Chicago Cubs

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.

Mike Montgomery will gladly aid Cubs as spot starter, but could this be a mini audition for 2018 rotation?

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USA TODAY

Mike Montgomery will gladly aid Cubs as spot starter, but could this be a mini audition for 2018 rotation?

Jon Lester isn’t expected to be on the disabled list for long, which of course is great news for the Cubs.

But while he’s there, it’s once again time for Mike Montgomery to audition for a spot in the team’s 2018 starting rotation.

The Cubs are facing the possibility of losing two members of that starting staff this offseason, when both Jake Arrieta and John Lackey will be free agents. Montgomery seems like a logical replacement, but he’ll need to be better than he’s been as a starter this season. He’s put up a 5.13 ERA in eight starts.

He’ll get another opportunity to show his stuff over the next week or so, as he makes one or two spot starts with Lester on the shelf resting up his left lat tightness and general shoulder fatigue.

“I don’t want to see anybody get hurt, especially our ace. But it’s a challenge. I’m looking forward to going out there and helping the team win,” Montgomery said over the weekend. “I’m going to go out there and prepare and be ready to help this team get to the playoffs.”

Montgomery doesn’t have to worry about instilling confidence in his bosses. Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein both lauded Montgomery’s efforts since he was acquired about a year ago, in the middle of the 2016 team’s march to that curse-smashing World Series win. It was Montgomery who earned the save in Game 7.

And again this season Montgomery has given plenty of reason for those guys to have confidence in him. He’s turned in a strong 2.57 ERA in 27 relief appearances, one of the more reliable arms out of what is becoming an increasingly shaky bullpen. This past Thursday, he relieved the early-to-depart Lester, pitching 4.1 shutout innings and allowing just three hits and a walk against the Cincinnati Reds.

Throw in the versatility of being able to effectively switch between starting and relieving, and that’s a recipe for sticking on a big league roster.

“He’s good about bouncing back and forth,” Maddon said. “He’s been invaluable to us the last couple years. He’s still learning his craft. Every time I talk to him it’s kind of like the little lightbulb constantly goes off for him regarding his stuff and how to utilize it. That’s what I’ve been talking about with him the last couple years. This guy’s got all kinds of tools in the toolbox but he doesn’t really know how to utilize them all, and I think he’s finally understanding the cutter, the curve, the changeup to go with the fastball. He’s one of those guys that he should never get wild with his fastball because his pitches are so good and he can throw them for a strike.”

Montgomery’s reliability has been enough that Epstein said there’s no plan for the Cubs to add another starting pitcher before this month’s waiver trade deadline. Of course, the fact that Lester’s injury isn’t as bad as initially feared and the July acquisition of Jose Quintana factors into that, as well.

“We’ve expended a lot of prospect capital trying to make this team better. We think it’s just a start or two (that Lester will miss), and Mike Montgomery is more than capable of filling in,” Epstein said. “He’s thrown the ball really well, like what we saw from him (Thursday). So we’re going to fill that vacancy internally with Mike and go from there.”

While every start made by any pitcher this season seems important — the Cubs entered Monday’s day off with just a two-game lead on the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central standings, with a playoff spot hardly guaranteed — Montgomery’s efforts could have just as great an effect on next season. If Arrieta and Lackey both end up departing via free agency, the Cubs will need some replacements. Montgomery figures to be among the first options, especially if this midseason audition goes well.

Of course, Montgomery is happy to do whatever he needs to to help his team. He’s not complaining about a bullpen role or one that has him shuttling between the relief corps and the rotation. But he admitted that starting is his goal, meaning the importance of this moment likely hasn't been lost on him.

“Yeah, absolutely, I wanted to start. But also I wanted to be a guy who could fill another role and hopes that makes our team better,” he said. “If me starting makes us better in their mind, then that’s what I want ideally. But I’ve realized I can’t always control that, I can go out there and pitch well. If I pitch well, they’re probably going to give me more opportunities, which is probably going to lead to starting.

“I think it’s because I spent five years in Triple-A from the time I was 21 and I had a bigger ego. And then you realize that you just want to be in the big leagues and that Triple-A kind of stinks. I think it’s just how I’ve gotten to this point. And coming here last year from a team that was trying to get in the playoffs to a team that was clearly going to win the division, you realize that your role isn’t to come here and start making demands, it’s to come here and just do your job.”

Right now, the Cubs need Montgomery to fill the void while Lester rests up. And if he can make his starts look a little more like his bullpen outings, he’ll do just that. And if that’s what happens, maybe they’ll call on him next season to do a whole lot more.

That Anthony Rizzo is so hot right now: Cubs' first baseman named NL Player of the Week

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USA TODAY

That Anthony Rizzo is so hot right now: Cubs' first baseman named NL Player of the Week

That Anthony Rizzo is so hot right now.

And Major League Baseball noticed.

Rizzo was announced as the National League Player of the Week on Monday after a terrific performance last week.

The Cubs' first baseman collected 12 hits, drove in 13 runs and slashed a ridiculous .429/.484/.750.

The Cubs had a pretty good week as a team, too, winning five of their seven games against the visiting Cincinnati Reds and Toronto Blue Jays.

They take their three-game winning streak to Ohio to start a three-game set with the Reds on Tuesday.