Alan Trammell: The Bench Coach
Trammell is likely salivating at the idea of making a different kind of managerial history this time around. During his first season as manager of his beloved Tigers, he led a woeful roster to an American League-record 119 losses. He’d eventually turn things around in his final two seasons, with seasons of 72 and 71 wins but his teams never finished any higher than fourth place. Still, he’s got an established rapport with this group of players.
He’s earned the respect of the front office and the team for his work as the Cubs’ bench coach over the years. He is also – to a far lesser extent – the Tigers’ equivalent of Ron Santo, a beloved player who amassed solid numbers over the years that many think should have earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame. He’s won as a player and there’s been no reason to doubt he could win as a manager as well. Besides, I don’t think anyone short of John McGraw or Joe Torre could have done a better job with the Tigers squads of the mid-2000s that Trammell was saddled with.
Matt Lindner’s conclusion of a five part series highlighting who could be the Cubs‘ next skipper.
The Rest of the Field
If the Cubs decide to go in a different direction, they’ll have no shortage of options. Bobby Valentine is always a possibility, having managed the Mets to the World Series back in 2000 and establishing himself as one of the best managers in all of Japan in the later part of the last decade. Former Diamondbacks and Yankees manager Buck Showalter is also a possibility, although given his lack of managerial jewelry is probably a long shot at best because he’s established himself as the Craig Kilborn of managers. What’s that mean you ask? At both of his last stops, both the Yankees and Diamondbacks won the World Series the season following his ouster. Cubs fans could be clamoring for the organization to hire him for 2011 so they could look ahead to winning the title in 2012.
Perhaps the most intriguing possibility though is Tony LaRussa. LaRussa signed a one year contract with the Cardinals prior to the 2010 season, making him an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. He’s won titles with the Cardinals and A’s, and has Chicago roots as the manager of the infamous “Winnin’ Ugly” White Sox squad that won the AL West in 1983. As an added bonus, hiring him away from the Cardinals would be the ultimate jab at the Cubs’ biggest rival and providing more fuel to what are traditionally the most entertaining games the club plays each season.
Regardless of who’s leading the charge in the home dugout next year, they’re going to have a tall order to fill. Then again, 100+ years of futility and heartbreak will do that to a fanbase. My hunch? I think it’s going to be Girardi. He’s the best man for the job, a proven winner who bleeds Cubbie blue despite his Yankee ties.
Oh and by the way, the longest tenured manager in the past 30 years for the Lovable Losers? Believe it or not, it is the one and only Jim Riggleman. Riggleman lasted four seasons on the North Side, going 374-419 and leading the club to the 1998 Wild Card, the team’s first playoff berth since 1989.
Matt Lindner is a contributor to ESPN.com and MLB.com
For the introduction to this series go here.
For part two Ryne Sandberg go here
part three Joe Girardi go here
part four Brenly/Listach hereFollow paulmbanks