Manager questions are multiple-choice; Wedge out

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Manager questions are multiple-choice; Wedge out

Friday, Oct. 15, 2010
6:25 PM

By Patrick MooneyCSNChicago.com

Within a span of 31 days, the White Sox and Boston Red Sox introduced new managers. One had never done the job before, but was a name on the South Side. The other was an outsider in New England, and fired the last time he had a chance to run a major-league team.

This was late 2003 and less than 23 months later those two men won World Series titles for two franchises that combined had gone 174 years without a championship.

It would be impossible to clone Ozzie Guillen, and the White Sox organizational structure might not work elsewhere. And Terry Francona could have just as easily been remembered as the guy who managed Michael Jordan and the Double-A Birmingham Barons.

But you never know where the next great manager might be coming from or going. The White Sox once fired a young Tony La Russa. The New York Daily News went with a Clueless Joe back page when Joe Torre took over the Yankees. Before Bill Belichick became a football genius, he had to be fired by the Cleveland Browns.

The Cubs are carefully heading toward a decision on their manager for Year 103 since their last World Series championship. Mike Quade a baseball lifer who has managed only 37 games in the majors would represent a philosophical shift from Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella and whats been described as the celebrity manager.

I've hired two really good managers that did very, very well here the first couple years, general manager Jim Hendry said at the beginning of the search process. And then for a lot of the reasons not blaming them things don't always go (up). It looks like it's going that way and then we got derailed a couple times.

Hiring Ryne Sandberg could help sell tickets and energize the fan base the same way Guillen did and if you needed a reminder of that the Cubs sent out invoices on Friday to their season-ticket holders.

There are five pricing tiers for 13 different sections at Wrigley Field and it all depends on the date andor opponent. Youll find a range that runs from 8 to 112 per ticket, plus a 12 percent amusement tax, and the overall average price will essentially remain flat in 2011.

Then again, Francona wasnt a huge name in Boston and this summer the Red Sox reached their 600th consecutive sellout at Fenway Park. Like Francona who was dismissed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2000 maybe Bob Melvin and Eric Wedge only need another opportunity.

Wedge, who met with Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts earlier this week, will be the next manager of the Seattle Mariners according to an SI.com report late Friday afternoon. The former Cleveland Indians manager was linked to several openings. He wont be coming to Wrigleyville.

Look at the four managers still analyzing matchups and not hunting or fishing or golfing and youll see that part of this postseason is about second chances. Or that they dont have much in common except for the fact that their teams are in the league championship series that begin this weekend.

The Indians fired Charlie Manuel during the middle of his third season in Cleveland. Manuel, a former hitting coach, has won at least 85 games in each of his six years with the Phillies and is chasing his third consecutive National League pennant. Manuel, 66, has West Virginia roots and was shaped by the years he spent playing in Japan, yet wound up helping give the city of Philadelphia its first professional championship since 1983.

Fifty-five-year-old Bruce Bochy was born into a military family in France, where his father was stationed, and eventually developed into a major-league catcher. Those skills inform the way Bochy handles a pitching staff thats one of the best in the game. He lasted 12 seasons with the small-market San Diego Padres, and it took until his fourth year in San Francisco before the Giants made the playoffs.

Ron Washington, 58, had no experience managing in the majors until he took over the Texas Rangers in 2007. In spring training he survived what looked like a devastating report he tested positive for cocaine last year. Before Fridays Game 1, he was reflecting on that failed drug test and his relationship with general manager Jon Daniels.

He didn't judge me (and) I could never say enough about that support, Washington said Thursday in Texas. When youre a manager, a lot of times you get hired to get fired. And whenever that time comes and I hope it's a long time in the future I hope that I can always have him as a friend.

In this business, thats the probability facing the next Cubs manager hired to be fired.

Joe Girardi, who turned 46 on Thursday, could be the perfect fit. Born in Peoria and educated at Northwestern University, the ex-Cubs catcher might want to come home with his family or stay in New York and perhaps build another Yankees dynasty. Fired by the Florida Marlins in 2006, he might appreciate the stable organization he already knows.

Hendry has said that the only instructions Ricketts gave him were this: Get the best man for the Cubs. Get the best man for the future. For that role, there is no central casting. And we might not know who that person truly is for at least three more years.

Preview: Cubs open series with Pirates tonight on CSN

Preview: Cubs open series with Pirates tonight on CSN

The Cubs take on the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Catch first pitch at 6 p.m. with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Starting pitching matchup: Kyle Hendricks (15-8, 2.06 ERA) vs. Chad Kuhl (5-3, 3.73 ERA)

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David Ross helps Cubs edge Cardinals in regular season home finale

David Ross helps Cubs edge Cardinals in regular season home finale

CHICAGO — David Ross got fired up when Cubs manager Joe Maddon walked to the mound with two out in the seventh inning, ready to argue for Jon Lester to stay in the game.

Maddon and Lester had a different plan.

"Joe looked at him and said 'Have you ever been a part of where the catcher gets taken out of the game before the pitcher?'" Lester said, describing the scene with a big grin. "You can just see him, it's like the kid at the candy store when you tell him he can pick out whatever he wants.

"It was just like the disbelief in his face and slams his mask back over his face and all he can say is 'I love you guys. I love you guys. I love you guys.'"

Ross then walked off to another standing ovation from a raucous crowd of 40,859 at Wrigley Field, part of a heartwarming Sunday night for the backup catcher in his last season. He also hit his 10th homer and teamed with Lester for another scoreless performance, helping the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

"It was an amazing night," Ross said.

Ben Zobrist had three hits and scored two runs as Chicago finished with a major league-best 57-24 home record. It's the most home wins for the Cubs since they went 58-19 at the West Side Grounds in 1910.

The Cardinals lost for the third time in four games, wasting a chance to improve their playoff positioning. They remain a half-game back of San Francisco for the second NL wild card after the Giants lost 4-3 at San Diego earlier in the day.

"I think we're in a good position right now," pitcher Carlos Martinez said through a translator. "I also think we have a great shot at winning the World Series."

Ross, Lester's regular catcher, was greeted with a long standing ovation when he came to the plate in the second inning. St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina walked halfway to the mound, forcing the unassuming Ross to take in the moment, and he took off his batting helmet to acknowledge the cheering crowd.

Ross then struck out, but he got another chance in the fifth and drove Martinez's second pitch over the wall in left for 1-0 lead. Ross clapped his hands as he rounded first on his 10th homer and the cheers continued after he reached the dugout, prompting a curtain call.

"It was just fitting that David would hit a home run, isn't it?" Maddon said. "I mean it had to have happened tonight."

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Lester (19-4), one of the top candidates for the NL Cy Young Award, struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings. The left-hander allowed three hits and walked one while improving to 10-0 with 1.34 ERA in his last 13 starts.

It was Lester's idea to pull Ross in the middle of an inning.

"He's like a brother to me and for him to give me that was pretty cool," Ross said.

The Cardinals pulled within one on Jhonny Peralta's two-out RBI single in the eighth, but Brandon Moss flied to center with runners on the corners. Willson Contreras responded with an RBI single in the bottom half and Aroldis Chapman worked the ninth for his 16th save with the NL Central champions and No. 36 on the year.

Martinez (15-9), pitching with a heavy heart after the death of Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez in a boating accident, allowed two runs and six hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked four.

"He had lots of juice," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It's probably the hardest sinker I've ever seen him throw. A couple of those were 97 (mph). He was locked in. He wanted it bad today, and he was good enough for us to win."