Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Who's Next?

In all likelihood, the next thing Jim Hendry is working on is hiring a new manager. As of last night, the candidates that were most talked about were Lou Pinella, Bob Brenly, Freddi Gonzalez, and Joe Girardi (assuming he is fired by the Marlins). Others being speculated about are Buck Showalter, Dave Righetti, Ron Washington, Bud Black, Mike Quade (AAA Cubs) and Razor Shines (AAA White Sox).

Things are happening quickly. Leading NL Manager of the Year candidate Joe Girardi was fired today by the Marlins and was quickly replaced by Freddi Gonzalez. So if you are keeping score at home, cross Gonzalez off your list.

Does his sudden availabilty make Girardi the front runner? That's hard to say, but he does have some things going in his favor. First, he is an ex-Cub and is remembered fondly by the fans. This may be an important consideration, especially to marketing-oriented Cubs President, John McDonough. He also is considered to be extremely baseball savvy, something that was sorely missing during the Dusty years.

Of course, for all that has been said about his big baseball brains, it also appesars that he may be tone deaf when it comes to dealing with his employer. Girardi had a very well documented row with Marlins GM Larry Beinfest, and owner Jeffrey Loria. The Marlins front office was all too willing to leak anti-Girardi info to the press. And while he was being lambasted in the newspaper and on sports talk radio, Girardi refused to comment on the situation. I don't know what happened behind closed doors, but I have to say that I'm much more impressed with the way Girardi handled the situation than I am with Marlins management.

There are also rumors coming out of San Francisco that Bob Brenly could be on the move to replace Felipe Alou with the Giants. Brenly is a former Giant and the fit for him in San Francisco seems pretty good. If Hendry has Brenly at the top of his list, he'd better move quickly. The Giants won't be waiting for the Cubs to make a move.

I've heard arguments saying that Sweet Lou (no relation) is either the perfect fit for the '07 Cubs or would be a horrible choice. So the camps are pretty well polarized. I have an interesting theory involving Lou as the next Cubs manager. It's probably just wishful thinking, but it's influenced by a rumor I heard earlier this summer.

As you may remember, Lou Pinella was Alex Rodriguez' first manager in Seattle. When ARod was suffering through a tough slump this past summer, it was Lou who talked him through it. ARod's situation in NY has been well documented, but what hasn't been as well documented is the toll the ARod saga has taken on his teammates. They are tired of answering the constant questions involving their increasingly sensitive teammate. So what you have is an unhappy ARod suffering the slings and arrows of the unrelenting NY media, and a NY Yankees team exhausted by all of the questions surrounding ARod. It seems to me that moving ARod in the off-season would be in everyone's best interest.

So where could ARod go? Naturally, I'm thinking Cubs. And I think this scenario is a lot more likely if Sweet Lou is the Cubs manager. ARod would be welcomed with open arms and he would be hailed as a conquering hero if he could lead the Cubs to the promised land, ala Curt Schilling with the Red Sox. But what would it cost?

The Yankees need pitching. The Cubs have a plethora of young pitching. Sure, it might also cost a promising young position player (Felix Pie?), but we're talking about the Cubs getting arguably the best player to ever play the game.

This is a longshot, but if Hendry hires Lou Pinella to manage the Cubs, keep your eyes open. The rebirth of the Chicago Cubs could be right around the corner.


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