Here it is nearing the end of the 2010 season, and once again, all is amiss in Wrigleyville. Derrek Lee is gone, Carlos Zambrano is a headcase, Alfonso Soriano is a bust, and thanks to Carlos Silva’s heart issues, the Cubs most effective pitcher is arguably some guy named Tom Gorzelanny. Manager Lou Piniella couldn’t take it anymore, and general manager Jim Hendry is just generally clueless. What it all boils down to is once again the Cubs once again find themselves in complete disarray; they are clearly in need of a leader who can bring them out of malaise that has descended upon the North Side.
Fortunately for the Cubs, this leader is in waiting in their very own farm system. The name “Ryne Sandberg” has been bandied about ever since Piniella left rubber all the way down Waveland Avenue on his way out of town. Face it, Chicago. He’s perfect for the job.
Sandberg became a Cub hero in the 1980′s being the best second baseman of that decade and arguably one of the top five at that position ever. Sandberg became the Wrigley fixture Cub fans latched onto as a transition in to the Harry Caray-less days after 1998. Sandberg was one of the smartest players in the game, and few played the truly complete game he did. Not only that, but Sandberg is not some Hall-of-Fame guy who thinks he should be able to blow into town and get the manager’s job on his name alone. Whether in his playing days or in his managerial career in the bus leagues, Sandberg has never been a guy to trade on marquee value, although he clearly could.
But instead of waltzing into the Cubs front office and saying “The fans that you need to keep want me in the dugout; I will be by before the Winter Meetings to pick the keys to my office,” Sandberg has spent the past four years managing in the Cubs’ farm system, including this season with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. In fact, few managers in the minor leagues have built the reputation Sandberg has, and due to his humility, most of that has happened well beneath the radar. Sandberg has clearly “paid his dues” all while showing himself to be a cerebral skipper who can get his players to think before they act ( Carlos Zambrano, I’m looking at you…)
In other words, he is the perfect man for the Cubs’ managerial job. How could the Cubs possibly entertain the idea of doing anything other than hiring the perfect candidate to end all perfect candidates? Because they are the Cubs, and they make Cubs-type decisions.
The only smart thing they have done so far is not pumping up false hopes for third-base coach turned interim manager Mike Quade. Even he knows that Sandberg is the guy for the job; by announcing Quade is not in the running for the job on a permanent basis at this point takes all the heat off of a guy who has to keep this team from imploding so completely no competent manager would take the job without a ridiculously high paycheck. But to be in Cubland is to be delusional; Google “Cubs manager job” and you will scroll past stories about Joe Girardi taking the job before you get to one mentioning Sandberg. If the Cubbies think Girardi would leave the best franchise in the sport which is currently fielding the best team in the game to play “FEMA disaster clean-up” for them, they’ve clearly lost their minds. In other words, get ready for another CTD (Cubs-Type Decision).
In case you need a refresher, let’s review a few of my favorite CTDs:
- Trading Lou Brock to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio (future Hall-of-Famer for washed-up pitcher)
- Trading Rafael Palmeiro to Texas for Mitch Williams (3,000 hit/500 home run guy for a relief pitcher whose stay in Chicago wasn’t as long as some people who change planes at O’Hare Airport)
- Drafting Josh Hamilton as a Rule 5 player, then promptly trading him to Cincinnati for a small amount of cash (3-time All-Star currently hitting .357/30 HR/93 RBI for a a few dollars when the Cubs are one of the richest teams in the league)
- Trading Sergio Mitre and Ricky Nolasco for Juan Pierre (one serviceable starting pitcher and one on the verge of becoming an ace for a “legitimate leadoff hitter” for a guy who in his ONE season as a Cub got caught stealing 20 times in 78 attempts).
