Is Joe Girardi really the best guy to develop Cubs prospects?

Is Joe Girardi really the best guy to develop Cubs prospects?
Could Alomar, Jr. be a better fit?

I really want to get excited about Joe Girardi.  He's a local guy and a former Cub.  His speech on Darryl Kile moved us all.  He's a big name in a city that loves their celebrity managers.   He's been a successful manager for the most storied franchise in baseball.  He led an undermanned Florida team to 78 wins in 2006.  The Marlins "overachieved" that season, people said.

Maybe.  Their Pythagorean record was actually 80-82, so they won about as many games as they should have given player performances.  But the priority for the Cubs hire is reportedly the development of their up and coming prospects, many of whom will be at the upper levels this year. The assumption is that he gets credit for developing some young players and spurring on those great performances.

But should he?  And if so, how much?  I don't think the answer is that easy.

The Marlins had the lowest payroll in baseball but they had some of the best young talent as well: Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Cabrera, Josh Johnson, and others.  Would they have succeeded anyway?  It's difficult to say.

The Marlins received an influx of young talent that year.  Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez were acquired in the Josh Beckett deal. Ricky Nolasco was acquired from the Cubs in the Juan Pierre deal.  Dan Uggla was acquired via a Rule 5 pick.

They also picked up young players like C Miguel Olivo and 1B Mike Jacobs.

What about the players that were already there?

Miguel Cabrera had similar numbers the years before and after Girardi came.  His wOBA was .399 before Girardi came, .415 the next year -- pretty much his career average and not enough difference from his career numbers to make you think that it wasn't just statistical fluctuation.  His jump in WAR was largely because of improved defense, but we've seen the defense of Luis Valbuena, Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, and Anthony Rizzo improve under Sveum.  Good for Girardi if he helped Cabrera improved on defense, but I wouldn't call that an edge he had over Sveum.

Dontrelle Willis was a 22 game winner before Girardi came, posting a 6 WAR season.  The next year he won 12 and posted a 2.7 WAR.  I'm not saying Girardi ruined him but, as it turns out, the 2.7 WAR was really more reflective of the kind of pitcher he was.

Jason Vargas showed some promise in 2005, going 4-4 with a 4.03 ERA and a 1.6 WAR season.  The next year he went 1-2 with  a 7.33 ERA and was below replacement level.  It's not like he wasn't talented, he's gone on to be a solid starter with the Mariners.

Players like Josh Johnson and Scott Olsen had successful years under Girardi, but they were good prospects who did show signs in a very small sample the previous year.  Did they succeed because of Girardi or because they were talented pitchers who just got their chance on a team filled with job openings?  And it's worth noting that Olsen wasn't able to carry his success into the following seasons.  Did he really develop or did he just have a career year?

There are success stories, Hanley Ramirez had a solid rookie year, as did Ricky Nolasco and Josh Willingham.  Ramirez, however, was even better after Girardi was gone.  That's not to say he got better coaching -- just that he was one of the top prospects in all of baseball and get got better because he's mega talented.  Should we assume he never would have had those big years if it wasn't for that one year of Girardi?  What about all those years in the Red Sox development system?  What about all the years afterward when he continued to develop and improve?

There are also less successful stories.  Prospects like Jeremy Hermida, Cody Ross, and Joe Borchard struggled under Girardi.  We could say, well two of those guys weren't very talented.

But that's my point.  Girardi isn't a miracle worker.  He can work well with good talent, but so do a lot of managers.

The Marlins were a team in a special circumstance.  There wasn't anyone else to play.  Girardi had no choice but to play young players and the top players rose to the top.  And you can afford to be patient in a smaller market.  So is Girardi a guy who has a knack for developing talent or was he just in the right place at the right time?  I don't think there is an easy answer.  Especially when you are looking at a one year sample in Florida.

We have a larger sample in New York, where Girardi has managed since 2008.

The Yankees top prospects in 2008 per BA were:

  1. Joba Chamberlain
  2. Austin Jackson
  3. Jose Tabata
  4. Ian Kennedy
  5. Alan Horne
  6. Jesus Montero
  7. Jeff Marquez
  8. Brett Gardner
  9. Ross Ohlendorf
  10. Andrew Brackman

The best player in that group for the Yankees has been Brett Gardner.  Chamberlain has been a disappointment.  The best player on that list overall is Austin Jackson, while Jose Tabata and Ian Kennedy have also had some success -- but of course, that success has happened with other teams.   It makes you wonder, if the Yankees were the Marlins and had to play rookies, would he have been given the credit for Austin Jackson's success too?  What about the early success of Ian Kennedy?

