Joe Girardi and the Search for the Next Cubs Manager

The Cubs know what they are looking for in a manager. The front office is looking for their new manager to be dynamic and creative with tremendous energy as well as a track record of developing Major League talent and while one with a Cubs’ background would help, it is not necessarily a priority.

Did Theo Epstein have anyone in mind on Monday when he detailed what the front office is looking for to lead the big league team next year and beyond?

The Cubs are expected to ask the Yankees for permission to interview Joe Girardi. Multiple reports on Monday indicated that Joe Girardi is the Cubs’ target and according to David Kaplan, Girardi is “far and away the number one choice.” Kaplan reported during his show (720 WGN) on Monday night that the front office will give Joe Girardi what he wants in order to hire him to manage the team. The Cubs are not looking to be cheap and realize they will have to recruit him in order for Girardi to leave the Yankees.

Joe Girardi is under contract until October 31 and the Cubs cannot officially talk with him about the job until then without receiving permission from the Yankees. Multiple reports have suggested that Girardi is interested in talking to the Cubs about their managerial opening, but the New York media does not think Girardi will leave what he once called his “dream job.”

The Cubs search for a new manager will officially begin on Tuesday. Epstein said that is when the team will start asking for permission to speak with potential candidates. If there is a coach or a manager currently in playoffs that the Cubs are interested in, Epstein said they would wait until his team is eliminated before contacting him about the job.

The Cubs goal is to hire a new manager before the General Managers Meetings, which begin on November 11 and run through November 13, if not before then.

Searching for a New Skipper

Theo Epstein’s message throughout his press conference was the fact the front office did not feel the young players on the Cubs’ roster were not being developed properly at the big league level. Epstein refused to name names when he was asked which players were not being handled properly.

Epstein said, “It’s tricky to develop young players at the Major League level. There has to be a clear, unified message.” Epstein feels that collectively the Cubs failed to provide a clear, unified message to the players.

Epstein pointed out on Monday that the Cubs “will prioritize the person’s track record and managerial experience and in lieu of the latter, consider his leadership skills.” But having a big name manager won’t be key in the search process.

From Cubs.com, “There’s no pressure whatsoever to hire a big-name manager. We want to hire the right manager. We’re at a critical point in our building process, where our very best prospects are soon going to be young big league players, and it’s absolutely imperative that we create the best environment possible for young players to come up here and continue to learn and develop and thrive at the big league level, and win ultimately. That’s not an easy thing to do.”

Theo Epstein pointed out that after two years running the team, he and the front office has “a better feel for the organization.” And according to Epstein, the “perception around baseball is the Cubs are coming fast, and the Cubs are coming strong.”

Dale Sveum

Dale Sveum spoke with the media outside of Wrigley shortly after the news surfaced that the Cubs let him go. Sveum said he was shocked and disappointed. Sveum explained that two weeks ago he could not imagine being fired. Sveum said the first time he had an idea that something could be wrong was after Theo Epstein’s non-comment in Milwaukee.

Sveum pointed out there “were good things accomplished” over the past two seasons and he feels the organization as a whole is 100 percent better than it was when he was hired. Sveum said he is “proud of everything” his coaching staff did and feels a lot was accomplished but the job he and his staff did was “obviously not good enough.”

Sveum added that the focus was on the Cubs’ young players while he was managing the team and acknowledged he knew what he signed up for when he took the job. Sveum did admit that all of the losing was very frustrating.

Dale Sveum enjoyed “every single minute” of being the Cubs’ manager and wish “it could have lasted longer.”


As Sveum said, “We do all these jobs to be fired.” The Cubs owe Sveum nearly $1 million for the third year of the three-year deal he signed with the team in November of 2011. Sveum would like to catch on with another team as soon as possible.

Theo Epstein on Communication with Dale Sveum

Theo Epstein made sure that it was clear that the front office met with Sveum during the All-Star break to discuss their concerns about how he was running the team. Epstein indicated everything went fine, as far as Sveum is concerned last year, but the first half of this past season is when a red flag was raised as to how he was running the team. Epstein pointed out he told Sveum at the break that he would have the second half to “work on things.”

