Thursday, September 9, 2010

What's going to happen if Sandberg doesn't get the job?

According to numerous sources, Ryne Sandberg will be interviewed by Jim Hendry for the manager position sometime in the next 10 days.

Phil Rogers has now thrown his worthless $.02 into the pot today by saying he thinks that Ryno should get the job. (and, no, I'm not going to link to that story) That pretty much means that every columnist (and beat writer…but in this city, that is the same thing) has thrown his (or her) support behind Sandberg for the job.

Among the likely candidates (Sandberg, Gonzalez, Wedge, Quade, Listach), I think most of the bloggers feel the same way as the professional writers do (except me…and you all know where I stand on this issue).

 "Say that again...and speak into my good ear this time."

Assuming Girardi is not coming (give it up, folks…it isn’t happening), I think most fans believe that Sandberg should be the choice to be manager.

While Hendry has been pretty careful at tipping his hand about this, it is assumed that Sandberg isn’t necessarily his #1 guy. This gives the very real possibility that Hendry will not choose Sandberg (if, indeed the Rickettses don’t have a say in the process).

So, what happens if Sandberg isn’t chosen as manager?

The fans, which have already stopped coming to the games, are going to be disappointed.

The columnists are going to rip apart the team and Jim Hendry.

The bloggers are going to be upset.

And Sandberg will likely be offered a job with another team.

It is obvious that the Cubs management is hoping for a quick turnaround for this team after this joke of a season, but, unlike after the 2006 season, they don’t have the financial resources (or the ‘win at all costs’ directive) right now.

Why do I bring this up? Well, keeping fans interested is at least somewhat important in the minds of the Ricketts family, even if they publically aren’t saying that. With the exception of the unlikely picks of Joe Girardi, Tony LaRussa or Joe Torre, the Cubs aren’t likely to get any public relations boost by hiring anyone other than Ryne Sandberg. After the disaster of the 2002 season, the Cubs did decide to go the public relations route and hired Dusty Baker. Heck, that hiring was one of the reasons I got my season tickets. I didn’t necessarily like Dusty all that much, but it told me that, for the first time since Jim Frey was brought in, the Cubs were serious about bringing in proven winners to manage and coach the team. It was a different attitude. But that’s a discussion for another time.

After 2002, the Cubs still had a rather popular Sammy Sosa on the team. Kerry Wood was healthy. Mark Prior was just getting settled in his big league uniform. There was a lot Cubs fans had to look forward to before they even hired the manager.

 Ryno didn't take the news well when he found out I didn't want him as manager.

The Cubs don’t have that this year. Starlin Castro has hit well for average, but has been less than stellar in the field, been stationary when on the bases, and really hasn’t driven in that many runs. Tyler Colvin might lead rookies in homers, but has demonstrated a number of flaws as well. Among the veterans, there really isn’t much to get overly excited about. The Cubs have no players that could compete for a Cy Young or an MVP next season. That is quite different than when Dusty Baker was hired.

This is why so many people are screaming for Sandberg to be hired. I suppose I don’t blame them. Everyone has talked him up so much, at this point, that it seems that only Sandberg could get the job.

If the Cubs decide to offer the job to someone else, unless the Rickettses make some ridiculous offer to him (like giving him 50% ownership of the team to stay as a bench coach), Sandberg is going somewhere else. If the Dodgers don’t hire Mattingly after Joe Torre walks away, I think Ned Colletti would love to bring Sandberg in. If Dusty leave Cincinnati, the Reds could be a good place for him. If Fredi Gonzalez doesn’t go to Atlanta, the Braves would be a good fit. Hell, even Milwaukee would work, though I think Bob Brenly would be a better fit for the Brewers. (And yes, I believe Ken Macha is finished after this season.)

 See you later, Cubs fans!

Would Tom, Todd, Laura and Pete be willing to take a public relations hit like that? Do they have the guts to do that? I doubt it. While trying to maximize the return on this ballclub, they have been very careful to keep as many people happy as they possibly can (outside of the rooftop owners).

Not hiring Sandberg has the following effects on the Cubs.

  • Season ticket turnover will be extremely high. (Over half of the people that I know personally who have season tickets are not renewing next year)
  • Single game ticket sales will be relatively soft in March.
  • The PR department will have to work hard to try to promote one or more of the players in order to drum up excitement for the team going into 2011.
  • An outcry of complaints will occur when they raise ticket prices another 10%.
  • They will have a hard time gaining support for a costly stadium renovation plan for which they are going to require extra sources of renew for.

The only way to counteract this stuff is for the team to become successful in very short order. I believe Fredi Gonzalez can do that as well if not better than Sandberg. Girardi the same, though he’s not coming here, so don’t even bother asking. Disinterest in the Cubs is at its lowest since the mid 90’s. I could decrease even more if Sandberg isn’t hired unless something else is done. And if the Rickettses aren’t willing to take the PR hit by not hiring Sandberg, they will have to deal with at least a full season of the Cubs being a blip on the radar while the team rebuilds on the field.

Could the Cubs risk letting a legend like Sandberg go?

The Blackhawks did (getting rid of Denis Savard as head coach) and less than two years later they won the Stanley Cup and are now more popular than they have been in almost 20 years.