Moreover the Yankees under Girardi haven't developed any of their top 10 prospects from 2009-2011 into everyday starters or even solid role players at the MLB level.  Is it lack of talent?  Lack of opportunity on a veteran, win-now team?  Both probably play a factor here but again, doesn't that show that  the Marlins were a unique blend of top tier talent and opportunity with Girardi being there at the right time?

And why haven't the Yankees been able to add a significant player or two from their system from year to year?  Other successful, win now teams have done that, most notably the rival big market Red Sox.

Frankly, I don't see Girardi as special when it comes to player development, which should be the #1 priority at this point, according to Epstein himself,

"Soon, our organization will transition from a phase in which we have been primarily acquiring young talent to a phase in which we will promote many of our best prospects and actually field a very young, very talented club at the major league level.  The losing has been hard on all of us, but we now have one of the top farm systems in baseball, some of the very best prospects in the game, and a clear path forward. In order for us to win with this group – and win consistently – we must have the best possible environment for young players to learn develop and thrive at the major league level.  We must have clear and cohesive communication with our players about the most important parts of the game.  And – even while the organization takes a patient, long view – we must somehow establish and maintain a galvanized, winning culture around the major league club....we will prioritize managerial or other on-field experience and we will prioritize expertise developing young talent.

I, for one, won't be heartbroken if Joe Girardi returns to the Yankees and I'm not planning a welcome party if he does come.  That's not to say I don't think he can be a good manager here.   I'm just not sure he's worthy of all the attention he is getting in the media.

I think if the Cubs #1 priority is development, then why is Joe Girardi head and shoulders in the lead above a guy heavily experienced in player development like A.J. Hinch?  Why is Sandy Alomar, Jr, who is reputed to be a great leader, communicator and teacher not a better potential fit?  Why isn't Manny Acta, whose view on player development and statistical analysis is frighteningly similar to the front office, not being talked about more?

Why are the Cubs willing to break the bank and pay so much more for Girardi, when these other candidates may be as good or better than Girardi when it comes to handling the most valuable assets in the organization?

Don't get me wrong, I think Joe Girardi is a very good manager who has shown he can thrive in a big market, but if player development is the #1 issue, then I feel like other candidates should be more strongly considered than they are right now.  And I'm not sure if one or more of those other names I mentioned might not be a better fit for what this front office wants to accomplish over the next 2-3 years.

Filed under: Manager


Leave a comment
  • John, you've convinced me. Great article.

    So who do you like the most? I think I like SAJ and AJH.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    Thanks. I like both of those guys and I like Acta as well. I think you can make an argument that all of them are better fits given what the Cubs goals are over the next few years.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Interesting points in re Girardi. I know their managerial track records are much shorter, but how do Acta and Hinch measure following that same line of analysis if you think the data set is sufficient?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, wasn't it you who posted the quote from Acta saying it makes more sense to play a guy who will be with the team long term than play someone who is leaving at the end of the year? I like that. I know Acta at one point was a highly thought of manager candidate. Then he was given some mostly bad teams.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Yep. And completely agree with that last line.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks John, I already was not convinced that Girardi is the best guy and you just reinforced it.

  • Your arguments are well researched and cogent, but your premise is all wet. It is not the primary task of the ML manager to develop talent it is to manage the team. Girardi's record in that department is exemplary. Sveum wasn't very good at it IMO. Development is done on the farm. Championships are won in the bigs. We need a winner for a change.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Did you not listen to any of Theo's comments? Right now it is all about development and much, much less about winning games/managing teams.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    I am using Theo's statements as to what he is looking for in a manager and development is at the top of that list.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I just updated with part of Theo's statement that talks about developing prospects.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think I get that, I just don't see it as the critical role for a manager. Theo is in charge, and whatever I may think, he'll act according to his plan. I feel his honeymoon will be over after next season. maybe the team will become competitive, About .500 is what that means to me. Ifit isn't I think Theo will have to answer some questions.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    You may not think that, but Theo straight out said it's a priority.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hey John,

    How much do we attribute player development rightly or wrongly to a manager instead of the respective FOs w/ their player development plans and staff?

    This just seems like it is an impossible argument to every state for sure either way. I mean, what if Girardi was great with player development but NY--as a team whose main roster building strategy is blank checks in FA--has a crappy minor league development plan/staff (as a hypothetical)?

    How do we quantify if a guy is good or not, especially when we can skeptically question if X player is just super talented and was going to become a super star no matter who was his manager?

    What is our gauge for determining if a candidate is great at developing players (as opposed to the player's talent, drive, etc and/or the team's player development staff/plan)?

