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A.J. Hinch would be the outside the box choice and quite possibly the best fit

A.J. Hinch would be the outside the box choice and quite possibly the best fit
A.J. Hinch

Mention A.J. Hinch and you're sure to draw negative reactions.  By some accounts, he didn't do well in his first stint as a manager.  David Kaplan talked to a GM who said he was the worst manager in the past 10 years.

But was he?

He took over for Bob Melvin in 2009 as a 34 year old manager just 4 years removed from his last AB as a ballplayer.  The team was 12-17 under Bob Melvin (.413 pct.) and 58-75 under Hinch (.436). The next year the team got off to a poor start (31 -48, 392 pct) and he was replaced by perhaps his polar opposite, the gritty ballplayer loving Kirk Gibson, who finished with a similar record and winning percentage (34-49, .410) the rest of the year.

In fact, Hinch's combined winning percentage of .420 in 2009-2010 is better than the other two managers -- Melvin and Gibson who managed the Diamondbacks those same two seasons.  Hinch is considered a failure those two years, but those two managers had a combined .411 win percentage with the same talent.  Was Hinch really that bad or was that team just not ready to win yet?

Hinch was an outside the box choice back then, having been just 34 years years old with his previous experience coming as the team's manager of Minor League Manager Operations followed by a promotion in 2006 to the team's Director of Player Development.

He's still an outside the box choice now.

It may not have been the most successful managing experience in terms of wins and losses, but it was a good experience working with a youthful team. Hinch did a pretty good job working with up and comers like Justin Upton, Dan Haren, Ian Kennedy, Adam LaRoche, Gerardo Parra -- and Edwin Jackson.  Talented young players like Chris Young, Kelly Johnson, Mark Reynolds, Miguel Montero, and Stephen Drew had arguably their best years playing for Hinch and actually regressed playing for Gibson.

Nevertheless, Hinch was fired because of his won-loss record.  The other two managers have continued managing with Melvin finding success in Oakland and the controversial Gibson hanging on to his job despite two straight disappointing .500 seasons on a team built to win now.  Meanwhile Hinch has returned to the front office and now works for the San Diego Padres as their VP of Professional Scouting

The assumption now is that Hinch isn't suited for the dugout steps and belongs in the front office.  Maybe he's not a leader, or maybe he's too smart and too analytical and stats-oriented to lead MLB players.

But that's not the case at all according to those who know him well -- including some who currently work in the Cubs front office.

While he does have knowledge of analytics, he is regarded as a player-first type leader.  He is well-liked by his players and has the kind of personality that can comfortably communicate with the front office members, players, and even the media.

Moreover, Hinch was once  a player with whom the Cubs, both present and future can relate.  He was himself once a well-regarded prospect and spent 7 years as an MLB player.  Like many great managers, he was a catcher, a position that gives players a unique vantage point on all aspects of the game.  Hinch knows the game extremely well.

It's difficult to say exactly why Hinch failed in his first stint, but he wouldn't be the first manager to do so and then go on to have a successful career afterward.  And he was, after all, just 34 when he was hired and did as well as two current MLB managers with the same talent.  He'll be 40 by the time the next season starts and perhaps the bright  up and comer has picked up some wisdom all along the way that he can share with a new group of up and comers.

Filed under: Manager

Tags: A.J. Hinch

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  • I don't claim to know who is the best fit for this team right now, but it does appear that Hinch's career path makes him better suited for the front office than in a dugout.

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    I don't know why, but I'm still bothered by Kap's anonymous front office report about Hinch.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    If it makes you feel better, I spoke to an FO guy that likes him very much. Opinion overall of people who know him was very positive.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Likes him as a person, or as a manager?

  • In reply to giamby:

    I was asking around about his potential as a manager, not whether they want to have a beer with him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    john i sent you an e-mail last week about the reader who commented about getting his number pulled for Cubs season tickets and was looking for a few people to split the season ticket package with him. Can you forward him my information because I was recently faced with the same situation but was unable to find enough people. Thanks!
    My e-mail is jsuritz@yahoo.com

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    I'm rooting for Renteria, but I wouldn't be disappointed in Hinch. Hinch got thrown to the wolves. He wasn't ready to manage. Then, on top of that, he was stuck with a team that wasn't ready to win, and he got scapegoated when they lost. Somehow, and I know it's a long shot, but I hope both him and Renteria, and possibly Ausmus, end up with the Cubs next season.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I still don't quite get Renteria.. I know the FO is a lot smarter than me and has the inside information to know these things, but I just don't see how he stands out in any way. I'm not saying he would be bad, but what makes him better than Acta or Hinch? What makes him stand out?

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I'm very concerned about Acta's rumored lack of discipline in the clubhouse. A manager doesn't and shouldn't need to rule with an iron fist, but at the same time, you can't let the animals run the zoo either.
    This front office wants someone who believes in statistical analysis, but not just that..

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    You can't make a manager choice based on picking the lesser of two evils. You have to legitimately love the guy you are picking. So they aren't going to sit and say, "Well, Renteria had the least problems before, so we pick him."

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Agreed.

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    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I don't think that's what I'm saying at all. Renteria had a reputation for running a tight ship as a minor league manager. I suspect it would carry over.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Both Acta and HInch are much more than stats guys.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    He did and I think he's been poisoned by some in the media.

    Honestly, tho9ugh, I don't think Renteria is a bad choice but he doesn't have one quality that the others don't have -- and actually has less overall. I haven't spoken to one person who put him at the top of the list. Nobody said he was a bad choice, but nobody was gaga about it. I honestly think people like him because they are afraid of the past "failures" of the Acta and Hinch. It's the "others have already failed, let's try somebody different" rationale. And I don't think that's a good reason to hire someone who is probably less qualified.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Definitely agree. There's a reason most of the people that know him have called him a great baseball guy, but there just aren't things that stand out that he has done to put him over the top of a Hinch or Acta.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    My list, of those we actually know for sure are being considered, right now would Renteria, Hinch and Acta. I like Renteria because of the player development background and because he is said to run a tight ship. I'm going to assume he is, at least, accepting of statistical analysis and what it brings to the game. Otherwise, he wouldn't have been working for who he was working for.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I like the other two better as far as development, but really hard to say who is the best clubhouse guy -- which is undoubtedly important. Renteria has never had to lead his own MLB team, Acta had some question marks in clubhouse, Hinch did not win -- may have been clubhouse, I don't know.

    I look at this a bit like projecting players. Sometimes you are better off with a prospect with no experience, sometimes you can pick up a player who had a poor start to their career (Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrieta) because you think he has fixed or will fix a flaw. I think Hinch and Acta are the best on paper, but projecting their clubhouse management (and whether it can and will improve) is something I think the FO has to look into. On some level it's going to be a judgment call, but knowing this FO, it will be based on the most info possible.

    I think no matter who they take there may be some growing pains, but the Cubs may feel Acta or Hinch have already gone through those growing pains and are ready to take the next step.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't recall any questions about how Hinch how loose a ship he ran. I think people were more critical about his in game management the way I remember it.

    The thing that bothers me most about Acta is that the worst complaints about him seem to be the same at his previous two stops. That tells me he didn't learn from his mistakes.

    Between the two, I definitely prefer Hinch. To put it in player development terms, he seems to have more upside that Acta to me.

