On Thursday, the Chicago Cubs officially named Rick Renteria as the team’s next manager. The hire was made after previous manager Dale Sveum was let go shortly after the end of the season.
Renteria was apart of the San Diego Padres‘ staff as a bench coach for the last six seasons. In addition, he was the manager of Team Mexico in this year’s World Baseball Classic. The contract is a three-year deal with club options in 2017 and 2018. He will become the 53rd manager in the team’s history, and this will be his first chance at Big League managing.
However, in recent hires around the league, no experience is necessarily a requirement. The St. Louis Cardinals hired Mike Matheny two seasons ago, and Matheny has already reached a League Championship Series twice and one World Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers gave the job to Don Mattingly, who also made the playoffs this year. Already in the offseason, Brad Ausmus and Matt Williams were given their first managerially jobs as well with the Detroit Tigers and Washington Nationals respectively.
In the city of Chicago, the hire is not being well received at the moment. There is no rush for playoff tickets being printed currently. Fans are left without the “wow” factor after seeing losses pile up the last few seasons and a major change needed.
The Cubs interviewed a long list of candidates before deciding on Renteria. First it was Joe Girardi, who decided to stay with the New York Yankees, which was a big blow to Cubs fans’ psyche. After that, it included a thorough search featuring Dave Martinez, Manny Acta, A.J. Hinch, Eric Wedge and Brad Ausmus. While the front office is saying all of the right things that Renteria was their guy who met all of the qualities, is the hire met with a feeling of a default decision?
Since the front office was made over with Theo Epstein from the east coast and Jed Hoyer from the west coast, they have joined up in the Midwest and really are not branching out from those connections. There was a good amount of pressure on this managerial decision, and it may have been a missed opportunity to branch out from the comfort zone. Only time and development will tell.
In 1999, Renteria was the minor league manager of the Kane County Cougars, located just outside of Chicago. Kane County, at the time, was not affiliated with the Cubs, but currently are the single A club for the team at Clark and Addison. He also should be able to build a solid relationship with first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who was in the Padre farm system before being traded to the Cubs.
Renteria’s nickname is “The Secret Weapon,” and there is no secret that the Cubs are building a farm system with good, young prospects. Early returns and results will be much appreciated, otherwise, the secret could be let out with disappointment.