Friday, September 17, 2010

Gammons thinks Wedge might just be the man

I don’t listen to sports talk radio much during the baseball season. It was just by luck that I turned on The Score this morning to listen to Mully and Hanley as I headed to work…I was hoping to hear some interesting information about the Bears game this weekend against the Cowboys.

Well, they had their weekly interview with Peter Gammons, formerly of ESPN, now on MLB Network, and Hall of Fame sportswriter.

Personally, I’ve never been huge fan of Gammons, but he is very well respected in baseball, and he has a ridiculous number of sources around the game.

Anyway, they spoke for a while about the White Sox and Twins, but at the very end of the interview, M&H asked about his thoughts on the Cubs manager job.

To the shock of all, Gammons said if he was a betting man (which he said he isn’t), he’d put money down on Eric Wedge.

Eric Wedge.  Future ex-Cubs manager?

We do know that Jim Hendry has interviewed Wedge over the last few weeks, and a lot of baseball people are very high on the guy, but this just seems a bit surprising right now.

Gammons also said that he was very impressed with what Tom Ricketts had to say at the Business of Sports luncheon yesterday when he was asked about qualifications for the Cubs manager job.

Ricketts mentioned that the next Cubs manager must be someone that can handle the pressure of 103 years of losing, understanding the history of the Cubs, and must also remain a bench coach (presumably helping nurture young players). Wedge seems to be a good fit for the last item on that list, but I’m not sure about the rest.

Ricketts’s statements seem to point toward Sandberg and Girardi, while also giving hope to Mike Quade.

So does Eric Wedge seem to have a realistic shot here? Gammons, very much, seems to think so.

So, what do we know about Eric Wedge, besides the fact he looks a bit like Jim LeFebvre?

First, he’s young. Wedge is 42 years old. This could fit one of the criteria that many people think the Cubs are looking for in a manager. They want a “long term” guy. A young manager like Wedge is right would be a perfect fit for that.

Second, he’s from Indiana…Fort Wayne to be exact. While this isn’t exactly in Chicago’s backyard, it is close enough for him to have an idea of what the Cubs are.

Third, he has some good points on his resume as manager of the Cleveland Indians for 7 seasons. He led the Indians to the playoffs in 2007…all the way to the ALCS and also won Manager of the Year that season.

I think a lot of people think the jury is still out on Wedge, though. He had a couple of good seasons in Cleveland, but seems to me that his teams, more often than not, underperformed early in seasons resulting in the purging of his roster (Victor Martinez, C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee in particular). Over his last couple seasons, Wedge seemed to be stuck with horrible bullpens (for which they expected Kerry Wood to be their savior). We have seen first-hand what a bad bullpen can do to a team.

Wedge has a fiery style which probably will draw similarities to both Sandberg and Piniella. At the same time, it seems that often this sort of style wears out quickly…resulting in a need for a managerial change after 4 or 5 seasons.

So, back to Gammons….it seems Gammons often has insight into baseball that a number of other people don’t, but it looks to me that he is wrong in this case.

 Gammons also annoys people with his guitar.

With that being said, though, we should keep our eyes on Eric Wedge over the next month and a half…maybe he does have a shot here. But, I’m going to have to say that it appears to me that this is, in fact, a two man race right now. It’s probably going to be Mike Quade or Ryne Sandberg.