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...
Filed under: Uncategorized