    The thing I hear about Renteria is that he tends to be the bad cop to Black's good cop, especially with the position players. I think you need a guy who doesn't mind being bad cop every so often, especially with a young team full of wild stallions.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    That's the way I remember it as well. And I think in-game management is the least of their concerns right now. I do have concerns that Acta didn't improve his reputation in the clubhouse, but he did look better in his second season in Cleveland started hot with an undermanned team and then faded at the end. But as I noted with the Francona example, I'm always skeptical of post-firing criticisms. It often goes back to W-L record with an attempt to explain why the team didn't win. I think that's backwards thinking and leads to inaccurate evaluations.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agree, hire the best candidate period.

  • I'm still not sold on either of the 3 mentioned. Maybe a lil for Rick Renteria, but not so much on Acta or Hinch.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    I'm not sure people don't like Renteria because he hasn't had a chance to lose yet. New managers often lose, I'd rather have someone who has lost and has learned from it then a guy who is going to learn on the job.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, I know that you've touched on the subject before but the list of managers who have "failed" their 1st time as a manager and have gone on the be successful managers is impressive. Joe Torre, Terry Francona, Bobby Cox just to name a few. Casey Stengel managed the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Boston Braves before he took over for the Yankees. His winning %'s were .453 & .432. With the Yankees it was .623 & he won 7 W.S. titles, then with the Mets it was .302. Was he a bad manager or was he just given horrible teams outside of the Yankees? The HOF suggests that he was a great manager. If the Cubs were to pass over Acta or Hinch and they were hired by another team and had success, Cubs fans would be pissed that they weren't hired here. I will always be a Cubs fan so whomever the FO hires, it won't change my allegiance to my beloved Cubs. I just hope that the guy they hire finds success.

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    Tanaka signing looking a lot shakier: per MLBTR -

    (Joel)Sherman spoke with multiple executives who told him that each team is set to receive about $25MM from national TV revenue, and the Yankees also received a good chunk of money when News Corp. bought 49 percent of the YES Network. As Sherman puts it: "The Yanks have a big pile of newfound money to use lavishly for a posting bid."

  • I have heard so many negatives for every candidate my head is spinning . I'm not sure who to believe or what to think . I just hope Theo gets it right .

  • In reply to walterj:

    Yes. I think everybody was smeared while the media wanted Joe Girardi. Have only seen Patrick Mooney and Gordon Wittenmeyer give the other guys a fair shake.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    one thing (out of many) Epstein may not have realized when he took the job is, many if not most Cub fans - and their media enablers - are not in the mood to give out a lot of second chances. They've been doing that for too long. Clearly the Sveum hiring was a swing and a miss, but I'm not sure Epstein has three strikes to play with.
    Haugh has been unusually and I'd say unduly tough on Epstein, but this paragraph sums up my feels pretty well:
    "If Epstein could misjudge the baseball smarts and presentation skills of a manager he worked with in Boston, how can he promise anything about his next manager? What other miscalculations did Epstein make besides Sveum?"

    I've said before, in the past 2 years I've only disagreed from the start with 2 things Theo has done: the Colvin trade and the Sveum hiring. And now firing him with really no one who's clearly head and shoulders better available to replace him, really makes this look like they're making up a plan on the fly. And on this particular matter, not doing a good job of it. Hinch, Acta, Renteria - makes no difference, they all come with interchangeable parts, and I don't see any significant advantage by hiring them over simply having kept Sveum, demanding better communication with his players for the next 12 months, and getting a new hitting coach.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    And if one uses this logic, it was silly to fire Sveum. The FO had a hall pass on this hiring and the first few years of their plan to rebuild, but by firing Sveum, it kind of woke people up and started to look at things a bit more critically.

    Therefore, this next hire is going to be critical and will be scrutinezed by everyone.

    Again, they could have waiting one more year and then made a change, but the decided to bump the process up a bit.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Agreed, but that is assuming Dale Sveum is a bad manager. I don't think he is.

    I think the Cubs knew Sveum well, they just didn't know the organization well. I think they were surprised at the lack of development of the young players and hadn't hired a manager whose top skill was development.

    I think they have a better idea of what this organization needs now.

    It wouldn't surprise me to see Sveum have success in his next stint as long as the team knows what they're getting. A guy who will keep the clubhouse together and remain at an even keel. He probably needs a more veteran team.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    To answer Irwin: yes, it was silly to fire sveum without having a clearly better option (Girardi) IN HAND.

    To john: "they didn't know the organization well" - I'll get flamed by the "get over it" crowd, but this was one if my arguments for hiring Sandberg, which they dismissed out if hand. He knew most of these players, having managed them in the minors; he knew who and what was in the system, he knows the media mentality, he knows the fan mentality, he knows the quirks of wrigley field. He was a minor league manager of the year, which I'll take over 12 days experience in a major league dugout. We keep hearing hearing " he wasn't the right guy for this team at that time" but we never hear why - because it's BS.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    In retrospect maybe you're right about Sandberg, but would the Cubs wanted to hire an icon and put him in a position to fail? Winning hasn't been a priority these past two years.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't think protecting him from failure was their priority, I think their priority was protecting themselves from being eclipsed by his local popularity

  • In reply to SKMD:

    If they were to get eclipsed by Ryno then it wouldve been a good thing for them because it takes media attention away from them... If they didn't want to be eclipsed, they wouldn't have been interested in Girardi... And the fact that Maddux took himself out and Dale knew he was going to get hired to lose, take the heat and develop confirms what John said about protecting Ryno.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No one knows if the Cubs would have failed understand Sandberg. I personally believe that Sandberg would have been able to have been at or above .500 given the talent over the past two years.

    I believe this would have been true because he was a hall of fame player who started at the bottom and worked his way up the food chain just like he did as a player. That would have brought him instant respect in the clubhouse for those players who came from the outside.

    And he proved throughout the organization he would win with the players he was given. So why wouldn't he have won with this group since most of the players were guys he had.

  • In reply to JeffK:

    Meh. That's not really true. If Hall of Famers ballplayers command so much respect and win more games, then why aren't more of them managers? Which Hall of Fame player led his team to the playoffs this year? Which of them historically have won the most World Series?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    But if Sandberg was responsible for developing this group in the minor, I'll glad we passed on him. This group is raw.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    @John ... You may say meh. But what Hall of Famer has taken upon himself to start a managing career at the lowest levels of the minor league. None.

    According to MLB.com there have only been 2 HOF players to become Major League managers — Ted Williams and Ryne Sandberg. Williams never went to the minor leagues to manage. After his retirement he became a hitting coach before becoming manager of the Washington Senators in 1969. So, Sandberg is charting a whole new course.

    The Phillies players think highly of Sandberg as chronicled here http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130922&content_id=61429260&vkey=news_phi&c_id=phi and here http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2013/09/22/ryne-sandberg-phillies-manager/2849345/.

    I think Michael Young's comments regarding Sandberg says it all, "Some guys that had that kind of playing career are a little reluctant to go the minors and work their way up. And he did that. We all have a ton of respect for him that."

    And, Barney wouldn't have become a Gold Glove winner without Sandberg's assistance in transferring from short to second. So Sandberg has earned respect, and you and others have stated respect is an important part of managing. Quite frankly I don't think the players the Cubs have had over the past 2 years really respected Sveum and his staff.

