The common belief is that the Chicago Cubs are first going to have hire their general manager before they can hire a new manager to replace Mike Quade. Team chairman Tom Ricketts–who signed Oneri Fleita to a four year extension, and assured Tim Wilken that he will return next season–wants to hold off on making any more executive decisions until the general manager is in place. Whether or not a managerial hire falls under that category remains to be seen. But there is no secret that Mike Quade only has three games left as the Cubs’ manager, as Ricketts may decide to pull the plug on Quade before the general manager is in place.
If that happens, Ricketts may also have to take control of the Cubs’ managerial search. Ricketts is aiming high in the Cubs’ general manager search and is hoping that he can land Theo Epstein, Andrew Friedman, or Billy Beane. The Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays are currently tied for the American League Wild Card, that could be a key series to watch in relation to the Cubs’ general managerial search. The Red Sox have been free-falling while the Rays have been taking advantage of the Red Sox collapse. If the Rays overcome the Red Sox in the Wild Card race, Ricketts will be able to inquire on Epstein’s availability as soon as the regular season concludes. The same could be said about Friedman, if the Rays finish second to the Red Sox.
No matter who prevails between the Red Sox and Rays, the Cubs general manager search may not conclude until early November at the latest. Ricketts wants to be as thorough as possible, and will exhaust every effort on every candidate before finally deciding who is the right candidate to take over the Cubs’ general manager position.
If the process of finding a new general manager drags into late October or early November, Ricketts will likely have to go ahead and find a replacement to Quade. Though, Ricketts may already have the next manager in place. According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times, sources within the organization expect Ryne Sandberg to return to the Cubs’ organization by the start of next season. While the report fails to concretely connect Sandberg to the Cubs’ managerial position, if the hall of fame second baseman returns to the Cubs’ organization, it will likely be as manager of the major league team.
Sandberg is going to be at the major league level next season, the only question is whether it will be with the Philadelphia Phillies or the Cubs. The Phillies plan to promote Sandberg to major league level next season as the bench coach to Charlies Manuel. Sandberg is viewed as Manuel’s heir apparent, and Ricketts will have to act fast if he intends for Sandberg to be the manager of the Cubs next season. Ricketts was pushing for Sandberg last winter, though fomer general manager Jim Hendry had full authority to hire the Cubs’ next manager last off-season, which would be why Quade was named the manager over Sandberg. Though with Hendry no longer with the Cubs’ organization, the foundation may have been laid for Sandberg to return to the Cubs as their major league manager.