Who Will Be Lou Piniella's Successor? Cubs vs. Astros Preview, Tuesday 7/20, 7:05 CT

By now you've likely heard the news that Lou Piniella is officially retiring as Cubs manager after this disappointing season is over.

Who will succeed him? First, I think we have been given a clue as to Jim Hendry's future by this announcement. While it's still possible that Hendry will be let go after this season, remember that there are two years left on Hendry's deal and if there were to be a new GM also, they might have sat on this announcement until October.

In any case, there will be many names batted around for Lou's successor -- among them, mentioned in this afternoon's post, are Bob Brenly, Alan Trammell, Bobby Valentine, Joey Cora, Jose Oquendo and Joe Torre.

None of those men will get the job, for various reasons, nor should they. In my mind, it comes down to two choices: Joe Girardi, or Ryne Sandberg.

Girardi will have, at the end of this season, four years' major league managing experience and at least one World Series ring. He's been a Cubs player and grew up in the organization. I didn't think he had enough experience in 2006 at the last opening; clearly, he does now and he'd be a fine choice. I do not expect him to be available; the Yankees usually work on one-year deals and they may not lock him up until later, but I'd expect Girardi to give them first refusal.

That makes, to me, the obvious choice Ryne Sandberg. I'll repeat what I've posted here before: Sandberg applied for the job after Dusty Baker's deal was not renewed. He was told he had no experience -- and so he got some, starting at the lowest level of the organization, riding buses in the Midwest League. He worked hard, and by all accounts is very good at his job and has been praised by some of the very players who will (hopefully) be part of the next Cubs playoff team, as well as by members of Cubs management. Not one Hall of Fame player has ever done what Sandberg has done in learning his craft. To have done everything asked by the organization and then to NOT get the job would be a real slap in the face to Sandberg.

He's earned it. His popularity is a bonus, not the reason to hire him.

There's one more dark-horse choice who could very well wind up as Sandberg's bench coach: Pat Listach, who was a Cubs minor league manager for many years before leaving to become third-base coach with the Nationals. Listach is among the next generation of coaches/managers; he's only 43 and would be a fine choice to be part of Sandberg's coaching staff... as would Greg Maddux, if he'd agree.

Now, those are my opinions. In the next few days or so, I'll try to put together a piece examining all the known possibilities (and maybe some others) as objectively as possible.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ryan Dempster
Ryan Dempster
Cubs
vs. Wesley Wright
Wesley Wright
Astros
8-7 W-L 0-0
3.57 ERA 5.59
129 SO 7
46 BB 3
17 HR 3
vs. Hou -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Ryan Dempster 8-7 20 19 1 0 0 0 128.2 109 55 51 17 46 129 3.57 1.20


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Wesley Wright 0-0 6 0 0 0 0 0 9.2 12 7 6 3 3 7 5.59 1.55

This looks like a mismatch. Wesley Wright made six relief appearances for Houston in May and June and was pretty bad in most of them. He was sent to Triple-A and is being recalled to start this game; it will be his first major league start after 126 relief appearances with a 5.24 ERA and 1.56 WHIP. His career ERA vs. the Cubs in 10.2 innings is 5.06 with 11 walks. Clearly, we are doomed.

Ryan Dempster had a good outing last Thursday against the Phillies and has already defeated the Astros once this year, on June 5 in Houston. He's been very consistent all year and ranks sixth in the NL in K's with 129, only seven behind the leader, Tim Lincecum. Lance Berkman has homered four times off him in 54 career AB, and Ryan has also walked Berkman 12 times.

Tonight's game is on cable, CSN Chicago and FSN Houston. Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Astros site The Crawfish Boxes.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 7 pm CDT, and the overflows will post at 8 pm, 9 pm and 9:45 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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