7/20 Who's next?

With Lou Piniella’s announcement Tuesday that he’s retiring after this season, the search is on for a new Cubs manager. GM Jim Hendry will lead the search. Among the names already being mentioned are Ryne Sandberg, Alan Trammell and Bob Brenly. Hendry has hired Dusty Baker and Piniella at the big league level and said he will do a thorough search.

“I expect this to be a long, extensive operation,” Hendry said. “It’s a very big decision moving forward.

“It’s not going to be a two-week process and I think it’s one of the things that will help moving forward from today,” Hendry said. “We’ll leave no stones unturned.”

There is no short list of candidates. Piniella had talked to Hendry about possibly retiring after this season when his contract is up but didn’t confirm that with the general manager until a few days ago.

Hendry said he’d like to have the new manager in place by the team’s organization meetings, which are usually held in October if the Cubs don’t go to the postseason.

“Certain names like ‘Ryno’ will be considered,” Hendry said. “[Conversations have] been more about dealing and talking to Lou and letting him do this his way and showing him the respect he deserves. We’ll get after it and do it over a long term basis but we still have plenty of time to find the right guy.

“At the end of the day, we want the best manager moving forward,” Hendry said. “We’d like somebody who won’t be a short term guy.”

One of the reasons Piniella said he wanted to announce his retirement plans now was that he wanted to give the Cubs time to search for his replacement. Why let Piniella finish the season?

“He wants to finish,” Hendry said. “He’s earned that right. He’s done 100 times more good things here than just the record we’re not pleased with now. And it wouldn’t do any good moving forward anyhow. It’d be an in-house choice. You’re much beter off keeping the cohesiveness now.”

Piniella said he’ll stay out of the search process.

“That’s not my job,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll hire a person fully capable of coming in here and bringing this organization along.”

Any advice for the next Cubs manager?

“I don’t have any advice for anybody,” Piniella said. “Absolutely no advice whatsoever.”

He’s managed in New York, Cincinnati, Seattle and Tampa Bay. Chicago has not won a World Championship since 1908, the longest stretch in professional sports.

“It’s a unique challenge, it really is,” Piniella said, then paused. “Let’s just say it’s a unique challenge.”

– Carrie Muskat

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