Sandberg denied the dream of a Cub and its fans

This week, the Cubs announced that they had made their choice, Mike Quade, for their new manager for their major league team. Towards the end of the 2010 season, Pinella left the team early to go home for “family” reasons. I can’t blame him for not finishing the season as the team was an embarrassment. Mike Quade became the interim manager once Lou left. Interestingly enough, the bench coach, Alan Trammel, was not even considered for the job. When Quade was named interim manager, Jim Hendry, the Cubs GM, stated that Trammel was not made interim manager because he was not going to be considered for the job of manager. Never mind that Trammel is the second in command and takes over when the manager gets ejected. Quade had started the season as the Cubs’ 3rd base coach. He had been the 3rd base coach for the Cubs since 2006, and was the manager for the AAA Iowa Cubs for 3 years. He has spent a total of 17 seasons as coach and manager in a number of baseball organizations in the minor leagues. Quade finished the 2010 season going 24-13.

A number of prospective managers put their hat in the ring for the managing job of the Cubs. Many fans seemed to think Joe Girardi was a prospective candidate for the job, I really doubt it. Granted, he’s an Illinois native, a former Cubs catcher, and really likes the Chicago area. He even applied for the job back when Lou was hired. He has been a successful manager and is currently in the last year of his contract with the New York Yankees. I don’t see him wanting to leave a job with a championship calibre team like the Yankees to try and bring a losing Cubs team a World Series that has eluded other managers for the last 102 years. That and he would come with a large price tag.

Many folks seemed to think that Bob Brenly was a good candidate. He is currently one of the broadcasters for the Cubs television games. People point to his World Series Championship with the AZ Diamond Backs. I personally don’t think that means anything. He came into that team after Buck Showalter built it from its first year as an expansion team, and walked right into a well built team for it to win the world series. He didn’t win any more World Series after that first year.

Perhaps the most notable name that was interviewing for the Cubs managing position was Ryne Sandberg. Yes, Ryno, the Hall of Fame second baseman for the Cubs. A player that has a very large following amongst not only Cubs fans, but baseball fans in general. Personally, I believe he’s the best second baseman to ever play the game, but I’m also a little biased because he was my childhood hero growing up. Ryno not only was a great player in his skills, but the way he carried himself was also really good. He has often been described as a class act.

I have mixed emotions about the whole thing, but overall I am disappointed, which is the same word Ryno used to describe how he feels about the decision. That link has a radio interview with him about an hour after the decision had been made. I’ve read much more negative feedback from fans about choosing to hire Quade instead of Ryno.

Ryno first threw his hat into the ring in 2006 when the Cubs were doing their search to replace Dusty Baker. Jim Hendry, the Cubs GM, was surprised to hear from Sandberg that he wanted to manage. He told Ryno that he felt he lacked the experience to manage in the majors, especially a big market team like the Cubs. So, Ryno set about getting the job the right way, just like he played, by going back to the minor leagues and managing for the Cubs in their minor league system. He spent 4 years managing minor league teams. He didn’t just manage them to buy his time, his first season he took his team to the post season, and his last season he also took his team to the post season. Also his last year as manager of the AAA Iowa Cubs, he won the Manager of the Yearaward for the Pacific Coast league.

Arguments can be made that managing a minor league team and a major league team  are not the same. Managing minor leaguers is more of a coaching job and managing in the majors is more about managing egos, attitudes, personalities, and the press. But, Ryno has spent the last 4 years in the farm system of the Cubs learning how to develop players and getting to know the players that may become the future of the Cubs. Seeing as how the Cubs are moving towards a rebuilding period which will require getting young players, who better to manage a team of young players than the man that has been with many of these players for the last four years. The players respect Ryno because of what he has taught them and he knows their capabilities.

Instead, the Cubs are going with a guy that no one in the last 20 years has seemed fit to manage a major league team. Has Quade’s abilities changed that much in the last 37 games of the season to suddenly make him a good choice as manager for a big market team?

The 2010 season was an embarassment for the Cubs (75-87) who finished 5th, 16 games behind the NL Central leading Reds. The Cubs entered the season with the 2nd highest payroll in the Majors at $144,359,000, only behind the Yankees. Check out this break down of the team that someone put together. That is a lot of money to pay for a 5th place team. And that money part can only be blamed on Jim Hendry.

