At Tuesday's news conference, new Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said this about the future of current Cubs manager Mike Quade:
"Mike seems like a great guy, and he has developed a great reputation over many decades in this game," Epstein said. "I look forward to sitting down with him in person, sharing with him my vision of the organization.
"I'd like to hear his vision of the organization. We have to talk about some things that happened over the last year or so. I look forward to that process, to exchanging information, sharing our visions. Then we'll get together as a group and decide where we go from there."
Epstein clearly was being charitable on a day when his arrival was being celebrated by Cubs fans everywhere. I don't think there's anyone other than Quade himself who really believes that the Cubs won't have a new field manager (and coaching staff) next season.
Who will it be? The photo on the top of this post tells you who I think should be given this position. Some of you may differ. Here's what I'm going to ask. There are some people here who are very much against the idea of Ryne Sandberg as Cubs manager. We know this because you have told us over and over and over. I'm going to ask you not to do any more of this. If you have something to contribute on this topic and are one of the "vehemently against", I am going to ask you to instead talk only about who you think should be Cubs manager next year.
In fairness, I will also ask the Sandberg proponents to not say you want him because he's a cuddly former Cub. That isn't good enough. Those of us who favor him have to make a strong case based on his credentials.
Fair enough? After the jump, a poll, and the names of some men who could be considered for this position.
These men are listed in alphabetical order, so as not to imply any sort of bias. (You already know who I want.) I'm skipping Sandberg and Quade in this list, presuming you already know enough about them.
Terry Francona: the former Red Sox manager was quite successful in Boston; his reign includes six playoff appearances and two World Series titles, and he's reportedly very close to Theo Epstein. Yesterday, Epstein hinted he might not have left Boston if Francona had stayed. The downside to Francona is that there were reports that he lost his clubhouse and team during 2011 and that he might be burned out of managing and want and need to take some time off.
DeMarlo Hale: Hale has been a coach in Boston since 2006 and bench coach since 2009; before that he was a coach for the Rangers and a minor league manager for nine years. He's well respected and is a Chicago-area native, graduating from Chicago Vocational HS in 1979, so he is familiar with the area. He's a prime candidate to be named Red Sox manager.
Dave Martinez: Martinez was the Cubs' third-round pick in 1983 and had two tours of duty with the team. You might not remember the second one; he was a Cub for 18 games in 2000 in a season he played for four teams (Cubs, Rangers, Blue Jays and then-Devil Rays). He's been the bench coach in Tampa Bay under Joe Maddon for the last four years, three of which have been playoff seasons.
Bobby Valentine: practically slobbered all over Tom Ricketts last August during an ESPN game at Wrigley against the Cardinals, lobbying to get the job. Valentine managed the Mets to two playoff appearances and a World Series berth in 2000. He also has managed in Japan, giving him a unique perspective on managing (although that didn't help Trey Hillman make the Royals win). Downsides: his age (62 next spring; I think the Cubs would like a younger man) and his weird orange hair.
If you've got another pick, let us know in the poll and the comments. And please, keep the Sandberg rhetoric down.