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.