    @Oneear ... Are some of the Cubs players needing more development that came up under Sandberg? Sure, just like many young players coming up to the Major League. Even Sandberg needed Major League development time when he came up with the Cubs.

    But, if you look at Sandberg's minor league coaching record, he took 2 of his six teams to his league's finals, 1 Cubs' team to a 1st place tie — and he only had one losing season. I'd say that is pretty good considering Sandberg was learning to manage at the same time his players were learning to play at various levels, and players are coming and going throughout the season.

    Furthermore, development of players is a 'team' effort. Managers and instructors at the minor league level are teaching players that team's philosophy. Before Theo, Jed and Jason came and established 'The Cubs Way' I don't think the Cubs had a team development philosophy since Dallas Green left — or at least a consistent one. It's tough to develop talent, baseball or corporate, when there isn't a long term, consistent philosophy.

    It's tough to have a long term and consistent philosophy when managers are changed often. In the Cubs history they've had only 3 managers (Chance, Grimm and Durocher) who've been in place for more than 4 years.

    The reason the Cardinals have been so good for so long is that they have had managers a long time. Schoendienst - 11 years, Herzog - 10, La Russa - 16. Also, part of the Cardinals success has been longevity of their general managers. Since their inception they only had 12 GMs and since 1984 they've only had 3; whereas, the Cubs have had 7 with Hendry having the longest tenure of 9 years.

  • In reply to JeffK:

    I'm sure they'd have respect for him as a player, it doesn't mean he's the right manager for what the Cubs want to do. Again, if HOF'ers did a great job because they earned respect and everyone will naturally follow, why don't they hire more of them. There's no problems hiring other players without experience (i.e. Mike Matheny). Can't just pick favorites to be the manager, it's unprofessional. This FO will hire managers in a professional manner through their process, one that led them to hire Terry Francona (with Joe Maddon as a runner up). They know what they're doing. The idea that they should pick a fan favorite because he's a hall of famer without any need for any other evaluation is ridiculous, as is the idea that the average fan is more qualified to pick out a manager based on almost no information. If they look at it objectively and don't see him as a fit, they don't even have to waste their time with an interview. He didn't survive their initial weeding out process. It's pointless to talk about it.

  • In reply to JeffK:

    @John ... Sorry for replying here but this blog system for some reason won't allow me to comment to your reply to my post below.

    I'm not saying there is a right way or a wrong way to becoming a successful Major League manager or finding a successful manager. I'm not saying a manager — or the right manager for the Cubs — has to be a HOF'er or even have previous managerial experience. What I do know is that in any sport — or even in the corporate world — management who has the respect of their players and employees do better than those who don't.

    I don't begrudge the FO of their process and wanting their 'man' for manager and wanting to find the next Terry Francona, Joe Maddon or whomever else you want to plug in there.

    However, as a fan I have a right to my opinion just like you have a right to your opinion.

    My opinion is that they had their next Francona, Maddon, etc. in the organization already in the person of Ryne Sandberg. I also believe Sandberg would have been a better option two years ago over Sveum, or even Maddux, especially when there was much speculation about their 'interest' in Girardi. And, much of that speculation was around Joe's knowledge of the Cubbie 'occurances', understanding Chicago media, etc. many items of which Sandberg knows as well.

    Furthermore, part of the fascination with Girardi was that he was a 'big name' guy that would have helped the business side in promoting the Cubs. Girardi is a better name than Sandberg with the Cubs? I don't think so.

    I also believe Sandberg would have surprised the FO and the fan base with much better win-loss records with the talent that Sveum had while having to deal with all the moves the FO has made. Exactly, what a minor league manager has to deal with on a daily basis.

    From what I have read one of the issues that Theo had with Dale was his lack of communication with his players, especially with Latin players, but that doesn't seem to be an issue with Sandberg. It's a trait the FO is looking for this time around.

    I content that the Cubs this season had too many cooks in the kitchen and there were so many voices speaking about hitting that the players didn't know what was up. This is just one example. Darwin Barney. Sandberg had him in TN in 2009 and Iowa in 2010. Two of his best slash lines. This year was his absolute worst year ever as a Cub minor or major league.

    To your point about if HOF'ers did a great job, everyone would do it. That's really not the case because for most HOF'ers the game came easy to them and most of them don't want to put the necessary time in to learn to manage because they're HOF'ers damn it .

    That's why I believe Sandberg is a very unique case. The game didn't come easy to him. He was constantly trying to improve his game. And, yes, he knew he had to start at the ground floor and work his way up — and was willing to put the time in just like the good and great managers did who didn't really set the world on fire when the played, but were students of the game.

    With respect to hiring Mike Matheny, I believe he is a unique case as well. He was a catcher whose stats show as an average player at best, but was great defensively and catchers typically have to be a student of the game — you don't become a great catcher without putting the effort in. Also, he played 5 seasons for LaRussa and the Cardinals, and was a special adviser in the Cardinals organization during spring training since 2008, so he understood the 'Cardinal Way'. Lastly, he has some pretty darn good players who tend to make it easier to manage.

    Just like everyone else, I'll wait to see what the Cubs FO comes up with for a manager, but in the meantime I have opinions just like everyone else.

    So I'll close by saying you and I are never going to agree on this subject, so we'll agree to disagree.

  • In reply to JeffK:

    Frank Robinson is in the Hall so you might want to call Major League Baseball and inform them that their website let you down. He's managed more games than Ted and Ryno combined. Shame on MLB.com! Good thing that wasn't in the very first paragraph. Otherwise I would have stopped reading.

  • In reply to JeffK:

    Ben ... Thanks for finding that error. MLB did let me down. So there are 3 Hall of Fame players who went on to manage a Major League team.

  • In reply to JeffK:

    There are more than 3. Bob Lemon is the only one to win a championship ('78 Yankees). Yogi Berra. There are several.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Still a drop in the bucket compared to non HOF managers.

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    In reply to SKMD:

    Hopefully what the fans and local media think, is the last thing on the Theo's mind when it comes to hiring a manager. Also, perhaps it would be best for Cub fans to not worry so much about some silly rule about how many manger hires Theos has. I don't think Mr. Ricketts will be going by the rule, so we shouldn't either.

  • In reply to Betty Amie:

    I totally agree Betty Amie. Cubs fans have long complained that ownership haven't invested in the team. Ricketts has definitely invested in the team for the long term. $6 - $8 million for the DR complex. $99 million on the new state of the art spring training facilities. $1.1 million on a corporate sponsor presentation room. And, hopefully soon, $300+ million on renovating Wrigley. He wouldn't be investing so much money if he wasn't wanting to win.

    He wouldn't have invested in the baseball operations management team if he didn't want to win, but Ricketts knew it was going to take time for it to all come together. But, it seems fans are a bit impatient.

  • So John , who are you leaning toward . Renteria appears to have the least amount of negatives , but I haven't got a clue as to how players react to him . Is he a high tempo motivator or is he more like Dale who appears to have no reaction as to what is going on ?

  • In reply to walterj:

    I think Renteria is just an unknown. I don't think he has the least amount of negatives. If he manages one year and loses (which is likely), that basically gives him the same negative as Hinch and Acta without as many positives.