- Letting Greg Maddox go to free agency (deciding a guy who would go on to win 355 games and 4 Cy Young awards wasn’t “the kind of pitcher who could help us long-term”)
- Trading Dennis Eckersley for three minor-leaguers (Once in Oakland, Eckersley becomes the dominant closer of his era)
- Trading Bill Madlock for Bobby Murcer (a solid defensive third-baseman who also would win four batting titles for a slugger outfielder whose career decline began immediately after this trade)
- Trading Bruce Sutter for Leon Durham and Ken Reitz (another dominant closer for two “bags of magic beans”)
- Trading Lee Smith for Calvin Schraldi and Al Nipper (another dominant closer for two “bags of magic beans”)
- Trading Manny Trillo for Barry Foote and Ted Sizemore (a second baseman who still holds the record for most consecutive chances without an error for one of the great mustaches of all-time)
So, here’s the deal, Cubbies. If you re not going to hire Sandberg, at least let me suggest a “dark horse” candidate that you really should hire. His name is Ed Hession, and if you are smart enough to make this man your manager AND general manager, he can save you from becoming a slightly richer version of the Pirates.
Now, I understand if you don’t live in greater Lafayette, Indiana, you’ve likely never heard of Mr. Hession. In short, he is the appliance king of west-central Indiana, and his sense of business acumen is exactly what the Cubs need. In other words, “Ed’s Deal” could be a great deal for Wrigleyville.
At this point, I understand you may now be asking how can a guy who sells washers and dryers help a major league baseball franchise. The answer is rather simple. Whether you are selling Maytags or tickets, business is business; the basics are universal. Ed Hession is a guy who started his business is his own garage and grew it into what it is today. He did this by following the basics, which is something about which the Cubs franchise has clearly forgotten. To prove my point, I’m going to use a few quotes taken directly from his website and do a bit of “compare and contrast” with the what the Cubs have done in the last ten twenty thirty forty hundred years.
If you’ve ever seen an “Ed’s Deal” commercial, you know that Ed believes there is nothing like “Brand New.” Think about what this really means. Everybody wants to buy “brand new,” and the guy who who takes the sting out of “brand new” prices is going to own the marker. Couple that with the fact that a brand new washer is going to work better than the one you got out of your grandmother’s basement and you see the concept. Just like the 23-year-old quality outfielder is going to be a better investment over time than the “experienced” free-agent who was a star “back in the day,” Ed’s Deal would bring you a lot more Tyler Colvins and a lot less Alfonso Sorianos.
Another theme Ed hits harder than Dave Kingman (don’t forget his 48 homers as a Cub in ’79) does a hanging curveball is the phrase “You Control Your Payments.” Do you think right now the Cubs would like to re-evaluate what they are paying for Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano?
Ed Hession also believes in “Good People.” In Ed’s own words, he has “seen all the reasons why good people, through no fault of their own, have been deprived of life’s necessities.” There are Cubs’ fans who are good people, and a necessity of sport is the occasional win. Most sports fans would define occasional as an interval somewhat less the the current Cubs’ measure of 102 years.
Like any good businessman, Ed has a keen grasp of pricing. This is why buying an appliance from Mr. Hession means you are always going to pay sale price. It only makes sense that if Ed can afford to pass on “sale price;” he knows how to buy at less than sale price. Let’s be honest, Cubs fans; after the Jim Hendry era, which one of you wouldn’t love to sign a free-agent for less than $90 million?
Another thing Ed would bring to Wrigleyville is the exact understanding of what Cubs fans would expect. Ed makes sure you know what you get for your dollar.
Finally, Ed isn’t going to destroy your budget on those “rent-to-own” players intended to boost your playoff run. You know the type; you just did that deal to the Braves for your dear departed Derrek Lee. Recent history is full of that kind of arrangement; Mark Texieira to the Angels, Cliff Lee to the Phillies, CC Sabathia to the Brewers; just look to the South Side to see what the White Sox have done with Manny Ramirez…Ed isn’t blowing the savings account on this kind of crap.
Please understand the message here, Cubs Nation. Failing to take Ed’s Deal means you will spend another century doing the baseball equivalent of beating your clothes on a rock down by the river.