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It feels like the GM search all over again: Friday morning, and I’m putting together a round-up of relevant search tidbits. I love it.

  • There was a bit of a hullabaloo late yesterday over comments Theo Epstein made about former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona, with whom Theo worked for years in Boston. Strikingly, Theo said, this: “Tito and I have spoken regularly since the end of the season,” Epstein said. “We actually spoke today. We are going to sit down together and see if it’s a fit. Clearly he would be at the top of anyone’s list as available managers. That’s probably true of any organization looking for a manager with experience and who is a proven winner. He has to be at the very top of the list. I think he has to figure out if this is right for him, and then as we continue our process and figure out where we are headed, we have to figure out the right fit in this organization, too.” And that’s the entirety of his quote, if you’re reading ESPNChicago’s account. From it (and the title of the article, “Theo Epstein, Terry Francona Talking”), you’d assume the job is Tito’s if he wants it. That’s, like, huge news. So why isn’t anyone else, besides SportsCenter, running with it?
  • Oh, yeah. The rest of what Theo said: “I’m not sure [Tito is a fit here], and Tito’s not sure it is [a fit]. I already brought in two guys who I worked closely with at the Red Sox in Jed [Hoyer] and Jason [McLeod]. This doesn’t need to be the Boston show recreated in Chicago completely. I think for my growth as an executive, maybe it’s the right thing to work with a new manager, maybe for Tito’s growth as a manager it’s better to work with a new boss. As I mentioned when I left Boston, you don’t want to live in the past. Eight years, 10 years is a long time to be at one place and with the same dynamics.” And now it sounds like maybe Tito would not get the job, even if he wanted it. Context and complete quotes, people. It’s important.
  • Also: I love that Theo said that about the “Boston Show.” This guy is not tone deaf to the beliefs and feelings of his fan base – rational or not – and it is appreciated. For what it’s worth, Theo said *if* Tito became a candidate, he would not have to interview, for obvious reasons. Dave Kaplan argues, strongly, against Francona getting the job, primarily because of how things ended in Boston.
  • The Cubs will be interviewing Phillies’ bench coach Pete Mackanin today. Rangers’ pitching coach Mike Maddux is the only other candidate currently lined up for an interview, and he’ll be coming in some time next week when he’s over a bout of laryngitis. Of the opportunity to interview with the Cubs (and Red Sox), Maddux said, “I’m humbled to find how highly some other organizations feel about me. Unbelievable to hear those two teams have interest. Both storied franchises, both full of tradition, synonymous with history, ballparks that are shrines. And they have great fans year after year.”
  • So, why does Maddux need to be over his laryngitis before interviewing? Because the interview process sounds more like trying to get a Rhodes Scholarship than a managerial job. The interviews will start with a conventional, sit-down meeting, before devolving into a long, intricate process of having the candidate address simulated game situations, complete with rosters (both teams), statistics, player usage, and other relevant external factors that might influence the decision-making process. Sometimes Theo and Jed want answers immediately, and sometimes they give the candidate a period of time to develop a thoughtful, reasoned response. Sometimes, Theo says, they’ll even get in the candidate’s face to create pressure.
  • From there, the candidate gets to go home, rest, and lick his wounds, right? No. He has to face the media. Immediately after the interview. And facing the media is part of the interview process. I can’t tell you how pleased I am by this process, particularly the media piece. I’m not sure all candidates (or players or GMs) quite understand what they’re getting into by coming to Chicago, or understand what it will be like to face this particular media group, before making a decision (both by the candidate, and by management). This can only help that process.
  • Back to the candidate – multiple sources say Brewers’ hitting coach Dale Sveum will be interviewed next week (though Tom Haudricourt says the Cubs haven’t yet asked for permission), and the Cubs are still considering Rays’ bench coach Dave Martinez, Indians’ bench coach Sandy Alomar, Jr., and Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale. If that list sounds familiar, it’s because – together with the initial two – it’s the same list I guessed a couple days ago. But remember my caution: I’m not saying I’m a genius, or even that insightful – these “lists” and “reports” have a way of fulfilling themselves. Everyone thinks guy X is on the list, and suddenly, everyone is reporting that guy X is on the list. Maybe I’m prescient, but it’s more likely I’m simply good at guessing who everyone else is going to be guessing.
  • Another way to guess the Cubs’ list? Get your hands on the Red Sox’s list. Because Theo Epstein participated heavily in the construction of the Red Sox’s desired-candidate list before departing for the Cubs, it’s natural that there is overlap. But, so far, the presumed first three interviews are identical (Mackanin, Maddux, Sveum).
  • The Sandberg bullet. Theo said yesterday that all was well between he and Ryne Sandberg, whom Epstein told would not be considered for the Cubs’ job. Sandberg will instead be interviewing for the Cardinals’ open job, and departed manager Tony LaRussa is a big fan. Billy Corgan, a big Cubs fan whose Smashing Pumpkins are my favorite band (so you watch what you say), was pretty irked that Epstein did not give Sandberg a chance to at least argue his own merits. Fair point, but what Billy (my sweet Billy – I totally gave you a high five after a concert once) doesn’t recognize is the fact that the Cubs cannot bring Sandberg in for an interview and then not give him the job. The cries of execration, right or wrong, would be deafening. The new Cubs’ brass can’t afford to destroy the goodwill they currently have, and, if they don’t want Sandberg, the best move is to just not interview him at all.
  • As anticipated, the Cubs do not expect to pursue any sitting managers for their open spot.
  • When Theo and Jed pick their man, he will meet with the Ricketts-comprised Board of Directors for final approval. That will not be an issue, and indeed, is barely worth mentioning.
  • I think it would be hard to argue that Theo and Jed don’t already have a favorite in the clubhouse, even before conducting interviews. Whom that candidate is, however, is anyone’s guess.
  • Fishin Phil