    I think the media, like SKMD, says is not big on 2nd chances. Their thought process is, "Those other guys have already failed, let's try someone new". That isn't necessarily a good thought process when hiring an MLB manager.

    I like Acta and Hinch best with Renteria as a fallback. I have nothing against Renteria, I think he's good. I just think that despite the won-loss record, those other guys are better fits overall.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John... Can u give me a list in the last 50 yrs of guys that were hall of famers that were given a shot to manage at the big league level?

    Also you comparison of Matheny to Madden or Franconia isn't fair. Joe and Terry didn't have the roster the Cards do. I am not saying Matheny isn't a good coach but he was dealt one heck of a playing hand.

  • No sure who our best candidate is. I trust this F.O. to make the best choice though. Hinch is somewhat intriguing to me. Sounds like his experience with player development & scouting will make him a perfect conduit for clear communication between FO & players, etc. I view his previous failure at managing as a positive. So much can be learned by that type of experience. I suppose the same could be said for Acta for that nugget though.

    This NLCS really bothers me. I despise these Cardinals. Gotta admire what they've built though. Can't really root for either team which is a shame because normally I'd have no reservations rooting for whoever is playing the Cards. I'm ready for our Cubbies to be in the mix....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I do as well. Even if Sveum didn't work out well, I think that was largely a factor of a bad fit and not knowing the organization well at the time of the hire. You can only learn so much from the outside and from research and they went with the safe pick, a guy who had some success and whom they were very familiar with.

    I think this choice will be a much better fit, whichever of those top 3 it is.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I was about to post something similar, Hoosier. I can't stand the Cards and also am not really a huge fan of the Dodgers as they are the new Yankees. Boston fans are annoying/arrogant prigs (in general) and so that leaves me with Detroit which is... Detroit. Guess I gotta root for Detroit, but what a lousy postseason. Can't wait for the Cubs to make October interesting again.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    On one hand, one sees a team that spent monopoly money for every player to be had by FA or trade, and the other one built through development. As a baseball fan I'm pulling for the latter in this series.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Conceptually, you are absolutely correct. However, as a Cubs fan; rooting for the Cards in any situation is like sleeping with your sister. I don't care how HOT she is... you know it's just wrong and immoral...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I don't feel that way at this point in the season. I'm a NL guy and the Cubs play in the NL central. During the season I pull for Cubs and whoever is playing the Cardinals, but when the regular season is over I pull the the survivors of our division. After the Pirates lost game five that left the Redbirds. I don't like it, but I like the best team in baseball to be from our division. If the Cubs and us fans are unhappy about those results, than it will require more wins.

  • Too bad Yadier Molina isn't available. The man is a baseball genius.

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    In reply to wastrel:

    I don't know. Perhaps he'd feel weird being at Wrigley and just staying in the dugout instead of going 4 for 5 with 6 RBIs like he usually does.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Really,I think he and his team just keep it simple. No genius required.

  • Does Hinch speak any Spanish? One of the whispered central criteria is that he have some experience with Latin players, and to me, the ability to honestly and directly communicate (not through broken phrases or through third parties) is essential for that. Especially with some guys who are coming up who know *NO* English, e.g. Soler.

  • In reply to hartmtown:

    Agreed. Though they did say they could go with a bilingual bench coach.

  • John, would it be possible for one of the potential candidates to turn into the bench coach? I would feel better about Hinch manager with a Renteria or Sandy Alomar Jr as bench coach... seems to be a better fit in getting all the criteria they want, including bilingual

  • In reply to Cubswin2015:

    Those two would be my first choices as bench coach if they're willing to make that move.

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    My reluctance with Hinch is that he he has the least managing/coaching experience combined of any of the candidates, both confirmed candidates and rumored. It just seems you don't know exactly what you would be getting with him.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    I'm assuming you are including the minors and if so, I completely agree. That is a drawback to Hinch.

  • Fantastic piece. I knew little about Hinch. Curious: does he speak Spanish? Seems a key piece, although not a deal killer based on reports.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    I was curious about that. I don't think so, at least not fluently. They'll have to hire a bench coach. I think someone like Sandy Alomar would be an ideal pairing (as would Renteria if he were willing to make a lateral move). Alomar seems more likely to me though because he has to know their isn't much of a future for him in Cleveland and needs a fresh start. Chicago is a big market and if he wins, he'll start getting attention as a managerial candidate again.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    And Thanks!

  • Whomever is hired is likely to be fired in 2-3 years so they can hire somebody "who can take this team to the next level".

  • In reply to GAHillbilly:

    well if he wins games he'll stay on. firing people ain't exactly fun.

  • A new leader must command the room and the players must buy into his narrative. I believe Sveum failed when the players began to tune out his narrative, because then the culture quickly eroded, and he was soon dismissed. So, while the argument can be made that Theo hired the wrong guy, I tend to think that's not the case. Sveum failed on his own.

    As I watch the Red Sox compete in the playoffs, it's remarkable to me how well they execute their game plan and how different it looks from Sveum's. I now think Sveum went out of his way to create Milwaukee South, not Boston West, or "The Cubs Way." He wanted to use the the principles of "The Cubs Way," but he also wanted to put this own leadership stamp on it, thus making it his own narrative.

    Girardi was enticing for us, simply because we assumed that his narrative and culture already matched "The Cubs Way." My guess is the "The Cubs Way" would have changed to the extent that Girardi would have found it necessary to put his own stamp on it too.

    So, my point is that whomever the next manager is, it's a given that the narrative they communicate will not be their own. So, Theo must find the candidate that best commands the room, and sells "The Cubs Way" narrative. That may not be the job description that fits or attracts most manager candidates.

    The latest reports indicate that the Cubs have a candidate list that's two pages long. I hope they choose the person that best commands the room, buys "The Cubs Way" narrative and can effectively communicate it, teach it, live it and sell it during this critical time of development.

  • In reply to Cleme:

    If I were looking for a team to copy, rather than Boston, I'd copy the St Louis way.

  • Here are the stated reasons a certain GM fired a certain manager and what they want now in their next manager...can anyone guess who this is about?

    "We will look for somebody who has a number of qualities to help make us a better club and help motivate our team. We need somebody who would provide a different style possibly or a different approach in dealing with the players and present us with our best opportunity to be successful."

    (Name withheld) was a players' manager with a laid-back approach, often was criticized for his failure to motivate the team. The (team) might want a fiery manager who can spark an underachieving club that has a solid core of young, talented players."

    "I'm looking for leadership, patience, game-managing skills, player-relation skills, Those are the primary areas we have to look for. It's more important to identify individual candidates and sit down and spend a lot of time finding out what they're about."

    Any guesses as to which "inadequate" manager is being described here?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Terry Francona?

  • In reply to GAHillbilly:

    Exactamundo.

    People always make up reasons for firing a manager but in retrospect, they were obviously wrong about his ability to lead a team. He has since won 2 WS and led an Indians team into the playoffs.

    It's why I take these hindsight post-firing evaluations/criticisms with a grain of salt.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Reminds me of when the Braves fired Bobby Cox (his 1st managerial stint with them). Some press guy asked Ted Turner who they were going to hire and Turner said, "It would be Bobby Cox if I hadn't just fired him. We need someone like him around here."

  • In reply to GAHillbilly:

    LOL! Exactly.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Girardi?

