By Matt Spiegel-
(CBS) For the Cubs, it isn’t Joe Girardi or bust.
It can’t be.
There is doubt as to whether he’ll come “home” anyway; in fact, ask a New York beat reporter and they’ll give you some version of “no chance.”
Sourced reports in Chicago say terms have been discussed, and insist that the Cubs job may be a better one than the Yankees.
Long term, that could certainly be true.
The Steinbrenners are poised to take a financial step backwards to get under the luxury tax threshold, and the Yankees’ farm system is far from teeming with low-cost goodness. Meanwhile the Cubs are stocking their farm system, have theoretical ballpark “restoration” pending, and are plotting for a long run of relevance.
The interest in Girardi is understandable, on multiple fronts. The Cubs organization has wanted him two of the last three times the managerial job has been open. He’s both a name that would satisfy the promotional factions of the Cubs front office, and a proven winner that probably would please most Baseball Ops employees.
But his clear place as front runner, and the resultant media swarm to place him as the object of desire at all costs is dangerous.
Dale Sveum was fired because he failed at key duties in which he was expected to show competence. The “multiple voices” everyone admitted were eventually confusing Starlin Castro were supposed to be unified under Dale. Jeff Samardzija shouldn’t be fighting himself as much as he does when an inning starts to go south.
The job right now still calls for someone steeped in player development, someone who will be great at communicating the “Cubs’ Way” to what will be an increasing number of young minds on the roster.
Epstoyer had decided Dale wasn’t right for that role. It’s a failure, and an admission of a whiff.
But that admission is about Dale, not about Joe Girardi.
The other options we’ve heard don’t inspire the same frenzy.
Sandy Alomar Jr. intrigues me, especially with the influx of young Latin talent pending.
Mike Maddux was always appealing, and was the top candidate above Sveum last time. Recent success of pitching coach turned manager John Farrell in Boston, who helped with massive improvements among both starters and bullpen, make pitching coaches feel even more viable. But if Maddux still wants to keep his daughters happily in their Texas schools, then Cubs interest won’t matter.
A.J. Hinch is an unsettling name to see and hear. The stories from his Arizona stint as a minor leagues operations boss and manager are grim.
Hinch’s agent, Jeffrey Moorad, was running the Diamondbacks, and replaced Mike Rizzo with his client. Rizzo found most of the young talent that helped Arizona win a division in 2007, and has stocked the Nationals very well as their G.M..
Hinch was made a manager in 2009, with no on-field coaching experience at any level. That inexperience showed, his team went 89-123 in parts of two seasons, and players simply did not respect him.
He’d be a very tough sell.
We’ll meet other candidates, especially if Girardi stays in NYC of course. But also, if the Yankees hold firmly to their current stance to not let him speak to the Cubs until his contract ends on October 31, we’ll meet some in the interim.
Will it be some elaborate dog and pony show while they wait for the freedom to sign him?
I don’t think so. It shouldn’t be.
You fired Dale because you’d picked the wrong guy for this phase of the plan. So find the right guy, even if if he’s not the known guy.
Don’t be afraid to continue to disregard the noise; whether it’s coming from the papers, the airwaves, or across the hall.
There may be resolution as soon as this weekend, with Girardi and his agent set to meet with the Yankees again today.
Listen to Matt Spiegel on 670 The Score weekdays from 9am–1pm CT on The McNeil & Spiegel Show. You can follow him on Twitter @MattSpiegel670