    So this lengthy, structured interview process means we’re not just going with our “gut feeling” anymore??

    Strange days indeed!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m not sure I understand the franchise anymore…

    • http://www.calliopevoices.com The Big Mustafa

      As someone who defended the “gut instinct” approach for many years, and now tries very hard to NOT live by it, I heartily approve of this response.

  • Brandon – AA Correspondent

    Have the Bud Black talk died down? Have the Cubs asked for permission? Or is this dead?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Cubs aren’t looking at sitting managers, and the Cubs agreed not to take any other high-level Padres’ personnel as a condition to taking Hoyer and McLeod. So, between those two factors, I’d say it’s died.

      • JasonB

        I also read an article where Hoyer states that Bud Black will not be the manager of the Cubs.

  • Edwin

    This sure beats the old system of choosing a manager by having bat stuck in a stone with the inscription “Who so Pulleth Out This Baseball Bat of this Stone and Anvil, is Rightwise King Manager of Chicago (N)”

    • Fishin Phil

      Nice! LOL!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Haha. Yes. Edwin strikes again.

    • http://www.calliopevoices.com The Big Mustafa

      If we’ve already called upon and played some sort of divine providence thing, with only Soriano’s contract, Lou’s softshoe act, and Nomar’s groin to show for it…then I’m getting my Rabbi on the phone for a little chat.

  • nonesuch

    love the fact that they’re putting the candidates throught the grinder. Baker, Piniella admitted they had no idea of what it was like to deal with the Cubs media and fans. I’m liking Theo more and more.

  • Edwin

    I love the Obsessive Watch series. I can’t wait until we get to “Obsessive New Middle Reliever Watch” installment.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If Jake Peavy ever becomes a middle reliever, you’ll have it.

  • Sam

    I would love to see Mike Maddux to become the next manager. I think he can bring a lot to the table, he has been to the WS twice, and he has proven track record with good pitching staffs, also it could possibly bring Greg into the fold as a pitching coach.

    • jt

      from everything i’ve read, I’d be very very surprised to see Greg Maddux do anything in the near term that took him away from his family for prolonged stretches.

  • http://wwwbookdiplomacy.blogspot.com/ MGRyan

    For the Cubs, we could have Obsessive Virtually Everything Watch. Did Mike Maddux manage somewhere before? I was under the impression they wanted someone with Major League experience? Maddux could be a good choice, of course we’d have to get the guy a pitching staff first. Not two-three starters and a series of random warm bodies.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Major League managerial OR coaching experience.

  • Wilbur

    As many have probably read in the past a paradigm shift in an industry or organization means those beliefs and actions which made you successful (or in this analogy unsuccessful) have no value/are irrelevant in the new order of things.

    Rickett’s move to Theo was just such a shift in the world of the small bear. That’s what we are all reveling about. While it in no way guarantees success, this shift means that everything get’s done differently and decisions are made and people are selected based on a whole new set of values, skill sets and personal dynamics.

    While probably only a marginal factor in the decision about Ryno it is his connection to the old Cubs and his minor cult status among Cub fans that make him unattractive to Theo et al. Major factors being the lack of major league experience and there are a number of equally attractive alternatives.

