Up to this point, all the signs pointed to Ryne Sandberg being the lead candidate to become the next manager of the Chicago Cubs. However, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun Times is reporting that the Chicago Cubs have labeled Fredi Gonzalez as the top candidate for the managerial opening. Wittenmyer also reported that there is a chance that the Cubs and Gonzalez come to terms before the season is over. For what it is worth, Gonzalez was widely anticipated to be the next Braves manager once Bobby Cox retires after this season.
A couple of factors that have lead to Gonzalez being the top candidate for the Cubs position is his relationships with latin players, as well as his decisive handling of players. The whole reason Gonzalez is even available was because he was wrongly fired because of benching Hanley Ramirez due to lack of hustle. Despite the Marlins disapproval, the Chicago Cubs as well as many other teams applaud the way Gonzalez handled Ramirez. Many within Baseball also consider Gonzalez to be one of the best and brightest of the current young managers that are out there in the MLB.
It also is apparent that Fredi Gonzalez and Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry have a really good friendship with one another. The two have known each other since high school, and had a good relationship when both were part of the Florida Marlins Organization.
"Gonzalez, 46, has a strong relationship with Hendry that goes back three decades and included time together in the Marlins organization.Reached by phone Tuesday night, Gonzalez would neither confirm nor deny interest in the job or contact by the Cubs.”I don’t have anything I can tell you,” he said, ”except Jim and I go back to my high school days. He coached one of the opposing teams when I played. And we worked together with the Marlins.” CHICAGO SUN TIMES"
As for the reported interest from the Atlanta Braves, sources indicated to the Sun Times that Braves have never once gave any indication to Gonzalez or any other candidate about their intentions for next season. Which is why the Cubs have probably targeted Gonzalez as they guy they want as their new manager.
Even though the Cubs would like their next manager to have experience managing in the major leagues, sources have indicated that they have not removed Ryne Sandberg from the list of candidates. General Manager Jim Hendry is traveling with the Iowa Cubs this week, and is expected to interview Ryne Sandberg at some point about the managerial opening.
The goal for Hendry and the Cubs is to have a new manager before their organizational meetings, which take place right after the World Series concludes. Out of the two, I would have to say that Gonzalez has the more appeal to me as a fan. I love the way he handled Hanley Ramirez, and his attitude about the game of baseball. That is the guy that I feel would be best suited for the Cubs opening.