From Cubs.com, “This is the last thing I expected last winter. I sat here last year and was very complimentary of Dale and the job he did in 2012, and I stand by that. This was really unexpected. When we all started to have concerns in the front office and discussed them toward the end of the first half, it was clear we were all thinking the same thing and the first step was ‘Hey, we need to sit down and have a brutally honest talk with Dale and get his take on this and hear from him, and then look for ways to allow him to adjust in the second half.’ That’s what we did.”

Many pointed to the way he handled Starlin Castro throughout the season as one of the main problems that the front office had with Sveum but the first issue could have been when Sveum indicated that any player on the roster, including Castro and Anthony Rizzo, could be sent down to Triple-A.

Theo Epstein and Dale Sveum had “a couple of beers” on Sunday night and that is when Sveum found out that the Cubs would be making a change. The two met for a few hours and got things off their chest.

Theo Epstein’s Statement

Theo Epstein released the following statement on Monday on the firing of Dale Sveum

“Today, we made the very difficult decision to relieve Dale Sveum of his duties as Cubs manager. Dale has been a committed leader for this team the last two seasons, and I want to thank him for all of his dedication and hard work. I have a lot of admiration for Dale personally, and we all learned a lot from the way he has handled the trying circumstances of the last two years, especially the last two weeks, with strength and dignity.

In his own authentic and understated way, Dale always put the team first and never complained about the hand he was dealt. He and his staff helped us excel in game planning and defensive positioning, contributed to the emergence of several players, and helped put us in position to make some important trades. I have no doubt that – much like Terry Francona, whom we hired in Boston after his stint with a losing Phillies club – Dale will go on to great success with his next team. We had hoped Dale would grow with our organization to see it through the building phase to a period of sustained excellence; instead, I believe Dale, who felt the weight of losing perhaps more than any of us, will grow because of this experience and find excellence elsewhere.

Today’s decision to pursue a new manager was not made because of wins and losses. Our record is a function of our long-term building plan and the moves we have made – some good, a few we would like back – to further this strategy. Jed and I take full responsibility for that. Today’s decision was absolutely not made to provide a scapegoat for our shortcomings or to distract from our biggest issue – a shortage of talent at the major league level. We have been transparent about what we are, and what we are not yet. Today’s decision, which was painful for all of us, was made to move us closer to fulfilling our ultimate long-term vision for the Cubs.

Soon, our organization will transition from a phase in which we have been primarily acquiring young talent to a phase in which we will promote many of our best prospects and actually field a very young, very talented club at the major league level. The losing has been hard on all of us, but we now have one of the top farm systems in baseball, some of the very best prospects in the game, and a clear path forward. In order for us to win with this group – and win consistently – we must have the best possible environment for young players to learn, develop and thrive at the major league level. We must have clear and cohesive communication with our players about the most important parts of the game. And – even while the organization takes a patient, long view – we must somehow establish and maintain a galvanized, winning culture around the major league club.

I believe a dynamic new voice – and the energy, creativity and freshness that comes with this type of change – provides us with the best opportunity to achieve the major league environment we seek. We will begin our search immediately – a process which will be completed before the GM meetings in early November and perhaps much sooner. There are no absolute criteria, but we will prioritize managerial or other on-field leadership experience and we will prioritize expertise developing young talent. We have not yet contacted any candidates or asked permission to speak with any candidates, but that process will begin tomorrow morning.”

Coaching Staff

Dale Sveum’s coaching staff has been told they are free to look for jobs with other organizations. The front office will make recommendations to the new manager on which coaches they would like to see him keep.

Most feel the front office would like to have Chris Bosio and Dave McKay back, as well as Lester Strode. As for Jamie Quirk, James Rowson, Rob Deer and David Bell, the general feeling is those four coaches will not return. Bosio and McKay had positive influences on the players during their two years on Sveum’s staff.

News, Notes and Rumors

According to Dan Bernstein, look for the Cubs “search” to include at least one minority candidate while the team pursues Joe Girardi.

Rick Morrissey opined that Joe Girardi may want to re-think any Cubs’ offer.

According to David Kaplan, one name that could surface for the Cubs’ job is Bud Black.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

  • John_CC

    Nice report Neil. Thanks for the full text of Epstein’s press. If nothing else, that guy can write a heckuva statement.

    I’d be shocked if Girardi bailed on the Yanks. But then again I didn’t think Sveum was a goner.

    Who are considered the top managers in the high minors? Anyone?

