The most intriguing managerial position is back on the market and will certainly draw interest from even the most entrenched managers.
When Dale Sveum was first hired, it seemed he would be in for the long haul through the transition process. There was a lot of work to be done, players to study and project and players to further develop already in the big leagues. Though the team's prospects at the major league level took a step back in development, the Cubs' top prospects in the organization are climbing faster than anticipated.
While Sveum's firing was a shock to some, the Cubs may be looking at someone who can take big strides with the team's changing dynamic. Cubs president Theo Epstein doesn't think the coaching turnover will affect people's desire for the position. According to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com, Epstein had this to say:
The talent in this organization will do all the convincing that we need. I think there’s a real dichotomy (with) how we perceive things here in Chicago, living through this every day. I’m not just saying the media – us in the front office, too.
While Yankees manager Joe Girardi appears to be the early favorite, it will be an incredibly difficult and complicated process just to speak with him. Did I mention it will be expensive?
Girardi is a fan favorite who would fit nicely with the Cubs. However, his ties to the city are marginal at best since he left to be a coach in New York and Miami.
Let's take a look at a few other options.
Bench coach Ron Wotus is one of the most respected coaches in all of baseball. Having spent 25 years with the San Francisco Giants organization—on the major league staff for the past 15 seasons—he has years of working with young players and seeing the fruits of their labor.
Wotus may be seen as a seemingly unknown candidate, much in the way Dale Sveum was seen when he was on the Cubs' radar. However, he brings playoff experience and has worked with young talent who have grown into superstars.
It's not exactly the criteria you look for in a manager at first glance, but the coaching experience is there in the minors and for over a decade with the Giants.
The Cubs' managerial opening may be the one opening that would convince him to leave the San Francisco Giants.
Former Cleveland Indians manager Manny Acta has a long history of managing that dates back before he became the Washington Nationals' manager in 2007. He coached in the Dominican League with success, taking the Tigres del Licey to the Caribbean Series championship in 2004. He also managed the Dominican WBC team in 2006.
His first coaching job came after eight years of coaching in the minor leagues when he was signed to be a coach under Frank Robinson's Expos, holding the position until 2005. After that, he worked as a coach under Willie Randolph's New York Mets.
Acta has worked on good coaching staffs and has always been regarded as a leader with a good eye for talent. He has a .418 win percentage, one of the lowest in history, but he would likely jump at the task of managing the Cubs.
A.J. Hinch currently works in the San Diego Padres' front office, but it wasn't too long ago that he was the surprise pick to be the Arizona Diamondbacks' manager in 2009. He only lasted about a year, but he was not a complete and total flop, and he has been praised around the league for his skills and eye for talent.
The Cubs are looking for someone like Hinch to develop the young talent and help them make strides toward establishing themselves again in the NL Central. Someone who has managerial experience as well as player development experience would go a long way, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune:
There is increasing talk in baseball circles that Padres assistant general manager A.J. Hinch could loom large as a candidate if the Cubs don't receive permission to talk to Girardi, who is under contract with the Yankees through October.
Consider him a legitimate candidate if Joe Girardi stays in New York.
Cleveland Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar certainly fits the bill in terms of the experience and expertise that the Cubs are seeking. A players' coach and a leader on the field his whole career, Alomar has worked with Manny Acta and now Terry Francona, who was manager under Theo Epstein with the Boston Red Sox. According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, he also will be able to connect with some of the team's young Latin players:
The ability to communicate and work with young Latin players, in particular, will be of critical importance as the front office rebuilds its field staff, starting with the manager, those close to the process say.
Wittenmyer goes on to suggest that Alomar may be plan B in the event the Cubs can't pry away Joe Girardi.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi may become one of the highest-paid managers in history this offseason. With the Yankees eager to sign him and the Cubs eager to speak with him, Girardi could find himself in the middle of a bidding war for his services. Throw in the possibility that the Nationals may also target him, and there is a really good chance Girardi kicks off the MLB Hot Stove.
Girardi is off to a great coaching career; he was named Manager of the Year in 2006 with the Miami Marlins and won a World Series in 2009 with the Yankees. He has coached young talent like Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson and worked with the superstars in New York.
So far, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, the Yankees have not granted the Cubs an opportunity to speak with Girardi. The Yankees have about a month to work out an extension with Girardi before he is free to speak with other clubs. They hope to have a deal worked out before then.
However, if he becomes a free agent, expect him to be the Cubs' highest priority.
Do you think the Yankees let manager Joe Girardi hit the free-agent market? Feel free to comment below.