    From all the rhetoric about Girardi in the last couple of weeks, it almost seems like it is impossible to quantify. Can this be so?

    FWIW, I read a quote from Tony LaRussa on player development with the Cardinals, and he seemed to credit a lot of their success in player development to the vets and the support staff of retired players hanging around the team.

  • I have posted similar things over the past week or so. Girardi has not track record of developing guys. He has a track record of winning a lot of games with the likes of Rivera, Jeter, ARod, CC, Texiera etc.

    This could wind up exposing Theo/Jed of their first MAJOR mistake. They have fired Sveum after only 2 years. If they bring in another guy to develop young players, what happens after another 2-3 years when the guys are developed and we learn that the new Mgr can't manager games. Do we go get someone else.

    Theo/Jed have not had a detractor to date and fans, for the most part, have followed their lead. This hiring may start to cause some cracks in the foundation.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I really like what this FO has done, but the Girardi pursuit would not be something I'd get excited about. He's a safe pick in many ways, but that doesn't make him the best one.

  • fb_avatar

    100% agree with this article, John. Jist didn't have a way to put it withput sounding like a debbie-downer. All the candidates you listed + Brad Ausmus would be better fits in my opinion. We need someone who's not afraid to throw the kids out there everyday and stick with them through the ups and downs.

    My biggest gripe with dale was his handling of the media, constant Castro ripping, and "playing favorites", which is fine if you don't make it so blatantly obvious. So I'd like a manager who can excel where Dale failed.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Thanks Marcel. This has been stuck in my craw for awhile but, like you, I didn't know how I wanted to approach this subject.

    Definitely need someone better than Dale when it comes to communication and development.

  • Agreed. Great piece. I'm hoping for Mr. Alomar.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Thank you Wastrel.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    I agree he has all the talents needed to be a top manager.

  • fb_avatar

    I am sure Epstoyer knows all of this too, further proof that a Girardi hire is more likely owner-influenced than many want to believe. It is also entirely possible that the old "Cubs Way" has infected this ownership like the last - i.e. "We're in on the biggest names to generate the buzz, but we're not in 'enough' to actually acquire those individuals."

    They did say money was not an object, so we'll see. Joe Girardi was one of my favorite players. My feeling is I don't want to lose that respect for him if he fails as a manager of this team. If that's the case, bring me the former-catcher-turned-manager to be named later, though I am not sure that the Cubs choice will actually be a former catcher - many sure have seemed to make that the actual priority over things like player development, etc.

    Maybe George Mitterwald is available.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I don't believe for a minute that that the managerial hire will come from ownership. First, I doubt that the Ricketts' would over rule their hand picked President of Baseball Operations. Second, I doubt that Theo would sit still if ownership interferes. The next manager will not be influenced by owners, fans or media. He will be selected by Theo and his staff. Period!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Canter:

    There is no way, NO WAY, that the ownership would be pushing Girardi on Epstoyer and we wouldn't know that through leaks to the press from the front office.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ken Roucka:

    But it has been suggested by numerous sources. It's not like I came up with this stuff. And to 44slug, I am 100% with you. I do not believe that Epstein will sit still if Ricketts interferes. But you cannot say with certainty that the owners will not have a say so in the hiring, which by the way, will not be Girardi in my opinion. But I have been incorrect before. And ken, who are the leaks you are speaking about? Are you suggesting there is a mole in the Cubs organization? Seems far-fetched to me. I think any organization leaks what it wants to as a deflection, not as a statement of intent. It is a matter of leverage after all.

    Look I worked for the Ricketts at TD Ameritrade on the Market Making side of their Derivatives Desk for five years after they bough the company I worked for. I know exactly how that family goes about its business.

  • fb_avatar

    Making me an Alomar guy here, John.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Ha! I'm not even sure who my other candidate is yet. I just know I'm not cocksure that it's Girardi. Maybe it is, but I think it's a question worth asking.

  • Excellent article which exposes how desperate the media is for content these days. They latch on to a well known name without really thinking through it like you did. I think the best reason for Girardi's supposed Cub interest is that the Yankees are headed for rough waters with their age and lack of young talent. They also can't make it up by overpaying free agents nowadays. The karma is coming back for the evil empire.

    It sounds like Acta is a great fit for the job.

  • In reply to peabodydg:

    Thanks peabody!

    I think we've all assumed he is great working with kids, but evidence doesn't support it. And it certainly doesn't support him having such a large lead.

    And when Girardi has had veterans he can count on, the kids haven't been getting playing time. They're either on the bench or they're traded.

