Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella isn’t but two days into his official lame duck period, having announced earlier this week that he would retire at the end of this season. But that’s not stopping the cavalcade of folks interested in becoming the next Cubs manager from perking right up – well, or at least it’s not stopping the media from tugging the ear of every possible candidate.
A rundown, for your convenience:
Obviously AAA Iowa manager and Hall of Fame Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg is very interested. Jim Hendry has already said that Ryno will be an official candidate, so I suppose you can call him the leader in the clubhouse right now – even though the clubhouse is several miles away, and you’re in an electric golf cart. If we were talking about a team like the Pittsburgh Pirates, and a successful Pirates AAA manager who was also a Hall of Fame Pirates legend, there would be no discussion – the guy would get the job. But the Cubs are not the Pirates, and they’ll search far and wide for the right guy, which may or may not ultimately be Sandberg.
Dodger manager Joe Torre was a rumored successor for Piniella a couple of months ago, given his impending managerial free agency, and penchant for handling high-pressure gigs. For his part, Torre has done little to quell the rumors: he says he’s not expecting to go somewhere else next year, but he’s not ruling anything out, either.
Chicago Cubs color man and former World Series-winning manager Bob Brenly says he’d like to get another look for the opening. Brenly interviewed for the gig four years ago before Piniella was hired, and has taken a couple interviews for open managerial positions over the past few years.
Bench coach Alan Trammell, a former manager, is one of the few candidates keeping relatively mum. He says he enjoyed managing in the past (despite managing one of the worst teams in recent memory, the 2003-05 Detroit Tigers), but because there are still two months left in the season, now isn’t the right time to discuss any possible candidacy. He probably feels some loyalty to Piniella in that regard.
Among the external candidates, former Marlins skipper Fredi Gonzalez is likely to be a fan favorite, as an up-and-comer. A Major League source indicates that Gonzalez will definitely be among those interviewed for the job, though many have him tabbed as the future manager of the Atlanta Braves, whenever Bobby Cox hangs ‘em up.
Last for now – but certainly not least – is former Chicago Cub and current New York Yankee manager Joe Girardi. He’s going to be the top choice of many in Chicago, and is currently waiting for the Yankees to indicate that they want to sign him to a new contract after this season, when his current contract expires. But until there is a suggestion that the Yankees do not intend to retain him or that he would prefer to be in Chicago, Girardi is unlikely to become a serious candidate.