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    It was Francona, who obviously had no problems leading his next two teams.

    it also shows that the FO isn't going to be swayed by rumor, reputation, media opinion, and W-L record. They're going to pick the guy they think will be the best fit going forward.

  • I have never liked to judge managers or pitchers bases on w-l records but you make good points... Hinch may have been inexperienced but his team didn't perform worse under him... I also wanna thank you for pointing out that he's a player first manager and gets along with them because I heard the contrary from fans but it's easy to speculate the worse when things are going bad.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I think people sometimes look for those reasons after the fact, but if you read my long post above yours -- a direct quote from a GM who fired a manager, you can see how false assumptions are made after a manager was fired.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Sometimes the "getting along" thing gets too much weight, I think. Anytime you have a group of people, naturally some are going to rub each other the wrong way and cause problems. When things are going good (winning) a lot of that can be overlooked. When things start to turn around though (losing) a lot of those slights and resentments that have been overlooked start to bubble to the surface and it sort of has a boomerang effect. At that point, problems sometimes get over magnified. It's basic human nature and I've seen it happen many times in sports.

    How many times have you seen a team going well and then something happens (and injury or two), they start to have less success and then all of sudden (or so it appears), they start sniping and the team implodes? Winning cures a lot of problems.

  • In reply to GAHillbilly:

    Excellent point.

  • In reply to GAHillbilly:

    Good point my man... I have an example for you... If we would've had a winning season, how much heat do you think Castro would've gotten for his defense or mental lapses? I think very little in comparison... To the contrary, I think with a winning season more people would've noticed his improvement defensively.

  • There is want I have heard from people I talk to. Great baseball mind for talent and development bad for on the field. He has an excellent chance of being a GM some day.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    To say he's a front office guy only is an unfair assumption. As a player he was viewed as a leader on the field and a potential future manager -- so much so that he was hired at the age of 34 with no experience. He was Matheny before Matheny, except he didn't have as good a team.

    And I've spoken to people who know him well and have seen Hinch work with players -- and they'd disagree with the idea that he can't lead players on the field.

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    Here's the bottom line for me. It doesn't matter who manages and coaches if they're not given good material to work with.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Agreed.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    A manager can't win without the horses, but can lose with them.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    That's true to an extent.

  • I have no idea whom to support. I DO know that often one can learn a great deal from failure. Perhaps that might be true of Hinch.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    Yes! Exactly. There are valuable lessons that can be learned from failing that first time managers haven't had the chance to do yet.

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    I believe Hinch will be the choice The choices that he makes for coaches will be just as important. I viewed Renteria as the likely choice till Bob Nightengale reported he was the leader.The ultimate curse!!!! Off topic but does Bryant have a chance to break camp as the starting 3b? Everything I read he is looking all-world

  • In reply to Sportsgod:

    Unlikely. He'd be jumping to the Big Leagues all the way from High A. Personally I hope he goes to AA at Tennessee, so I can go see him play at least once before he moves on up.

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    In reply to Sportsgod:

    Even if he batted .600 in ST, I think he would be held back long enough to delay service time. There is word that they expect him to start the year in AA and that he may not need to go to AAA.

    Here's a big "IF". If Olt's vision problems are over, they would like him to earn the 3B job out of camp. If Olt is doing well when Bryant is ready, expect Big Kris to move to a corner OF spot.

  • In reply to Sportsgod:

    Ha! The Nightengale curse! Bryant has no chance out of spring training but he has a chance to be up at some point next year.

  • Really good piece, John.

    Its funny how a young, fresh faced, analytic savvy, former catcher with good leadership skills is an outside the box candidate. I think that kind of skews more toward the new age ideal managerial candidate to me! AJ's a nice guy and I think he'll do a really good job.

    I talked to two current players last night at a party and asked them about managers (over lots of drinks and various other party favors). Independently, they both said something to the effect of , "as long as he's a good guy an doesn't surprise them in the media" they really don't care who it is. I thought that was interesting. These guys aren't Cubs though and I didn't bring it up in that context. These are young guys who liked their first guy when they came up

    When the young guys start to make their debuts its going to be important to have a guy in there that young players like. After all, players don't really know any different when they get there the first time so Its big that there's a positive atmosphere, a young atmosphere (these guys don't want to feel like they're in class when Skip's around). Every guy I've ever talked to about it references the Veteran players who do most of the "developing" of young players anyway. That worries me a little bit. Also makes me really miss Sori. I wouldn't sleep on the signing of a salty veteran to help out with that. Maybe DeJesus.

    Likability and approachability are really important. Like you said, A.J has that. Acta probably does too. I think we're in a good spot with these guys!

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Thanks and agreed. And Renteria is well liked as well. I think they have a good group. Think the choice is Acta or Hinch, but not ruling out other guys either.

  • Really do agree with John,that Acta, Hinch, anybody but Girardi is a waste of time. Not Johns words..mine. Alot of people are pissed Girardi isn't coming to try and be the "savior" that Pinella or Baker or,or, or was supposed to be. Dale got a shot and unfortunatly it didn't work and not for reasons solely Dales fault. The FO has above and beyond the inner this and that, the contacts, data, know how and on and on that the average outsider or Trib writers have, and they are certainly entitled to their opinions, but they are just that, opinions. If it turns out to be Acta, Hinch don't we have to assume the FO has some pretty solid reasoning behind their choice? We're as Cubs fans crazy ready for this plan to come together, like yesterday, but I know it is coming together with or without the next managerial hire.

  • In reply to daddyo:

    Meant to say anybody but Girardi is "viewed" as a waste of time. Even read it twice before posting, lol.

  • Which managerial candidate has the most experience working in tiny clubhouse with no batting cages?

  • In reply to ucandoit:

    Well I would assume that would be irrelevant due to the pending Wrigley Field renovations... But I would think Acta, who has managed plenty in the DR and Renteria, who I think has managed in Mexico have experience with tiny clubhouses with no batting cages.

  • In reply to ucandoit:

    Ha! Not the best environment but any coach who has been in the minors have probably dealt with worse.

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    One nice thing about Hinch, at least to me anyways. If you get Hinch, there's a chance he'd want to bring Renteria with him, and there's a chance you'd also get Ausmus as well.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I'd like to see them put together a top notch staff no matter who is manager. Ausmus would be a great piece.

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    I'm kind of pissed off about not hearing my guys name Dave Martinez. I hope that means he gets the job. He's perfect other than the not managing before part.

    Admittedly you would assume that would be a top reason, but I think things have changed, because Theo was pretty much describing Girardi when he had his Monday Svuem firing presser. Martinez is numbers savvy, speaks Spanish, and knows the Cub culture, which from what I'm hearing is now an important element to Theo these days.

    I just heard the Bruce Levine podcast on the score with Rosenbloom and Esposito, and he mentioned Theo has gotten Cubbed. Apparently he's hearing, and sensing Theo being overwhelmed by the whole Cubs culture, and may be getting impatient with the current course. Not sure if you heard the podcast or not. Are you getting any of that from your observations, and news from your sources?

    Getting back to Martinez I just feel he's young and smart, has learned from the best, is constantly in a system that develops their own, and manages by a combination of numbers, and scouting the way Theo and Co. like it done. I mean Joe Maddon shifts his defense itch by pitch. Forget about one AB at a time. Why isn't Martinez being mentioned as a serious consideration? Any idea's?

