GM Hendry to lead managerial search
'Unique challenge' awaits Cubs' next skipper
CHICAGO -- With Lou Piniella's announcement Tuesday that he's retiring after this season, the search is on for a new Cubs manager.
Among the names that have already surfaced are Hall of Famer and former Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, who is currently the Triple-A Iowa manager. However, the next Cubs manager does not have to have any ties to the team.
"I don't think that's a prerequisite," said Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, who added the next skipper will have to deal with a "great fan base that has high expectations."
Ricketts said general manager Jim Hendry will lead the search. Hendry's status has been questioned because of the team's poor performance this season, but Ricketts backed his general manager.
"When we came into this organization, I said that Day 1 was square one with everyone in this organization," Ricketts said. "From that day going forward we had a very good offseason.
"I think the second thing I've seen in the last eight months that gives me 100 percent confidence in Jim is that we have a good organization," Ricketts said. "The way you win consistently in baseball is to draft well, to develop players well and to bring those players up to the Major Leagues to give you the flexibility you need in the payroll and in trades. I think we have that organization in place. I think that speaks well of Jim."
Hendry has hired Dusty Baker and Piniella at the big league level and said he will do a thorough search.
"I expect this to be a long, extensive operation," Hendry said. "It's a very big decision moving forward.
"It's not going to be a two-week process and I think it's one of the things that will help moving forward from today," Hendry said. "We'll leave no stones unturned."
There is no short list of candidates. Piniella had talked to Hendry about possibly retiring after this season when his contract is up but didn't confirm that with the general manager until a few days ago.
Cubs television analyst and former manager Bob Brenly did not want to discuss the possibility of him taking over after Piniella.
"If [the job] becomes available, I'll talk," Brenly said.
Cubs bench coach Alan Trammell, who also has managerial experience in Detroit, declined to comment on Tuesday.
Hendry said he'd like to have the new manager in place by the team's organization meetings, which are usually held in October if the Cubs don't go to the postseason.
"Certain names like 'Ryno' will be considered," Hendry said. "[Conversations have] been more about dealing and talking to Lou and letting him do this his way and showing him the respect he deserves. We'll get after it and do it over a long-term basis, but we still have plenty of time to find the right guy.
"At the end of the day, we want the best manager moving forward," Hendry said. "We'd like somebody who won't be a short-term guy."
Hendry hired Piniella after he'd taken a year off. The Cubs posted winning records in Piniella's first three seasons, reaching the playoffs in 2007 and '08.
"There was no doubt we had the right guy when we hired him," Hendry said.
One of the reasons Piniella said he wanted to announce his retirement plans now was that he wanted to give the Cubs time to search for his replacement. Why let Piniella finish the season?
"He wants to finish," Hendry said. "He's earned that right. He's done 100 times more good things here than just the record we're not pleased with now. And it wouldn't do any good moving forward anyhow. It'd be an in-house choice. You're much better off keeping the cohesiveness now."
Piniella said he'll stay out of the search process.
"That's not my job," he said. "I'm sure they'll hire a person fully capable of coming in here and bringing this organization along."
Piniella is proud of what he's accomplished in Chicago.
"We have raised the bar," Piniella said. "People expect us to win. That's good, and I hope that continues. That's good for any organization. What I wish for this organization is nothing but success in the future. We have new ownership and they'll do everything to move this thing along."
Any advice for the next Cubs manager?
"I don't have any advice for anybody," Piniella said. "Absolutely no advice whatsoever."
He's managed in New York, Cincinnati, Seattle and Tampa Bay. The Cubs have not won a world championship since 1908, the longest stretch in professional sports.
"It's a unique challenge, it really is," Piniella said, then paused. "Let's just say it's a unique challenge."
What's so unique?
"This is a big-market town, big-market team," he said. "People want you to win. They haven't won here in a long time and you can't blame them for that. At the same time, everybody's trying. Sooner or later they'll break that barn door down and win a championship here."
That's Ricketts' plan.
"Our goal is to win the World Series," Ricketts said. "Our goal is to put a team on the field that can win the World Series every year."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.