Ever since Jim Hendry was fired last summer, most of us assumed that Mike Quade was fired as well, he just didn’t know it yet. Perhaps Ricketts gave Quade’s pink slip to a spare Molina brother to deliver, so he should get the news sometime this month. A few names have been floated as possible new managers, but it hadn’t crossed my mind that we could see a few changes at the other major coaching positions as well. Here’s a look at the current coaches and their chances.
Incumbent: Mike Quade
If Cuey wants to stick around, he’s going to need to distance himself from The Hendry Way of doing things pretty quickly and make it clear to Epstein and the new Cubs brass that he’s open to their new way of business. Our main complaints about Cuey last year were his in-game tactical decision making and his dumb nicknames. As MB has repeatedly pointed out, all managers make dumb mistakes, leave pitchers in too long, etc. etc. so it’s tough to judge how bad he really is relative to other managers. One nice thing about the new regime is that they can actually break down his ~200 or so games managing the Cubs and make an informed decision about that (I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence). Two things working in Cuey’s favor are that he does a decent job of dealing with the Cubs media (in particular how he handled the Silva situation last ST, and Z’s first incident. He didn’t do a great job with the second, larger Z incident but that kind of took everyone by surprise. Quade also knows the young players in the Cubs org fairly well having coached them previously. Going into 2011 that was regarded as a plus, especially for the young pitchers who were intimidated by Lou’s treatment of them. On the flip side, there were a lot of rumblings that Quade did not get along well with the veterans in the clubhouse. The Superfriends will take a look at the whole Quade situation but it’s a pretty good bet that he won’t be able to escape the shadow of Jim Hendry and will get the axe.
Candidate: Ryne Sandberg
This is certianly the fan favorite to take the job. Even more importantly, reading the tea leaves last year it was also Tom Ricketts’s preferred choice as well. Like Quade he spent plenty of time in the Cubs org so he knows many of the young players, and his stature should help him with the media. Two things are often mentioned with regards to Sandberg and I don’t think either of them matter very much. One common complaint is that Sandberg is inexperienced, as he’s never managed or so much as coached on the big league level. I don’t think this is that big of a deal. If Bob Brenly can win a World Series, that tells you how much experience really matters (laughing). One common thing mentioned in Sandberg’s favor is that the Red Sox tried to hire him for their AAA manager job after he lost out on the Cubs job. That doesn’t tell me much either – it was just a minor league gig. If they wanted him to come in as a bench coach or something I think that would have said more. The only thing that could hold Sandberg back is how willing he is to work with the new front office. It remains to see how much of his whole Let’s Play The Game The Right Way HOF speech was fluff and how much of it set forth his managing agenda.
Candidate: Terry Francona
In the aftermath of the Francona resignation and Epstein coming to Chicago there was a lot of wishcasting that Theo’s successful manager could come along too. Francona’s firing played a role in Epstein choosing to leave the Red Sox, though that probably has more to do with management than Francona himself. If anything the example of Francona could be a good one for Quade. Francona was regarded as a relatively poor manager before coming to Boston, and became a much better one while learning on the job. I think Francona stays out of the dugout for the year while looking for the cure to seventeen stab wounds in the back, courtesy of the Boston front office. Hopefully he lands a color gig somewhere, as he was great replacing McCarver this postseason.
Candidate: Bud Black
Someone (Phil Rogers?) was floating this idea around a few days ago, but I don’t think it was anything more than wishcasting. As far as I know, no source from the front office has said anything about Black.
Incumbent: Mark Riggins
It says a lot about Riggins that I keep typing his name as John Riggins. Must be a result of growing up in the DC area. He’s a pretty forgettable guy, and Ricketts has shown with the hiring of Jaramillo that he doesn’t have a problem paying for big name coaches. If Quade goes, so does Riggins.
Candidate: Dave Duncan
Now that La Russa is retired I was thinking that Dave Duncan might be a target for the Cubs until Rice Cube pointed out that his family situation should keep him in St. Louis. I wouldn’t be surprised if he retires to spend more time with his wife. I wish them all the best.
Candidate: Greg Maddux
Since retiring Maddux has hung around as a Special Assistant to the GM and Executive Vice President of Hitting the Golf Courses. I’ve always had the vibe that the pitching coach job is there if he ever wants it, and I’m sure they’ve already offered it to him once or twice. I don’t know if hiring Sandberg would make any difference for him, as I never got the vibe that the two of them were friends though anyone who followed the team back then is welcome to correct me. If Maddux does join the team he would be filling the dual roles of pitching coach and Kevin Millar Memorial President of Fart Jokes.
Candidate: Mike Maddux
His name was floating around a few days ago, possibly for the full managerial position, but he’s always been a pitching coach. Supposedly he’s on Boston’s list in their managerial search, along with Dale Sveum (dying laughing). It would be quite entertaining if he became the manager and Greg was the pitching coach. He’s currently employed by the Rangers, though I can’t find any info about how long his contract runs. Maybe the Cubs can hire him as President of Pitching Operations to try to convince the Rangers that it’s a promotion.
Incumbent: Rudy Jaramillo
This front has been much more quiet – it only crossed my mind because I was thinking about pitching coaches. But I wonder if his job could be in danger. He was a high profile signing in the pre-2010 offseason as the Ricketts family was taking over the team, and since then the team has continued to hack, hack, hack. Given the new front office directive to encourage players to work more counts, it’s possible he may be let go. He is on the third year of a 3/2.4 deal. I don’t know enough about hitting coaches to know who might replace him. Given his salary and stature he’s definitely the most likely member of the staff to stick around, but I would be surprised if the Cubs don’t go another way when his contract is up. Zonk will also be happy to see him go, as he always has a horrible time pronouncing his name (laughing).
As far as the other coaches go (bench, bullpen, etc), those guys are pretty much just picked by whoever the manager is so they’ll all likely leave with Quade.