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.

  • jstraw

    I found the wording interesting for the same reasons. When the story was Torre, he said NFW without actually saying NFW. This is different. If the quotes are accurate and accurately represented, then Girardi was careful not to rule it out.

  • KB

    Negotiating ploy.
    The Yanks are obviously dicking him around some, or else he’d have already secured a juicy extension. By introducing the idea of another “jewel” team with a massive payroll that could be seeking his services, he becomes more attractive to NY.

    To me, that seems obvious. However, if the Spankees are really playing loose with Girardi, I’d LOVE to have him with the Cubs. Not to put down what Lou has accomplished here, but most of us were pro-Girardi even 3 years ago, and he’s certainly burnished his credentials since then.

  • jstraw

    Right. But there’s almost no practical difference between a negotiating ploy and hedging one’s bets. For it to be an effective ploy, the Yankees have to believe there’s a threat that it’s real. If there’s a threat that it’s real…it could be real. So, yeah…play hardball, Joe. We’ll be your safety net.

    • KB

      Totally agree with that post. I think he’s a far better choice than Ryno, though I have fond feelings for the HOFer (like every Cub fan does).

      • jstraw

        I still want a list of every HOFer that led a team to the post season as a manager.

        • KB

          Tris Speaker, Lou Boudreau, Yogi Berra…I’m sure there are others.
          But your point is apt; most HOF talents tend to not be good managers.

  • Bric

    Though I’m pretty sure the above picture is from the announcement of Darryl Kyle’s death (which isn’t a laughing matter), the expressions of Girardi, Lieber, and Prior appear as though they’re doing their best Moe, Curly, and Larry impression. That’s kinda funny. Good pic, Ace.

  • KB

    Leiber really does look like a cross between Scott Rolen and Curly.

  • curt

    hey i know this is off topic but joey votto is a complete jackass and now im srry i voted the turd in srry just had 2 get that off my chest

    • Ace

      Indeed he is – post is up about it now.

  • Umpirejim

    I go with Sandberg he needs young players WITH TALENT ! Sandberg is truely
    Cubby Blue. He”ll have them playing hard just like he did.