If the Cubs can't land Girardi, then they need to find the next one..or the next Francona..or the next Maddon..or the next...

If the Cubs can't land Girardi, then they need to find the next one..or the next Francona..or the next Maddon..or the next...

There is no question Joe Girardi is the top available manager and that if he is made available, the Cubs will almost certainly hire him.  That said, there are a lot of good baseball men out there waiting for the right opportunity and situation.  Girardi isn't the last good manager.  It's likely that out of Manny Acta, A.J. Hinch, Rick Renteria, Sandy Alomar, Jr., Dave Martinez, Tony Pena and many others out there, at least one will be a great manager with a distinguished career.

If Girardi isn't available, then it's the Cubs job to find out which one is the most likely given their current situation.

They all have flaws, but so did Girardi at one time.  In fact, he still does.  But he's grown.  There was a time where he rubbed players the wrong way.  He clashed with his GM.  Even now he has some things he needs to improve.  He leaves his pitchers in too long - the Yankees have led the league in blown quality starts the past 2 years.  Change his name to Manny Acta or AJ Hinch and turn back the clock to his first season as a manager, one in which the team actually underperformed when compared to the Pythagorean record, and we'd be hearing all about how the Cubs should never hire him.

But Girardi isn't the only one with a questionable start.  Joe Torre was a disaster in his first stint as a Mets manager, then got hired by the doormat Braves and immediately made them a contender.  Then he went to the historically successful Cardinals and never made the playoffs.  Then he went to the historically successful Yankees and started winning World Series.  Which Torre was the great managerial candidate and which one was the terrible one?

What about Terry Francona?  He managed 4 seasons with the Phillies, never contending and never winning more than 77 games.  He was fired after he lost control of the Red Sox clubhouse in 2011, a team that was a World Series contender at the start of the season and had a 9 game lead over in the wild card race and blowing late leads in crucial games vs. the Orioles and Rays to miss the playoffs.  In between those that less than impressive start and end he won two World Series rings.  He also rebounded from that horrible "ending" to his career by taking the Indians into the playoffs this season.

What about Joe Maddon?  He had no MLB experience and was passed over for numerous jobs over the years.  He didn't have a single winning record in 6 years of managing in the minors, then averaged 64 wins his first 2 seasons.  Tampa was no juggernaut but it's not like they got better every year. Tampa won 67 games the first year and then just 61 in his first season, then just 66 the next. If he were in Chicago, the media and fans would have called for his head.  Good thing he was in Tampa.  He is now widely considered one of the best managers in the game.

It's easy to pick out flaws when it's a guy you don't like (and some of the so-called flaws aren't even accurate) which, in the case for some of the media, is anyone but Joe Girardi.  The truth is all managers had flaws when they first started out and they will all continue to exhibit flaws, Girardi included.  But they do improve and it doesn't mean they can't ever be successful.

If Girardi stays with the Yankees, then it's the Cubs front office's job to figure out which of those secondary candidates have learned from their previous mistakes -- or in the case of inexperienced managers, which managers are most likely to learn on the job -- even if it takes a couple of years.  In other words, if they can't land the current Joe Girardi, then they'll have to find the next one -- or the next Joe Torre, or the next Terry Francona, or the next Joe Maddon, or the next...

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  • Kap mentioned (about 8:20 last night) a very stinging text message from an anonymous source that we definitely do not want Hinch.

    But getting back to the topic of a couple of days ago, is there any indication that any of these will help develop talent, or are we just looking for someone who learned something from their last goof. Then the only sure fire thing is to hire someone from Miami (past examples being Girardi and Fredi Gonzalez), but I think Ozzie wants to live off his contract for the next two years and doesn't like Wrigley.

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    In reply to jack:

    Anonymous to Kap? Then throw it away. Or someone who doesn't want his name reavealed to the public?

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Not anonymous to Kap. Just that Kap put it as "a baseball executive who I know" or something to that effect.

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    In reply to jack:

    It was a former MLB GM who wished to remain anonymous for obvious reasons. he said Hinch was one of the worst managers in all of baseball over the last ten years. Ouch!

  • In reply to jack:

    If a lot of the fans in Atlanta get their way, Fredi may soon be available, although I don't really expect that to happen.

  • Excellent points made, John:)

    I assume Joe is allowing enought time for the kids to accept the idea of moving to Chicago! Hopefully, we'll hear one way or the other today.

  • In reply to TobaccopouchinIvy:

    I'd be surprised if Joe's next stop, is known this month. I feel he is out of the Apple. Just a hunch, but...... were he staying in NY, I think we'd already know.

