Sandberg moves on from Cubs, gets to work in Philly

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Sandberg moves on from Cubs, gets to work in Philly

Monday, Dec. 6, 2010
11:25 AM Updated 2:24 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. Ron Santo couldnt remember Ryne Sandbergs name, even if the second baseman was the most popular Cubs player of his generation. So Santo called him big boy, and over the years it became their greeting to each other.

Santo and Sandberg both grew up in the Seattle area, and came of age as Cubs. For years they were both fixtures at Wrigley Field. It saddened Sandberg last week when he learned that Santo died at the age of 70 from complications with bladder cancer.

It will be hard to replace Ron Santo I dont think you can, Sandberg said Monday at the winter meetings. He wasnt your typical radio announcer, but everyone knew what he meant and how he felt, even if he didnt get all the facts right, all the names right.

(Everybody) knew how emotional he was about the game. That came across loud and clear on the radio.

If Sandberg feels estranged from the Cubs after being passed over for the job that ultimately went to Mike Quade, he didnt let it show. Sandberg, like Santo, will always be a Cubs legend, but now hes writing a new chapter to his story.

Sandbergs focused on managing the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Triple-A club of the Philadelphia Phillies, the organization that first drafted him and later traded him and Larry Bowa to Chicago for Ivan DeJesus.

It kind of erases some of the people that Ive ran into the last 30 years, Sandberg said, Phillies fans (who) say: Youre the one that got away and all that.

There are Cubs fans who no doubt feel the same way, though Sandberg insists hes happy. He will take pride in all the prospects who loved playing for him at Class-A Peoria, Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa.

We were a tight group, Sandberg said. For some of those players, we were tight for four years, so it will be great to see those guys go up there and contribute. Thats really gratifying. I hope some of them will get a shot next year and do well.

Sandberg was at the Swan and Dolphin resort on Monday representing the Hall of Fame, as part of the committee that elected executive Pat Gillick to Cooperstown. Santo will not be eligible for induction again until 2012, though the ballot hasnt been compiled yet and wont be revealed until next year.

Even with the outpouring of emotion for Santo, the committee wont be swayed easily. Gillick a former general manager in Toronto, Baltimore, Seattle and Philadelphia and the architect of three World Series champions was the only one chosen from a group that included George Steinbrenner and union leader Marvin Miller.

Sandberg could have spent the rest of his life signing autographs, but isnt satisfied with his legacy only being as a player. With the Phillies, he said hes not planning to wear the No. 23 the Cubs retired five years ago. Perhaps thats a sign hes breaking free from the past. This is a chance to build out his resume.

Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel will be 67 next season, but Sandberg certainly knows that he isnt promised anything. He remains open-minded about his future in managing, and the possibilities of another big-league job.

I havent really had a timetable, Sandberg said. I like what Im doing. I like where Im at.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Cubs down to only one All-Star starter in voting update

Cubs down to only one All-Star starter in voting update

The Cubs are down to only one starter in next month's All-Star Game in Miami: reigning MVP Kris Bryant.

Jason Heyward lost his grip on the final starting outfielder spot to Marlins star Marcell Ozuna in the latest All-Star balloting update released by the MLB:

That may be for the best, as the Cubs are currently banged up (Heyward. Ben Zobrist and Kyle Hendricks are on the disabled list) and slogging through a season where they've hovered around .500. So maybe four days off in a row would be beneficial for the defending champs.

Heyward is 29,270 votes behind Ozuna and Zobrist is 118,248 votes behind Heyward. It appears as if Washington's Bryce Harper and Colorado's Charlie Blackmon are sure things for the top two outfielder spots in the NL.

Bryant is only 58,082 votes ahead of Nolan Arenado at third base. Anthony Rizzo trails Ryan Zimmerman at first base, Javy Baez comes in well behind Daniel Murphy at second base and Buster Posey has more than twice as many votes as runner-up Willson Contreras at catcher.

Addison Russell is third among shortstops. Kyle Schwarber — despite being demoted to the minors last week — is eighth among NL outfielders.

It's a far cry from 2016, when the Cubs made up all four infield spots in the NL starting lineup.

Voting ends in four days. Fans can head to MLB.com to vote.

