The new-look Chicago Cubs management team has decided to part ways with manager Mike Quade, according to a team statement.
After new team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer met with Quade for six to seven hours last week, the Cubs decided to part ways with the manager.
While Mike is clearly an asset to any organization and any major league staff, Jed and I believe that the Cubs would benefit long-term from bringing in a manager for 2012 who can come in with a clean slate and offer new direction, Epstein said in a statement.
Epstein personally flew down to Florida to tell Quade the news, which was appreciated by the former manager according to the Chicago Tribune. The Cubs finished with a disappointing 71-91 record in 2011 - a full 25 games behind division winner, Milwaukee.
The early favorite presumably would be Ryne Sandberg, but Epstein's statement appears to rule out former Hall of Fame Cub player. Epstein said in his statement that he is looking for a manager that must have managerial or coaching experience at the major league level.
Sandberg has spent time as the manager of Triple-A ball clubs, but has never managed or coached at the highest level. Sandberg has previously called managing the Cubs his dream job, but was passed up for the position in 2010 despite getting Lou Piniella's stamp of approval.
Ruling out such a popular player like Sandberg might not exactly endear Epstein and Hoyer to Cubs fans, though many have put full faith into the duo that won World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox.
In addition to wanting a candidate with major league experience, Epstein wants a manager with leadership and communication skills.
We are looking for someone with whom and around whom we can build a foundation for sustained success, Epstein said. The next manager must have leadership and communication skills; he must place an emphasis on preparation and accountability; he must establish high standards and a winning culture; he must have integrity and an open mind.
If Sandberg isn't a candidate, Epstein could look to bring former Red Sox manager Terry Tito Francona to Wrigley. Francona could also be a candidate for the recently vacant St. Louis Cardinals job following Tony La Russa's retirement. Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman speculated on Twitter that Mike Maddux could also be a leading candidate.
Sandberg is believed to also be a candidate for the Cardinals job, according to Fox Sports.