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    I think the whole "needs managerial experience" requirement is way overblown. A manager needs to be smart in both baseball and non-baseball ways, and have the ability - through a combination of personal example, strength and empathy - to lead. That is both necessary and sufficient. A moron who's been in a dugout is not as good as the right guy who has not.
    That's why I was upset when Sandberg was passed up in favor of sveum, and that's why I think the search should include people in front offices or in the minor leagues who may never have managed in the MLB before. But they have to have shown their leadership capacity in some way. Right now, the list of candidates to me reads like Joe Girardi and the seven dwarves.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    We, differ. We've never to my knowledge succeeded with a tyro manager. The whole rotating garbage with Wrigley was a disaster. We've also ,made some terrible choices over the years., My least favorite was Dusty.

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    In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    WE may not have, but others have. You support my point by mentioning Dusty - and Lou -and Baylor... Lots of managerial experience there, squat results. Sveum was the worst of both worlds - no gravitas, and no managerial experience other than 14 days as an end of season fill-in.

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    "It's easy to pick out flaws when it's a guy you don't like, which in the case for some of the media, is anyone but Joe Girardi."

    And that's my biggest issue by far with Girardi. The sycophants won't be happy with anyone but their chosen savior. Expectations are going to unreal if he's the guy, but if he isn't the guy, he's likely to hear a chorus of boos when he's introduced on opening day. Whatever he does won't be good enough for them, unless the Cubs win it all. They'll say, "But Joe would've done it better."

    This all said. I believe Theo is calling the shots, even if Ricketts may have stated a preference for Girardi, and I have to believe that, if Girardi is who he chooses to hire, it's because due diligence was done and he really believed Girardi to be the best man for the job. So I'll support it. Because in the end, there are valid baseball reasons to hire Girardi.

    One can only hope that he has learned from the Florida debacle, where he was obviously set up to fail, but he also didn't help himself any, and one can only hope that the staff he hires is super at player development.

    Again, my biggest issue is with the sycophants, who are so blinded by sentimentalism that they won't accept anyone else. You'd think Joe Girardi was going to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet by the way some of these people are acting. I find that irrational.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    As I noted above, with the owner in Florida, every manager is set up to fail.

    The real issue is whether Girardi will be available on Nov. 1. But I don't see how any of the named alternatives meet the criteria stated by Theo and Jed.

  • In reply to jack:

    Absolutely, and they always do. You can count the number, of guys who retired winners with your shoes on. They all get fired.

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    In reply to jack:

    I agree Jack. Jeffery Loria is a piece of work, but Girardi's issues in Florida weren't really with Loria. They were with Larry Beinfest. Girardi was Loria's decision all the way. Beinfest never wanted Girardi. The story is that Beinfest, who by all accounts is a pretty good guy, tried to make it work, but Girardi was so insistent on doing everything his way that the situation became untenable, and some of the stuff they were clashing over was minutia. He was basically determined that the Marlins' clubhouse should be a mirror image of the Yankees clubhouse. It was causing a lot of issues. Beinfest went to Loria near seasons end and basically made Loria choose between himself and Girardi. Loria chose the guy who'd brought him a WS, and the rest is history.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    That's a pretty one-sided story, Mike. There are quite a few who account that Girardi is a "pretty good guy", as well. I'm certainly not ready to condemn what has otherwise been a pretty damn successful managerial career based on a secondhand behind-the-scenes story from 6 or 7 years ago. That being said, he is my favorite candidate, but I agree with you that Theo will do his due diligence and make the right decision. BTW, thank you for prompting me to look up the word sycophant!

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    In reply to Matt McNear:

    I'm not saying Girardi isn't a good guy at all, but the Yankees situation was tailor made for him. Everything was already the way he wanted it. In fact, it had been that way long before he ever put on a Yankees uniform. Girardi was often butting heads with players and front office personnel over things that really had nothing to do with the game itself, and it wasn't just the major league team. The traditions he wanted to bring over from the Yankees he wanted implemented throughout the entire system. It caused a lot of unnecessary friction that distracted from the ultimate purpose.

  • a think the common theme here is managers manage everywhere they go, but great players make a manager great

    i wouldn't think torre changed much from his stop in St. Louis to New York, but the players changed; the clubhouse changed, the core changed

    i think that is why the change was good, if we saw even a small problem with our core and sveum it had to be done, because next year our core is really going to be a good foundation

    Sveum did a good job here. Did he mismanage some thing yes, but they probably was also because the players he managing was cody ransom or brent lillibridge

  • In reply to waitingOn2015:

    1. The managers make some moves. For instance, some pull the double switch better than others (surprising, Ozzie was the best at that, keeping both Thome and Konerko to bat in the same inning, before putting Paul at 1st), and some managers (like Dusty) keep their pitchers in too long.