If Nationals are playoff preview, what should Cubs do at trade deadline?

If Nationals are playoff preview, what should Cubs do at trade deadline?

WASHINGTON – Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio has perspective after sitting through the darkest days of the rebuild, the sign-and-flip cycles and moments like “Men Playing Against Boys,” the way ex-manager Dale Sveum once sized up the team during a 2012 series against the Washington Nationals.

Bosio trusted future “World’s Greatest Leader” Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and the rest of a growing front office would deliver talent during the 101-loss season that led to the Kris Bryant No. 2 overall draft pick and the Ryan Dempster/Kyle Hendricks buzzer-beater deal at the trade deadline.   

So while Bosio is a hardened realist who understands the banged-up Cubs haven’t played up to their potential, he also knows these are first-division problems. 

“If Theo and Jed can find a way to make our team better, you can bet they’re going to do it,” Bosio said. “But at the same time, they’re not going to sacrifice our future. They know that the team (here has) a lot of holdovers from the World Series club. There’s a lot of holdovers from the team that went to the National League (Championship Series in 2015). We’ve been through that. And when it comes crunch time, we produce.”

With that in mind, a look at where things stand five weeks out from the July 31 trade deadline as the defending champs begin a potential playoff preview on Monday at Nationals Park:

• If Max Scherzer flirts with another no-hitter or a 20-strikeout game on Tuesday, the questions will start all over again about adding a hitter. Javier Baez even let this slip over the weekend after a win over the Miami Marlins: “Pretty much not having a leadoff guy right now is kind of tough.” But shipping Kyle Schwarber to Triple-A Iowa is not necessarily the start of an offensive overhaul.

“Our focus is going to be on pitching,” Hoyer said. “I would never say never to something like that, because I don’t know what’s going to present itself as we get closer to the deadline. I will say this: When it comes to our offense, I really do see it as these are our guys. We’re as deep with position players as any team in baseball. These guys have performed exceptionally well. Most of these guys have won 200 games over the last two years.

“We believe in them for a reason. We don’t have rings on our fingers without all these guys.”

• With Jake Arrieta and John Lackey on the verge of becoming free agents, the Cubs feel like they should start working on their winter plans this summer and begin remodeling the rotation. The 38-37 record makes you wonder how ultra-aggressive the front office will be to win a bidding war for a frontline starter, but the Cubs are only 1.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers, a first-place team for now that was supposed to be rebuilding this year.   

But the Cleveland Indians got to the 10th inning of a World Series Game 7 with Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin and Ryan Merritt making nine playoff starts combined, because they had Corey Kluber and a dynamic bullpen.

The primary focus will have to be on the rotation, but adding another high-leverage reliever to work in front of lights-out closer Wade Davis would shorten games and help preserve Carl Edwards Jr. (170 pounds) and Koji Uehara (42 years old).   

“At some point, you’re going to assess your own team,” Hoyer said. “Sometimes strengthening a strength can work. You see teams that sometimes have a good offense – and add another good hitter – and all of a sudden we’re going to beat you in a different way.”

• Without making this summer’s blockbuster deal for a closer – the way the Cubs landed Aroldis Chapman – Washington risks wasting Bryce Harper’s second-to-last season before free agency and another year of Scherzer’s $210 million megadeal.

Six different Nationals have saved games for a 45-30 team and the bullpen ranks near the bottom of the majors with a 4.88 ERA. Can’t blame that on Dusty Baker, who has notched more than 1,800 wins as a manager and guided four different franchises to the playoffs.

But it won’t be easy to find a quick fix for the Washington bullpen or Cubs rotation. The American League opened for business on Monday with only three of its 15 teams more than three games under .500, and one being the White Sox, who are (obviously) not seen as a realistic trade partner for the Cubs.

“The American League is incredibly jumbled up,” Hoyer said. “That’s why a lot of deals don’t happen this time of year, because people are still sorting it out. The next five weeks of baseball will determine a lot of that. Some of those teams that are in the race now will fall back.

“There’s a lack of teams right now that have a true sense of sellers. I think there are a lot of teams right now that are close enough that they’re not going to admit it that they’re going to be sellers. That five weeks will determine a lot about who ends up on which side of the fence.”