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Columnist
Could Girardi wind up on Cubs' radar?
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 12/22/2009 12:05 AM

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The widely held assumption is that ex-Cub Ryne Sandberg will graduate from Triple-A and manage the Cubs in 2011, as Lou Piniella walks into the sunset following next season.

But what if there were another ex-Cub available, one who already has won a Manager of the Year award and a World Series title?

Yes, Joe Girardi might be free at the end of next season, and if there's any job he wanted as much as the Yankees gig when he left Florida it was the one at Wrigley Field.

And a story out of New York over the weekend quoted Yanks owner Hal Steinbrenner as saying he doesn't offer extensions, even though Girardi's three-year contract runs out at the conclusion of the 2010 season.

Steinbrenner meant it as no slight toward Girardi, who won 103 regular-season games and a World Series last season.

Steinbrenner said it's his policy that he negotiates new contracts when the old ones are up.

Knowing Girardi, he won't hold this against the Yankees, and if things go well next season he'll probably get himself a monster extension.

But it is New York and it is the Yankees, and anything less than a long playoff run could raise questions about Girardi's future.

At that point the Cubs could become an option for him.

If the choice were between a manager still learning the job, like Sandberg, and someone like Girardi who has won in the toughest of places to win and been through the misery he endured in Florida, you'd have to think the Cubs would take a long look at Girardi.

Another interesting scenario could place Girardi at the helm with Sandberg as his right-hand man/bench coach.

Of course, a lot depends on what kind of season the Cubs have in 2010, how long the Yankees play, if Jim Hendry is still the GM next November, and whether new owner/fan Tom Ricketts has a personal favorite, which you'd have to think is Sandberg.

So many things would have to go right for either Sandberg or Girardi to get the job that putting odds on it now is impossible.

But with Piniella's deal up next year, speculating on who the next manager will be is going to be a full-time job next summer.

Ivan Boldirev-ing

How good a coach is Joel Quenneville?

A month into the season and seeing the disaster that was Cristobal Huet, he had the Blackhawks tighten it up defensively to the point where they're allowing only a couple of decent scoring chances per game.

Of course, it helps that Huet has stopped allowing 1 or 2 really dreadful goals per game.

But if the Hawks can stay healthy and play defense like this in the playoffs, they could win the Stanley Cup with anyone in goal.

Uncle Miltie

Milton Bradley to the Mariners reminds me of the time a player was traded and I asked Cubs manager Don Zimmer what he thought of the deal from the other team's perspective.

Said Zimmer, "Our loss is their loss."

That's Bradley off the field, the one who needs an entire team of psychiatrists and never met a happy day he couldn't make angry.

On the field, however, I understand why Jim Hendry got him. He's a hitting machine with a history of solid performances, and with the ability for long at-bats and a good OPS.

It wouldn't be at all surprising if he had a really good year for Seattle next season, because you take away the terrible start to 2009, which snowballed into pure agony, and the one thing he's always done is hit.

How Cubs is it, though, that he picked his one year here to be so very bad?

Picked clean

Most overlooked quote from Sunday was this from Ron Turner on Jay Cutler's first interception: "The receiver's getting inside on a slant and the (defense was) heavy inside on him. So you'd like (the QB) to be able to recognize that and not force it. Throw it away and punt the ball."

Interesting criticism after Cutler abandoned Turner last week.

Just asking

If a new Bears president, GM and coach came in and wanted to explore trade options at QB, would Jay Cutler throw another tantrum and force his way out of Chicago, too?

Just suggesting

E-mailer Jay from Schaumburg: "How good would Israel Idonije be coming off the end spots and blowing by tackles on his way to the QB? He's got speed, strength and the ability to shoot out into coverage if a tight end or back slides out. Am I the only one that sees him causing trouble in the backfield like Julius Peppers?"

Rush to dance

Tryouts for the Adrenaline Rush Dancers will take place at 8 a.m. on Jan. 9 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. Dancers must be 18 by Jan. 1. For more info, call (847) 882-9400.

Best headline

Sportspickle.com: "Jimmie Johnson's car named AP Athlete of the Year."

And finally -

NBC's Conan O'Brien: "Sources close to Tiger Woods say he's spending his days now eating cereal and watching cartoons. In other words, he's gone from living every man's fantasy life to living every man's real life."