No sense in beating around the bush. Dan Berstein’s tweet says it all:
I'm told the #Cubs have been informed by Joe Girardi's camp that he will listen if they want to talk. Indeed they do.
— Dan Bernstein (@dan_bernstein) September 27, 2013
Well, actually, does it say it all?
Before you go too far, let me expound on what exactly this tweet is saying. First, at its most base level, it tells us that – according to Bernstein’s sources – the Cubs want to talk to Girardi, and Girardi wants to talk to the Cubs (well, technically that he’ll “listen” if the Cubs want to talk … but making that distinction, to me, is merely a negotiation tactic, if there’s a distinction at all).
How much does that really tell us? Maybe not as much as you might think. Mutual interest in talking is not the same thing as mutual interest in officially joining up.
Girardi is an impending free agent, and an attractive managerial free agent at that. He’s fresh off of a deal that reportedly paid him $3 million per year to manage one of the best teams in baseball, a job he did reasonably well. Like a 27-year-old slugger coming off a 1.000 OPS season, Girardi would be foolish not to explore free agency now that he’s gotten this close. “Talking” to the Cubs could simply be about wringing the best possible deal out of the Yankees.
That leads us to how this kind of information comes about. Did the Cubs reach out to Girardi’s camp via back channels (he’s still under contract, and direct contact is impermissible) to find out if he was interested in talking once the season was over? Or did Girardi’s camp present this information apropos of nothing? If it’s the former, well, then there’s genuine interest by the Cubs. If it’s the latter, there might not be a ton of interest by the Cubs or by Girardi. It could just be a leverage play, and the Cubs are merely doing due diligence.
And that leads to another wrinkle: timing. Maybe the Cubs do have a little interest in Girardi, but also are fine with bringing Dale Sveum back for his final contract year. If true, the Cubs might want to “talk” to Joe Girardi as soon as the season ends so that they can get a sense of where he stands before they make an official decision with Sveum. That, of course, is a sticky situation, and one that could be difficult to accommodate – especially with the collective eyes of New York and Chicago upon the entire process.
Further, what if there are other candidates the Cubs are considering? If so, that means, even if they know that Sveum is a goner – which has not been established just yet – wanting to talk to Girardi could simply be a matter of the Cubs wanting to talk to a number of possible managers.
In the end, there’s a whole lot you can parse from and analyze into one little tweet (which may be why I love Twitter – because I love parsing and analyzing!). It may not tell us quite as much as we’d think at first blush, but there’s a nugget of something here.
Assuming Bernstein’s sources are correct, of course.