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    In reply to Johnny Hatelak:

    In my opinion, what Martinez did to his teammate, no matter how long ago, shows a serious lack of character.

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    In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I do think you have to consider his age. lets face it if a hottie was rubbing your manhood at early 20 something and it was a guy you had no loyalty too you'd have banged her too.

  • In reply to Johnny Hatelak:

    Martinez is going to get an interview, so he is getting consideration, but the sense I've gotten is that he won't get the job. Of course, things could change and he could blow away the field, so never say never.

    As to that report about Levine/Rosenbloom, I have no idea. It wouldn't be below Rosenbloom to stir up a pot just for the sake of stirring it up. But if I were Theo I'd be bewildered how a team and it's fan base media that's failed with results-oriented philosophy for 100 years, still insist on doing things that way. It seems nuts. He comes in doing things the right way and people still want to skip good process and get straight to wins and losses after just 2 years of trying to rebuild an organization that was in ruins.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah I heard about the interview. Thanks John. Also I'm totally with you on the media sky is falling bit. I have to laugh when I hear guys like Barry
    Rozner say that the Cubs are still 5 years away. Makes me wanna blow up my radio and never listen to sports talk again.

  • In reply to Johnny Hatelak:

    Maddon is a special leader. Being Joe's second banana doesn't make Martinez Maddon. There is a huge difference between being a bench coach and being the man.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    however Maddon personally endorses him with high praise. Don't think he'd put his rep on the line like that unless he meant it.

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    this comment box didn't have a ''reply" button, I didn't want caps to think I was ignoring his comment....

    Caps said 1 hour, 13 minutes ago
    In reply to SKMD:
    If they were to get eclipsed by Ryno then it wouldve been a good thing for them because it takes media attention away from them... If they didn't want to be eclipsed, they wouldn't have been interested in Girardi... And the fact that Maddux took himself out and Dale knew he was going to get hired to lose, take the heat and develop confirms what John said about protecting Ryno

    No, if the manager's popularity ecplipses the front office then I there's the risk that the manager's agenda (winning sooner rather than later, playing one player over another, bringing up minor leaguers) can conflict with the front office's. I think Theo and Jed 2 years ago didn't feel confident enough to be able to comply with a strong, popular manager that wanted to win. In going after Girardi, they now either feel more confident about the product they can provide that strong manager, or they felt that Girardi was worth the risk of competing agendas, or they felt a little desperate after whiffing on Sveum. Or all off the above.
    Whatever, I still reject the premise that they passed on Ryno to do HIM a favor, that's just reading too much into Theo's saintly image.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I agree about Girardi, I think if the Cubs were truly interested in Girardi, they would've had to alter plans and make a push to accelerate the process... However, I still don't agree about Ryno... I just don't think they would've hired Ryno if Ryno didn't want to follow the program the FO had in mind... They didn't even interview him, so it is quite possible they did it to save his image... They did interview other popular choices like Mike Maddux (who could've brought another icon like Gregg into his coaching staff).

    I think we're going to have to agree to disagree... I don't think this FO operates that way... I'm pretty sure Dale also wanted to win, even if he was not popular, but I don't see how Theo was or should've been intimidated by the presence of Ryno... First of all, Theo would've been his boss and 2nd, Theo also came from Boston where he dealt with a lot of icons.

    If anything, if Theo wanted to gain the favor of fans he would've hired Ryno and then would've gone out and signed Prince Fielder... 2 big moves that would've filled the Convention and the seats, but probably wouldn't have brought anything else than maybe a 75-80 win club and we would've remained stuck in that cycle of mediocrity of not being as bad as the Astros but not being good enough to compete, but we would've had a happy fan base with Prince and Ryno.

    Thanks for replying.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I will be interested to see how Ryno works and developers younger talent. I'd been ok with Fielder and 80 wins if the young players were getting better. That is what gets me about this season. Wanted to see a upgrade in the players game in 2013.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Yeah, this season I wasn't exactly focused on W-L record, but I was focused on player development and while I was happy with what I saw from Welly Castillo, Travis Wood, Hector Rondon, Junior Lake, Arrieta and Strop... I was also concerned about Castro, Rizzo and Samardzija...

    And not just because they had bad seasons, but because they looked unable to adjust, especially Castro and Rizzo... At some point Castro complained about having too many people tell him what to do... Which is, IMO, one of the main reasons Dale got fired and Theo said they needed someone who can delivery a clear message.

    I don't judge Rowson/Deer based on offensive stats, but it bothered me to watch pitchers exploit the same weaknesses on Castro and Rizzo and seeing them unable to make adjustments... Even though they had been successful in the past.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I agree I with everything you are saying. We did have some young guys show some improvement. I hope Wellington is healthy and that the knee surgery isn't anything serious. We need Castro, Rizzo and Shark to bounce back, which I think they will. You could also throw Barney in that list of going backwards. He has to be better then a .220 hitter?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    If Barney can post an obp of .310-.315, he would be an OK everyday player but even if he doesn't bounce back, at least you don't feel like it's a huge step backwards, as Castro, Rizzo or Shark would represent... We already have options for 2B in Baez and Alcantara within the next year, year and a half... But hopefully he does bounce back from that .220 BA, even if it's just to improve his value.

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    In reply to Caps:

    "I just don't think they would've hired Ryno if Ryno didn't want to follow the program the FO had in mind... They didn't even interview him, so it is quite possible they did it to save his image"

    ok, glass half full/half empty. You think they did it to save his image, I think they did it to save their own image. I just don't think a strong manager suited their needs in 2011, they needed a lackey and they went out and got one. Yes, agree to disagree.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Or Sandberg just wasn't the right guy for the job. That's the simplest explanation.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    oh, come on, john - we've been hearing that for 2 years. in what way, specifically, was he "not the right guy"? As compared to the guy they actually hired? and other than what I've proposed, that the FO at that point felt they did not want the added pressure of a strong manager pushing them to win?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John.... Just curious what was the negatives on Ryno as a manager in the Cubs organization?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Very old school guy in terms of both development and in-game strategy. Concerns about how well he can communicate with this FO.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    john, he wasn't even interviewed. The FO never asked him his philosophy on player development, or analytics, or bullpen management, or anything. Hinch or Acta gets a 7 hour interview to see what they'r thinking, but Ryno "wasn't the right guy" without even an interview? Screams "agenda" to me.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    They have a pretty good idea about candidates before they interview them. If they had to learn everything about a candidate through interview only, they'd have to interview everybody. They knew Ryno pretty well. It's no coincidence that Ryno got his shot with a team that is still largely old school. Ryno doesn't deserve special consideration because he was a Cub or a fan favorite. He gets an interview based on his merits as a manager, and those merits might be what the Phillies are look for, but not the Cubs.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Good point... Maybe Ryno just wasn't the right fit... Why? Because he's old school or maybe because they didn't want to put an icon like Ryno there and taint his image... Maybe because they wanted (I'm not going to say a lackey) someone who was not a big figure that would be able to do the dirty job and take the heat... However, I think the FO also hoped Dale would grow with the team and become their next Francona.

    I don't think this had anything to do with Theo being intimidated by Ryno by any means... I can't even find a reason for him to be intimidated... To the contrary, he had won 2 WS with Boston and Ryno should've been the one intimidated by taking such a challenge, especially after seeing what happened to Sveum... The next manager will also probably be a little intimidated.

