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By Alex Kantecki (Cubs Correspondent): Follow @rotodealer
I remember the grumbles and the echoes of “You’ve got to be kidding me” and “Jim Hendry did what now?” from Cubs fans when the team signed a 21-year old football star to a five-year, $10 million contract back in 2007.
I remember because I was one of the grumblers.
In 2006, the Cubs selected Jeff Samardzija – a wide receiver from Notre Dame – in the fifth round (149th overall) of the Amateur Baseball Draft, not knowing whether the All-American football player with a 97 MPH fastball would forfeit a clear path to the NFL for a hit-or-miss career in baseball.
Jeff Samardzija Tribute: Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is advised:
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Sunday, January.06, 2013
Alfonso Soriano: Misunderstood, Good, But Never A Fit
Alex Kantecki (Guest Baseball Writer and Cubs Correspondent): Follow @Akantecki
It’s no secret Alfonso Soriano isn’t the most liked player among Cubs fans. Following the 2006 season when then general manager Jim Hendry signed the Outfielder to the largest contract in team history ($136 Million over eight years), fans dreaming of a World Series title pinned their hopes on the unconventional Leadoff hitter that hit 46 HR and stole 41 bases with the Washington Nationals the year before. Soriano did his part and helped lead the Cubs to two straight National League Central titles in 2007 and 2008, but the Cubs were swept away in the Division Series both years. Like his teammates, Soriano struggled to do much of anything in the postseason, collecting three hits in 29 Plate Appearances and failing to score or drive in a single run in six games.
Alfonso Soriano 2012 Highlights – Parental Guidance Is Advised
Tuesday October 18, 2011
MLB reports – Sam Evans: Before we even begin to speculate on who will be the next Cubs manager, there is something baseball fans have to realize. The most important move made by the Cubs this offseason will be naming their General Manager. It looks like Theo Epstein will be taking over duties as the GM, if everything goes according as planned. One of Theo’s first moves will be to decide whether to keep Mike Quade and his coaching staff for next year. I think there is little to no chance that this happens considering the Cubs on-field product from the last year. My guess is that Epstein would be looking for a very intelligent manager that is behind the recent sabermetrical discoveries but at the same time, has a lot of experience in the game of baseball. Someone similar to Joe Maddon of the Rays.
One of the top managerial candidates for the Cubs position, and for other open coaching spots around the league, is Hall of Fame Second Basemen Ryne Sandberg. Sandberg was born in 1959 in Spokane,WA. He was drafted in the 20th round of the 1978 Rule 4 MLB draft by the Philadelphia Phillies, and he shot through the minors and made his major league debut in 1981. After the 1981 season, Sandberg was shipped along with Larry Bowa to the Cubs for shortstop Ivan DeJesus. This turned out to be one of the best trades in the history of the Chicago Cubs organization. The Phillies made this trade due to a middle infield logjam, and it will forever haunt Phillies fans.
In his career, Ryne Sandberg hit .285 with 282 home runs and 344 stolen bases. From 1989 to 1992, Sandberg hit 122 home runs. He was MVP in 1984, he was named to ten all-star teams and was a nine-time gold glove award recipient. Cubs fans will remember ”Ryno” for his amazing defensive plays and his ability to hit home runs. Sandberg was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
Once the 2006 season had come to a close, Ryne Sandberg met with Cubs GM Jim Hendry and told him that he was wanted to manage the team. Smartly, Hendry decided that Sandberg needed experience managing so he gave him a job managing way down the Cubs depth charts. In 2007, Sandberg began his managing career with the Class-A Peoria Chiefs, and he led the Chiefs to 71-68 finish. With the Chiefs again in 2008, the Chiefs went 60-78. In 2009, the Sandberg was promoted to manager of the Cubs AA team, where in one year he went 71-69. In 2010, he was the Cubs AAA manager and he finished 82-62, and earned the honor of being named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year. As you may remember, in 2010 Lou Piniella stepped down from his position as interim Cubs manager. Mike Quade was the interim manager and he led the team to a 24-13 record for the rest of the season. However, after the season, the Cubs organization didn’t make it clear that Quade was their man until October 19. Most baseball people thought that Ryne Sandberg would be named manager and that he deserved to be the Cubs manager. The Cubs decided to remove the interim tag from Quade’s position and promote him to the full-time manager. Unfortunately, Quade and the Cubs had a rough year, finishing 2011 with a 71-91 record.
I almost feel sorry for Sandberg. He worked so hard managing in the minors and when his opportunity finally arose when Piniella retired, Jim Hendry turned him down. I definitely think he deserves a chance at managing the Cubs. He not only has playing experience but successful managing experience in the minors.
After an awkward offseason for Sandberg, he took up an offer to manage the Philadelphia Phillies Triple-A team, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. He was also, according to sources, offered by Theo Epstein to be the manager for the Pawtucket Red Sox. Despite a very minor league baseball-esque name, the Iron Pigs are actually considered to be in the upper echelon of the minors. They average a higher attendance (over 10,000 per game) than any other MiLB team. Ryne Sandberg put together another winning season leading the Iron Pigs to an 80-64 record. His career managerial record is 364-341, which is good for a .556 winning percentage.
Who knows what the Cubs relationship is like with Sandberg? Their relationship appeared to be very stalwart but after the Cubs denied Sandberg the chance to manage at the major league level last year, you have to wonder why they would want him this year. Even if Theo Epstein does end up getting the job, just because he wanted Sandberg to manage the PawSox, there is no guarantee that he would want to work with Sandberg at the major league level.
The X-factor in this situation is Terry Francona. Epstein and Francona got along beautifully in Boston, and maybe Theo wants to keep Terry as his manager. This would not surprise me because the two are so comfortable with each other, and they have proven that their methods work with two World Series rings. Although their relations were apparently strained at times, the bottom line is that they were able to get the job done together.
There is one thing that I am sure of from this Sandberg debacle. Ryan Sandberg will have a major-league coaching job come April. The Phillies might have an assistant coaching position open, or the Red Sox could be interested in Sandberg as their manager. Options will be available to him. The most likely option is that Sandberg will return to where he already spent fifteen years of his baesball life: Wrigley Field.
Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter.
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