The Chicago Cubs have announced that they are firing manager Mike Quade after one season and that long-time Cub and burgeoning managerial candidate Ryan Sandberg will not be in the picture. In the statement, new Cubs President Theo Epstein stated that, among other qualities, the next manager of the Cubs “…must have managerial or coaching experience at the major league level.” The firing is not all that surprising given the new regime that been put in place, but it does lead to some interesting possibilities.
The most obvious theory is Epstein going after his former manager in Terry Francona. From all accounts, the beef that Francona had with Red Sox executives was related to ownership and not with Epstein himself. It is then very plausible that Theo would bring in Francona, who has openly expressed a desire to manage in 2012, and save yet another cursed franchise together. However, a lot of people believe that Epstein and Francona need a cooling off period after the way things ended in Boston so maybe it’s a little too soon. But another more intriguing prospect is also in play.
In this piece that I co-authored for Pop Fly Boys on Monday, we threw out the possibility that Epstein could possibly throw the bank at Albert Pujols this offseason, and follow that up in 2013 by luring Tony LaRussa out of retirement. While this sounds a little crazy at first, and LaRussa was emphatic that he would never manage again, most baseball people believe that LaRussa will be back in the game after a year off. Could Epstein make him and famed pitching coach Dave Duncan an offer that they can’t refuse, and bring the Cardinals’ triumvirate up north? All of the sudden, that theory isn’t as crazy as it may have sounded less than 48 hours ago.