While news of a government shut down dominates national news headlines, Cubs fans will also be keeping on eye out on Cubbies Crib and social media to get the latest on the status of manager Dale Sveum. The front office tag team of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will be meeting with Sveum and his staff today to discuss their future on the North Side. Mean while, speculation on Sveum’s firing and his potential replacements has started to pick up steam in recent days.
Jacob passed along the thoughts of Peter Gammons a few days ago, with the well connected baseball guru at ESPN even name dropping Brad Ausmus as the man for the job. The former Astros catcher is known for his mental prowess behind the plate during his playing days and certainly was a key cog on some successful Houston squads. Catchers have been known to convert into successful managers, with Joe Girardi and Mike Matheny being a pair of recent examples. But Ausmus also has no managerial experience or even an extensive coaching history, as he currently serves as a special assistant to the Padres. Cubs fans just have to gaze a few miles down Interstate 94 to see how a manager with no experience worked out on the South Side.
The current desired name is the above mentioned Girardi. The former Cubs fan and catcher was drafted by his hometown team before he went on to have success with the Yankees as both a player and now a manager. Girardi got the most out of an injury laden veteran team despite falling short of a 2013 playoff appearance. Combined with an expired contract with no mention of extension talks having leaked out, the timing may be right for the Northwestern University grad to come back home. As Jacob also brought to our attention yesterday, Girardi finally spoke to the media about his future in New York, but it is still unknown whether the former back stop is seriously considering the Cubs post.
Mean while, some Cubs fans may still be disappointed with the North Siders for not having chosen Ryne Sandberg to lead the Cubs from the third base dugout. The story of passing over the Hall of Fame player for the Cubs job is well repeated by now. And of course the former All Star second baseman was promoted to his managerial debut by the Phillies this summer before having the interim tag removed just about a week ago.
Even if Sandberg had made it to the off season without a permanent offer from Philadelphia, would Epstein and Company have reached out to the Cubs legend? And would Sandberg have seriously listened to the conversation? Being the class act that he is, Ryno certainly has not gotten personal with his comments on being overlooked for the Cubs job in the past. But there are some who feel that the Wrigley Field great may have a grudge with the current front office on the North Side. At the time, those defending the decision not to hire Sandberg argued about the awkward situation of having to fire a team legend. While it will never be known for certain whether the Cubs would have been just as bad under Ryno with this roster as they have been under Sveum, it would not be unreasonable to imagine Epstein and Hoyer having to mull the decision of giving Sandberg the pink slip today instead of Sveum.
Assuming there is nothing against Sandberg from the viewpoint of Epstein and Company, the time would have been now to see what he could do on the North Side. The Cubs rode Sveum through what figures to be the ugliest years of the rebuild process. With the level of talent that is beginning to make its push to Wrigley from down in the farm system, Sandberg’s history of success in the minors would figure to translate at the Major League level. Ryno could have certainly developed into a Girardi caliber manager, growing along with his young players.
Sandberg went 17-16 during his interim stint as manager of the Phillies. Combined with his success in the minors as a manager and current veteran players being familiar with the Hall of Famer during his time as the third base coach, Philadelphia went ahead and made the move permanent. The Phillies will most likely look to reload instead of rebuild, with veterans such as Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Roy Holladay figuring to stick around. Should Ryno have some success in the next couple of years, he would cement his job security in the city known for cheesesteaks for near future.
And with that the timing is yet again bad for a Cubs and Sandberg reunion.