Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella’s contract is up at the end of this year, and while he gets all the support in the world from Jim Hendry and Tom Ricketts, there is no denying the undercurrent of opposition to having him back as manager next year.
So if Piniella is out for 2011, who’s in? Various names have been mentioned – AAA Iowa manager Ryne Sandberg, announcer and former manager Bob Brenly – but one that hasn’t is the last guy the Cubs strong considered for a managerial spot: Joe Girardi. Would he even consider heading out from the Yanks (where he’s under contract just through this year) to come to Chicago?
In fact, Chicago favorite son Joe Girardi — the man who got that New York job a year later — still calls the Cubs’ managing job attractive.
”It’s a great city, it’s a great baseball town, yeah,” the Peoria native and originally drafted Cub says even now. Even with the confetti still occasionally falling from a sock or shirt sleeve after that latest World Series he presided over as the Yankees’ second-year manager in October.
But would the Northwestern grad and All-Star Cubs catcher with four Yankees rings — three as a player — again consider tackling what might be the only great challenge in the game he hasn’t already taken down in his young managing career.
Maybe even now?
What’s certain is this: The 45-year-old who won a Manager of the Year award in Florida in his first season on the job and a World Series in New York in his third season as a manager (second with the Yanks) is not under contract beyond this season.
What’s nearly as certain is that the Cubs will have a managerial opening after this season, whether because Piniella steps down, is not asked back or by some mutual decision.
And for all the attention and sentiment directed Ryne Sandberg’s way by those speculating on Piniella’s successor, it’s hard to imagine a more suitable replacement than the other guy who played there, is from there, has succeeded at two different ends of the major-league managing spectrum and has commanded respect and performance from young teams in Florida as well as celebrity teams in New York.
”That’s not something I would talk about now,” he said. ”I grew up in Peoria. I grew up a Cub fan. But right now, I’m extremely happy where I’m at.” CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.
Interestingly, throughout the article, Girardi is quoted just like that – saying how much he loves the Cubs, but how happy he is right now. Not once does he say something like, “I really hope to stay with the Yankees for years to come.” Of course, that could well be clever quoting by a Chicago Cubs’ writer, but it is interesting nonetheless.