The man is a horrible GM. Jim Hendy decided to pay the mediocre talent on the Cubs way more than they are worth. On top of that, at the beginning of the 2010 season, the Cubs had 6 players with no trade clauses in their contracts. That doesn’t include the 10-5 men on the team. By comparison, the next team with the highest number of no trade clauses was the San Francisco Giants with 4. Even the Yankees don’t have that many. Typically, the no trade clause is given to the highest caliber player to encourage them to sign with you. It is a risk for the team because if they player is no longer performing, they are stuck with the player unless the player ok’s a trade. The list for the Cubs at the beginning of 2010 included:

  1. Carlos Zambrano P $18. 875 mil
  2. Aflonso Soriano OF $19 mil
  3. Aramis Ramirez 3B $16.75 mil
  4. Ted Lilly P $13 mil
  5. Kosuke Fukodome OF $14 mil
  6. Jeff Samardzija P $3 mil
  7. Derrick Lee(10/5) 1B $13 mil
  8. Ryan Dempster (10/5) P $13.5 mil

I wouldn’t consider any of these guys to be high caliber players. Heck, not even one of them made it to the All Star team this year. My favorite of those signings was Fukodome. He was signed to that much money and a no trade clause, and he had NEVER even seen a big league pitch. Granted, he was really good in Japan, but that’s not the same. The Cubs managed to get two of those contracts off the books during the season. Here’s a breakdown of what these overpaid no trade guys gave the Cubs. For $111,375,000 we got:

  • OPS .750
  • H 461 (at $143,507.97 per H for the hitters)
  • HR 79 (at $807,692.31 per HR for the hitters)
  • R 245 (at $266,949.15 per R for the hitters)
  • RBI 272 (at $240,458.02 per RBI for the hitters)
  • SB 13
  • ERA 3.58
  • WHIP 1.25
  • H/9 7.689
  • BB/9 3.549
  • K/IP .818
  • K/BB 2.074
  • Pitching Wins-Losses 31-28
  • Winning% for pitching .525
  • Pitching Price/win $1,560,483.87
  • Pitching Price/IP $93,508.38

This is abysmal. All but two of the teams (Yankees and Phillies) that made it to the post season paid less than that $111 million for their ENTIRE team. A link to my spreadsheet for this data. I got most of my data from

Why am I presenting all of this data? It is to show that Jim Hendry has a history of making bad decisions with signing people for his ball club. Let’s not for get about Milton Bradley, another player with a no trade clause. Although, I have to give Hendry credit for trading him away for Silva. Silva isn’t great, but he does more for the team than Bradley would have done. It has been rumored that Hendry made Piniella play these high dollar players despite their poor performance. I can understand the idea that you don’t want to pay lots of money for a player to sit on the bench. But there comes a time that when another player is performing better, that you need to play the guy that will help you win games.

It is my fear that one of the reasons that Ryno was not chosen is because he understands this basic element of baseball, that you play the guys that are doing good and bench the ones that aren’t. I have a feeling that Ryno would have refused to listen to Hendry and play who he wanted to play. Quade on the other hand is so grateful to finally be managing a big league club after several years of not, that he will do what ever his boss says to keep his job. And another thing, the Cubs owners just spent $145 million on a team that got nowhere last year. They saw attendance and TV viewers drop. The Cubs have become a money pit for the new ownership. Quade is a nobody and he will be a much cheaper deal than any other known manager candidate.

Ryno was a great player, a good person, and showed good results in managing the minors. Here’s a link to a post about how the Cubs have turned their back on Sandberg. It’s a shame how they don’t honor the hard work that Sandberg has done for the organization. Gene Wojciechowski has a nice article about how not choosing Sandberg was a bad choice.

The Cubs are not going to do well, again, next year. Its my belief that if the Cubs had hired Ryno, fans would have come to the games just for that. I don’t know what they are planning to do to get the fans to fill seats or watch on TV, but sure isn’t going to be the team they are fielding.

While part of me is glad that Ryno will not be stepping to the mess of what will be a horrible team for next year, another part of me would love to see Ryno be the guy to bring a World Series ring to the Cubs. Tigers fans can remember what happened to their beloved Alan Trammel. He was brought in to manage the Tigers and left town being remembered as having a horrible record for managing. Sandberg fans would not want that to befall Ryno which is a very real reality with the current state of the team.

I’m afraid that this will sever Sandberg’s desire to associate himself with the Cubs in the future. He says at this point he wants to move up to the majors. There are plenty of vacancies for managers this year, I’m sure someone out there will be smart enough to hire him. Cubs fans will be disappointed to see him take another team to the World Series before the Cubs get there and will wonder, what if…..

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