Who’s Your (New) Daddy?
Submitted by Rob G. on Wed, 10/11/2006 - 11:28pm
The Cubs are without a caretaker for the first time in four years and Teflon Jim has been busy gathering the greatest minds in baseball, letting them know what a privilege it would be to manage the worst team in the N.L., for a franchise that hasn't won anything in 98 years. You've got your work cutout for you Jim. God Speed. Some of us TCR-folk (kind of like river folk) had a little chat on the candidates: ---- 1) What's the most important question that Jim Hendry needs to be asking the candidates in their interviews? Rob G. - Know any good places to eat? (just kidding) "What are your methods for preparing the team, not only on a daily basis, but to withstand the rigors of a six to seven month season?" I'm going to cheat here and throw in a second question - "From an outsider's viewpoint, what were the most obvious mistakes this organization has made over the last four years?" AZ PHIL- "What makes you think you can do a better job than the three previous permanent managers (Riggleman, Baylor, Baker), or to put it another way, what (if anything) did they do that you would have not done, or what did they not do that you would have done?" Ruz - "Pop quiz, hotshot: It's the bottom of the first inning. The leadoff man is on first. Ryan Theriot, a pretty good bat-handler is at the plate. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?" 2) What's the most important question the managerial candidates need to be asking Jim Hendry in these interviews? AZ PHIL - "What exactly is your plan to improve the team this off-season?" Ruz - "Will management spend the money that I know they have in order to give me the players I need to compete at the level that the fans of this team expect?" Rob G. - "Which current members of the team are going to stay, who are you targeting this off-season and how much will we work together to shape the roster?" 3) Give us your thoughts on the rumored candidates: A) Joe Girardi AZ PHIL - I believe he would make a better Player Development Director, GM, or Team President than a manager. I don't think he functions well taking orders from above, probably because the stupidity of club executives drives him crazy. Ruz - Seems to be a good motivator. His hard-nosed attitude would be a welcome change, and surely he spent enough time watching Joe Torre to know that there is more than one way to build a winning team. Still, I worry that hiring him would be too much of an Alan Trammell-ish sop to nostalgia rather than a way to bring the team to the next level. Also, he's too bunty. Rob G. - My doubts have been tempered with some of the recent quotes I've read from Girardi. While his in-game management sounds a bit questionable, it sounds like he posseses what I feel are the two most important traits of a manager. The ability to get the players to respect him and the ability to adjust to the talent given to him. Of course we'll have to see if that's true. B) Lou Piniella AZ PHIL - Another Dusty Baker. Not the right guy for the Cubs job at this time, partly because he had problems in Tampa Bay and didn't do much to help that franchise change its losing culture. He would be a good fit with a team like the Yankees or the Red Sox, or maybe the Mariners again. Ruz - You know, he wouldn't be a terrible choice. He has shown an ability to be flexible, and as cranky and "fiery" as he seems I get the feeling people like to play for him. You know, "Tough But Fair." He might enjoy the challenge of trying to put this team over the top. Rob G. - I never really had a problem with LouPa the manager, which is quite the opposite on how I feel about LouPa the announcer. He's kind of a blowhard and I'm sure he's very old school in his mentality, but he seems to demand the best out of his players and they seem to respond. This team certainly could use a little bit of an attitude change from the previous headmaster. C) Bob Brenly AZ PHIL - A nice guy who would maybe be effective following a control freak like Buck Showalter in Texas, but I don't think he is particularly sharp and he is not demanding enough of his players. Ruz - I think Brenly might be too nice for this team, which needs a bit of a fire lit underneath it. Rob G. - Big Joke Bob can stay in the booth or go babysit Barry Bonds for all I care. He was a disaster in Arizona whenever Randy Johnson or Curt Schilling weren't pitching; hired to loosen up the clubhouse after the uptight Showalter left. And for the love of Abner Doubleday, he used Tony Womack as his leadoff man. D) Bruce Bochy AZ PHIL - Not all that special, but he is familiar with National League personnel and knows how to manage a game in the N. L. without doing too much stupid stuff. Ruz - I know little about his managerial style, other than the fact that he's managed to stay in San Diego for twelve seasons, and after the first back-to-back playoff appearances in franchise history, he might get fired. That means he's either a good manager who is being underappreciated by management, or a bad manager who keeps his head down and stays out of trouble. Rob G. - For a guy managing for eleven years or so, I know little about him. I do know he batted Brian Giles second quite a few times and there were whispers of moving him to the leadoff spot if Dave Roberts left, so I'm guessing he's got some brains. I can't imagine you last as long as he did without a whole lot of winning if you don't know what you're doing. E) Mike Quade AZ PHIL - Because he has managed in the Cubs organization, Quade might be the best choice if the Cubs choose to rebuild in 2007 and try to develop their own players and pitchers, which I very much doubt will happen. Ruz - The Cubs are not in a position to reward an organizational solider, even a talented one, with the reins to the team. If they were going to blow up the team and start over, Quade might be a good choice, but if they're going to mostly stick with what they have and try to re-tool, they need someone with major-league managerial or coaching experience. Rob G. - Fine by me, at least he'd be cheap and since he came from the A's organization at least he's heard of OBP. Of course, maybe he left because he didn't agree with their methodology. But unless Hendry wants to spend the entire offseason answering questions on why they cheaped out on the manager search, it's better to pass on him. F) Pat Listach AZ PHIL - Needs to manage another year or two in the minors before I would even consider him. Ruz - See E. Rob G. - Hey, I'm the token minority candidate that has to be interviewed to fulfill MLB rules. Thanks a bunch for wasting my time. Have a good day. 4) Out of the rumored candidates, who's your pick and why? Rob G. - I would have said Bochy, but late word from the radio is that the Padres denied the Cubs request to let him interview. That's okay because Joe Girardi has grown on me. I'm completely un-enamored by John McDonough's plea that the next Cub manager understand the Cub way (too many jokes there), and the hiring of Girardi may look like just a way to placate the fans, but I can see great things. I think it's fair to assume that Girardi will have this team prepared every single day and be a tireless worker for the team he grew up loving and the team that originally drafted him. If by getting the Cubs culture means understanding how much harder this team needs to work to finally deliver a championship, then I'm all for this link to the past. Ruz - Piniella, I guess, but I'd really like to see the Cubs take a long look at Ron Washington. He's a guy who is uniformly loved and respected by everyone in the A's organization, who deserves a chance to manage after years of coaching, and who might have the perfect temperament to lead this particular team. AZ PHIL - BRUCE BOCHY: I disagree with John McDonough when he says the Cubs need a manager who understands the Cubs culture, the team's fans, and its history. What the Cubs REALLY need is an outsider to run the team, someone who brings a new perspective to the organization. I don't think Bochy's personality is forceful enough to change everything, but at least he's an outsider, and at least he hasn't run the Padres into the ground by doing anything stupid. BOTTOM LINE: No matter what he might say, I suspect McDonough is more concerned about protecting the Cub "brand" than he is with winning, and Hendry is most concerned with just being competitive. Winning must come first. There must be a "Commitment to Excellence." -- Well those are our thoughts, now time for you guys to weigh in.