  • johnbres2

    wow, that is an intense interview process. So I guess we will get to see Mackanin today then, huh? Will that be announced ahead of time? I look forward to seeing the videos of these “meet the press” moments. The Theo quotes are fairly contradictory of each other regarding Francona. It seems the second quote trumps the first one, and that he is not going to get this job.

  • ACS

    The nice thing about Sandberg is he knows alot of the Cubs minor league players. I would also say he has managed in pro ball. Still my choice would have to be Maddux or Francona. What happened to Jody Davis? Is he still in the Cubs system? A question I have is how come there is no statue outside Wrigley of Cubs dynasty team 1906 – 1910 as this is there winning tradition and should be displayed as the Cubs way.

  • Cedlandrum

    Who are some pitching coaches who made a transition to manager? Bud Black. Rothschild was manager of expansion D-Rays. Anyone else? It seems odd that it doesn’t happen more often.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      John Farrell in Toronto is another. It’s definitely a more recent phenomenon.

  • oswego chris

    great stuff as usual….

    wow…I couldn’t be more impressed right now with these guys…the Media part of the interview is such a great idea…as a Bear fan I have always wondered how Lovie Smith got hired when he is one of the worst people I have ever seen dealing with the media…because the Bears obviously either don’t care or don’t think it matters…it matters HUGE..I think Lovie is actually an above average football coach, but he is his own worst enemy when it comes to dealing with the media…and it reflects poorly on the Bears…

    Quade was the same way, and Lou was either past his prime or didn’t care anymore, in 2011-2012 you need a guy who will be able to articulate, expound, defend but not sound defensive, joke, spin…that’s a tall order, that’s why I think it’s wonderful that the cubs are making their candidates face the media

    • Toosh

      Lovie Smith was an above average assistant coach. But that’s not why the Bears hired him to be their head coach. Affirmative action was the reason.

      • Edwin

        I find that unfair to Lovie. Lovie had good experience with the Rams, and seemingly did a good building up their defense. I believe he also had ties to Tampa Bay, and liked to run the Tampa Two, which Jerry Angelo really likes.

        Since becoming a head coach Lovie has been a very good but not great coach. The team has gone to the playoffs a couple times, won the division last year, and even made a superbowl appearance. The Bears have also had some bad seasons sprinkled in.

        I’m not saying Lovie is some genius coach, but he’s been better than most other coaches out there. He certainly struggles with plenty of things, but so do most head coaches. I think Lovie has proved that his hiring was more than a mere “affirmative action” hire.

      • Cedlandrum

        Wow! None of that was true. He was known as the guy who ran some of those great Tampa D’s and then turned STL’s D into a pretty good unit in short order. That is why he was hired.

      • hardtop

        i know this should not be contributing to this non-cubs discussion but i will:

        jerry angelo is an idiot, that’s why lovie was hired.

        • Toosh

          Yes, there is no denying that Angelo is an idiot. It’s as plain as black and white.

  • Aaron

    Mike Maddux is a good pitching coach who has had pretty big success in lowering Texas’ Team ERA over the past few years.

    If he were able to assist with that in Chicago, they will contend. I’m a big believer that having a good pitching staff – even while not having a high run producing offense – will still put you in contention each year.

    Now, add some bats to the solid pitching… We’re looking at October baseball consistently.

    • Joe Cartwright

      Just look at San Francisco.

      • Aaron

        Yep, Giants’ team ERA of 4.38 in ’08… in ’10 (WS win), they had it down to 3.36.

        ’11 Rangers 3.79
        ’10 Rangers 3.93
        ’09 Rangers 4.38
        Nov ’08 Maddux joines Rangers
        ’08 Rangers 5.37

  • Hansman1982

    Brett, there is one word every day that makes me go wtf and execrations was it. In order for them to interview Sandberg they had to be 100% certain he would come out on top and that isn’t fair to everyone.
    Additionally, ESPN is just simply garbage when it comes to speculation and they haven’t broken a single thing for the Cubs this fall. Hell it took them 20 mins to break the Quade firing.
    Otherwise, I am impressed more and more each day on how Theo and Co. do business. The times they are a changing.

    • Dave H

      ESPN stands for East coast Sports Preferred Network. If it doesn’t involve NY or Boston, forget it.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Word of the day toilet paper.

  • Dave H

    Has there ever been a buzz like this about off season moves and hot stove reports on the Northside? This has to the greatest off season the Cubs have seen in a very long time. Theo & company have given this town such a boost. It goes to show you what a good front office and an actual method of success can do. It doesn’t really matter who’s at the helm, it will be the best we can find and what management wants. I can’t wait for the next few weeks.

