All the rage over the past few offseasons has been the willingness to give first-time, young baseball minds a chance at their first managerial gig. From recently-fired Andy Green and Brad Ausmus to super-successful Aaron Boone and Alex Cora, the mantra of letting former MLB players or baseball minds jump right into managing a team is sweeping the league.
For both Green and Ausmus, their regimes heading up the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Angels were both rather unceremonious and lacking the flair that they were thought to be bringing to the job. Whether they both received a fair shake in the deal or not is another story, but both are now out of jobs after failing to bring each of their teams any sort of postseason occupancy.
For the Chicago Cubs, their mindset seems to differ from the vast majority of the league, as they have stuck with old-school managerial options, most recently Joe Maddon, who was given the boot during the final week of this year’s regular season. That decision was validated or not will be a decision that is determined down the road, but early signs are that they gave up on a guy who took this team to the playoffs in four of his five seasons at the helm in Wrigleyville.
Now the betting favorite to take over for Ausmus in Anaheim, Maddon’s tenure as a jobless manager should be one of the shortest this winter. To replace Maddon is going to determine just how well this team bounces back from missing the playoffs in 2019.
If the team was to keep with its old-school mantra for its managers, then a former New York Yankees manager would turn into a candidate that would make too much sense for this team going forward (and no, not Joe Torre).
Joe Girardi, who has had to deal with many different types of personalities during his tenure as the Yankees’ manager, would be able to slide right into the void left by Maddon and hopefully right this shop before they are forced to cast certain players overboard.
Rumors of Kris Bryant being shopped this winter are very real, and even if the trade does not happen, just the constant rumors of his eventual departure from the only team that he knows is enough to ruin any team’s chemistry.
With Girardi, his experience dealing with the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and countless other mild-mannered personalities in the Bronx will certainly help the chances of this team staying together more than tearing it apart.
The reported interest between the two parties remains hard to corroborate, but the likelihood of Theo Epstein at least kicking the tires on the chance of Girardi being interested should at least cross his mind. Having many seasons of experience managing a high-expectations, sometimes low-output team is valuable for any manager to have, especially with how Girardi has turned that experience into championships and World Series banners.
If the Cubs want to compete as soon as 2020, then Girardi should be their first choice. While by no means a sexy pick by any stretch of the imagination, he would instantly bring a sense of stability to a team desperately in need of meeting their “passionate” fans’ needs to become a yearly postseason competitor.
With a payroll like the Cubs currently have, their title window must be now, otherwise, this kind of spending will face harsh criticism down the road and may make it more difficult to justify. Girardi is the guy that can help manage expectations, couple them with results and keep both sides of the equation happy.
Plus, his experience easily outweighs any sort of contribution that the other popular candidates, David Ross and Mark Loretta, both bring to the table.
If you want to compete, bring on Girardi – it is really that simple for the Cubs.