Kap's Corner

The Cubs Managerial Search

The Cubs managerial search is rolling along as GM Jim Hendry continues to his homework on several candidates both in-house and outside the organization. He has interviewed Eric Wedge (just named the manager of the Seattle Mariners), Don Wakamatsu, Bob Melvin, Ryne Sandberg, Mike Quade, and others and he has talked to several baseball types he knows around the game to hear their thoughts and opinions.

Before he makes a hire he had better look himself in the mirror and realize that the last two full time managers of this team were unwilling to hold players accountable despite coming in with reputations as locker room leaders. From the ridiculousness that derailed the 2004 Cubs to the antics of Carlos Zambrano this season no one has ever had the courage to lay down the law and be the tough guy that the Cubs have needed for far too long. That is squarely on the field manager and upper management who did absolutely nothing to control the players who let the broadcasters and the extraneous noise distract them in 2004 to Lou Piniella completely losing his team in 2010 as the season spiraled out of control. Set down a way to play and let no one operate outside the rules. Period, end of story. If a player misses a team flight because of his birthday then he doesn't pitch no matter who he is (think Big Z in 2009). If a player doesn't run hard out of the box then he is removed from the game and he sits. Whether he signed a 136 million dollar contract or is a minimum salaried rookie. Operate that way and you have a chance. Anything less and you will lose the respect of your team very quickly.
The amazing thing is that Jim Hendry never managed that way when he was the head coach of a nationally ranked team that he took to the College World Series at Creighton. People who were around that program tell me that Hendry was a tough guy in the dugout. He laid down the law and if his players didn't abide by the rules they didn't see the field. He was an emotional and fiery leader whose teams played very hard and played fundamentally sound baseball. So why has he accepted the garbage that he has seen lately? Sources close to the situation told me that Hendry was furious with what he saw this past season but out of respect for Lou Piniella and all that he had accomplished he allowed him to leave on his own terms. What should have happened was this: When Lou Piniella went to a post game press conference and said "What do you want me to do? I have done everything I can." and that happened a number of times, he should have received his walking papers. He should have not been allowed to continue to manage when he was so obviously burned out and finished. He was a great manager in his time but that time had obviously passed. To tolerate what we have seen over the past decade from Sammy Sosa's nonsense to Carlos Zambrano in 2010 cannot ever be tolerated again.

Of the candidates that are still on Hendry's list there is really only one choice to make. That choice is Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Will he take the job? No one knows because he is busy managing the Yanks in the ALCS. However, the Cubs owe it to themselves to wait and find out if he will take the job. What is the harm in waiting? That if he turns you down then the eventual manager will feel he was the second choice? Who cares. Tell that to Lovie Smith who was not Bears GM Jerry Angelo's first choice when he took the Bears job in 2004. Nick Saban and a handful of other candidates were ahead of Smith and Saban was even offered the position before turning it down.

We also keep hearing that the players want Mike Quade. Who cares what the players want? You mean the players who finished 16 games behind division winning Cincinnati? You mean the players that may not even be on the team in two years? With all due respect to the players their opinions don't mean a whole lot. It is management's job to hire the best candidate for the future both the short but more importantly the long term of the Chicago Cubs. Ryne Sandberg has done everything that the organization asked him to do to prepare to be the manager of the club. He is a solid baseball man and he has a vision for how he wants his teams to play. Add in that he will hold his players accountable and will change the culture in the clubhouse and he is a very attractive candidate.

Mike Quade is also a solid baseball man who performed very well in his audition as the interim manger for the last 6 weeks of the 2010 season. He has had success as a minor league manager and he is well respected by everyone he has worked with around the game. He too is a attractive candidate but like Sandberg comes with question marks because they are unproven commodities.

Eric Wedge? Bob Melvin? No thank you. I know that they are well respected around the game but they are retreads. Especially Melvin. He failed in Seattle and he failed in Arizona where he was fired shortly after taking the 2007 Diamondbacks to the NLCS. Why fire a manager so quickly after he nearly reached the World Series? Sources in Phoenix tell us that Melvin was a solid bench coach but just wasn't quite good enough as a manager. His teams underperformed with the exception of a 90 win season in 2007 and he was gone in May of 2009. He is the leading candidate for the vacancy in Milwaukee.

The Cubs must hire a manager who can inject some life into the club and set a course for the future that will have everyone who follows the club excited that the Cubs finally have a plan in place for the long term. Tom Ricketts has been very clear that while the major league payroll may be scaled back some he will increase the amount of money committed to the draft and the minor leagues so that the Cubs continue to improve their farm system.

The fan base must be re-energized and if you think that isn't a consideration you are flat out wrong. In today's economic times when you are asking people to pay significant money to support your team you better give them something that they will be willing to spend their hard earned money on. There were a lot of empty seats at Wrigley Field the last two months of the season because fans were frustrated with what they were seeing on the field. Give them a plan that they can see has a chance for success and give them a product that plays hard and they will come. Continue to run out one dimensional teams that finish near the bottom of the pack and you have a chance to severely diminish the golden goose that is Cubs Nation and their tremendous support.

