Fredi Gonzalez a candidate to replace Piniella as Cubs’ next manager

CHICAGO - JANUARY 01:  Former Chicago Cubs second baseman and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg waves to the fans during pregame festivities prior to the Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings during the NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field on January 1, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

According to ESPN Chicago, former Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez will be one of the candidates interviewed by the Cubs to replace Lou Piniella at the end of the season. Piniella announced his retirement yesterday, which will be effective immediately following the season.

Gonzalez, who was fired by the Marlins on June 24, has a long personal and professional relationship with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry stemming from the time they worked together with the Marlins.

Gonzalez, who has interviewed with the Cubs in the past, is the consensus top choice to replace Bobby Cox as manager of the Atlanta Braves, according to multiple baseball sources.

If I were to put on my prediction hat (which is essentially the sleeve off one of my old T-shirts that I fashioned into a hat), I’d say that Gonzalez winds up in Atlanta and Ryne Sandberg (photo) replaces Piniella in Chicago. Sandberg has been craving the Cubs’ job for a couple of years now. He wants it. He needs it. He wants to make sweet, sweet managerial love to it.

Of course, hiring Sandberg (who was a mega fan favorite in Chicago, which is about 10 notches above just a regular fan favorite in case you were wondering) makes too much sense. And nothing Cubs’ management does every makes sense.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Report: Cubs’ Lou Piniella to retire at the end of season

June 21, 2007 - Arlington, Texas.Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella watches the action in the game against the Rangers at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Arlington, Texas on June 21, 2007. .The Rangers defeated the Cubs 6-5 ..Photo  Jeff Etessam / Cal Sport Media Photo via Newscom

The New York Daily News is reporting that Cubs’ skipper Lou Piniella will retire at the end of the 2010 season.

The 67-year-old Piniella, who led the Cubs to NL Central division titles in 2007 and 2008, is in the last year of his contract and has endured a particularly stressful last two seasons in which so many of his high-paid players, including outfielder Alfonso Soriano, third baseman Aramis Ramirez and pitcher Carlos Zambrano have underperformed to their salaries. This year, the Cubs are mired in fourth place, 10 1/2 games back and Piniella, who is in the last year of his contract, wanted to end to the speculation about his future for the good of the organization.

Earlier this season, he had to suspend Zambrano after the volatile pitcher got into a dugout fight with teammate Derrek Lee in the middle of a game. Last year, Piniella had numerous similar confrontations with temperamental outfielder Milton Bradley, who was traded to the Seattle Mariners last winter.

While Piniella has been one of the most successful managers in baseball history, there’s no doubt that the Cubs need to go in another direction at the end of the year. Their struggles this season can hardly be pinned on Piniella and Piniella alone, but it’s clear that his style has run its course on the North side of Chicago.

Speculation continues to grow that former Cub Ryne Sandberg will take over as the club’s next manager. He has stated that managing the Cubs is his ideal job and after moving through the minor league ranks over the past four seasons, it appears that he’s suited for the position as well. We’ll see what management decides after the season.

Getting back to “Sweet Lou,” this wasn’t the way he wanted to go out (i.e. marred in fourth place in a weak NL Central) but the timing is right. The Cubs will be undergoing a lot of changes this offseason and Piniella isn’t the right fit for a (potentially) young club that needs a lot of massaging.

Former Cub Sandberg says Sosa doesn’t belong in Hall of Fame

Former Cubs infielder Ryne Sandberg recently said on a Chicago radio show that Sammy Sosa shouldn’t be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame after the New York Times reported last week that he tested positive for PEDs in 2003.

Appearing on the “Waddle & Silvy” show on ESPN 1000, Sandberg was asked whether Sosa belongs in the Hall of Fame. “I don’t think so,” he said.

“They use the word ‘integrity’ in describing a Hall of Famer in the logo of the Hall of Fame, and I think there are gonna be quite a few players that are not going to get in,” Sandberg said. “It’s been evident with the sportswriters who vote them in, with what they’ve done with Mark McGwire getting in the 20 percent range.

“We have some other players … like [Rafael] Palmeiro coming up soon, and it’ll be up to the sportswriters to speak loud and clear about that. I don’t see any of those guys getting in.”

“I was around Sammy for about five years before I retired, and there wasn’t anything going on then,” Sandberg said. “I did admire the hard work he put in. He was one of the first guys down to the batting cage, hitting extra. I figured he was working out hard in the offseason to get bigger. It was just happening throughout the game, that even myself was blinded by what was really happening, maybe starting in the ’98 season.

“I think it’s very unfortunate. I think suspicions were there as they are with some other players. Those players are now put in a category of being tainted players with tainted stats. I think it’s obviously something that was going on in the game. Players participated in it and, as the names have come out, I think that they will be punished for that.”

Isn’t it ironic that Sosa and McGwire essentially saved baseball after the ’94 strike with their steroid-invested home run derby, yet they’ll probably both be denied of baseball’s most cherished honor because they cheated to accomplish what they did?

Sandberg didn’t say anything that we weren’t already thinking ourselves. Sosa might have been one of the hardest working players in the game when he played, but he juiced (allegedly) and therefore doesn’t deserve to be inducted into the hall. Sosa wanted to hit a bunch of home runs and inflate his power numbers, so he took PEDs and accomplished what he set out to do. But now he has to pay and part of the punishment is not having his name listed aside Willie Mays, Ernie Banks and Mickey Mantle.

Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. I agree with Sandberg and while baseball didn’t have a steroid policy in place before 2003 and those tests were supposed to be anonymous, the bottom line is that Sosa cheated. We shouldn’t turn a blind eye to that like baseball turned a blind eye to their steroid mess in the first place.

Related Posts