By Kevin Jackman
Its been awhile since a baseball story has last made its way onto this website due to an atrocious season by the Cubs, but the hope and excitement has been rekindled by the 37-year old GM of the Boston Red Sox. Known for his uncanny knack for finding great prospects and being able to attract big-named players, Theo Epstein collected not one, but two championships with the Red Sox in a nine-year span.
Let me know if this scenario sound familiar:
Epstein started with the Red Sox in the midst of a long championship drought, plagued by a “curse”. He had a young superstar at shortstop in Nomar Garciaparra at the time, but some very mediocre pieces around him, especially the pitching staff. The budget was large, and over the course of the next nine years, he successfully got rid of Manny Ramirez and his large contract in left field.
If you said this sounds like it could be the Cubs, you’re correct.
Undoubtedly, when the Cubs fired Jim Hendry, picking up a GM with the track record and youthful charisma of Theo Epstein seemed like only a fantasy in the eyes of Cubs’ fans. But now it’s reality. It’s time to embrace a new chapter in the Cubs long, long history and shed the curses and the drought. One problem…
Who is going to be the manager of this new era? While I think Mike Quade certainly deserves a shot at proving himself with a team that is built to contend, he just isn’t the man for the job. There is so much excitement that is bound to build around this team, and Quade just seems like a Debby Downer. Obviously by finishing the season behind the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cubs’ fans are going to have a bitter taste in their mouth when thinking about the manager who steered the ship of the edge of a cliff.
With that, here are the managers I find to be attractive options for the 2012 season:
- Terry Francona– several reports have surfaced that marital and pain-killer problems distracted the once revered coach of the Red Sox, but I don’t buy into it. This guy is a true professional and every one of his players loves and respects the guy. The only problem is the possibility that there was a wedge between Epstein and Tito in the last few years. Regardless, this guy knows how to get things done and would be able to turn the Cubs around in a hurry.
- Ryne Sandberg– Hiring Ryno wouldn’t just be a goo move for the ball club, but it would also be a huge PR move for the Cubs. This is a guy that is beloved by every fan of the North Siders. He has paid his dues in the Minors and should be given an opportunity to manage in the big leagues. The guy has an undeniable passion for the game, something that the Cubs didn’t appear to have this season.
- Bob Brenly– Hey, this guy won a World Series too. Just because he’s been stuck in a booth for a few years doesn’t mean he lost his touch with the lineup card. If anything, Brenly would be the person most ready for the job, having been around the team and involved with the team the most over the last few season. Only problem is I find Bob to be a bit stale at times, not showing as much passion as Tito or Ryno do. He also needs to find a nickname to compete with those guys too…
All three of these candidates are qualified and readily available, it’s just a matter of who Epstein prefers. My prediction- Ryne Sandberg will be donning the pinstripes on the bench and be the face of the Cubs turnaround. Something we have needed for some time.