The manager search still dominates the news both in the national media and here locally. It seems that one rumored candidate is definitely out while the Cubs may be quickly narrowing their search overall.
An interesting side effect is how the search may or may not affect the offseason spending. Were the Cubs set to spend more as a plan to lure Girardi? We'll never know for sure, but now that he isn't coming, it looks like business as usual at Wrigley and I, for one, am happy to see them stick with their plan.
Manager Search Update
UPDATE to the update 10:14 PM:
Patrick Mooney has some real good stuff in his latest column and one thing that is somewhat surprising is that Sandy Alomar, Jr. doesn't appear to be a candidate at this time. The same goes for the Maddux brothers but that wasn't one we really ever bought into here. Chip Hale, who we speculated on earlier is not a candidate while Torey Lovullo may be considered down the road, but it's really beginning to look like the Cubs have zeroed in on 4 candidates: Manny Acta, A.J. Hinch, Rick Renteria, and Dave Martinez. The latter two will be interviewed soon while Acta and Hinch have already interviewed.
He also has an interesting profile on what the Cubs want at manager,
The Cubs are looking for a bilingual teacher who can develop young players. From All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro to minor league player of the year Javier Baez to $30 million Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler, this clubhouse will be filled with important Latin players in 2014 and beyond. There’s X-factor outfielder Junior Lake, building-block catcher Welington Castillo and projected Triple-A Iowa infielders Arismendy Alcantara and Christian Villanueva.
That would seem to favor Acta (who interviewed well), Renteria, and Martinez but the Cubs said that if the manager isn't bilingual, then their bench coach will be.
Things may be starting to come into focus when it comes to managerial search, according to Jon Heyman,
Chicago appears to be honing in on a very short list of serious candidates, including the already interviewed duo of A.J. Hinch and Manny Acta.
Cubs people will not label anyone as a "favorite" yet, but with their plan to add perhaps only one or two names to their original interview list, the assumption is they were impressed by Hinch and/or Acta and confident they will find their next manager from a roster that includes those two, plus Rick Renteria, who'll be interviewed next week, perhaps Dave Martinez and maybe one other. Martinez is said to have a good chance to garner an interview, as well.
Word is, the Cubs may put their energies into callbacks/second interviews, another indicator that they believe they have their next manager on their original short list.
We have heard that the Cubs were impressed with the Manny Acta interview, so that seems to support Heyman's theory that the Cubs were impressed enough in one of their initial interviews.
- David Kaplan, meanwhile, says that Greg Maddux has no interest in managing, saying he spent 20 years playing baseball and wants to take some time to be with his family. With all due respect, we never bought into this rumor in the first place.
- I got some indication that the Cubs have some interest in Chip Hale, though I have no idea if he's on the short list or even the B list. If Heyman is right and the Cubs are getting close, he may not get his chance anyway.
Carlos Gonzalez, David Price, Masahiro Tanaka, and the offseason
We've talked about the Cubs making some deals for this year but now that the Cubs are re-prioritizing development with Joe Girardi staying in New York, it may not be as likely.
It makes sense that if the Cubs were to lure Girardi here, they'd have promised him to accelerate the rebuilding process. After all, it was unlikely he was going to leave NY so that they could lose for 3 more years. Now that the attention has turned to more develomental type managers, the Cubs may proceed with their original plan for 2014, which is to modestly increase payroll and continue to try and improve incrementally while developing impact talent at the minor league level.
We've talked about Carlos Gonzalez numerous times on this site. Yahoo contributor Evan Altman brought up the subject today. Honestly, I'm not as confident the Cubs will pursue Gonzalez now that they will continue to focus on development for 2014 and probably 2015. David Price is even less likely. You have heard me say that a trade for him was always a long shot and now it appears to be almost out of the picture for the simple reason that you wouldn't bring a guy with 2 years of cost control when you expect to be concentrating on development for those 2 years. You might as well wait and sign him in 2 years (assuming he doesn't get an extension somewhere).
One guy who is still in play is Masahiro Tanaka. His signing still makes sense because 1) it costs them nothing, not even a comp pick. Only money. 2) His is 25 and will be in his prime and still under team control in 2 years, and 3) He fits the teams timeline as far as his peak years.
We never expected the Cubs to build through free agency, and now you can pretty much rule out big spending for 2014, from what I understand. The Cubs will still add some to payroll, but they will still likely stick with the plan -- look for good value deals and trades that don't cut to much into their foundation. In other words, Tanaka yes, CarGo maybe, Price...probably not.
Tomorrow we'll take a look at some potential targets.
Albert Almora is the only Cubs player in the lineup today and he is leading off and in RF. We'll update with a recap when the game is over. As of this update, Almora is 1 for 3 with a run scored.
UPDATE #2 Almora added a bases clearing triple to his day and finished 2 for 5 with 2 runs scored and 3 RBI.
Speaking of the Fall League, Kris Bryant's quick start and ability to adjust quickly has the Cubs thinking he could start in AA Tennessee and that he won't necessarily need AAA like most prospects. It is expected, however, that Javier Baez will need some time in AAA to continue refining his approach and cut down on the strikeouts. It's also a good idea to have him face AAA pitchers, who may not be any more talented than AA pitchers, but they tend to have much more experience and are savvy enough to set him up better than pitchers at the lower levels. How he adjusts to that will determine how quickly he comes up but right now it is expected to be September.
According to Bill Mitchell, Juan Paniagua looked dominant in instructs and was throwing 95 mph.
Reader "RS Beast" name came up for season tickets and he is in a quandary. After waiting all this time, he doesn't want to lose his opportunity (especially with the Cubs expected to be on the upswing). But he also doesn't feel like he can make enough games to make it worth his while.
The solution? He'd like to go in on it with 3 or 4 groups. If interested you can either let Robert know in the comments section or e-mail me and I will forward it to him.
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