    2. There has to be an explanation, other than the talent, on why LaRussa was successful wherever he went (even his short stint with the Sox), while Dusty could never get a team over the top (even with a roided Bonds).

    But now I can be accused of being a racist twice.

  • In reply to waitingOn2015:

    I, don't, know what team you were watching, but I don't quite get in ,what way Sveum, did a good job. Throwing, his players under the bus publicly, would have him, gotten him fired by me. Nobody can say, what an untested manager will do. It's always going to be a crapshoot.

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    In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Bloomer is your, comma key, over active ? ;)

  • In reply to waitingOn2015:

    Consequently, I think managers change much depending on the coaches around them and the philosophy of the organization... For example, Dale Sveum was hired by KC for the IF shifts, something he was not known for in Mil... So, he did learn from the organization and coaches during his time in Chicago... I'm sure that after the Marlins, Girardi learned some from Joe Torre when he was his bench coach.

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    In reply to waitingOn2015:

    Sorry. I have to disagree here. Sveum was barely better than Quade and his patented two for one switch.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    LOL Quade was really terrible, wasn't he? From the 2 for 1 late inning switches to deplete the bench, to playing Pena so he can hit 30 hr's and sending Dempster out there to reach 200 innings and allowing 9 runs in the game in the process to not playing DJ LeMahieu, Clevenger, Welly, LaHair or even Rafael Dolis.

    I think Dale got the best fit for him right now, which is the IF coaching job, he was also a good hitting coach and helped Soriano when he asked to drop the weight of his bat, something you've been clamoring for for years.

    As a manager... Well, he was pretty much a rookie manager and lost control of the clubhouse, not to mention, the Chicago media ended up eating him alive, IMO.

  • When Torre took over the Cardinals they were a last place team, and had been lousy the three previous seasons. He actually did a pretty great job with some sketchy talent. The Cardinals were actually a really bad team for almost all of the 1990's, but you would never hear it from most media sources. LaRussa had a .485 winning percentage his first four years with the team, and was close to getting fired.
    It's like they always talk about their 11 world champs teams, but 7 of them were in the 1920's, 30's and 40's. As though winning 80 and 90 years ago has something to do with how a team plays today. It's goofy.

  • Thanks John for coming up with these articles and give us something to think about and talk about. My point is the cubs need a proven winner. After dealing with Quade and Sveum the Cubs and Cub fans should want and deserve a proven winner. I am not saying that Hinch, Alomar, Acta (not sure on him tho), Martinez, Pena, and Renteria will not be a good mlb manager in time. My concern is the Cubs can't take anymore risk at the manager spot. We need a 100% proven winner. Francona or Maddon would be great fit.

  • John, nice article and good points. Any thoughts on which traits are more or less "fixable" with managers? I.e., which bad past behaviors would have you worry more or less?

  • I am not getting any work done this week until Girardi makes his decision!

  • I think everybody here is missing the OBVIOUS. It was no coincidence that he left his previous job just a day after the cubs let Svuem go. He is a proven winner, has ties to the midwest and knows how to compete in the NL Central.

    It won't be Girardi...

    Ladies and Gentleman, I give you the next manager of the Chicago Cubs...

    Welcome home Dusty.

    (and then you wake up shivering in a ice cold-sweat)

  • I heard a great interview with Andrew McCutcheon the other day, and it struck me that what he was saying is exactly the mindset that Cub players need to take today and in the future as we start to become hopefully a playoff contending team.
    The interviewer was asking him about how great it must be to be on the team after 20 years of failure and not being a winning team.
    And McCutcheon said that he never looked at it like that. That it always ticked him off that he was connected to it. Because I wasn't here 20 years ago, I was in first grade. So why should I have to own it, or anybody else on our team. Why should I be tied to a lousy team even 10 years ago. Blame me because we were bad 3 years ago, but the Pirates being a losing team for 20 years has nothing to do with me, or any other players on our club today.
    This is the mindset that the Cub players must embrace in the future. They have not being losing and failing in the playoffs for decades, and should not be connected to it.

  • Just a couple years ago the pirate lost 100 games. So it can happen in a 2 yr span for a turn around. Yes

  • I guess the Cubs should've never parted ways with Sveum and given him a chance to be the next Maddon seeing how he still had another year left on that contract.

  • Nice job John. I like that you pointed out the obvious to me, but not so obvious to the media. Sometimes, you have to fail in order to succeed. That's true in all walks of life. You mentioned guys like Torre, Maddon, etc... That's baseball, whether were talking managers or players. Baseball will humble you and it is a game of failures. Nowhere else can losing/missing 70% of the time be considered the beacon of success... yet that's what a .300 average is.

