This afternoon, with no baseball to watch and off-season trade rumors yet to get going, I sat and looked out the window of my local Starbucks and thought about the Cubs search for a new manager. And it made me tired in a very deep place.
For a long time, I wondered what exactly it was that Dale Sveum said in his interview that so swung the Cubs front office into his corner. Whatever it was, it didn’t translate to the dugout, where, as a leader and motivator, Sveum was listless at best, and so was his team. Did he spout out some magic word or statistic that Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein had been waiting for? Was he so positive and gregarious they thought it would rub off on the young kids? Did they really believe that he’d helped bring along “young” kids like Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, and Ricky Weeks (genetics, steroids, and lifetime .247 batting average)?
The reason I worry about this is because, whatever it is that Dale Sveum said or did to dazzle Jed and Theo, I’m afraid it will happen again. Almost as much as I’m afraid that they’re interviewing seven of basically the same guy: bench coach, bench coach, bi-lingual bench coach, bench coach. All pleasant enough, all vaguely up-and-coming, if you believe reports. All open to advanced stats and matchups when setting lineups. All reportedly “great” with young players. At last one endorsed by Anthony Rizzo. At least one endorsed by Jake Peavy.
Does it disturb anyone else that, when it comes to this list, Dale Sveum fits right in?
I’m not a meatball who wants a coach with some “fire.” I don’t want the Cubs to interview Ozzie Guillen. I never wanted Dusty Baker back. What I want, I guess, is for the Cubs to consider some different TYPES of guys. And, to be honest, I’m not even sure what I mean by that. But all the choices we’ve heard about so far just seem so similarly bland. Davey Martinez, Joe Maddon’s right hand guy who, for my money, was the most interesting of the group, seems to have fallen off the radar. Rick/h Renteria, rumored to be THE guy only a week ago, also seems to have faded from the pack. I haven’t heard Manny Acta’s name connected to the Cubs for at least two weeks.
Each time we think we’ve narrowed the field down to three-four candidates, another name or two gets added to the list. Understandably, this leads the fan base to speculate that the Cubs aren’t thrilled with any of the guys they’ve talked to thus far. Think about it, if you’re interviewing for a job, and while you’re on second interview, the company you’re hiring with keeps expanding the field, you probably don’t feel all that great about your chances.
The Cubs just want to make sure they’re being thorough, is what the talking heads keeps saying. But what does that even mean? Who hires people that way? And if the Cubs want to talk to everyone “just to be sure they haven’t missed anything,” doesn’t that leave open the chance that someone will score the job based on the interview? Isn’t that what Dale Sveum did? And, ironically, isn’t that the definition of a small sample size?
I have no idea Jed, Theo, and Jason McLeod area looking for. Because I’m a Cubs fan and an eternal optimist, I’m going to presume they do. But it’s clear that there’s no one so far that they’re all that worried about losing to another team. With Dave Martinez and Rick/h Renteria interviewing with the Nats, and Renteria, Torey Luvollo, and Brad Ausmus interviewing with the Tigers, I’m not sure what this says about the field. Either the Cubs are confident they can beat anyone’s offer, or they aren’t really sold on anyone in particular.
This afternoon on Boers & Bernstein, Dan Bernstein asked MLB insider Ken Rosenthal if Jed and Theo really ARE just being overly-thorough, or if the managerial search has been much harder than they anticipated.
Rosenthal’s answer: “I don’t know.”