Ryne Sandberg: Not now, not next year, not ever
For those of you who missed it, Goat Reader Brandon posted recently about his desire for Ryne Sandberg to replace Lou Piniella in the Cubs dugout.
He wrote, "The organization gave him a chance to prove that he was serious about
the whole managing thing back in 2007, and now he's in Iowa. He's going
to get a shot with a major league team, and soon."
Ehh. I beg to differ.
It's actually pretty interesting to read the various comments across the internets about Sandberg. Fans seem to feel, generally, that he's "earned it," because he's been managing in the minor leagues for four seasons. This comes despite the fact that his career minor league record is 253-258, despite the fact that no outstanding players have been developed under his guidance (sorry, Starlin Castro, but so far you kinda suck), and -- particularly -- despite the fact that probably 99% of all Cub fans have NO IDEA as to what Ryne Sandberg's managerial philosophy is, except for, "Get ejected, a lot."
Here's my advice to you, the Ryne Sandberg Supporter: go read his autobiography. Read it with an open mind. Pay attention to the excerpts where he laments Larry Himes getting rid of his guys, the elderly Andre Dawson and the infirmed Rick Sutcliffe. Consider how Sandberg's philosophy, as expressed in that book, sounds amazingly similar to the one espoused by Dusty Baker while he was in Chicago, and get back to me about how much you want him to be the next manager.
"But, Kurt," you'll say, "that was written 15 years ago! He could've changed!" Good point. He could've changed. But the point is, you don't know. None of us do.
What we do know, however, is that the Chicago Cubs are one of the premier baseball organizations. They are perhaps third to only the Yankees and Red Sox in terms of yearly income and fan following. The Chicago Cubs do not deserve an untested manager who may or may not be a white version of Dusty Baker. No thanks.
Instead, I submit to you that the Chicago Cubs should pursue a proven, premier manager with a long-established track record of success. They should pick a guy who has a very vocal understanding of sabermetrics, who will not put the longest-tenured veteran ahead of the most talented player, and who has a well-established history of successful strategy during a game.
And, hell, they can make Sandberg his bench coach. But any Cub fan who backs Ryno sight-unseen is doing so for one clear reason: because his name is Ryne Sandberg, and he's one of the greatest second basemen in the history of the sport.
That's great, but that's not reason enough to be manager of the Cubs. Nor is being a Hall of Famer who's happened to manage in the minor leagues for four seasons. That doesn't fit my definition of "earning it;" the Cubs can -- and should -- do better.