One of Theo Epstein's first moves after taking over as Cubs president of baseball operations was deciding not to retain manager Mike Quade.
I think it was a good decision, and here's why: It doesn't have a thing to do with Quade as a manger; it has everything to do with the fact that his name is Mike Quade. When an organization is looking to hire someone to manage 25 guys at the Major League level, the most important thing that person must have is credibility.
Credibility goes a long way in our sport. We sign these kids out of high school and college and give them millions of dollars, and if the manager they have at the Major League level does not have a track record as a former player or manager, anything he says will fall on deaf ears. That is the sad truth about it.
When you give an 18-year-old kid $10 million right out of high school and he gets to the Majors by the time he is 21, his attitude is, "Why am I going to listen to that guy when I already have made more money playing this game in three years than my manager has made in his 17- or 18-year career." Trust me when I say there is nothing more arrogant than a teenage millionaire.
I don't say this to offend Quade in any shape or form. But I've been around professional baseball for 29 years, and when the Cubs hired him, I had never heard of him.
I said the same thing when Arizona hired A.J. Hinch to manage the team a few years back, and look at the dramatic change there after he was replaced by Kirk Gibson. Does it mean that what Gibson has to say is far more baseball intelligent than what A.J. Hinch had to say? I can't answer that because I have never heard what either one of them says to their players. But what I can say for a fact is that what comes out of Gibson's mouth doesn't fall on deaf ears, because he has a track record.
That said, for Epstein to not hire Ryne Sandberg as manger for the next three years at least makes me wonder. Sandberg is a Hall of Famer, and he's paid his dues as a Minor League manager. Sandberg would have instant credibility, not to mention the fact he's hugely popular on the North Side of Chicago.
That, alone, would buy Epstein a three-year mulligan to put together the team he wants to build. It also gives the Cubs a massive marketing tool. If I'm the owner of the Cubs, I have made one really smart baseball decision by hiring Epstein as president of baseball operations. Now make another great decision -- both baseball and business -- and hire Sandberg.
As a former Cubs player, I know how that city loves its heroes. The hiring of Sandberg would be an extremely good business decision. The fact that Epstein has said he won't be hiring Ryno makes me wonder if he doesn't want to hire a man that has a bigger name than his own. This game is about winning and marketability.
The Cubs aren't going to win in the next couple of years, so they should do the next-best thing, and that's hiring a manager they can market. I saw this move as a no-brainer. If I'm Epstein, I know it will take some time to build the team I want, so I'm going to hire a manager that buys me time with the fan base.
Mitch Williams is an analyst for MLB Network. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.