Sandberg, Trammell wont be part of Cubs staff

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Sandberg, Trammell wont be part of Cubs staff

Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010
Updated 8:26 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

In one week the Cubs will gather for their organizational meetings in Arizona, where chairman Tom Ricketts and Ernie Banks have been lobbying Mesa voters to support the Nov. 2 ballot measure that could secure their new spring-training facility.

As the Cubs map out the offseason, its unclear where another franchise icon fits into their future. There isnt room on the major-league staff for Ryne Sandberg, who would be welcomed back as the manager at Triple-A Iowa or could be given a position within the front office.

Mike Quades staff has taken shape and there wont be many changes. Alan Trammell the Cubs bench coach the past four seasons agreed Tuesday to take the same job with Kirk Gibson and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Otherwise third- and first-base coaches Ivan DeJesus and Bob Dernier and bullpen coach Lester Strode have been invited back and are expected to return next year.

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild already exercised his option for next season, while hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo is signed through 2012.

If Sandberg had been named manager, Quade wouldnt have remained on the Hall of Famers staff. The Cubs viewed that pairing as a huge potential distraction.

Special assistant Matt Sinatro who was particularly close to Lou Piniella after working 15 seasons with him in Seattle, Tampa Bay and Chicago will not return to the Cubs.

Trammell, an upbeat presence in the clubhouse, was considered someone who balanced out Piniella, and he will probably do the same in reuniting with Gibson. The 52-year-old Trammell has been friends with Gibson for almost his entire adult life.

They were teammates for 12 seasons in Detroit and won the 1984 World Series together. When Trammell managed the Tigers, Gibson served as his bench coach. Ultimately, Trammell was fired in 2005 by the only team hed ever really known after 300 losses in three seasons.

Trammell rebuilt his resume in Chicago he scripted the practice plans in spring training and could be seen working almost daily with rookie shortstop Starlin Castro and filled in for Piniella when the manager took his leaves of absence.

Arguably the biggest surprise on Aug. 22 was not Piniellas resignation amid family concerns, but that Quade would be taking over for the final 37 games.

By then, general manager Jim Hendry had decided that Trammell an excellent coach who always conducted himself with class wasnt a serious managerial candidate. Hendry knew it would be unfair to tell Trammell that on the last weekend of the season.

Given all the background work Hendry had to do while searching for Piniellas successor, he probably has a few names in mind for the special assistant and bench coach roles, though Major League Baseball strongly discourages teams from making announcements during the World Series.

Quade who was formally reintroduced as the Cubs manager last week often deflected credit for the teams 24-13 finish to his coaches. Quade maintained a good relationship with Trammell and said he wanted to keep the entire staff intact.

But Trammell goes farther back with Gibson, who was elevated to interim manager in July and told hed remain on the job at seasons end. Trammell and Gibson were given an impossible rebuilding project in Detroit and eventually had to leave the organization they were so closely identified with.

After four years managing in the minor-league system, that could be the way for Sandberg to advance his career, though so far no other team has asked the Cubs for permission to interview him.

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

Cubs president Theo Epstein, world's greatest leader? 'The pope didn't have as good of a year'

Cubs president Theo Epstein, world's greatest leader? 'The pope didn't have as good of a year'

MESA, Ariz. – Cubs president Theo Epstein showed zero interest in playing along with Fortune magazine putting him on the cover and ranking him No. 1 on the list of "The World's 50 Greatest Leaders," or two spots ahead of Pope Francis.

"The pope didn't have as good of a year," manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday, channeling Babe Ruth.

Epstein essentially bit his tongue, responding to reporters with a copy-and-paste text message that reflected his self-awareness and PR savvy. 

"Um, I can't even get my dog to stop peeing in the house," Epstein wrote. "The whole thing is patently ridiculous. It's baseball – a pastime involving a lot of chance. If (Ben) Zobrist's ball is three inches farther off the line, I'm on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. 

"And I'm not even the best leader in our organization; our players are."

Epstein obviously has a big ego. No one becomes the youngest general manager in baseball history and builds three World Series winners without a strong sense of confidence and conviction. But he genuinely tries to deflect credit, keep a relatively low profile and stay focused on the big picture. 

Fortune's cover art became an older image of Epstein standing at the dugout, surrounded by reporters during a Wrigley Field press gaggle. (This was not Alex Rodriguez kissing a mirror during a magazine photo shoot.) The text borrowed from Tom Verducci's upcoming "The Cubs Way" book. 
 