    We've seen Chicago eat big figures like Lou Piniella and Dusty Baker... It's not an easy job for anybody regardless of his image.

  • In reply to Caps:

    As I have said before, Ryne Sandberg would have been an outstanding choice as manager back then. It was a colossal misjudgment on part of the current dispensation.

    Don't know why, but time after time, whether under Tribune or Ricketts, the Cubs management fails to see the "Gold" in front of them.

    Maybe it's the "curse?" Just kidding.

    Having said all the above, I am with the rebuild effort.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Ryne changed quite a bit in the last few years. More outgoing and much better at communication. Too many in the Cub organization and in baseball remembered him to be the guy who let his bat and glove do his talking. One thing that Cub fans know is that when Ryno sets his sites on a goal it's not a good idea to bet against him. I've got my money on Sandberg being a winning manager.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Occam's Razor.....

  • In reply to SouthBender:

    Exactly. Not sure why there alwys has to be an agenda or some kind of subterfuge. This FO is an honest one. If they thought he had a chance at the job and to be the right manager for this team, they would have given him a shot.

  • Reading these articles and responses has me very nervous. I feel like this is a very critical point in the "rebuilding" process for the cubs and their fans. FO and Theo need to find and get the right person for the job to take the team to the next level. And what I am reading isn't encouraging. Seeing a lot of could be or maybes. Theo's choice has got to be a 100% we found our guy and be sincerely excited about the person. Just wish there were stronger candidates available.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I think these are exactly the kinds of guys he wanted. I like this year's list better than last time.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You think these guys are better choices the Maddux was?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I do, especially for what this team is trying to do.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It is just hard to get excited about Acta or Hinch. I guess it is the fear of the unknown.

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    I actually like the idea of Hinch a lot more so than Acta between who i believe to be the front runners. I think he has the chance to be a very good manager. How's that Bob Melvin guy doing these days with a very youthful Oakland team? Hinch's condemnation seems a bit unfair considering how awful the team he managed was as a rookie manager with limited coaching experience in general. I have to believe he has learned a lot in the last several years.

  • In reply to Jason Sprague:

    I think so too. And I think we sh9ould keep in mind Theo's words about managers learning on their first jobs. He was talking about Sveum, but he could also have been talking about the next manager.

  • As usual John, great article! No matter which candidate is selected, he will certainly have the following strengths: He must be analytical savvy, possess excellent communication skills, be willing to buy into th "Cubs Way" philosophy, and manage game situations well. However, just as important, the person hired must have the ability to work and develop young players. That hopefully, is good news for Cub fans - the wave of top prospects should start to make appearances at Wrigley "soon." (In the next 8-20 months) Theo and Jed have an opportunity with this hire to make sure these rookies will have the best chance to be successful and flourish. If they are successful (pick the right guy), the rookies, the Cubs, and the fans are in for a fun ride.

  • In reply to Big Blue:

    Well said. I just hope they find the right guy and not just someone right now. I would be okay if they didn't name a head coach well into November. Take time and get it right, please.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Totally agree. Getting it right is much more important than meeting Theo's self-imposed deadline.

  • In reply to Big Blue:

    Thanks Big Blue. Agreed on the criteria. My biggest concern is development. Lots of things in play here, of course, but the key phrase has been "creating the best possible environment for young players to learn, develop and thrive at the Major League level." That speaks of a development guy, a player-first manager, and a guy who can communicate well. I think that's all 3 of the top candidates, but the development experience is intriguing for Hinch.

  • I don't think Acts or Hinch have any attributes over Renteria outside of MLB experience. The one thing Renteria has that other others don't a good relationship with one the core players.

  • Sadly, for the next two years, it won't matter who is the field manager. This team is going nowhere fast. Still waiting for Shawon Dunston's "potential" to emerge. Lots of empty seats forecast for 2014 and a meager turnout for CubFest in the winter is more than likely, unless room rates are cut in half with Mr Ricketts picking up the difference. More dry, lifeless, boring days are ahead folks. I wish I was wrong.

  • In reply to Hey Hey:

    I disagree with you. This is a very critical point to have the right manager. And to say that this team is going nowhere fast is a false statement. We are in better shape now then we were two years ago which is encouraging. 2014 will be a encouraging year. I am excited for spring training to see the young guys play. Where the wins and losses may not reflect a great year but it will not be dry, lifeless or boring. My wish came true you are wrong.

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    In reply to Hey Hey:

    I disagree. It does matter who the manager is. You could make an argument that if it were anyone but Dale last year, the results may have been different. Perhaps a different manager wouldn't have kept handing the ball to the ineffective Mamrol, Camp and Russell, who combined to blow a whopping 12,386 saves in the first half of the season alone. Another manager may not have had the disconnect with castro that Sveum had, and may have been able to help players like him and Rizzo overcome their struggles. Would it have made the Cubs a playoff team? No, probably not, but it could have made a difference, none the less.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    In Dale's defense, at the time he was handing the ball to Marmol, Camp, and Russell, he didn't have many other options. That part of it is on the FO.

    As for Castro/Sveum, I'm a defender of Castro and think this year was just a bad year. Just as most players have a career year where they over-achieve, most also have an anti-career year where they underachieve.

    Castro has a world of talent and he has improved quite a bit in the field. There is one concern for me, though. This year he's had "communication" problems with Dale. Lord knows, nobody had a lower opinion of Quade than me but Castro also had a period of "communication" problems with him. It'll bear watching what happens this year with whomever the new guy is. If there are communication problems again, we might have to start looking at Castro as some of the source.

  • In reply to GAHillbilly:

    To me both Quade and Sveum 's problem was calling out their players in public to the media. No player likes that. If it can't be handled in-house, then I think it's the managers problem.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I guess we disagree on that. I thought Sveum actually protected his players pretty well. He showed quite a bit of restraint with a couple of them, in my eyes.

    And it was Samardj who complained to the press about players being traded. That had nothing to do with Dale and was actually a slam at the FO the way I interpreted it.

  • In reply to GAHillbilly:

    I think he did better with it as the year went on but you'll never hear other managers say what he said about Castro, Rizzo, Jackson. Usually that stuff is in-house. it is with the good managers. He violated that cardinal rule with ballplayers early on. I think he learned, but he'll have to apply it to his next job.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Plus Castro handled public scolding really well.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Agreed.

  • In reply to Hey Hey:

    Totally disagree, Hey Hey. Prospects are bubbling up to the big leagues, the farm system is in the top 5 in baseball. The cubs convention will still sell out next year

  • In reply to Hey Hey:

    Disagree completely. Over the next 2 years, we are going to be bringing up many of our very best prospects to join young players like Rizzo, Castillo, & Castro. It absolutely matters who the next leader of these young men is. Now it perhaps matters most., & that's why Sveum was fired.

  • I had MLB Extra Innings when Hinch managed the D-Backs and I hated him. He seemed to force his philosophy on his players. He came across as a disciplinarian and also did not have a good rapport with umpires. I look upon him as a total jerk.

