As news spread yesterday that Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein had flown to Florida to tell Manager Mike Quade he was being relieved of his managerial duties, fans on Twitter and Facebook showed excitement about the possibility that Ryne Sandberg could become the next Cubs manager. But as quickly as they jumped to the conclusion that this might be Sandberg’s big break, their hearts were broken when they found out that Epstein had called Sandberg after his meeting with Quade to tell him he was not being considered for a job in the dugout with the Cubs. Crushed fans suddenly began declaring their dislike of Epstein. Excitement turned to anger. Talk about emotional swings.
Epstein made it very clear in a press release yesterday that he was looking for someone with managerial or coaching experience at the major league level. Sandberg has managerial and coaching experience in the minor leagues, but not at the major league level. However, that was for the managerial position. Why Epstein would not leave the door open for Sandberg to be a possible bench coach defies explanation.
So, who is being considered? The Texas Rangers today said that both the Cubs and the Boston Red Sox have been given permission to talk to pitching coach Mike Maddux about filling the open managerial roles for both teams. It is expected that the Cubs will talk with Maddux by the end of the week and Boston is expected to talk to him next week.
The Cubs also are said to be talking to Pete Mackanin, bench coach for the Philadelphia Phillies. Mackanin also is said to be talking to the Red Sox.
One other name, which should come as no surprise to anyone following what is happening in the Cubs front office right now, is Terry Francona, the manager of the Red Sox who quit after a terrible September collapse that kept the BoSox from advancing to the post season.
It’s clear Epstein has his favorites. Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod worked for him at one time in Boston. Francona also worked with Epstein. Should they deiced to offer Francona the job, Cubs fans will wonder if Epstein is trying to make the Cubs a mirror image of the Red Sox, something President of Business Operations Crane Kenney has long been accused of trying to do to the team. Hiring Mike Maddux could soften the blow of not having Sandberg in the dugout, and may serve as an impetus for brother Greg to remain with the team, perhaps in a larger role than he had under Jim Hendry.
Other names have been mentioned, though at this time the Cubs have not been granted permission to talk to anyone else. That will likely change quickly.