  • fb_avatar

    Are we sure the Cubs really want Girard

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Seems like it.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I don't think the FO really wants Girard, but asking the Yankees for permission to talk to him was almost mandatory, and they were safe to do so knowing what the Yankees response would be.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I'm right now going with the theory that this is coming from above the FO.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    No way. You're talking about the guy who walked out on his dream job after winning a WS because ownership was meddling. And he's going to put up with that after 2 years from the Cubs? No. Way.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    You're looking the wrong way. Meanwhile, agent Steve Mandell and his client Joe Girardi are laughing at the prospects of cashing more Yankees checks.

  • Bloomie makes a good point. Plus, who is to say Girardi will not be good with young players. Cubs historically do better with big name manager because it is such high profile assignment. I say we go after Joe as plan A.

  • I am still hoping Jose Oquendo gets some interest.

    I think you have some good points but I don't agree with you on not being a good fit. I still think it makes Theo look dumb if we don't get Joe.

  • Thanks John for your research and thought provoking article. Go Cubs.

  • In reply to John57:

    Your welcome...and thanks.

  • fb_avatar

    Couldn't an argument be made that the Cubs are (or will be) a team of special circumstance?

    With a top farm system, an upcoming top pick, a couple should-be stars, not to mention potential for money to spend in the future that's pretty special.

    You make some good points but that's a pretty pedestrian list of prospects for the Yanks. Even while they were in the minors most of those guys weren't that highly thought of.

    I'm not saying Girardi IS the guy or he definitely can develop young players, just that maybe its not his fault Austin Jackson sucks.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    We can make that argument, assuming the Cubs talent will turn out fine, but why does that make Girardi such a clear choice? He wasn't experienced at the time, he had no choice but to play with talented young players. The Cubs are likely to have more veterans than the Marlins did, so you have to worry that he doesn't squeeze out the kids in favor of veterans -- especially since he's mostly worked with veterans since taking over the Yankees.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    And Austin Jackson is pretty good.

  • Seems like they all have some kind of flaw. Acta didn't win in Cleveland; Hinch didn't win in Arizona. Alomar Jr. isn't sabermetrically inclined. Maybe one of those guys is the next LaRussa, Weaver, etc.

    But at least Girardi has a ring. Also, kind of irrelevant but Ivan Nova has turned out better than expected there.

  • In reply to TheMightyGin:

    I'm in the Alomar Jr camp and part of it is because he isn't sabermetrically inclined. Advanced metrics is a part of todays baseball and can be helpful but it seems to be getting over used. If he's a great leader, teacher, and communicator the he has the top three things he needs to be successful (besides good players of course). He can also help the young Latin American ballplayers adjust to the culture shock they may experience. He can always get a bench coach who is saber-savvy and can give him any information when the situation dictates.

  • John, I think you sold me on Sandy Alomar, Jr. when you first brought up the name a few articles back over all candidates INCLUDING Girardi. Your comments here seem very well thought out, but then everything you write is well thought out so no surprise there ;-)

    The past couple days it seems like the national media is saying it's Ricketts pushing for Girardi instead of Theo and company. Then this morning an article from espnNewYork says "a source in the Yankee's organization" says Theo wants Brad Ausmus, while another article says Theo doesn't want Ausmus and Ausmus isn't interested either. At this point it makes me wonder how much is just hot air being blown by the Yankees to stir up trouble for the Cubs management as well as leverage against Girardi? I mean really, how would someone in the Yankees know what Cubs ownership things?

    I live in NYC now and hope the Yankees fall flat on their face regardless how all this shakes out.

  • As with anything with a manager, it's difficult to say what always begins and ends with him. Which managers are good developers of talent? And why? Well, we know Lou Pinella wasn't because he preferred playing veterans. But are Tony LaRussa and Joe Madden great developers of talent, or are they solid beneficiaries of a very well honed development pipeline? But what does make for a good manager of young talent are three things: 1.) Instills confidence, 2.) Commands respect, which allows him to be listened to by the young players, and 3.) Allows young players to play through mistakes. In the first half of 2013, Sveum obviously lost Castro - perhaps because of Castro, perhaps because of both of them. Castro's agent was calling the FO and complaining about comments by Sveum in the paper. Castro also wasn't happy with his performance and, until his high profile mental gaffes later, seemed eager to blame someone else. What you get with Girardi (and I too don't think he's our lone silver bullet here, but think he would be the best option all things considered) is someone who commands respect and eager ears. Winning World Series as a player and manager will do that. Also Girardi is far better with the media and players than when he was a first-year manager with Miami; however, in some ways, he had an easier situation in NY managing many seasoned veterans who were also his former teammates (Jeter, Rivera and Pettite). So it wasn't hard to maintain respect in that clubhouse when the team leaders are also your good friends. But if the Cubs sign Girardi and Rizzo & Castro don't further develop, then we do know that the problem is all with them.

