If you’ve been following Cubs Insider even sporadically since the end of the season, chances are good you’ve run into something related Joe Maddon’s future or the makeup of his coaching staff. The most obvious Anthony Iapoce replacing Chili Davis as hitting coach while the latter’s seat was still warm. And I don’t mean like the metaphor, I mean he had just been sitting in it and some of his residual body heat was still there.
Speaking of, did you know that young ladies were once prevented from sitting in the same chairs young men had occupied until they allowed appropriate time for the seat to cool? Something about getting a cheap thrill. This came from a presentation on Mark Twain I attended in junior high, so I can’t vouch for its veracity. I did, however, have a co-worker who claimed that “Happiness is a cold toilet seat,” so that’s kind of cutting in the opposite direction.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
There are likely to be further changes to Maddon’s staff, if only because bench coach Brandon Hyde is likely to be hired by one of the teams still looking for a manager. He’s said to be a finalist for the Twins job (subscription), with the Blue Jays and Rangers in the mix as well. The Reds and Angels have already made their hires and the thought was that additional announcements might happen soon, but the World Series could change that.
MLB is really protective of the news cycle this time of year, asking teams to avoid making waves that might detract from the focus on the Fall Classic. Not that hiring a manager is really going to snatch headlines from whether or not Manny Machado and Dustin Pedroia need to use one of Anthony Rizzo’s walk-up songs as the soundtrack to their relationship, but still.
Hyde departing would leave the Cubs looking for a new bench coach, which could just mean shuffling around some internal positions. It could also mean going after Mark DeRosa, to whom they offered the position last season, or David Ross, who fans would love to see back. DeRosa has been a very popular name among potential managerial candidates, but he seems to be biding his time for the right spot.
While the only hot seat Maddon is concerned with is in his Winnebago now that temps are dropping, there’s a sense that his tenure in Chicago could come to a close when he contract expires at the end of next season. And as much as agent Alan Nero intends to fiddle with extension talks, the uncertainty of Maddon’s future is chum in the water for would-be sharks.
Joe Girardi had been the favorite for the Reds job before he withdrew from consideration, thus handing it to David Bell. The former Marlins and Yankees skipper then pulled his name from the Rangers’ pool as well, a move that Jon Heyman tweeted may have been caused by a desire to wait for an opening in Chicago.
Heyman clarified on Mully & Haugh Tuesday morning that Girardi’s interest wasn’t based on any kind of certainty, but was, as I had suspected, more a matter of keeping his options open. He’s made enough money to sit out another year and he’s got a gig with MLB Network in the meantime, so it makes sense for him to maintain the high ground and see what happens.
If Maddon indeed signs an extension, Girardi can move forward with a little more confidence and a lot less regret. Not that he’s necessarily the ideal candidate for the Cubs gig — he’s far from it, in my humble opinion –even if Maddon isn’t extended or chooses to leave of his own accord, just that the possibility at least remains open.
Circling back to DeRo briefly, I don’t think we can dismiss his candidacy to take over for Maddon at some point. The Cubs and other organizations obviously think highly of him and have considered him for important roles and there’s a precedent for hiring someone whose most recent job has been in broadcasting. There’s also a trend toward lower salaries, though it seems petty and silly for a team with as much revenue as the Cubs to trifle over a few million dollars.
What doesn’t seem petty or silly is moving in a different direction at whatever point Maddon is no longer the manager. Girardi would represent a change in approach, to be sure, but he’s still a big name who has his own way of thinking and might not be very malleable when it comes to the way the front office wants to do things. Given Theo Epstein’s comments at the outset of the offseason, he and his staff may be looking to exert more influence on the clubhouse.
With that in mind, it’s possible a less seasoned manager would be viewed as a better option moving forward. But, again, this is all conjecture and hypothesis at this point and I’ve already gotten more into both than I had initially intended. Feel free to prognosticate to your own heart’s content below.