New Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein talked Wednesday about how much he admires Ryne Sandberg, but that's about as far as he went when asked about the possibility of Sandberg replacing Mike Quade as Cubs manager next season.
"That would be way premature to talk about," Epstein said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "Ryne Sandberg obviously was a great Cub, great player, great guy by all accounts, but he's a Philadelphia Phillie. He's a Triple-A manager. It would be just so premature for us to talk about that."
Epstein is prohibited from discussing publicly the possibility of hiring employees under contract with other teams, and he doesn't want to talk about a new manager with Quade having another year on his deal.
But almost as soon as Epstein was mentioned as a possibility for the Cubs, the fact he wanted Sandberg to manage the Boston Red Sox's Triple-A team in Pawtucket had people connecting dots that would lead Sandberg to replace Quade. The Cubs' 71-91 record also fueled that speculation.
Sandberg currently is the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies' Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Epstein hasn't yet had a chance to sit down with Quade to discuss the manager's future but will do so soon.
"I'm going to sit down with Mike Quade in the coming days and get a debrief from him and share my vision of the organization," Epstein said. "I'm going to do that with just about everyone in the organization.
"So before we talk about the potential of bringing in anyone from the outside, I need to get a feel for what we have here."
While Epstein wouldn't talk about Sandberg as potentially the Cubs' manager, he did talk about Sandberg the individual.
"I can't talk too much about it because he's with another organization, but [I probably see] the same things you see," Epstein said. "He was the most humble Hall of Famer I ever met. And he demonstrated as much respect for the game as anyone I ever met.
"Those things stand out about him. Beyond that, you're not going to ask me about the Triple-A manager for the Royals, I'm sure."