Theo Epstein is not wasting any time attempting to put together a championship-caliber team starting from the front office. As all of you already know, the Chicago Cubs have announced today that Mike Quade will not return as their manager in 2012.
Did Mike Quade deserve to be fired? Maybe not, but it’s time to revamp this roster/coaching staff and clean up the mess Jim Hendry left the Cubs with and head in the right direction. Theo Epstein and new GM Jed Hoyer are clearly aiming for long-term success, as they should, rather than short-term satisfaction. It has to be mentioned that Theo Epstein actually flew to Florida to inform Quade that he won’t be returning in person. Pure class.
Now that Mike Quade has gotten the boot from Chicago, who will replace him? Let’s take a look at 5 potential managerial candidates that fit Theo Epstein’s qualifications. What must that be? “Must have managerial or coaching experience at the major league level.” Sorry, Ryne Sandberg.
1… Terry Francona (Age: 52) – Obviously, he’s the most popular pick. A Theo Epstein and Terry Francona reunion in an organization hungrier than ever to win a World Series title. Sound familiar? Rewind back to 2004 with the Boston Red Sox and it’s almost the exact same situation. Francona knows the game as well as any other manager in the league and is simply a winner. His 2 World Series titles with Boston can validate that. Francona made it known after he was let go by the Red Sox that he only wants to go to a team that will contend now, not in the rebuild process. Does Chicago fall under that category or would he take advantage of this opportunity and accept if offered?
2… Bobby Valentine (Age: 61) – When Lou Piniella retired towards the end 2010 season, Mike Quade was named interim manager and finished the season 24-13. At the time, Cubs GM Jim Hendry sought a manager in the offseason that would replace Lou Piniella and Bobby Valentine was a favorite to takeover. Valentine said he would not leave ESPN unless there was a special opportunity for him and when the Cubs managerial position opened up, he considered that as a “very special” place to manage. However, Hendry decided to stick with interim manager Mike Quade after a strong finish. This offseason the Cubs find themselves in the exact same situation, but are seeking a different “type” of manager and he fits Theo Epstein’s qualifications listed above. Valentine managed the Texas Rangers from 1985-92 and the New York Mets from 1996-2002, including a NL pennant. Also, he’s not afraid to call out players and put them into place…just ask Starlin Castro.
3… Joe Maddon (Age: 57) – Interesting story. When Theo Epstein was searching for a manager in 2004 for the Boston Red Sox, Joe Maddon was the other top candidate for the position, but Terry Francona ended up winning the job. Could Theo convince Maddon to come manage for the Cubs even with one year left on his contract in Tampa Bay? He is one of the most respected coaches in the MLB today and is unquestionably one of the best. Maddon led the Rays from worst to first in the American League in 2008 just falling short in the World Series. He has gotten Tampa Bay to the postseason in back-to-back years in the toughest division in all of baseball.
4… Dave Martinez (Age: 47) – Dark horse candidate? Dave Martinez is currently the bench coach for the Tampa Bay Rays who has been there for 5 years now. He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1982 and played for the organization from 1986-1988 and in 2000. Tampa Bay’s play-by-play commentator had this to say about Dave Martinez: “The more you get to know him, the more you see he has the potential to be a very good manager. Being around Ray manager Joe Maddon gives him a better sense of the job.” He may not be a popular pick, but he is a very competitive and quality coach more than ready to take the next step in his baseball managerial career.
5… Bob Brenly (Age: 57) – He currently serves as the Chicago Cubs television analyst. Look, I know it’s a long shot and I know he’s made it clear over the years that he has no interest in managing the Cubs or any other MLB team for that matter, but this was long before the Cubs hired Theo Epstein and brought in Jed Hoyer to lead their rebuilding process. Would he think twice about this position if they gave him a call? He is one to hold players accountable after being critical of Cubs players throughout the entire year, most notably Aramis Ramirez. Not to mention he’s got a World Series title under his belt. NOTE: Bob Brenly’s son, Michael, is a catcher currently playing for the Daytona Cubs, their single A affiliate. Is it possible Michael Brenly joins the big leagues while the Cubs start to contend? Who knows, but it sure would be a special father-son moment if Bob Brenly was the manager during a possible World Series title. Did I mention Bob Brenly has a mustache? Hmm…