Yesterday, we learned that the Cubs have not one or two, but three internal candidates for their open managerial gig, including bench coach Mark Loretta, first base coach Will Venable, and famous Chicago grandpa David Ross. But what led to those revelations?
Theo Epstein’s press conference was this week and the topic did come up more than once during that talk. Epstein did ultimately reveal that Ross was, in fact, on the official list of options, alongside at least one other internal candidate (around which the mystery was too much to ignore). And to that end … I get that keeping your intentions close-to-the-vest is a net-positive for the organization and individual candidates alike, but if you’re going to go that far anyway, why not just go all the way and name names? Well, the answer is they kinda did. It just took time.
First, Ross forced Epstein’s hand with a couple public interviews at WGN and ESPN just ahead of the press conference (do you really think Epstein wanted to announce/discuss him?), and then Epstein kinda forced his own hand by revealing that at least one other internal candidate was in the mix.
With one name revealed and the other clue sparking speculation about whom that may be, I think the Cubs figured it might just be their best option to flop their cards on the table. After all, would it be fair if all the discussion and speculation centered around Loretta, but Venable proceeded without that scrutiny? Would it create the best, equal process for the Cubs to do their evaluation? Probably not.
I bring all this up, because there may be a bit of a lesson here. Namely: if you want your name to join the conversation both officially and publicly (like any candidate would), you might just have to force the issue yourself …
… which is exactly what long-rumored managerial candidate Joe Girardi did with an interview on 670 The Score in Chicago today. What a coincidence! Nudge, nudge, nudge.
In that conversation, the long-time former Yankees manager made sure to reveal that he “would like to manage again,” which, while generally assumed to be true (even after he pulled out of consideration for the Reds job last year), is still the first-level test. You’ve gotta throw your hat in the ring, if you want to be picked. But he also got a whole lot more specific than that, even as he almost pretended to be doing the exact opposite.
“As far as necessarily reaching out to the Cubs,” Girardi said in response to Steve Stone’s public lobbying for Girardi, “if you’re going to be a manager of a team, the team has to want you. You reaching out to them, I don’t know if it’s really going to make a big influence.”
Will Girardi literally reach out to the Cubs to let them know he’s interested? BAH! Why would he do that! That won’t help. He’ll just go on the Chicago-based radio station that broadcasts all 162 Cubs games, say that he wants to manage, and mention the Cubs specifically, by name. He would never reach out to them directly. That’s crazy!
Hey man, you gotta do what you gotta do. No judgment zone here.
All of this is to say, yes: Joe Girardi is clearly interested in replacing Joe Maddon as manager of the Chicago Cubs in 2020. His name was going to come up anyway (heck, it already had). But by addressing it both personally and publicly (on the The Score of all places), he’s more or less ensured that his candidacy will be addressed sooner rather than later – at least, I think that’s the hope.
Do you have an interview scheduled with the #Cubs?
Joe Girardi: "That I won't talk about" for any job.
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) October 2, 2019
Okay, Joe. I see you.
We’ll see if Girardi winds up a serious candidate for the Cubs, and how his time in New York and ultimate dismissal will weigh on his candidacy. There was widespread speculation just last year that part of the reason Girardi didn’t push hard for any of the openings is because he was hoping to get this chance.
P.S. He also wants us to know that he always loved advanced analytics: “They used to call me ‘Binder Joe’ and made fun of me.”
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.