  • John, great job! Love the statistical backing. This really just proves what you and I have discussed on numerous other occasions... The manager has very minimal impact in the final W/L record. Much like the QB in the NFL, they will receive too much credit when things are going good and too much blame when things are bad. Girardi is no different. He's great and all, I admire and respect him. But this is just media/fans over-reacting to name recognition. The one thing that he may have an absolute edge over other candidates is the handling of veterans & the media. He's not likely to let them rattle him or coach through them like Sveum did early on.

    Let's just find the best TEACHER that will be consistent with what Buckner, Duncan, Kelly, etc. are teaching in the minors and spend our money on a LH power bat or two to compliment Rizzo & Castro.

  • fb_avatar

    The Cubs asked permission to talk to Girardi and were told "No!" Now that the sycophant fans and press have been appeased, the Cubs can get on with the business at hand.

  • The definition of "development" is what is causing different opinions.

    I don't think the cubs are asking the new manager to recommend different batting stances to the players. This is more of a grammar school development

    When they talk development I think its more a college type developmental environment. It's creating a consistent message. It's asking player what their goals are and keeping them accountable.

    - Imperative that we create the best environment possible for young players
    In Sveum's second year at the helm was that players were getting "different signals from different directions
    - Communication skills will be emphasized.
    - A manager who is "dynamic something that the low-key Sveum was not.
    - someone who is "creative"
    - "tremendous energy."

  • In reply to ucandoit:

    The communicator/leader argument coupled with coaches doing much of the teaching is one of the better ones for Girardi as a development guy and it is one I considered. Maybe when all is said and done, he is the best guy to do that. And since he is the organization's top choice, I hope that he is. I'm just not convinced and I'd feel more comfortable if they look into this more.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    To the casual ignorant fan (such as myself), it could seem that the best of both worlds is to 1) develop the strongest minor league development plan & staff as possible, 2) hire someone fitting UCANDOIT's interpretation of what they're looking for (especially someone who is relational and knows when tough love and accountability are needed), and then 3) surround that manager with great coaches (like McKay) who then do the bulk of the major league player development (more like fine-tuning).

    The quotes could seem to suggest that perhaps Dale was trying to be too hands-on and not let his support staff do their jobs??

    Just some thoughts.

    Then again, if our basic assumption is that managers don't really make much difference in the course of a game, then focusing more on player development would seem more appropriate. That said, even as a Cubs fan, I've always admired the cerebral managers like LaRussa.

  • fb_avatar

    John, I'll tell you why I feel Girardi would be an excellent choice to lead the young Cubs moving forward. Girardi is a leader. The reasons he was asked to address the crowd the day Kyle died are the same reasons he is a quality manager. He is respected. He is a clear communicator and people trust him.

    When Girardi essentially told the crowd, "Go home. I can't tell you why, but something bad happened and you'll just have to trust me." They did. 40,000 people trusted him. There was no grousing, they did what they were told. Why? Because Girardi is a born leader who was trusted and respected.

    He may not be the best at "developing" talent. He doesn't have to be. Development can mean a lot of things, but Girardi isn't being hired to tinker with someone's swing, he's being hired to be a leader. He's meticulous, prepared and professional, and doesn't need to resort to gimmicks like a bunting contest with participants that aren't even ball players.

    With Girardi, there will be no doubt what's expected of the players, and there'll be a real leader at the helm, showing them what it means to be a professional. No circus, no games, no BS.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Those are some good points, Mike. I will say, there hasn't been much conversation over who should get more credit/blame between the managers and coaches. It seems as if McKay and Bosio got most of the credit for player improvements -- maybe we need a leader as a manager and excellent coaches for development?

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:


  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    The arguments that you, ucandoit and mmucatsball are the ones I find most compelling and I knew sooner or later there would be a great counter response on this forum.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks John, and thanks for starting the discussions with great articles and sticking around to interact and discuss with the fans. I know I'm not the only one who appreciates your accessibility.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    "With Girardi, there will be no doubt what's expected of the players, and there'll be a real leader at the helm, showing them what it means to be a professional. No circus, no games, no BS."

    This is an excellent point. Might be worth doing for this reason alone.

  • Nice way to play Devil's Advocate, John. Gotta see it from all angles. I still think Joe Girardi would have been a perfect fit in 2007 instead of Uncle Lou. Cubs had a good group of veterans as well as young guys like Hill, Pagan, & Soto.