    Ironically, Theo mentioned this in his hiring of Francona and in his firing of Sveum. He even mentioned he believed Sveum would go on to have success as a manager somewhere else eventually. So for me, the initial failures of guys like Acta, etc are more of positive vs a negative. If they were on supposed contenders at the time, my view would be different.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks. I think all managers fail at some point and usually early on. The key is how much they learn, how much of it is based on the situation they were given, and how much of it was them.

  • OT Darnell McDonald, J.C. Boscan, Trey McNutt, Thomas Neal, Rafael Dolis, and Zach Putnam all cleared waivers and were outrighted off the 40 man roster. It currently has 37 players.

  • Cubs adjust 40 man roster ....

    The Cubs announced that outfielder Darnell McDonald, catcher J.C. Boscan, and right-hander Trey McNutt have cleared waivers and were outrighted off of the 40-man roster. In addition, the Cubs activated right-handers Rafael Dolis and Zach Putnam and outfielder Thomas Neal off of the 60-day disabled list and subsequently outrighted them from the 40-man.

  • Excellent article John, as always. I'm sure in the end the Cubs will get the right guy, whether it's Girardi or not.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Thank you.

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    I agree that if the Cubs cannot hire Girardi then they need to find the next "diamond-in-the-rough" type (e.g., Francona, Maddon, et al.).

    However, that's where I'm concerned. Wasn't Sveum the next diamond-in-the-rough? Sure, Castro regressed mightily and Rizzo a bit, but I'm still not sold on Sveum's dismissal. I feel he really wasn't given a true chance to blossom as a manager.

    That said, for my first time, I have a concern about Epstein as the overall leader. If the Epstein hiring model botched it up so badly, apparently, with Sveum that he had to be fired two years into his tenure, then if they don't land a sure-thing like Girardi, what assurances do I have that the next alleged diamond-in-the-rough won't actually be another dud? What assurances do I have that Acta, Hinch, or Renteria will work out better than Sveum would/could have?

    Honestly, if they're going to hire Acta, Hinch, or Renteria, then they just should have stuck with Sveum, worked on his shortcomings as a manager over the offseason, hired another coach of Latin descent, and moved on with the rebuild.

    What comes first with managers, the chicken or the egg? Do great teams produce great managers or do great managers make teams great? The answer is probably somewhere in between, and if that's the case, then Sveum got hosed before he had a chance and the armor of the Epstein model has a crack.

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    In reply to Chris Trengove:

    Sveum was not the Cubs' first choice two years ago. He was a contingency hire.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:


    Are you suggesting Maddux was their first choice? If so, why is he, allegedly, not even a consideration this time around?

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    In reply to Chris Trengove:

    I believe Maddux was their first choice and he declined. Why he is not in consideration now is anybody's guess. Maybe because he turned the Cubs down initially. Maybe because he was the right guy two years ago but isn't the right guy now. Maybe because Texas has had so many pitching injuries in the past fifteen months.

    Opinions on a person's abilities change over time. Doesn't mean that they were initially right or wrong, just that they changed.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I think the needs of the team change as well.

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    I don't think Sveum is that bad a manager. He has a lot of good qualities and they were hoping he would learn the ones he didn't have. I'm still not sure he won't make a solid manager somewhere else someday if he's in the right situation. Remember that this FO didn't have a lot of info on the Cubs organization at that point. They were cramming to learn the organization and cramming to know a lot of managerial candidates. They went with what they knew in Sveum and were hoping he could learn the rest. It didn't happen, but I don't think it was a colossal mistake to hire him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    In my mind, Sveum was about average as a manager. I didn't like the way he handled the bullpen and some other things but as you say, he was learning on the job.

    I think like most of the managers who get fired, he was a bit of a scapegoat but that comes with the territory.

  • In reply to GAHillbilly:

    I'd say that's about right. Average and a chance to either improve or remain average. It's up to him.

  • I like the 'It's Girardi and the seven dwarfs' analogy. I think that Joe just hasn't decided yet. He feels loyalty to the Yankees and his family who now think of Westchester as home. He also would prefer the Cub job from a professional and personal standpoint.

    I moved my family(3kids) and my daughter was heartbroken to leave friends. The first day at her new school she came home with four new friends and declared "this is the best place ever". So we will see. At some he will decide.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    At some point he Will decide.

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    I think it is funny that there are four options with Girardi and depending upon which source you believe the most he is either staying put, leaving NY for the Cubs or Nationals, taking a job announcing, or taking a year off to spend with his family.

