And just like that, the Cubs were back down to five candidates for manager.

Not a day after acknowledging that Terry Francona was indeed a candidate for the Chicago Cubs’ open managerial position, the Cubs are going to have to go back to believing he’s not.

That’s because Francona – perhaps spurred by the rumors in the last 24 hours, perhaps spurred by a discussion with Theo Epstein – today said he will not be managing for any team in 2012, including the Cubs.

“When I interviewed in St. Louis, I was genuinely excited about it,” Francona said this afternoon. “St. Louis was such an exciting opportunity. But we were all beaten up at the end of the year, and after [interviewing] I took a step back and began to look at things realistically.

“I’ve talked to Theo numerous times. We both know each other well enough where we can be honest with each other. I don’t think it’s the right opportunity.

“I need to take a step back and re-energize. That’s probably in my best interest right now. In fairness to myself, it’s the best thing to do.”

The remaining Cubs’ candidates are Phillies’ bench coach Pete Mackanin, Brewers’ hitting coach Dale Sveum, Rangers’ pitching coach Mike Maddux, Indians’ bench coach Sandy Alomar, Jr., and Red Sox’s bench coach DeMarlo Hale. The Cubs have been in contact with all of the candidates since they interviewed, and are expected to meet with Sveum today. Follow-up with the other candidates is expected to continue throughout the week.

A decision could come as soon as late in the week, or early next week.

Francona’s removal from consideration, ultimately, isn’t the worst thing in the world. While experienced and successful, Francona would have come with a little baggage, a hefty salary, and an unshakeable feeling that the Cubs weren’t so much the Cubs anymore, as they were the Red Sox West. That last part wouldn’t bother everyone, but it would have bothered some.

  • Mike F

    Pretty damn impressive day. By the end of the day, they have been linked to 5 or more quality free agents including both Fielder and Pujlois and Darvish and the defector. And add to it, while the media has a lot of this jumbled, very intriguing comments from Hoyer about having to let agents and players know you’re interested if your serious. it’s pretty impressive. They seemed engaged in ways you rarely see organizations. Very impressively working to an end.

  • BetterNews

    Good night BN members—And always remember, BetterNews “is” better than bad news!

  • Rob Samuelson

    Logically I know Sveum is a great hire, but I’d hoped for Maddux. I envisioned him lopping off half a run or more from the team’s ERA and got all tingly in the nethers. I’m still excited, but pitching is still the team’s weakest link, so I hope Sveum has some good ideas for who he’d like to join as his pitching coach. We know Riggins won’t be back.

    • BetterNews

      Rob—Be assured your in good hands with Sveum. Can’t say that about Allstate, but yes Cubs are getting a good one if Sveum is the man.

    • BetterNews

      How do we know Rig will not be back?