  • calicub

    I don’t know if this has been brought up, but i think its a little hinky that during the 2011 offseason one of the things the FO tried to do was distance itself from the losing tradition and thereby distancing itself from managerial candidates with Cubs history. It sort of makes me wonder if they had anticipated or even wanted their first skipper’s tenure shortlived. Cubs fans would not be happy with a former cub beloved being given such a short leash, and possibly that was the conversation Theo and Ryno had those two years ago; “We’d love to hire you on but we’re going to be absolutely awfully horrible and we couldn’t tarnish your reputation here. Go get some experience and we’ll revisit in 2 years.”

    If only the Phillies did well enough to keep Manuel from being fired.

    • SuzyS

      For some reason, I think Theo has an aversion to Sandberg…anyway…so his Philly promotion wouldn’t matter to the Cubs…one way or the other.

      • 07GreyDigger

        I think it was BRP921 who said yesterday that Sandberg had the ear of the fans and therefore would do things his way and not what the front office wanted. It’s hard for them to accomplish their goals with that situation.

        But I’m not down on Sandberg at all. He was my favorite player and was appalled he was not a first ballot HOF. I wish him the best in Philly and his old roster. :)

        • Brp921

          It was me, and I think Joe Girardi would have the ear of the fans as well. I certainly don’t see Theo being able to dictate to Joe how he should run the team. So I go back to my original theory of Theo not wanting to share the glory with Ryne Sandberg, a Chicago Cub icon, for bringing a world series championship to the north side, it’s an ego thing. Joe Girardi has made his name and reputation elsewhere and hence Theo will, if and when the Cubs win a championship, be known as the man who brought World championships to both the Red Sox and the Cubs. Ryno had paid his dues and had the resume that made him worthy of the job when they hired Dale Sveum.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Great point on your side. Baseball is full of egos. Theo left a cushy Red Sox job because he thinks he can bring us a championship. I hope he does.

          • Brp921

            You and me both my friend. Along with everyone else on this great website!

  • SanibelChuck

    I have heard the name of Brad Ausmus being mentioned. He and Jed Hoyer go back to San Diego.

    • Tony_Hall

      Have you been talking to Peter Gammons?

  • Tony_Hall

    So let’s dispel a few thoughts people have had about Theo and Ricketts.

    1) They are cheap and won’t fire a manager under contract. I don’t believe that was even considered, it was all about was Dale the right guy moving forward. The $1M they still owe Dale, never came into play.

    2) Theo runs everything and makes all the decisions. I have been at blame for running with this one, but you can’t hold people accountable, if you tell employees how to do things. People can joke about Theo’s process, but what we knew and what was going on was different. Can you imagine if we had been told about the mid-season meeting at the time it happened.

    3) That Theo fired Dale to hire Girardi. As much as I want Girardi to be the next manager of the Chicago Cubs, I do, that is not why Theo fired Dale for not meeting his expectations. There are many qualified managers out there, and I expect a very thorough search to uncover them.

    4) That this was a 5 year rebuilding plan. there is no way to put a time frame on it. The CBA changed after Theo was hired and they have had to change courses to accomplish the rebuilding of the foundation. The foundation needs one more year to fully mature, but talent is starting to come up to the major league team and AAA is going to have an infield of Christian Villanueva 3B, Javier Baez SS, Arismendy Alcantara 2B. I am not sure I can ever remember having 3 legitimate prospects in the infield at Iowa.

    5) That Theo can write and speak very well…..ok, that part is true, that boy can communicate very well.

    It is going to be another interesting 4-5 weeks of rumors. Girardi is making a trip back to Chicago to visit his wife’s family this weekend and plan on visiting a Starbucks near Wrigley……

    • cubtex

      Tony. It is a 1 million. C’mon. No team in baseball would just keep an inept manager another year because they aren’t willing to eat the 1 mil.

      • Tony_Hall

        And yet that was one of the reasons peoole were talking about this weekend as to why Dale would still be around.

        Miami Marlins might…

    • bpot92

      What mid season meeting was there?

      • cubtex

        Theo met with Sveum during the all star break critiquing him on what issues they wanted to see him work on in the second half. There were areas where they wanted to see him improve on.

        • bpot92

          Ok thanks

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            There are details in the report

  • GaryLeeT

    I said 2 weeks ago. Girardi will get an offer he can’t refuse, and be the next Cubs manager. Just like when he went after Theo, Ricketts will get his man, and It is by far, the least expensive option to create fan interest for next year’s dreadful season.