    What that means is that Joe has no clue himself, or at the very least he is too torn to make a quick decision.

    The fact that the Cubs interviewed three candidates in the last 24 hours indicates to me that they are proceeding as if Girardi isn't and will not be available. Why? Because they aren't going to sit on a good potential candidate and wait on Girardi for fear that Acta, Hinch or Renteria take another available position.

    And I still believe this is Jim Leyland's last year and that no matter what happens in the playoffs he moves to the Front Office and the Tigers bring in a guy like Acta almost immediately if he is available - a team he may actually be a perfect fit to manage.

    As with everything, the Cubs have a "process." As with everything we know historically about Theo Epstein, that process is extremely thorough and does not include anybody who is not available. They cannot even talk to Girardi right now. So I do not understand why it is so imperative that everybody else does.

  • I wonder how long the Yankees are going to want to wait. They are in the same boat as the Cubs right now. If Girardi ends up leaving they may end up missing out on the canidate they want.

  • I'm definitely not an expert on managerial searches, but I do have an opinion. Just thinking outside the whole "Girardi box" (even tho I think he would be great for the Cubs).

    My "gut" feeling tells me to steer clear of guys like Hinch, Acta Alomar and Wedge as manager candidates.

    Instead, looking somewhat at teams who have a consistent record of developing young players I would look at some of their coaches, who have been in those systems for a while, as potential good candidates. My list would include guys like: Tony Pena, Dave Martinez, Jose Quendo, Terry Pendleton, Rick Renteria, Loyld McClendon, Matt Williams and Brad Ausmus.

    I know some of those guys have little managing experience, but they all have had success in coaching and working with ML players in various aspects. They all seem to be well thought of, by their players and most, if not all, have coached or played for years in great systems, under great managers.

  • Despite the openings in Washington, Seattle and Cincinnati, and the potential openings in NY and Detroit, the only club interviewing Acta, Hinch and possibly Renteria is Chicago. Why is that?

  • In reply to Cleme:

    #1 different situations and #2 how do you know if they won't be interviewing them?

    And why are the Reds showing basically no interest in Girardi (or really any of those teams for that matter)?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Because Girardi has shown no interest in them.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    As far as we know. We can assume but how many people thought Acta, Hinch, and Renteria were at the top of the list as far as Girardi alternates? Do you know the Reds list with any more confidence than the Cubs when this thing started?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Only Walt Jocketty can answer that one,.It appears LaRussa has no interest in returning.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It seems very different this time, compared to last time, when every team with an opening wanted to interview Mike Maddux, Dale Sveum, Pete Mackanin and Sandy Alomar Jr. That's why I'm wondering why the Cubs aren't looking at more popular names nationally like Tim Wallach, Chip Hale or Ron Wotus. These are the names that are coming up in the other markets with openings.

  • I'm still in the Tony Peña camp, although I don't expect it to happen.

  • The next mgr. needs to arrive with a stethoscope and a blood pressure monitor. One to measure the pulse of his players and the other needed to recognize he's likely headed for the hospital.
    I get the need to be a motivator and a back patter and an ass kicker when needed. As the article says nobody fits in all the things Cub management is looking for,.Girardi is likely the safest pick. Acta from recent mention appears to be a motivator and a numbers cruncher,please Joe step forward and make us at least thrilled or miserable as the case may be.

  • mlbtraderumors is reporting that the Yankees have announced that they've re-signed Girardi....

  • He Gone!

  • espnChicago radio just referenced cubsDen about Maddon's managing record prior to success. Pretty cool to hear your blog mentioned on a large network

  • Boy, hope there isn't a whole lot of people jumping out their windows or something if Girardi says no thanks, I'm stickin' with Hank. I do think he's the "go to" guy, but as John and some others have pointed out, there are some really good baseball people out there, beyond the 3 or 4 names we've been hearing and some of those have had some pretty good things said about them from people that really do know them. Not saying Joe isn't my first choice but it surely won't be the worst thing that could happen. Got a good feeling that Theo / Jed have a pretty solid idea of where they're heading with this and hell yeah they have to see if they can get Joe, that'd be another part of the plan accomplished, one of todays top managers..check!. I'm trusting they know alot of inside stuff and people obviously, that they will feel good with who they get if not Girardi, yeah I guess they'd have to, but I mean they won't be feeling like they had to settle or are stuck with someone, that's not their style, I think they will get who they think will mesh and continue to compliment and further the good things they've put in place to this point. It's time for the next step forward, I think they're feeling it.

  • Wow, guess I's behind abit on Joe huh.

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