The final trial runs have been completed, and the horses are on the track and ready for the home stretch. So who will come spinning out of the turn as the one to beat in the race to be the Cubs’ next manager? 

This search, led by Cubs GM Jim Hendry, has been a bit befuddling. Owner Tom Ricketts told the media that the next Cubs manager had to understand the “Cubs thing.” In other words, had to intimately understand the fans’ frustration with Chicago’s failure to make the World Series since the soldiers came home after the last World War, as well as the whole silly goat curse baloney. 

Based on Lou Piniella’s reaction over the years, it was clear that he wasn’t prepared to handle the media scrutiny and the pressure of managing a team surrounded by negativity and doubt. 

Yet Hendry sent Eric Wedge to be interviewed by Ricketts, and his first interest was Fredi Gonzalez. So much for listening to your boss. 

While I don’t necessarily buy the fact that the next Cubs skipper has to “get it” and thus can’t be an outsider, I do agree that the next manager must have a lot of energy and be prepared for a fanbase that is unlikely to be very patient with the semi-rebuilding effort that the Cubs will be trotting out in 2011 and beyond. 

Now, I call it “semi-rebuilding” for two reasons. One, they don’t have the true major league-ready, impact-type prospects to go to a full youth movement. Second, they have long-term, expensive contracts with veteran players that they are unlikely to be able to move. 

Still, guys like Bob Brenly told the Cubs thanks but no thanks, in part because they know it’s a no-win situation. With the major league payroll shrinking*, there is little chance the Cubs are contenders next season. Yet the fans are hungry for a title. 

In any event, whoever the next manager will be already has a pitching coach and hitting instructor in place. So, let’s examine the racing form and set the odds for the next Cubs manager.


*Ricketts said the overall payroll will be flat, but that some resources will be shifted toward player development, which equates to a lower major league payroll for next season. 

Begin Slideshow