It was the largely unspoken bitter part of the almost exclusively sweet 2015 Chicago Cubs run.
In 2014, as the young Cubs unquestionably turned a corner in the second half, and started to play well despite there still being a clear, development-heavy focus, the team’s manager was Rick Renteria. The long-time, well-respected Padres bench coach had finally gotten his shot, and he was making the most of it. Any observer would agree that, although almost every manager has things upon which he could improve, Renteria was doing a good job. He was clearly putting players in a position to succeed, and creating an environment in which young players could thrive. In the first year of a three-year contract, he was going to be around for the fruits of his effort.
But then Joe Maddon happened.
The former Rays manager opted out of his contract in Tampa Bay last fall, and the Cubs jumped at what was quite literally a once-in-a-great-while opportunity. Given how 2015 played out, I don’t think anyone has even the tiniest bit of regret about that decision.
But the decision also required letting Renteria, a successful first year manager, go. So the Cubs did.
I actually thought about Renteria a good bit this past season as he stayed out of the spotlight. I wondered what he was thinking. How he was feeling. How hard it may have been to watch this team that he led reasonably well for a season become a behemoth without him. Usually, by the time my vicarious sadness had reached a level where I started to put fingers to keys, the Cubs had hit another monster homer or won another walk-off game or done something delightfully silly, and I moved on.
So, I am glad to say today that Rick Renteria is coming back to Chicago. No, not with the Cubs, who did offer him another spot in the organization when they moved him out of the managerial seat last year (an offer he most understandably declined). He’s set to become Robin Ventura’s new bench coach for the White Sox.
Good for him. I suspect he had his pick of several coaching jobs over the past 12 months, and I sincerely hope he does well after his year off.
I’d still like to hear from him, directly, about that year, but I’d also understand if he didn’t have too much he’d want to say. It was a rough thing that happened to him. The Cubs had to do what they did, and clearly made the right decision. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a little bittersweet.