    • J Daniel

      I tend to agree with you, and it is the least expensive option for now. But IMO it is the next phase in the rebuild. There are a few building blocks but many to come. The right person is needed for it.

    • cubtex

      Exactly. Homeboy comes home to lead his beloved Cubs.

      • J Daniel

        But regardless of who is hired it is the guy they are planning on winning with. I think everyone knew it wouldn’t be Dale. Did they want it to happen with him, yes. They don’t want to fire him already but obviously they feel the need. A mistake was admitted and they are trying to correct it rather than assume next year will be bad as well.

        The record may be bad next year but it is critical that improvement is made.

  • 07GreyDigger

    Rick Morrissey’s article was ridiculous by the way. Don’t take the Cubs job! They’re cursed! Great reporting….

  • cubtex

    I think Tony Hall forgot to mention one really important perception about Theo.

    1) Theo would not want to admit a mistake after only 2 years and fire his own personal hire.

    I was impressed that he admitted what a poor hire this was. Did anyone notice the reasons Theo gave on Sveum’s dismissal? Exactly the same that I have been harping on all year.

    One other thought. Can there be any 2 completely different managers than Theo’s first hire(Terry Francona) and Dale Sveum?

    Francona leads by making his players feel special and not ripping them in the press. He always had their backs while Sveum threatened benching, AAA demotions, punishment for some on the team and not others.

    I do not think Theo will make another mistake like this hire. He will hire someone with experience and leadership skills.

    • cubtex

      In case anyone missed it….these are the reasons. Sound familiar?

      However, it was apparent that Epstein and his staff were disappointed
      with other areas in which Sveum was to be evaluated, such as the
      development of young players, in-game decision-making, use of the 25-man
      roster, the ability to “create a culture of accountability, hard work
      and preparation, and the ability to develop a strong trust with his
      players.”

      • 07GreyDigger

        Sounds like they were mad Logan Watkins didn’t get a chance…. :)

        • cubtex

          at least it is assuring to know that they weren’t happy with his in-game decision making. He was absolutely brutal.

          • J Daniel

            I agree … but we know better players make for a better manager.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Absolutely. Dusty Baker had Barry Bonds and for years we all thought he was a good manager.

          • cubtex

            exactly. a good team can win with a poor manager….but an average team cannot win with a poor manager. There have been quite a few average teams make the playoffs over the years.

        • J Daniel

          Logan who? Just kidding!

    • Rational Logic

      Haha is that second point serious or sarcasm?

      It’s a little easier to not threaten your players when those players are Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Jon Lester, Curt Schilling, Clay Bucholtz, Johnny Damon, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, etc…those teams were also winning the majority of the time, so I don’t think it’s even remotely fair to say that. And don’t tell me that Francona is the reason those players are good.

      • cubtex

        Please try and use some “Rational” Logic kind of like your moniker.

        Francona was with Boston since 2004.

        Think Grasshopper. When were Pedroia,Lester,Ellsbury and Bucholtz brought up. Did you guess yet????

        2008
        Pedroia age 24
        Lester age 24
        Ellsbury age 24
        Bucholtz age 23.

        Now fast forward to Dale Sveum 2013. What ages are Castro and Rizzo. How were these players handled compared to how Francona handled them.

        Did you figure it out yet??? Use a little more “Rational” Logic. lol

        • Rational Logic

          Quit the ad hominem arguments. You left out several of the other players I mentioned to creatively craft your response as if I had only focused on the young players in the comparison.

          The truth is that all those players were near immediately contributors and didn’t struggle with mental mistakes. They, like I said previously, were also on a very good and talented team, with other extremely talented players, unless of course you don’t believe Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Jason Varitek, Youk, and Beckett don’t count.

          Are you saying that Francona would have supported the mental errors in the field that Castro has? And what exactly did Sveum do wrong with Rizzo? It appears to me Rizzo had a pretty darn good year. I mean, I hate to go there, but chicken and beer?

          I’ve read through your comment a couple times and still have no idea what your point is other than to come up with what you think is a witty insult and some arbitrary points. In that regard, well done, I’ll even give you a thumbs up, since you seem to be lacking those. In terms of your argument comparing Francona to Sveum and the handling of players, you need to absolutely consider the type of players, the actions of the players, the overall play of the team, and whether or not disciplinary action was needed. Did you figure it out yet??? Use a little more “intelligence”

          • cubtex

            However, it was apparent that Epstein and his staff were disappointed
            with other areas in which Sveum was to be evaluated, such as the
            development of young players.