    But I will say this, no matter what Theo said in his statement, he still needs to give him a look. Bring in for some coffee and chit chat. I'm not saying they should hire Girardi, but I also wouldn't rule him out. I'm with you, though, I won't lose sleep over it if he stays in NY, I lost enough sleep when Cubs decided to go with Uncle Lou instead of Joe in '07. They should conduct their interviews and if they feel they have interviewed a better candidate to lead this team, then they should make him an offer and not wait if NY will let Girardi talk to "other" teams.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to lokeey:

    Thanks for mentioning Pagan. One of the biggest Hendry blunders, in my opinion, was signing Fukudome and then trading Pagan back to the Mets for basically nothing.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I remember most everyone thougth that was the right move at the time. I would be alright with Girardi but I wonder if he is worth the cost.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    Thanks...and I would agree. I'd be okay with Girardi if they felt his leadership skills could direct the MLB staff in the direction the FO wants to go. As long as that all jives, I'm good.

  • I've always looked at the manager's staff as the ones really developing the players. The manager is more about putting them in the position to succeed and keeping the clubhouse a positive place for them to grow, rather than doing the actual skill development. That would lie on the shoulders of the Bosios and McKays. I know every manager is a little different with respect to how they run things, but I think a lot of them are this way. How often do you think TonyLa's influence on a player was by tweaking a swing or a pitcher's mechanics? How often do you think his influence on a player was putting them in a position to succeed in a clubhouse that had great communication and chemistry? I think the latter happened more often.

    To me the manager's top priority will be communication. As far as development, I think that lies more on what staff the new manager would bring over. Rothschild will never allowed back, so would Bosio stay? McKay? Would the FO want Girardi's staff coming over to develop our young players? Would Girardi want to come to the Cubs if he can't bring them? These questions are the ones that I think need the most attention. One man is not going to be relied upon to develop the young players, it's the crew that comes with him. My point, Girardi is fantastic at what he does, communication in general and putting players in a position to succeed. His staff on the other hand, does not come off as developmentally savvy like say, a St.Louis or TB staff.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    The Cubs are a team that works with a consistent, unified message when it comes to things like development. It's the managers responsibility to convey that message. For that you need to have leadership skills, a working knowledge and understanding of development philosophy, and the ability to convey a unified message. I think Sveum lacked two of those qualities. Girardi is good with at least two of those.

    And I don't know if Girardi's staff is lacking. Pena is known in the industry as a guy who works well with young talent and we may not love Rothschild, but he had some success with young Cubs pitchers.

    I think the question needs to be asked. If you prioritize development, what has Girardi done to prove that he's the guy to lead that at the MLB level? And even more to the point, what has he done to make him far and away the best candidate?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree, and I don't think he has done anything to distance himself from the pack as far as development. I his defense, he has been given high level MLB players to manage and had success, and that came at the expense of the young players he was given. He dealt with a pretty bare cupboard most of his tenure in NY. It was just a completely different situation and clubhouse/organization atmosphere that I don't think can be accurately compared. This just shows that he is somewhat unproven at developing young talent, not poor at it, but that does not bode well for his fit in the Cubs system either. Like you have said though, he is a great communicator. It's extremely difficult to quantify a managers development of young players. Like many of the posters have stated, it's not about tweaking swings and mechanics. It's about understanding the game better, staying ahead of the opposition adjustment curve. That being said, I think the best way to predict player development by a manager at is how well they can communicate and instill that and whatever the FO's message is to the young players. Because Joe is known as a great communicator, this may be what the FO sees in him that will make him able to be a great developer as well. Great communication made him able to adapt and be successful in both very different situations he has been in. If the FO does have interest in him, I think this is why. I don't personally think he is head and shoulders above the rest, but he has a bit of a lead IMO.

  • fb_avatar

    Even if Girardi had great prospects when he managed the Marlins, shouldn't he get credit for their success? The Cubs are going to be having a bunch of major prospects coming up. Girardi, while a small sample, seems to do just fine with them.

    The biggest thing I took away from Theo's speech was not that he wanted the manager to actually develop the kids, but to put together one uniformed team. I believe to Theo, communication is key. Ideally, if the minor league system did its job right, most of the development will be done before Girardi even sees the players.

  • fb_avatar

    Great piece, John. You have actually convinced me to root for someone other than Girardi.

    I feel Manny Acta is a perfect fit. I'm surprised he's not getting more consideration from the media, even as a supposed plan B. And I really like the fact that he's Dominican. Thinking of all our hispanic prospects and young players, I feel they'd be able to communicate better (a) in Spanish, if necessary, and (b) with someone who has a more vivid idea about what their backgrounds are like.