Fortune still hit an Internet sweet spot and generated a lot of buzz, ranking Epstein ahead of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (No. 4), Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster (No. 7) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (No. 10).

"I'm all about the pope," Maddon said. "Sorry, Pope Francis. We're buds. I'd like to meet him someday. But after all, what we did last year was pretty special. 

"Has the pope broken any 108-year-old curses lately?"

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Epstein also ended an 86-year drought for the Boston Red Sox, putting the finishing touches on the immortal 2004 team and winning another championship in 2007 with eight homegrown players. 

No matter how the Cubs try to airbrush history now, that five-year plan featured lucky breaks, unexpected twists and turns and payroll frustrations as the franchise went from 101 losses in 2012 to 103 wins last season. But even after the biggest party Chicago has ever seen, no team in baseball is better positioned for the future. And there is no doubt that Epstein is a Hall of Fame executive.  

"He's very good at setting something up and then permitting people to do their jobs," Maddon said. "That's the essence of good leadership, the ability to delegate well. But then he also has the tough conversations. 

"He sees both sides. I've talked about his empathy before. I think that sets him apart from a lot of the young groups that are leading Major League Baseball teams right now. You know if you have to talk to him about something, he's got an open ear and he's going to listen to what you say. He's not going to go in there predetermined. 

"You can keep going on and on, him just obviously being very bright, brilliant actually. He's got so many great qualities about him. But he leads well, I think, primarily because of his empathy."

That blend of scouting and analytics, open-minded nature and pure guts led to the Cubs: drafting Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber; trading for Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta, Addison Russell and almost their entire bullpen; and signing transformative free agents like Jon Lester and Zobrist.            

Chairman Tom Ricketts locked up Epstein before the playoffs started last October with a five-year extension believed to be worth in the neighborhood of $50 million. Arrieta didn't laugh off the Fortune rankings.

"It just shows you all the positive that's he done," Arrieta said. "Not only here, but beforehand in Boston and what he's built for himself and for the city of Boston and the city of Chicago. It's hard to understate what he means to the organization."

How Cubs decided Kyle Hendricks would be their fifth starter

How Cubs decided Kyle Hendricks would be their fifth starter

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — When Joe Maddon made the obvious choice and named Jon Lester as the Opening Night starter, the Cubs manager joked about Kyle Hendricks reacting to the news by throwing stuff around the weight room.

So imagine how last year's ERA titleholder and a World Series Game 7 starter responded to the idea of being slotted fifth in the rotation.

"I heard things rattling in there," Maddon said with a laugh.

The Cubs revealed their alignment before Thursday afternoon's Jake Arrieta vs. Zack Greinke matchup at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, confirming Brett Anderson will work as a starter (for as long as he's healthy) while Mike Montgomery moves to the bullpen for the defending champs.

The Cubs want John Lackey to face the St. Louis Cardinals, so he will open as the No. 3 starter at Busch Stadium. To break up the lefties in the rotation, Anderson — who once tweeted: "Kyle Hendricks looks like he'd celebrate a World Series win with a glass of 2% milk, Oreos and a book" — will start Game 4 against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

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Whether or not the Cubs are overthinking this and overplaying their hand with a mild-mannered personality, don't expect Hendricks to rage against the pitching infrastructure.

"That's the point about our group," Maddon said. "Everybody buys in. Everybody's good. They understand being a part of the puzzle in your own unique way.

"It's kind of neat when you can have these conversations, knowing that ego's not going to play a part of it from the player coming back at you. They know it is part of the overall picture. They also know that the purpose is to try to do what we did last year.

"It's a unique situation. I'm not saying we're taking advantage of it, because everybody kind of digs it."

Whether or not Hendricks repeats his 2.13 ERA and third-place finish in the National League Cy Young Award vote, the Cubs see 200 innings as his next level after throwing 180 in 2015 and 190 last season (plus seven playoff starts combined).

"Everybody gets hung up on numbers," Maddon said. "He's definitely better than a No. 5 starter. It just happens that we're going to slot him in the five-hole coming out of camp. It's not a pecking order regarding ability by any means.

"A lot of it is just comfort zone for us with Kyle doing so well there last year. But, listen, Kyle can be a lot of people's No. 2s or even a 1 in a situation right now, too."

All along, the Cubs have coached up and managed Hendricks to the point where he could beat Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers to clinch the franchise's first pennant in 71 years.

"Why mess with that?" Maddon said. "As long as his ego doesn't force you to attempt to try to do something differently, and it doesn't, outside of throwing things a little bit. He's beautiful. We're all good."