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Tony La Russa has confidence in his former front office to name his successor as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, but he believes Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg is an impressive candidate.
The Cardinals have received permission from the Philadelphia Phillies to interview Sandberg, a baseball source familiar with the situation confirmed to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. Sandberg managed the Phillies' Triple-A Lehigh Valley team last season.
"I've heard he's done a really good job in the minor leagues," La Russa said Thursday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "I also pay him huge credit points and respect points ... how many Hall of Famers do you know who are ready to go to the minor leagues and manage and prove what they can do?
"It's not just the baseball side when you think about minor league travel and when you get to Triple-A, those 4 o'clock wakeups where you've got to make three stops to get to your town and get your club ready to play. It is paying some severe dues and the fact that he paid them I think says something very special about him."
A franchise icon with the Chicago Cubs, Sandberg was a finalist for the Cubs managerial job that went to Mike Quade last year. Sandberg managed four years in the Cubs' minor league system and was named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year in 2010 leading Iowa, the Cubs' Triple-A affiliate.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch also reported the Cardinals are planning to interview former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo, former Gold Glove catcher Mike Matheny, White Sox coach Joe McEwing, and Chris Maloney, who manages Triple-A Memphis.
La Russa said he did not endorse anyone for the Cardinals' job.
"I've got too much respect for [principal owner and managing partner] Bill DeWitt, [general manager] John Mozeliak," La Russa said. "That's the reason I gave them a heads-up, so they could start to prepare. They will work the process. They are really sharp. They know our organization, they know our players and they don't need any input from [me], even though I'm pulling for them to make a great choice. It's a great job. They will figure it out."
Believed to be a candidate again for the Cubs, Sandberg was told by president of baseball operations Theo Epstein that he would not be a considered to replace Quade, who was fired on Wednesday.
La Russa, who managed against the division-rival Cubs for 16 seasons with the Cardinals, said the Cubs' managerial job has a unique and powerful draw around baseball.
"I think the neatest thing about the Chicago Cubs' situation is it's got the best dream going: to bring a world championship to that town," La Russa said. "I think that turns on a lot of baseball people at whatever level because it's a challenge that you look forward to. Imagine being a part of that situation. I think in that regard it's tough to top that for the other 29 clubs. I think the biggest dream going right now is the Cubs."