Obsessive New Manager Watch: More Talks This Week, Francona Officially a Candidate

The Chicago Cubs’ managerial search has entered the “follow-up” stage of the process, with all of the candidates now interviewed. After follow-up, the Cubs can finally make a decision. Among the notes on the search from yesterday and this morning:

  • The Cubs have acknowledged that there are six official candidates under consideration: Pete Mackanin, Dale Sveum, Mike Maddux, Sandy Alomar, Jr., DeMarlo Hale, and … Terry Francona. Yes, Francona officially, and actually, now is under consideration for the Cubs’ managerial job. It’s been hinted at for weeks, with Theo Epstein bobbing and weaving around the question, saying confusing things like “not sure if it’s a fit,” and “I talk to Tito regularly.” This doesn’t mean that Francona will get the job, mind you, but he’s on the table.
  • Something to consider with respect to Francona: he would be considerably more expensive in salary than the other candidates, none of whom have full-time managerial experience at the big league level, let alone the success that Francona has had. Obviously that’s not a reason not to hire him, but it’s a consideration. When you try to get a read on whether Francona is going to get the job, you get conflicting responses from various reporters. Some (like Bruce Levine) say he’s the favorite. Others have been saying for weeks that there’s no chance.
  • Jed Hoyer, who spoke to the media from the GM meetings in Milwaukee, was careful to emphasize that there is no favorite at this point (but, like, come on: there’s a favorite, Jed. You’re just not telling us who.). “Right now, we’re just focused on getting all the answers and answering the questions we need to have answered,” said Hoyer.
  • The Cubs plan to meet with Dale Sveum today in something just short of a second interview. Jed Hoyer said yesterday that the Cubs have been in contact with all of the candidates in the days following their formal interviews, but that he wouldn’t consider the talks to be second interviews. And, Hoyer said, the Cubs don’t anticipate having any formal second interviews – just more follow-up, typically via the phone. But, since Sveum is in Milwaukee, and Cubs’ brass is in Milwaukee for the GM meetings, everyone thought it made sense to just meet in person. Sveum will also be meeting again with Red Sox’s brass.
  • Mike Maddux is still working through his family concerns, according to Hoyer. “It’s something he’s still weighing,” Hoyer said. “Those conversations haven’t gone away.” Viewed by many as the favorite, I could see this revelation cutting both ways: on the one hand, if Maddux hadn’t already been told he was the favorite or among the favorites, why would he yet need to be weighing anything? On the other hand, maybe Maddux is still weighing whether he wants to withdraw before even getting to the “favorite” stage, which would seem to make him a less attractive candidate. Family issues trump all, but the Cubs do need to make sure they land a manager who is “all-in.”

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

20 responses to “Obsessive New Manager Watch: More Talks This Week, Francona Officially a Candidate”

  1. DRock

    Sounds more and more like it’s gonna be Tito…

    1. DRock

      Ok, nevermind, just heard Tito is not going to manage ANY team next season. I now predict we get Alomar or Sveum.

  2. Justin Jabs

    When and where in Milwaukee are the GM meetings being held?

    1. Rancelot

      The GM Meetings are happening today and tomorrow (yesterday was arrival day) at the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee.

      1. Justin Jabs

        Thank you. Is there any opportunity at all for fan interaction (like autographs or anything?) I got to school in Milwaukee and it’s cool the meetings are here.

        Or would it be inappropriate to attempt something?

  3. EQ76

    I just read on fox sports that the Cubs and Buehrle’s agent have had multiple talks.. interesting. this team is probably gonna add 2 new starters next year.. I’d be okay with Buehrle coming to the north side.

  4. Fishin Phil

    My gut feeling is Maddux family wins and he is back in Texas as pitching coach next year.  I will cry a little, then move on. 

    Patrick Mooney wrote something on CSN this morning that while Theo has had repeated contact with Tito, Jed has not spoken with him.  If this is true, and if they want the GM and Manager to have a good working relationship, I think this puts Tito as longshot instead of favorite.

    1. die hard

      he intvwd with Cubs to send message to Ryan to better hire him when Washington fired or else moving on

  5. Poopypants McGee

    They better add two more starters this year. It would be lousy to have rodirgo Lopez and Ramon Ortiz start as many games as they did last season. The only thing I’d like those two to do is cook me dinner.

    1. Kyle

      Well, hopefully we won’t be so unfortunate with injuries this time around. But just in case, yes, I’d like to see some real starting pitching depth.

  6. johnbres2

    Amazing that we really have no clue about the managerial selection at this point.  It will be interesting in to see if hindsight allows to see certain signs that were given, but it sure is hard to find any.  The Maddux situation is perplexing, for the reasons you summarized.  I don’t really get why he still has not made up his mind about taking the job (if offered).  My wife and I have had to make some pretty big decisions in our lives, and I can’t say it has ever taken us two weeks to get there, when one specific question is on the table.  It doesn’t really make sense to me that Maddux has not worked out the family concerns by now, one way or the other.  He was my favorite–and the fan favorite–in this process, but it is hard for me to have him in that spot any more, given his apparent inability to commit to the idea.   If you want to stay as the Rangers’ pitching coach, just say so already!

    Also interesting that Sveum is in Milwaukee, where the meetings happen to be.  This would look like it is one of those “it was meant to be” kind of scenarios, but for the Red Sox being there too.  It seems meant to be for one of them, as Sveum seems highly likely to end up as skipper for one of the two.  Francona?  Who knows where this thing stands with him?  One gets the impression that Theo at some point might just sweep all the pieces off the table and say, the heck with it, let’s get Tito.  In addition to the expense, which you discussed, it could be tough for a manager who has been to the promised land to grind his way through a couple potentially brutal seasons with the Cubs.  A guy like Sveum (or Quade, Sandberg, etc.) would be happy just to have the job, whereas a Francona might be more like “what the hell did I sign up for?  Do I really need this aggravation at this point in my life?”  Do we know anything about Tito’s mindset in this regard?  In any event, Mackanin and Hale seem like longshots.  We haven’t heard anything lately about Alomar, whatever that means….

  7. die hard

    Tito can take year off with pay or be ready too when Ryan fires Washington

  8. amoo22

    I really believe its way too early for tito to come bask as a manager. I believe we need a rebuilding manager not someone like tito.

    I really wouldnt like to see burhele with our team. While he might be really great at being average id rather see the cubs let someone pitch who has low risk high reward. While Burhele might demand something like 4 years at 52 million or 3 years at 41 its just not worth it to see someone post a 4.0 era. I would rather the cubs go after some kind of swap for barry zito or let a AAA ptich pitch or Jeff smardizja. what do you guys think

  9. MightyBear

    This new regime isn’t going to be caught with not enough starting pitching. Love to see Buehrle and another solid starter come to Cubs. Then you have Garza, Dempster, Zambrano, Buehrle, Wells, Cashner, Samardjia, and Mr. X and a few others who can start and be effective.

    1. johnbres2

      agree totally with Mighty Bear.

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