Well, so much for that. While it was always a long shot, Joe Girardi always appeared to be at the top of the Chicago Cubs‘ wish list to replace Dale Sveum. Earlier on Wednesday, it was announced that Girardi will sign a four year contract and return as manager of the New York Yankees. With their top choice off the board, what’s next for the Cubs?
Girardi was born in Peoria, Illinois, which is very close to Chicago. Because of this and his longtime connection to the Cubs, I am sure he thought long and hard about leaving the Yankees to manage the Cubs. That being said, being manager of the Yankees is familiar to Girardi, and he obviously thought it was in his best interest of him and his family to stay put. This move was far from a surprise.
Now, the Cubs can completely move on and try to make a hire that fits well with the organization. The Cubs have struggled mightily the past few seasons, but there are some intriguing young players on the major league roster, and they have one of the top minor league systems in the game. Make no mistake about it — the Cubs will have plenty of options to choose from as their next manager.
When the Cubs fired Sveum early last week, president Theo Epstein told the media that the team would be looking hire a manager with “managerial or other on-field leadership experience” and that they will “prioritize expertise developing young talent.”
On the surface, his 372-518 career managerial record leaves plenty to be desired, but to be fair, Acta did not have much talent to work with in both situations. He was the manager for both Cleveland and Washington during their rebuilds, similarly to what Sveum was for the Cubs.
Acta has a great reputation around baseball as an advance statistics guy, which would certainly fit in well with the Cubs’ front office. Also, Acta does have the experience in developing young talent that the Cubs are obviously looking for.
The other two names that have been mentioned the most are both currently with the San Diego Padres. A.J. Hinch is currently the head of the scouting department for the Padres and was the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009 and 2010. His record with the Diamondbacks was 89-123 before he got fired during the 2010 season.
Similarly to Acta, the Diamondbacks were in the middle of a rebuild when he was manager, so it is hard to blame him too much for the poor record. The Cubs have reportedly already spoken to Hinch.
The other member of the Padres who seems to be an option is their bench coach Rick Renteria. He has no major league managing experience, but he has managed teams in the minor leagues and he was the manager for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. From his time in the minor leagues and coaching the young Padres, Renteria has had plenty of experience with young players.
Epstein and the Cubs will surely do a very thorough search as they try to land their next manager. Other names will probably surface, but I expect this to be wrapped up quickly. Right now, I would say that Acta is the leader in the clubhouse, but it is far from a done deal.
The new manager will probably not be a household name like Girardi, but that does not mean that he can’t be a great manager. With their track record, I trust that this front office will make the right decision.
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