As one of the most popular yet unsuccessful ball clubs in history, the Chicago Cubs have endured some painful times that stretch over decades of heartache and disappointment.
With the hiring of Theo Epstein and the dismissal of coach Mike Quade, the Cubs are going with a clean slate in 2012.
And frankly I think that is exactly what the struggling organization needs to do.
After three months of delegation, the front office situation is settled. But it should take a lot less time to find a new head coach for the Cubs.
There are plenty of names flying around the rumor mill and some recognizable faces headline that list. One thing is for certain though, and that is Epstein has plenty of demands for his new manager and knows exactly what type of man should lead this team.
Let’s examine the top five candidates that could possibly lead the Chicago Cubs in 2012.
Joe Maddon is a familiar name in this league and his easygoing and laidback personality could provide a dynamic that has been missing from the Cubs’ club house for years.
The current Tampa Bay Rays coach has taken a dormant expansion team and turned them into contenders in arguably baseball’s toughest division, the AL East.
With plenty of postseason experience, Maddon fits every detail that Epstein is looking for in his next manager. He is a player’s coach who is adored and respected by every single person in this league.
Perhaps a spotlight position working as the Cubs manager, where the fan base and revenue is one the strongest in the league, may give Maddon incentive to move north.
Coming off another stinging defeat in the World Series, Rangers’ pitching coach Mike Maddux has proven experience in this league and his name is pretty high on Epstein’s priority list.
After having so much success with the Rangers, taking full-time managerial reigns is next on Maddux’s agenda.
He has one the best baseball minds in the game and can surely add knowledge to a woeful Cubs’ pitching staff. Also, if Epstein is able to hire Maddux, sources say his equally successful brother Greg may join him on the coaching staff.
A manager is only as good as his help around him, and if the hiring of Maddux brings in further big names to add assistance, I would say that is a pretty massive coup for the Cubs.
Another “locker room guy”, Sveum is well liked at the Brewers and would provide familiarity for Epstein.
Sveum was the Brewers’ interim coach in 2008 and has play off experience under his belt. He is interviewing for other jobs but is expected to entertain the prospect of coaching the Cubs.
Plus how sweet it would be for the Cubs if they were able to pluck a quality coach right from a divisional rival?
An obvious name that has been generating heavy buzz, the two-time World Series champ could possibly reunite with Epstein in Chicago.
Francona would take no time to adjust to Epstein’s demands and could certainly provide a winning attitude in a losing organization.
But if Francona is hired, Chicago fans are going to expect the same success he brought to Boston. And while Epstein has reiterated his ideology on success, hiring the former Boston coach is a massive step in such directions.
Epstein and Francona were able to end the perilous drought in Boston, and if they team up again, who says they can’t spark that magic once again?
If the Cubs cannot land Joe Maddon, then Dave Martinez is another terrific option.
As Maddon’s right hand man, this would be no slouch of a runner up prize because Martinez is being courted by every team looking for a reliable manager.
A former Cub himself, Martinez gets the highest praise from Maddon and is destined to be a hit as a coach. Epstein has been keeping tabs on him for a very long time, and the wisdom he has acquired under Maddon is the biggest selling point for Martinez.
The Cubs need a coach who is familiar not only with managing but with the subtleties and tendencies of the club, and as a former player Martinez can add that dimension.
There are without a doubt a bunch of other possible candidates for the Cubs managerial position.
Chicago is looking to get this done as quickly as possible, and having so many people in mind enables Theo and his team to find the absolute perfect fit for this club.
I chose the five best options for the Cubs based on my own opinion, and if there are other names that are linked with the spot, please voice your opinions.
There is plenty of issues that need to be addressed at Wrigley, and it starts with leadership. After a rocky 2011 season, Cub fans are eager to see who they land.
I agree with Epstein's approach when it comes to selecting his next manager. The Cubs need substance and support for an extended period of time, and hiring someone without proper credentials goes against everything Theo has in mind for this organiziation.
Whoever the Cubs land, the pressure on that person is going to be monumental. The Loveable Losers are sick of their reputation, and are anxious to get their hands on a World Series.