    • Fishin Phil

      It helps make up for last year’s lousy regular season.

      • amoo22

        helps make up for the boringness at the 24 hour trade deadline this summer…

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Hey man, I like to think the 24 hours leading up to the trade deadline were pretty interesting around these parts…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s going to be an incredibly exciting offseason … but one that might not lead to a tremendously competitive team in 2012. Kind of ironic.

      • Dave H

        who da thunk eh?

  • amoo22

    Im not ready to jump on the theo band wagon. Yes im excited, but in the end hes just an exec. I wanna see the players he brings and so i gotta wait like 5 years then ill give you all my much anticipated opinion.

  • Spencer

    Brett, where’d you get the info from the bullet talking about how exactly the interviews work, with the getting in their face, etc? That’s pretty interesting stuff.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Theo talked about it with the media yesterday (culled it from multiple reports – mostly just his own quotes). It’s very interesting.

  • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

    I’m trying so hard not to dis the SPs…..

    • hardtop

      eek, the scary avatar returneth… i was actually really looking forward to this Halloween so we could get your most recent costume….

      • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

        This is always my costume.

  • die hard

    so next manager needs, before each move, to be quickly able to decipher computer printouts, charts and graphs in the dugout while the umpire is screaming play ball….good thing baseball doesnt have delay of game penalties….only way this will work is for there to be a coach upstairs doing all of this and then calling down to mgr as to his best options….maybe mgr needs to wear one of those football helmets with ear piece but unlike Cutler, mgr will need to be allowed to audible….cant wait to see this s#&t show…

    • Aaron

      I think the analyzing stats thing is more just part of the game simulation – like, you have this info on these players, and this situation comes up, what do you do?

      They’re looking for how this manager will think and react in very specific game situations.

      • die hard

        but since there are so many variables that charts and graphs could end up with the wrong move….I understand that they are looking for tendencies, but if anything is likely to happen less than 100% of the time then anything can happen

        • JasonB

          Yea – just because the Rays have used this system to make the playoffs 3 of the last 4 years with a $40 million budget doesn’t mean that it will work for us.

          Let’s go back to relying on “gut feel” and “instincts” – it’s worked so well for us over the last 103 years

          • TWC

            Yeah, but back in the day, ball players and managers were MEN!  Now they’re just math and statistics nerds.  Gar!  I feel emasculated!  Waaaaaaah.

          • Waveland

            Ron Washington is generally considered to go almost entirely on “gut” and “feel” when managing and I, along with many others, thought his managing in the World Series was very poor. “Pinch-hitting German with RISP….really? C’mon Wash.

            Use some stats guy!….from a guy who uses stats.

        • Wilbur

          That has to be about the worst case ever presented on why not to track and use tendencies as part of the decision process …

    • TWC

      Ah, die hard… again, missing the tree because all the leaves got in the way.

      Wait, that’s an adage, right?

      • hansman1982

        When in Rome…

  • hardtop

    does it bother anyone else that they call terry, tito? how’d you like to go through life being called your dads nickname?… like he’s the same person.  does terry have a son? will he be the continuation of tito? its like having eternal life or something.

    the real tito’s middle name was patsy, what a total drag that must have been.

    • Fishin Phil

      We could call him Cassie if it makes you feel better.

      ;)

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    The Pete Mackanin press conference will be today at 3pm (CT), after his interview with the Cubs. Remember, this is not a press conference to announce him getting the job or anything, this is so he can face the media. It’s part of the process. I don’t think I’ll be covering it live, but obviously I’ll have all the notable quotes and reactions soon thereafter.

    • die hard

      After spending the day with these mad scientists in their lab, if hes coherent will be a miracle

      • Fishin Phil

        If it works on him, maybe they’ll let you take a turn.

        • die hard

          if would clear head of smoke coming from Cub front office all should

  • DRock

    I’m ready for the managerial piece to be in place so we can get on with FA player signings. Not too concerned who the manager will be- I trust Theo and the boys to make the right decision even if I don’t know much about the guy.
    Ready to hear: “Breaking News! Cubs ink Prince Fielder.”

  • Todd

    I think Theo and co. should hire Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul to critique the press conference. Could be entertaining, no?

    But seriously, the only drawback to the press conference portion of the interview, is the gregarious candidate that lacks baseball knowledge but endears himself to the media. The media will fall in love and rally the fans around their selection, and if that candidate isn’t selected, it’s Sandberg on a smaller scale.

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