Assuming that everything that owner Tom Ricketts has told us is true, and Jim Hendry really will be leading the search for the next Cubs manager to replace the retiring (retired?) Lou Piniella, do not believe that former Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg is a lock to be the man.

In fact, if you read into the tea leaves, Hendry doesn’t feel that Ryne is ready to be a major league manager and instead would prefer one with previous major league experience.

Many feel that Sandberg is a great bet to be named the next Cubs skipper, given his legacy and the fact that he has not only spent the past few years riding the buses in the minors, but has publicly campaigned for the job.

However, unless Ricketts fires Hendry, which isn’t likely to happen, or influences the decision in some way, Hendry is much more likely to select a guy like his personal friend and former Marlins manager, Fredi Gonzalez.

The only caveat is that Gonzalez is the consensus top choice to replace Bobby Cox as manager of the Atlanta Braves, according to multiple baseball sources.

Meanwhile, Sandberg will certainly get an interview, but who else?

Sources say former Tribe manager Eric Wedge is high on Hendry’s list and you can also expect current Cubs TV analyst and former Diamondbacks skipper Bob Brenly to get at least a courtesy interview.

The wild card here is if the Yankees allow Joe Girardi to become a free agent. A lot depends on the results of this season, of course, but it seems highly unlikely that Brian Cashman will let Girardi go.

Sure, Girardi is a former Cub and has a home in town, but he also won a World Series in New York and has strong ties to that city, so he is only going to be a candidate for the job if the Yanks don’t want him.

Other potential candidates include Washington third base coach Pat Listach and San Diego Padres bench coach Ted Simmons.

But Hendry’s preference for a manager who has experience seems to be based on his perception of just how difficult a job it is managing the Cubs, given their history of losing and the expectations of Cubs fans who are sick of waiting for a title.

According to “Talkin’ Baseball” on ESPN 1000, Hendry said: “There’s a heavier price to pay because of that long drought without a championship, and the scrutiny that you’re under on a daily basis in that position.

“But obviously, the weight of the world is on you as far as eventually having to win a world championship.”

Regardless of what happens, Sandberg may be on the Cubs bench next season as a coach, even if he is not named the next Cubs manager.

Can anyone end this drought? That’s both the lure as well as the curse facing the next Cubs manager.

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