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    I think Acta is an outstanding fit and haven't been able to verify that he is a candidate other than the Wittenmeyer article that says the Cubs will look into him.

  • I dont think everyone is looking at Girardi the right way. Every season has has gotten his team to "play as expected".

    No Arod, No Cano, No Jeter. Still got 85 wins. Every year his teams play to their potential and sometimes a few guys play above.

    Thats a top shelf manager in my humble opinion.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to HankW:

    I couldn't agree more...I think there are only one or two other managers that I would prefer to have over Girardi

    Joe Maddon
    Ryne Sandberg (yes, I know it's the fan in me, but it's the truth)
    Tito Francona

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to cking6178:

    Apparently, I need to learn how to count....should've said 2-3 managers.

  • In reply to HankW:

    No doubt. He's a very good manager. I certainly didn't mean to convey that he wasn't.

  • Whoever they hire must have open eyes about managing the Cubs. Lou P. was recently quoted on the dynamics associated with the Cubs and how he wasn't really prepared for it. And thats a guy that had been around baseball for decades.

    I like Girardi for a lot of reasons, and one of them it his experience and track record in the market with the brightest spotlights and the highest expectations. That has to count for a lot, given all the moving parts with the Cubs.

    That said, Girardi would have to have a lot of faith to take the Cubs job. I don't think NY is in a great position with the retirements, AROD, aging team, etc. - but the current Cubs team is 80% projection.

    My guess, Joe is managing the Cubs in 2014 with a 5/$25M contract.

  • Great argument, John. You articulated what I think a lot of us are concerned about with regards to Girardi.

    My question is, if "There are no absolute criteria", as Theo states it, then why isn't Ausmus being more seriously considered? After all, he does possibly have that "other on-field experience" that is being prioritized. I hope he at least gets an interview.

  • I think guys like acta and alomar are getting serious consideration from the FO but the media is going to report the bigger name so girardi is all your going to hear. What bothers me is this mindset by media and fans that the cubs have to have girardi and its a failure if they don't get him. For me I like alomar and acta more than girardi, I hope girardi stays with the yankees.

  • Tyler Colvin, future hall-of-famer, is a free agent.

  • fb_avatar

    John, all salient points, but I agree with Bloomie. I understand Theo's priorities, as well. My thoughts are simply that Girardi is a superior manager to Sveum and has a proven (successful) track record of managing in the bigs....perhaps it has been Yankees management that has hampered the development of the Yankees farm system - i.e. ownership imploring Girardi to win at all costs, instead of allowing a young talent to develop & make mistakes (thus grow). I live in Houston, TX - though moving to Charlotte, NC in a week - and I'd certainly throw a party if the Cubbies are able to land Girardi & I believe that he does deserve the media hype that is being thrown his way...

  • fb_avatar

    I can't believe nobody has pointed this out, or at least I haven't read anything where somebody has pointed this out, but how is Girardi's relationship with Cano? Any chance we could pillage the Yankees' top two commodities?? I'm sure that would put a HUGE smile on Theo's face...

  • In reply to cking6178:

    And a huge smile on Cano's face when he starts cashing that check for $280M!

  • John is knowledgeable and our voice of reason, but my gut says GIRARDI. Logically or not the other names leave me in despair. Once Joe is off the market, I'll take a look.

  • I know this is thinking way ahead of where the situation is right now, but do we have any idea what managers like Girardi, Acta, Alomar, Hinch, or Ausmus would bring into the mix as far as coaches go?

    I'm assuming Girardi would want to bring Pena and maybe Rothschild with him. I don't have time to research it, but I'm wondering what kind of info we have on what coaches the other guys have had in the past (and how they are generally viewed in light of the criteria the FO is using in the managerial search)?

    I'm guessing that those coaches' track record of success (or failure) in communicating and furthering the Cubs development process could have just as much impact on a manager's success as the manager himself.

  • I think it depends on, do we want another 2 year manager, 5 year gm, 10 year owner. If so , what the hell does the name mean anyway, on the other hand if the Cubs want to make a 4-6 committment to a manager to guide the team from where they are now to where we all want to be, then I say Girardi is the best choice available. In a perfect world his contract with the Yankees would end around 2015- 2016, reality is, this probably the only time the Cubs have a shot at getting him, so I say, go all and get Girardi now...

  • fb_avatar

    I agree with the article John but when you listen to what Theo said about what he's looking for in his next manager everything pointed to Girardi. He has set himself up for dissappointment with the fan base if he doesn't land him.

