Obsessive Manager Watch: Ibañez Out, Espada Praise, Cubs Needs, Bizarre Philly Process, More

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Obsessive Manager Watch: Ibañez Out, Espada Praise, Cubs Needs, Bizarre Philly Process, More

Chicago Cubs

Lots to get into tonight on the managerial front around baseball, and with the Cubs, who have three interviews on tap this week (David Ross, Will Venable, and Joe Girardi) …

  • If you want an additional taste of why Astros bench coach Joe Espada is a hot name, read this piece from NJ.com. The guy has worked in the Yankees front office, was a Yankees coach under Girardi, and has been the Astros bench coach under A.J. Hinch, a guy who himself has worked in multiple managerial roles and multiple front office roles. Espada also worked as a coach and a minor league instructor in the Marlins system before his time with the Yankees. If you’re looking for a better on-paper candidate who doesn’t have a connection to the Cubs, I’m not sure you’ll find one. Here’s hoping the Cubs get a chance to interview him when the Astros’ run is up.
  • Do you think Gerrit Cole is telling Espada the secret to throwing 100 mph darts and humbling off-speed pitches:
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
  • In his latest Q&A, Mark Gonzales talks a lot about the open managerial spot, and shares this bit on David Ross to dispel some of the notions out there about him being too close to the current team, and/or too warm and fuzzy: “As for Ross, I’ve written it once, and I’ll write it again: He’s not afraid to get after a player. I saw him get after Anthony Rizzo after Rizzo botched a rundown drill during one of Ross’ first spring workouts in 2015. Rick Sutcliffe has told a story many times about Ross getting after Starlin Castro later that spring.” It has always been my impression that if folks believed Ross is a “chill” type like Joe Maddon, that is not quite an accurate take.
  • Speaking of which, one of the other internal candidates, Mark Loretta offered some specifics on what he thinks the Cubs need, and it illuminates perhaps some of the differences between him and his former manager: “We have had a lot of optional hitting practice and fielding practice,” Loretta told 670 The Score. “That’s something we should take a look at as well to see if that actually makes sense. There are certain training times when players need to be on their own. Team concept and team-building exercises and getting together in practice more often are very valid.”
  • It’s not hard to see in there shades of wanting to dial back on the “chill, do your thing” vibe that worked so well for the Cubs in 2015 and 2016. That’s not to say the Cubs are definitely looking for a hardo, but maybe a little firmer hand is part of the change in voice that is coming.
  • A good read out of San Francisco on possible candidates for their opening, which gives you additional background on some names you likely haven’t heard much about.
  • One name on that list, though, won’t be hired by anyone. Dodgers special assistant Raul Ibañez, perennially speculated about for any opening, is declining interview requests this year. The Cubs could have been a team that would want to talk to him, but it sounds like he digs being able to mostly live in Miami while working for the Dodgers, spending time with his family. The deep, demanding grind of managing isn’t for everyone, or isn’t for some guys at certain stages of their lives.
  • Hey, remember the Phillies? Yeah, they *still* haven’t made a decision on Gabe Kapler. Part of the problem, from where I sit? It’s the OWNER making the call, not the baseball operations crew (Philly Inquirer): “According to a source, team owner John Middleton has sought input from members of the roster as he nears a decision to fire Kapler or retain him for next season. Middleton has spent the first eight days of the offseason trying to determine if Kapler will remain the manager for the final year of his three-year contract. A decision is expected sometime this week. General manager Matt Klentak, who a source said last week is not in danger of losing his job, has vouched for Kapler. But after two disappointing seasons, Middleton is looking to gather more information. And that is what led him in recent days to feel out the players. If the opinions from the clubhouse match what the players said publicly about Kapler during the final week of the season, the manager has a chance to survive.”
  • Maybe I don’t fully understand the dynamics of the Philly front office, but that process just sounds utterly awful. The owner is chatting up the players to decide whether to fire the manager? Seriously? It immediately makes me wonder who is running the show over there, how much power baseball operations does or does not have, and how involved the owner gets at every level. Maybe he’s great at it. I don’t know. But I do know that *most* of the successful organizations out there in all of professional sports have owners who know what they know, know what they don’t, and know how to put the best people in charge of making decisions like managerial hires and fires.
  • Meanwhile, the Maddon-to-the-Angels train still seems to be chuffing along:


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.