The Chicago Cubs fired manager Mike Quade on Wednesday, and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein seems to have ruled out a popular name to succeed him in Ryne Sandberg.
"The managerial search process begins immediately," Epstein said. "We are looking for someone with whom and around whom we can build a foundation for sustained success. 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; and he must have managerial or coaching experience at the major league level."
The last part of that statement seemed to exclude Sandberg, and in fact Epstein did call him to say he wasn't in the running.
"Theo called me 10 minutes after they issued the press release (on Quade) and told me that they have a list of guys and I'm not on it,'' Sandberg said, according to the Daily Herald. "He wished me good luck and said he hoped I got a chance somewhere soon.
"He didn't owe me that at all. He didn't have to do that. It was a classy move and I'm very appreciative of the phone call. In the end, I wished him and everybody there good luck."
Sandberg was a Hall of Fame second baseman for the Cubs who became a highly successful minor league manager in the Cubs organization before managing the Philadelphia Phillies' Triple-A team last season. But he hadn't coached or managed on the major league level.
Despite being eliminated, Sandberg had no hard feelings.
"Cubs fans should have trust in Theo," he said, according to the Herald. "They're in great hands with him and (general manager) Jed (Hoyer) and (senior vice president) Jason (McLeod),'' Sandberg said. "They're heading in the right direction and they're going to do everything in their power possible to get the Cubs where they ultimately want to be."
Epstein and Hoyer met with Quade last week at Wrigley Field and spoke again by phone Tuesday after Hoyer's introductory news conference. Epstein flew to Florida to tell Quade that he would not return.
"When I joined the Cubs last week, I knew that Mike had a reputation as an outstanding baseball guy, as a tireless worker, and as a first-rate human being," Epstein said in a release. "After spending some time with him this past week, it became apparent to me that Mike's reputation is well deserved. His passion, knowledge of the game, commitment, and integrity stood out immediately. 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."
Quade had one year and $1 million remaining on a two-year deal he signed last November. The deal carried a club option for 2013.
"Theo was class all the way," Quade said. "He and Jed were so impressive in the way they approached me and listened to what I had to say about the team. If you're going to let someone go, they handled it as well as anyone could.
"I'm really going to miss all the people in the front office, media relations, marketing, all the great people at the ball park. They were my family for a while, and that part really stings. But life does go on."
The Cubs finished 71-91, which was Quade's first full season as a big league manager after taking over for Lou Piniella late in the 2010 season. Quade's overall record is 95-104.
Quade isn't sure what he'll do next, but he knows he can win as a big league manager.
"We got a taste of that winning in 2010, but everyone knows the game is about the players, and this year we weren't deep enough as an organization to survive some of the injuries," he said. "I know we played better baseball the last couple of months of the season, but we all know that wasn't good enough.
"You go through all the emotions when you're told to move on. I came back from the meeting with Theo, put my fishing boots on and then went straight to the water and fished for two hours. That was my way of dealing with the decision, clearing my head out. Theo handled things so well. I understand their decision. They have a daunting task ahead of them and a lot to do. So I wish them well."
Epstein's old team, the Boston Red Sox, are also undergoing a managerial search. Given the similarity in philosophy between Epstein and new Boston GM Ben Cherington, it's logical to assume that the teams may be dipping into the same pool of candidates.
"There may be some people we both talk to,'' Cherington said. "That hasn't happened yet, because they haven't started theirs yet and I don't know how they're going to start theirs. But it's possible we'll be talking to some of the same people."
Major league sources told ESPNChicago.com the Cubs coaches were told no decisions would be made on their status until a new manager is hired. They are free to look for other jobs in the meantime. Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, bullpen coach Lester Strode and bench coach Pat Listach are under contract for next season.
ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine and ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes contributed to this report.