            This was one of the issues on why he was axed.

            Unfortunately for Sveum….Rational Logic doesn’t make the decisions or sign his paycheck!

          • cubtex

            maybe I will change my name to Rational “Intelligence” hahahaha

    • Tony_Hall

      I don’t think he admitted this was a poor hire, as much as not the guy moving forward. No one was going to succeed (as far as W-L record) with the turnover of the roster in the sell offs each year.

      What I think that should be applauded is that Theo didn’t just stick with Dale, when he decided that he wasn’t the guy moving forward. You can call it admitting he made a mistake in hiring Dale or that Theo is admitting he didn’t fully understand what type of manager he needed, having never been around the Cubs and Chicago. Many, many GM’s would have stuck to their guns and not fired Dale.

      The list of things is the typical list of things you would site when firing a manager. It is also not specific as to any one area, as they at some point in the press release mention most every part of managing.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    “Dreamboy Coming Home”…..didn’t some you said the same thing about Ryne Sandberg?

  • J Daniel

    Hey, what happened to Boardrider? He get tired or Ray and Tony arguing?

    • cubtex

      I think he is in mourning over Barrett Loux getting hurt :)))

      • Tony_Hall

        I know I am!

    • Tony_Hall

      You know how 2 guys start “discussing” things, like Ray and I do, and if we were at a bar, you can just get up and go play pool or darts and come back later and see if they have moved on? I think online is even easier, I skip over conversations you and others have when I see where it is going, but I bet you can’t skip over Ray and me,it’s like driving by a car accident, you say you don’t want to look at, but you still do :)

      • cubtex

        I don’t think that is the case with Boardrider. He is probably just taking a little break. He is a good guy. He will be back shortly and we can all hear about Arrieta being an ace, Vizcaino being an ace, Loux being an ace and Hendricks being another Greg Maddux :)))

        Gotta love Boardrider!!!

        • Tony_Hall

          He will be back, we all take breaks from time to time.

          Arrieta has ace stuff, just not ace results.

          Vizcaino I think has ACE stuff, but haven’t seen him take the mound yet…..he is going to have to come back as a bullpen arm to get his inning worked back up and sometimes pitchers never leave the bullpen.

          Loux has 2/3 stuff, but not even major league results. I hope he can stay healthy and come back next year and show us what he can do.

          Hendricks is a 4/5 who will need to pitch like Maddux to even sniff TOR status. But so far, he keeps moving up and keeps getting guys out.
          Our pitching depth is much better than many give it credit for, it’s just not elite arms in AAA waiting for a spot to open.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Reading Theo’s comments just made me feel like he’s lost and grasping at
          straws.

          Situation normal.

      • 07GreyDigger

        I totally take weekends off from this site, but when I see you and Ray arguing, I totally go back and read the comments. :)

    • triple

      If I remember correctly, he said he posts alot with his iphone. When I updated mine to ios7 a couple weeks ago, there’s been no way to get into the the comments to read or post. It was kind of weird. I think Discus just finally worked out the bugs, because today is the first day I can see comments and post again from my iphone.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        I’m glad it is working, I’ve been working with Disqus to get it right.

  • Baron_S

    http://www.csnchicago.com/cubs/jose-canseco-believes-he-can-fix-cubs

    Wonderful!! He will bring his own special vitamins too!

  • Tony_Hall

    Here is the estimates for the Cubs arbitration eligible players.

    Jeff Samardzija (4.028): $4.9MM
    Nate Schierholtz (5.078): $3.8MM
    Travis Wood (3.004): $3.6MM
    Darwin Barney (3.053): $2.1MM
    Daniel Bard (3.079): $1.8625MM
    James Russell (4.000): $1.7MM
    Luis Valbuena (3.148): $1.5MM
    Pedro Strop (2.156, Super Two): $1MM
    Donnie Murphy (4.043): $1MM
    Darnell McDonald (3.130): $700K

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/10/arbitration-eligibles-chicago-cubs.html

  • jggass34

    I think the cubs should contact tony larussa !

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Due to his relationship with Jerry Reinsdorf, I would not look for that to happen. It is extremely doubtful he would think about taking a job with the Cubs.