    I see the naming of the Cubs new manager as a game being played by Theo and Jed. Last time Theo got his way and someone with ties to the Red Sox (Sveum) was named Cubs manager. This time it's Jed's turn, so someone with ties to the Padres gets the job. It's either going to be Rick Renteria or Hinch. Let's just hope and pray it's Renteria. Dave Martinez doesn't stand a chance. He'll get an interview just to make it look like they tried.

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    btw, what are MLB regs regarding announcing a signing while the playoffs are on - would the team have to wait until the gap between LCS and WS, or after the WS?

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    I don't even care.
    Whoever can teach the young kids how to play the game the right way and make adjustments while they try to trend in a positive direction. Once we see what we have from some of the "core", we'll be able to fill in the holes that we can't fill internally.
    In the meantime, we should be able to actually develop even more assets.

  • So I may be off but I think a successful leader needs to experience failure and struggle with personalities. How else would you learn? It would also be nice if we had testimonials,. saying 'he helped me with X and I was better for working with him'. I don't know these candidates so will trust in Epstroyer

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    Different type of manager question. What will be considered a successful season for the new manager? Will the team have to be .500? Will Starlin Castro, Rizzo, Shark, Baez and Bryant (potentially) have to have improved years? Will James Russell not have to pitch five thousand innings? To me, I would like to see improvement in the core and out of the box thinking. Anything else would be gravy.

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    I think .500 ball or very close to it is a reasonable goal for 2014. If they don't do that (barring a rash of injuries), though, I think it's on the FO, rather than the new manager.

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    I just don't want to see another 90+ loss season. Not sure how many more of those this old guy can take. Thank goodness I've still got the Blackhawks.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    I know what you mean, but it's going to be painful to get where they want to be. Any GM can do a quick band-aid fix. We've seen Jim Hendry do it a few years ago, what this FO is trying to do is build a team that can compete every year for the foreseeable future.

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    I think having a successful season next year will have nothing to do with wins or losses. successful season will be the growth and development of players. If we see improvements in guys that are already up and young guys that creep up into the bigs because the are ready. I want to see improvements in fundamentals and playing hard every inning. If we do/show this wins and losses will take care of themselves.

  • John... Suk-Min Yoon, Korean star seems to be a Free Agent, low 90's fastball, slider and change up... 27 years old, agent: Scott Boras... Do you have any info on him about his upside or chances the Cubs go after him?

  • In reply to Caps:

    I can try and find out.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I just don't have much info, but I'm sure the moment he is linked to the Cubs you will let us know.

  • In reply to Caps:

    No posting fee, which is nice. I really have no opinion of him, because I've never read any detailed reports or watched him play. Just a quick search on Google shows he's 6' 187lbs, with the repertoire you already mentioned. But when you look at his production, a 4.00 ERA for the KIA Tigers in 2013, with 7.8 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9; None of that screams special to me. Not saying we won't pursue him or that he can't help. IDK, but IMO we need Tanaka type impact SP's.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I agree... Tanaka is a must...

    I saw Yoon's numbers and I wasn't impressed either, which is why I asked about the upside, you never know if he's just a tweak away from being a good starter... For example, if you look at Hiroki Kuroda's stats in Japan, they were real bad at the beginning and still only has a 3.69 career era in Japan... So I don't know what the deal is with him and Scott Boras is representing him.

  • Indulge me, guys, and let me compare this situation to a high school football program. Any good head coach has a system, a philosophy that is thorough in all phases of the game. He has no FO other than the AD to answer to, so his system is soley dependent on his assistant coaches at lower levels. Those assistant coaches have to teach the "the 'Eagles' way" (or whatever the name is) from the bottom on up. By the time the kids are ready for the varsity, they should have the mindset of that philosophy if the assistants have done their teaching jobs. Now it's the varsity staff that has to reinforce and accentuate what has been taught at the lower levels. If the head coach, for whatever reason, changes his "mode", then he's essentially shooting himself in the foot.

    This managerial hire simply has to be consistent with what has been taught in our minors system the past two years (and I think we're all pretty impressed with that teaching). All the other attributes (handling the media, experience in the dugout, bi-lingual, being "liked") are very important, but take a backseat, imo, to the continuance of teaching the "Cubs Way". Otherwise, the FO shoots itself in the foot the same way that head football coach did. So, if all three of these guys are sold on the "Cubs Way" and are considered capable of continuing that teaching at the top level, we are in excellent shape, but if there's the least hint that the new hire might get out of "mode" if not winning, then he should be tossed aside. I'm trusting Theo/Jed to make that judgment.

  • In truth, when I think about the managers available out there (or at least the ones being linked to the Cubs availability), it seems like we are left with the bottom of the barrel (it appears as if the market is pretty barren at this point.)

  • There is little question at this point that Girardi was Plan A. Plan B seems to be less impressive and less thought out, however. I'm not sure I would call HInch an "out of the box" pick, but unlike Acta, there is the potential for growth. Those of us in DC were amazed teams were fighting over Acta after the Nats fired him, but he seems to have had the same issues in Cleverland - in other words, he failed to learn from his mistakes. Overall, I think Theo/Jed need to bring in other candidates, including some truly "out of the box" guys.

  • In reply to VaCubFan:

    VA Cub,

    What was/were the issue(s) that you saw or heard to be the case w/ Acta? Prior comments suggest he may have lost control of the clubhouse or something to that effect.

  • In reply to VaCubFan:

    I've heard from the fans of both teams they didn't care much for Acta. I'm not knowledgable enough to say Acta is not a good manager. I do think he has a enough red flags to be careful. A small market team like Cleve fired him during the season. Their FO gave the reason as he lost the team (I think). I am not rooting for Acta but if he the one they select I'll will start to root for him.

  • In reply to VaCubFan:

    I agree. I'm hoping this is case of Theo and company keeping things close to the vest and there are some other candidates that have been interviewed that we don't know about. One guy that I wouldn't mind getting an interview would be Joe McEwing. I read a Fangraphs blog on him and he seems like an up and comer.

  • In reply to Zippy2212:

    The Nats brought in Acta because they felt Frank Robinson was too old school, and that Acta would be a dynamic new school guy. Acta basically sat in the dugout the whole game with the same expression on his face the whole game. In addition, he would not defend his players (in fact, he prided himself on not arguing with umps, not getting tossed, etc.). Very boring and bland baseball, bad record. He was fired midseason in DC as well, and replaced by Riggleman, who was considered enough of an upgrade he was given the job for the following season.

  • In reply to VaCubFan:

    Acta is definitely more of a cerebral guy than a fiery guy. And I think the problem can be interpretation. Some players found him to be too stoic, others described him as a calming influence. I think Bears fans had similar issues with Lovie Smith, but for the most part, players loved him. He had their back behind the scenes and in front of the media.

  • The reasoning used in this blog suggesting that AJ Hinch might be the "best fit for the Cubs", sounds like the same reasoning the Blue Jays used last year to hire John Gibbons.

  • In reply to Rosemary:

    If we're going to play the antectodal evidence game and loosely connected comparisons, we can do that all day long.

    I think the resistance to Hinch has been this, "He failed last time, so he will fail again."

    The reasoning against hiring someone like Hinch sounds like the reason for not hiring Terry Francona, Joe Torre, or many other successful managers who didn't do well in their first stint.

  • Kinda sounds a lot like the other former catcher prospect that had a decent but not great pro career that got a chance to manage a struggling, young team at young age due to his reputation, had a rough first go around and then...

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