How shallow is the pool of available former players turned coaching staff? Because that’s the requirement to lead teams this decade.
For the Cubs, it gave us Dale Sveum, a good man who brought a lot of fellow former Brewers to replace Mike Quade, himself a quiet leader brought to take over a troubled team that struggled even when they were leaders.
Before THAT, Cub leadership couldn’t get more high-profile. The 2000’s gave the Cubs their first back-to-back winning seasons SINCE THE ’70s with the rather laid back style of Dusty Baker, aided by the buying power of then-Cubs GM Jim Hendry, a man dedicated to throwing so much money at Aramis Ramirez you’d swear that Hendry was Ramirez’ agent.
After a few rough seasons, the reigns of the team were handed to Lou Piniella, successful with leading other teams to various victories (the Reds with a World Series in 1990) and immediately gave Cub fans back to back appearances, and quick exits, from the playoffs before deciding to call it a day and let a bunch of…
…call the shots.
It’s not that Mike Quade, Dale Sveum, and Rick Renteria are no-namers. Renteria was one of those fill in guys who probably sat on the bench for 8 innings, watching and learning before being called up for a double switch or something like that. He’s been involved in player development and was a bench coach for the Padres, the latter a qualifier for Theo Epstein’s Cubs. And this probably developed a good relationship with former Padres GM/current Cubs GM Jed Hoyer.
But there’s no connection to the current team. Quade had another year on his contract before being fired by Epstein; Sveum a three-year deal ended after 2; now Renteria is given a 3 year contract to teach a revolving door of young’ins, many of whom were locked up with long contracts yet have shown little advancement in fielding, consistent hitting, or even paying attention to the game.
How funny is it that there will be a race to see who is more impatient: Epstein and Hoyer, or the fans. Epstein is practically a legendary figure in behind-the-scenes baseball. And thus he must call the shots.
There is nothing wrong with NOT giving the fans what they want (Ryne Sandberg or Joe Girardi, favorites from the 80’s and 90’s, though Girardi was originally rejected by Hendry) because the man, having put together two winning World Series winners in a short amount of time, should know best what is required to win.
Just ask former Boston fan favorite Nomar Garciaparra.
(Who was traded to … the Cubs.)
How much more time did Sveum need to ‘develop’ the revolving door of kids the new management was picking? Clearly that time was up.
But, the situation is exactly the same. Maybe it’s worse because the Astros are no longer there to kick around…and even THEN they’ve had more World Series appearances in the last…oh, the point is, Renteria is going to be the manager of yet ANOTHER rebuilding effort.
Granted, to get from being the Cubs to being actual winners will take some work. But Cub fans got spoiled last decade. They got a taste of winning. They’ve had enough rebuilding.