  • Regardless who is manager, the Cubs need to hire a Hispanic coach in a prominent position to interact with the Spanish speaking players, who are an increasing segment of baseball rosters. I think one of Castro's problems was that nobody on the coaching staff could really relate to him. In essence, Soriano was his coach, and when he left, Starlin was without a mentor he could relate to.

  • I've read several comments in this thread saying something to the effect that people are no longer sold on Girardi. Just out of curiosity, where is the evidence that any of the other candidates mentioned have 'out-developed' Girardi at the major league level?

    To me, the overall tone of Theo's comments are that they're looking for an experienced manager that a young team will respect/grow with since the Cubs are bound to have several really young teams in a row. Not that they're looking for a player development guy. Girardi did a nice job with a young team in 2006. If you go back and look at the ages of all of his players you'll see that Brian Moehler (age 34) made 21 starts and Joe Borowski (35) & Matt Herges (36) carried a big load in the bullpen. Other than that, you had Willingham (27) and Olivo (27) and every other regular guy was either 22, 23, or 24. 78 wins with a team that young is not easy especially when you're playing a lot of Braves and Phillies.

    The Cubs are about to have two or three teams in a row that are really young and they need a manager that has built-in respect. I think Acta would be a really good choice as well. I think its pretty clear at this point that they're going to make Girardi a big offer. I'll be glad if he takes it but he's not the savior. A number one starter and a prime years middle of the order hitter will be the saviors. Even when Baez and Bryant get here, we're not going to "win" if those guys are hitting 3 and 4. We might win 78 games.

  • espnchicago radio just said Mike Maddux has said he's interested in managing the Cubs again ...

  • In reply to eastcoastcubbie:

    Interesting. I don't think he'll be as strong a candidate as last time. Criteria seems to be a bit different.

  • In reply to eastcoastcubbie:

    It'd be nice if he could bring his brother with him.

  • i agree, considering how the cubs have some finesse like pitchers in the system, Greg could be very interesting. Could be good to help the mental aspects with Shark.

    John, is Mike Maddux known at all for developing players/pitchers?

  • I think evaluating how a manager facilitates player development is much more qualitative than quantitative. (Strange coming from me, I know.) The type of learning environment he creates through good communication and having each other's back, playing young players more than Sveum did, helping them adapt their approach when the league adapts to them, the slow disappearance of mental mistakes from their games, that sort of thing. That's why I have just no way to judge these managerial candidates. Just don't know enough about them to know how good they are at these things. I'm not a big fan of Girardi personally, but he could be fantastic at these sort of things for all I know, and that would completely change my opinion. My first impression of Hinch is that he isn't a strong enough leader to hold a clubhouse, and Acta and Alomar, both intriguing, are almost complete unknowns to me. It's frustrating because the examples we could use to intelligently judge these candidates' shortcomings are just the sort of things that most clubhouses will keep from the media.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    These are all very good points. And yes, we can only make assumptions because we dont know everything that the front office does (though I did ask other FO personnel from other teams about candidates for a previous article)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    This was a great article. I wasn't criticizing it at all. Just frustrating that it's such nuanced and largely "keep it in the clubhouse" information we'd need to really judge these guys.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Oh, I know. I liked your response.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Excellent points. We have no idea what goes on in the clubhouses and any team worth their salt will keep their problems there, rather than running to the media.

  • While I have my doubts Girardi will wind up being the manager of the Cubs, I have no problem with it, if it does happen. A good manager is important but good players are more important. For the most part, a managers job is just about keeping people pointed in the right direction and buying into his system.

    As Stengel said, "The key to being a good manager is keeping the people who hate me away from those who are still undecided". There's an awful lot of truth in that.

    Any group with 25 guys, plus DL people, Coaches, etc., is going to have it's share of cliques and folks who have differences with each other. Most times, winning makes people overlook their differences and losing magnifies them. A manager is in many ways, a baby sitter, and the one who can get the kids to behave and get along (or at least tolerate) each other, is likely to have the most success.......

    ......assuming of course he has quality players. No manager can win without the horses.

  • This article is why I love John's out- of- the- box thinking. Gardi may not be the best choice for development of our oncoming prospects. A good manager, yes indeed, but the Cubs just aren't a win-ready team at this point. Personally, I like Brad Ausmus, but then again, I liked Dale Sveum.

  • Maybe Epstein should get a dart board.

  • Very intriguing point about Girardis development history.

  • I feel like one of the things that has made teams like the A's good is the fact that they have an excellent motivator at manager, and an excellent staff for developing players. Most of the managers of playoff teams are great motivators who have great staffs. I think a lot of this depends on who we add to the major league staff to go along with Bosio and McKay. Excellent coverage by the way!

Leave a comment