of course, that's not a slight to Sandberg. He's a Hall of Fame second baseman who played almost his entire career for the Cubs and has done a pretty good job these past few years in the minors.
But if you take playing careers and name recognition out of the equation, Quade clearly comes out ahead. Sandberg has less time coaching in this organization, less managerial experience overall and no big league coaching experience at all.
It's easy to understand why Quade is considered the front-runner at this point. And, for a team that's a little more cost-conscious, he provides more advantages than just his experience and familiarity with the organization.
If the Cubs were able to wait for Girardi and actually signed him to take the helm on the North Side, not only would he likely demand one of the larger coaching salaries in major league baseball, but he would probably want his own guys on the coaching staff, as would Bob Melvin.
Although small change in comparison to player salaries, hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo is only one year into his three-year, $2.42 million contract and pitching coach Larry Rothschild just exercised the 2011 option on his contract.
In all likelihood, Quade would keep the staff intact, which has other benefits as well. Not only would the team save some money, but they would save themselves from having any transitional period whatsoever, since that already took place while he was the interim manager.
Sure, there have reportedly been no calls by other clubs asking to interview Quade about their managerial opening, but this isn't about other teams. This is about who would best fit the situation that the Cubs have in front of them.
The organization will probably wait for the Yankees' season to be over before they make any decision so that they can talk to Girardi, but I honestly don't see him leaving the Yankees to manage anyone else. Then, once Girardi is officially out of the mix, look for Quade to get the nod.
In the meantime, you might want to pay close attention to the Yankees' progress in the playoffs. Once their season ends, the Cubs' managerial search should follow shortly thereafter.
You can read part three of this series, which covers the team's in-house pitching options, by following this link.
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