If the Chicago Cubs are going to make a managerial move this off-season it is going to be for someone who can make big impact now and for the future. A guy with good name ID who will be great at developing players. A guy who can develop young talent while still being equally fair to veterans. I guy who preaches fundamentals, follows the front offices same direction, who is a players manager as well as a disciplinarian. The only way the Cubs cut the ties with Dale Sveum and the current staff is to find someone who fits this mold I laid out. Otherwise replacing Dale just does not make baseball sense.
Right now there are a few managers who fit the bill well but who will likely not be made available this offseason. Those managers are Terry Francona, Joe Maddon (my personal favorite), John Farrell, Buck Showalter, and Bruce Bochy. Below is my list of managers that have a decent chance to be available during this off-season that the Cubs front office would likely be interested in.
A guy who has worked with Jed Hoyer in San Diego and is known as a good manager and pitching coach. Black is in the final year of his deal but still has two options. There is talk the Padres may let Black walk and go in a different direction. Black obviously has experience managing a younger team sprinkled with veterans so that is a huge plus for the Chicago Cubs. Black also comes with good name recognition and his preaching of fundamentals and player development is 2ndto none. This story here has a quote I love regarding Bud Black view on managing. He says
“I think your style sort of changes a little bit based on your personality. The daily conversations are different. There's much more of a teaching aspect now than with the '07 group, and even the '08 group. Really, it transitioned last year to one, a younger team where we had a lot of teaching that had to take place. Which I think if you ask anybody in the (coaches room), we love. We like that, and I still view myself as a teacher to go along with the leadership role. But I like that part, talking the game to players about strategy, about technique, about fundamentals ---- all those things that have to take place on the field, the thought processes in the dugout, the preparation. I love that.”
There is also the benefit that he has been a really good pitching coach and a pretty good manager on a team with payroll restrictions. Although Bud Black isn’t exactly young I think he may be a good fit for this up and coming young team.
I talked in length about Mike Maddux hereback in June. Here is what I said
Now what I have always learned is if you have a problem you fix it. By laying out a problem without a solution all you are doing is venting, which changes nothing in the end. So my solution is…. Hire Mike Maddux. If you all remember Mike Maddux was thought of as the Cubs first pick for the management position but then it came out he wanted to stay in Texas. Then we heard he was not offered the job’ then we heard he was but turned it down. All that is hearsay now but the reason Mike stayed in Texas was a big one; family. Mike Maddux currently has all his kids in a college in Texas although some will be graduating next year which brings me to why he may now jump at the chance to coach the Chicago Cubs. At the end of Dale Sveum’s contract Mike Maddux will be ready to once again entertain management vacancies (or maybe before then) because most of his kids will be graduated or a year away from graduating college. He will be more open to moving to a new location, new life, and new challenge.
But why Mike Maddux you ask? Well obviously he is a favorite of Theo and Jed since he went through the interview process. He fits more of the mentality that Theo and Jed are looking for given this quote on Sabremetrics in an ESPN piece wrote by Jon Greenberg in 2011 “It's art. You can make some things out of them. But there's a lot of real stuff to them also. Good numbers don't lie. Bad numbers can be a little deceptive. You use all the information you can, but when it comes down to it, you got to trust yourself, trust your players and try to put your players in positions where they can succeed.”
I suggest everyone to re-read that article and you will find out just why he is the perfect manager for this team to move toward the ultimate goal of a World Series Championship. Another huge plus by hiring Mike Maddux is the motivation and drive for Mike Maddux to work with his brother Greg. The feeling is mutual but Greg wanted to again spend time with his family before jumping into baseball full time once again. At the end of Dale Sveum contract Gregg Maddux will be out of baseball full-time for over 6 years and recently Greg has been slowly getting back into baseball working with the Texas organization. This means he could be looking for something more full-time around the same time Mike Maddux is looking for a coach on his staff.
The timing of Dale Sveum contract which is only 3 year total in length and the time of Mike Maddux kids to get through school seems like a lucky coincidence but we do not know what took place in those meetings between Mike Maddux, Theo Epstein, and Jed Hoyer. I am not implying that they have a secret deal under the table or anything like that. But what I am saying is all three men are smart and if Maddux said something to the effect of “if this was three years later, I would take the Cubs job in a heartbeat,” that had to be a factor with giving Sveum only 3 years when the President and GM each have 5 years on their contract (something that is rare). A good businessman always looks years ahead and plays out each and every scenario he/she can think of. Theo and Jed are good at what they do and if they think the Maddux brothers might be available in 3 years and Mike is the guy they actually wanted; then hiring Dale to a 3 year deal make sense. I am assuming they just wanted to see what Dale can do in 3 years in Chicago to see if he is the long term option (which is smart). Well if you are in the place I am in then you think he is not the long term option. And oh what do you know after 3 years (or sooner) Mike Maddux looks like he available for the Chicago Cubs new Manger vacancy.
Mike Maddux seems like the perfect package for the Cubs… almost.
Not much to say here that is not already written by better writers than myself. So I will provide the links to their thought on Mr. Girardi-
You know it is just not like me not to weigh in so here I go. It is extremely hard for me to be fair when talking about Joe Girardi because I have a bit of a man crush on him. I supported Jim Hendry and Co. hiring him the last time he was a free agent but the front office went with Sweet Lou which at the time I was very heated about but in the end you can’t really blame Hendry going either way. Joe has been a favorite person and player to me because of his devotion to Chicago, the Cubs, and its fan base. He is energetic, stubborn (in the right way), good with young players and great with the veterans. He is a former catcher so he knows the ends and outs of the game plus he has experience dealing with Chicago as a whole. I feel Joe Girardi would know what to expect because he has been here and done that. He has experience with the Cubs devoted fan base, he has experience with the Chicago media, and he will openly admit his admiration for everything Chicago. Mr. Girardi has done a lot for only being a 48 year old skipper. He has guided a extremely young 2006 Florida Marlins team to a 78-84 record and was in the wildcard hunt even with the lowest payroll in the league that year. He was named Manager of the Year that year and then promptly fired by micro-managing owner Jeffrey Loria. He has now proven he can manage an aging veteran team in the Yankees just as well. Although his first year he did not make the playoffs his team finished a fantastic 89-73 and in 2009 he lead the Yankees to their 27th World Series. But probably Joe’s best two seasons is the one he is having currently and the 2011 Yankees when they were expect to struggle throughout the year. In 2011 and this year Joe has shown he can manage and succeed with whatever a the front office gives him. Sure he still has superstars but with the aging and banged up team that had Granderson, Cano, ARod, Texiera, Youk, and others all being bit by that injury bug he is still in the wildcard hunt this season. A feat that is beyond amazing.
There is no question that if Joe becomes available he will be looked at closely by the Chicago Cubs. In fact I am saying right now the only way he leaves the Yankees is to come Chicago. His love for the team, city, and fans is 2nd to none; no other team can compete with that.
The only way I am advocating Dale Sveum being fired is if there is a suitable replacement out there is off-season that the front office knows they want and can get. The front office is great at analyzing every angle and I am sure they already have a short list of guys they are willing to fire Dale over. The three guys above I feel will not only be possibly available but I believe they are 3 guys on that short list of coveted guys. These 3 guys embody everything the front office and the Cubs are looking for to take the northsiders to the next level. I honestly think that if Mike Maddux or Joe Girardi and to a lesser extent Bud Black are out there looking for a manager position and the Cubs have a great shot at getting one then Dale Sveum will be let go. As it stands right now I think there is a 30% chance Dale Sveum is fired but as we know those odds can dramatically change from day to day.
Until Next Time….