Come to Think of It: Who Should Be the Next Cubs Manager?

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer IOctober 8, 2009

If 2010 is the last season of Lou Piniella’s managerial career, and all indications seem to point that direction, then the obvious question is who should take over the reigns when he leaves?

To that end, I considered some candidates who may be available if and when Lou finally hangs ‘em up for good, and tried to document what I believe to be the pros and cons of each alternative.

I would love to know what you think.

Bob Brenly

We all know that Bob won a World Series title with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001. Many also feel that his experience in the booth as the Cubs color analyst has prepared him well to manage the Cubs. He certainly knows the players well; he knows their tendencies and has formed opinions about how they play and he seems to know his stuff.

But is he a good manager? ESPN’s Keith Law told me he does not think so. Law told me that he was the classic over-manager, who abused his pitching staff. Despite that, I would take a serious look at Bob, who I think would jump at the opportunity.

Bob’s Odds: 5-1

Alan Trammell

There are some who feel that Tram should be in the Hall of Fame, but it isn’t because of his record as a manager. He has a .383 winning percentage in three seasons at the Tigers helm, though he admittedly had some awful teams to manage.

While the lack of talent during his stint with Detroit makes it hard to assess his ability as a manager, he does share some of the similar advantages that makes Brenly a viable option. As Lou’s bench coach since 2007, Tram has obviously worked closely with the team and even managed them when Lou was out.

The downside is that he would not really be a new voice in the dugout, and that may be what the team needs.

Bob’s Odds: 20-1

Ryne Sandberg

There is no doubting how badly Ryno wants to be a major league manager. Specifically, he wants to manage the Cubs, the team he spent the majority of his Hall of Fame playing career with, and the team for which he currently manages in the minors for.

Unlike his playing days, when he seemingly never had a thought to share, or a word to express out loud, Ryno has come out of his shell as a minor league skipper.

He has had success, too.

Although great players in any sport seldom make the best coaches and managers, I like the cut of his jib. Instead of going the route of the pampered ex-athlete, Ryno is riding buses in the minors in an attempt to learn the craft and gain the necessary experience.

Still, he is obviously unproven as a leader of men at the major league level, since he was only a leader by example in his playing days. New owner Tom Ricketts is said to  have an affinity for old number 23, and will likely have his full support when the time comes.

Ryno is the odds-on favorite in my mind, though Jim Hendry does prefer his managers to have previous major league experience. But even Lou thinks Ryno has a good chance to be his successor:

"Ryne had a Hall of Fame career here as a player," Piniella said. "I'm not the one who's going to be hiring the next manager here, but certainly, he'll be in the mix."

Bob’s Odds: 3-1


Bobby Valentine

The ex-Met skipper ended his six-year association as manager in Japan, where he enjoyed much success and really seemed to integrate well into the culture.

Bobby V accepted a position as a postseason analyst for ESPN, a role he will continue in 2010 unless he decides to return to managing in the majors.

While Valentine is considered an excellent manager, he has a big ego and has had some controversy throughout his career. He had a personal conflict with his GM in his first stint as manager in Japan and later had a rough relationship with then-Mets GM .


Then there was "The Whartongate Affair” in 2000. Still, the man has had success as a manager, though it is doubtful he would be considered by the Cubs. There are strong indications that he could become the next manager of the Washington Nationals.

Valentine might be too much of a self-promoter. Plus, he might be out of the market by the time Lou retires.

Bob’s Odds: 50-1

Tony LaRussa

Tony has said that since he has managed teams that have won 100 games and World Series titles in both leagues, the only challenge left for him would be to try and win with the Cubs.

Before you scoff, consider that LaRussa loves Chicago. He loved living here when he managed the Sox and has always considered this city home.

He may lose his long-time pitching coach, Dave Duncan, who is likely to leave the Cardinals organization after the postseason. So, the benefit of hiring LaRussa is reduced somewhat, as a LaRussa/Duncan combo would be more attractive.

Still, though Cubs fans hate the Cards, LaRussa is a solid manager as long as he isn’t another manager who comes here to retire. He would be my choice but I think it’s  doubtful.

Bob’s Odds: 15-1

Joe Girardi

I’m sure there are plenty of Cubs fans who would like to see Girardi manage the Cubs. But his availability will hinge on how the Yankees do in this postseason as well as next season. The Yankees may not be your father’s Yankees, but winning is still a prerequisite.  

Would Girardi leave the Yanks to manage the Cubs, considering how much he loves Chicago? Only if he does not enjoy success in New York, and he either gets fired or becomes the target of abuse by fans and the media. Winning in New York is exhilarating, and remember, Joe also loved the Big Apple from his time as a player there.

I’m on the fence as to whether Joe is a solid manager or not. He has had some decent results in both Florida and NY, but the jury is still out on how effective of a manager he is.

Bob’s Odds: 12-1

Buck Showalter

Now here’s a name that hasn’t in any way been associated with the Cubs before. Showalter understands the game; the main knock against him is that he is too rules-crazy.

It was largely Buck’s team that Brenly won with in 2001. In fact, maybe that’s the best reason to hire Buck—twice his teams have won the World Series the year after he was fired (1996 Yankees).

So, while his plan for realigning baseball might be lacking, Buck is a smart baseball man but players get tired of his act very quickly.

Bob’s Odds: 50-1


The “other” list includes such retreads as Willie Randolph, Eric Wedge, Ned Yost, Larry Bowa, Don Baylor, Phil Garner, Jim Fregosi, Cecil Cooper, Manny Acta, Lloyd McClendon, et al. But it shouldn’t include anyone without previous managerial experience. For that’s the only thing holding Ryno back.  

And finally…

Bob Warja

Oh yeah, this is about as likely as a heat wave in January in Chicago. And anyway, Hendry’s job is the one I want, come to think of it…lol.


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