It is incumbent on Tom Ricketts to wait until the New York Yankees are finished playing to find out if he indeed can land Joe Girardi. The hire is such a no brainer that if he will take the job it should be the shortest interview in history. Rick Morrissey, an outstanding columnist for the Chicago Sun Times has a great article in today's paper about Girardi and the Cubs managerial search that is a must read for all Cubs fans. He opines about Girardi and the search and he hits the nail on the head. The Cubs owe it to their fans and the rest of the organization to wait and see if Girardi is interested. If he is not then all you lost was some time in the off season. Give the job to Sandberg or Quade and move on. If he is interested then you have just hit a grand slam home run and you have re-energized every facet of your organization. Imagine your marketing department going out to sell sponsorships with Girardi as the new manager. If you were an advertiser your decision making would take about two seconds. "He left the New York Yankees to come back home to manage the Cubs? Where do I sign?"

That's what I am saying. If Joe Girardi is interested you put a five year contract in front of him and you commit to him that he will be a part of history. That he will be the man who finally leads the Chicago Cubs to a world championship. Imagine if that happens. Imagine a new area of our city. It is at the corner of Clark and Addison and it is called Girardiville. It has a chance to happen.

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9 Comments

George Bliss said:

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Kap, Perhaps Mr. Hendry could utilize the consultancy of Bobby Cox? I remember when he pulled Andruw Jones out of a game after he didn't hustle on a play. Yes, This is what the Cubs Need. Now that Mr. Cox is retired, what better outsourced consultant could the Cubs Get? Just a thought.

EastCoastCubFan said:

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Agree with you 100% Kap. The search really begins and ends with Girardi. He is exactly what the what this team needs after a decade in which the Cubs were many times MLB's answer to the French Revolution. Girardi would be great for the Cubs, Cub fans, and the city of Chicago. Although nobody knows how things will shake out here in the next couple weeks, from Girardi's point of view I'm sure he realizes that the worst that can happen if he decides to come to Chicago is that he's here 5 or so years and it doesn't work out. If that happens, so what? He can simply walk away unscathed, still a relatively young man with a World Series title (probably 2 here in about 2 weeks) and still get hired somewhere else in about 20 seconds. Of course, if he decides to come and they win, well..."Girardiville" does have a nice ring to it.

They say that home is where the heart is. Here's hoping Joe feels that way very soon and decides to come back home very soon to the Friendly Confines.

Edelweiss said:

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There were things that went on in the Cubs clubhouse that are not fit to print. Piniella had a laizzez faire attitude towards these things, and let the players call the shots. Letting players put charcoal lighters near their naked, hairy behinds, while emitting methane gas caused two injuries that ruined the season for those players. Letting players with certain physical characteristics have priority use of the showers caused the resentment that led to the aforementioned incident. One player is considering filing sexual harassment charges, not because of anything done to him personally, but because the clubhouse culture made him feel like an outcast. He is a player whom the Cubs would like to have traded, but now can't. Why would any manager, such as Girardi ever consider coming into such a mess? The Cubs would do better with Quade until they get their act together, and if he whips them into shape, and they become a contender, they might want to keep him.

joeydafish said:

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Kap, you make a good argument...for firing Hendry.

TracyT said:

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Ain't gonna be Joe.

Thanks to Jimbo.

joeydafish said:

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Hey Kap, NOW that Hendry has prematurley filled the manager's positon by giving Quade a two year "window" to get to the World Series and the Ricketts did not heed your "incumbancey" advice regarding Girardi's availability...are you on board that Hendry is a negligent GM in more ways than wasting money? He has now shown poor judgement by passing over both Girardi and Sandberg and even worse...the two year deal given HIS choice Quade speaks volumes of the confidence placed in Quade. The only good news is the two year deal may be indicative of Ricketts expiration date FOR HENDRY.

cc002600 said:

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Hey Kap,
Well, so much for "Girardiville".
:-)

I would have liked Girardi or Ryno too, but Quade should be fine.

Question: your comment about how the cubs should stop putting together one-dimensional teams is right on, and implies something that I think you are alluding to. Adam Dunn. If they sign this modern day Dave Kingman clone, I am gonna puke.

Please, Please Please tell me Hendry isn't that stupid.

Signing Dunn would be soooooo Cub. Another total waste of money for a guy who can't catch a cold in the field.

Do you think they will ? Please tell me no

Go talk to hendry and tell he's nuts if he does. :-)

Victor Martinez is available to play 1B, I'd much rather see him.


cc002600 said:

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Hey Kap,
Well, so much for "Girardiville".
:-)

I would have liked Girardi or Ryno too, but Quade should be fine.

Question: your comment about how the cubs should stop putting together one-dimensional teams is right on, and implies something that I think you are alluding to. Adam Dunn. If they sign this modern day Dave Kingman clone, I am gonna puke.

Please, Please Please tell me Hendry isn't that stupid.

Signing Dunn would be soooooo Cub. Another total waste of money for a guy who can't catch a cold in the field.

Do you think they will ? Please tell me no

Go talk to hendry and tell he's nuts if he does. :-)

Victor Martinez is available to play 1B, I'd much rather see him.


homimich said:

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Upon hearing about the hiring of Quade, I thought of two things in Cubs history: 1) Hendry signing Dempster right out of the gate, before he could test free agency. 2) The fact that you wrote that the fans needed something to inspire them to come back.

I thought of Dempster because I asked myself, "self, why did Hendry jump on Quade before going after Girardi? Was Quade inundated with offers?!" I thought of your statement Kap because, well, I don't plan on coming back just yet.

Sorry Cubs, but when there's no pressure, and you're just playing out the season, players tend to make their interim managers look real good. Let's see where they're at come June 2011.

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