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Monday, September 16, 2013

Cubs 2014 Manager: Joe Girardi, if the PRICE is RIGHT

Note to Cubs MGMT Team:

Joe Girardi and his resume is EXACTLY what the Cubs need.

As Ken Rosenthal quipped in this report:

You met Kim when you both were at Northwestern. You were the Cubs’ fifth round-pick in 1986 and then made your major league debut in ’89. You made five stops during your 15-year playing career, including the Cubs twice, and you’ve managed the Marlins and the Yankees.

And now you have to wonder:
Are the Yankees your best long-term option?

My Argument picks up where Rosenthal's reporting leaves off

First, Girardi's IE degree from Northwestern means he thoroughly understands statistical applications and motivating people and how and when to use both. IEs are the engineers usually promoted to run operations – plant managers – and so, I think it fair to say Joe has been an excellent plant manager in baseball. Being a catcher, a position well known to turn out excellent baseball minds – from Connie Mack to Branch Rickey on up to the present day in Joe Maddon, Jim Leyland, Joe Torre, Mike Scioscia, Bob Brenly, and Bruce Bochy – leads one to think we should be interested in this Chicago Catching Joe.

Second, his most recent time in New York reflects an ability to deal with a whole array of issues. He has managed the oldest team in baseball (31.8), the A-Rod circus, the Jeter decline, and now, a Yankee record 56 players in 2013. Oh, and they are above .500 with their biggest mid-season acquisition being Alfonso Soriano, who got religion, and put up better stats in NYC. (Maybe Girardi, maybe not….)

Third, he’s dealt with dip shit owners (Loria & Steinbrenner); and can manage pretty well with a massive payroll (2009 WS Champs) or the lowest ($15 mil) in Florida. He can handled the youngsters (Florida had the youngest by age in 2006); instills rules, and seems able to get good results. So, by and large, he’s:

1) Successful with a wide array of circumstances
2) Can handle cranky owners (so imagine what happens when they are on the same page)
3) Has the educational background and baseball pedigree to go with on-field successes to support a hire

Maybe Theo & Jed are happy and content with Sveum. But if Girardi is interested in talking, and they are interested in him at all, it is a no brainer to me. The salary he may want is negotiation – and that comes when it comes.

Managers may not win you more games, some argue, but at the margins, anyone in Girardi's position has direct influence on the lineups, pitching changes, and in-game stuff I hear plenty bitch about at BleacherNation.

Girardi is a very complete manager, and has the overall records and the intellectual horsepower from a prestigious university to support his worthiness as the Cubs manager. As the Cubs farm system has the list of talents (below) ready (hopefully) to blossom in 2014-2015, I think having a flexible, intelligent, effective and successful manager is as important as the talent you put on the field.

A Few Cubs Prospects arrival date/notes:

  1. Javier Baez SS: Mid 2014 seems possible, depending on Castro and slotting on the field.
  2. Jorge Soler OF: Start of 2015. His salary drives his development path; if AA/AAA works out in 2014, 2015 starts off in MLB.
  3. Mike Olt 3B: Trade bait. His recent struggles make him an option out. However, he could surprise and land on the MLB team in 2014.
  4. Kris Bryant 3B: Late-2014. His arrival is dependent on success at AA next season. Else, 2015 is reasonable for the 2nd overall 2013 pick.
  5. Albert Almora OF: Mid-2015. Injuries and youth are two good reasons to leave Almora until mid-2015 at best. He'll be only 21 in April 2015.
  6. Justin Grimm RHP: Bullpen in 2014. He hasn't quite developed a good 3rd pitch. But youth and experience early in the MLB could get him quite a look.
  7. Pierce Johnson RHP: 2016. Another 200-250 minor league innings will develop him.
  8. Dan Vogelbach 1B: Possible trade or hope the NL goes DH. But he's 2 years away - from that decision for the Cubs.
  9. Christian Villanueva 3B: Early 2015 or a trade candidate. Villanueva has AAA to accomplish in 2014; how the Olt, Bryant, Villanueva scenario works out is about probabilities.
  10. Rob Zastryzny LHP: 2016.  Just drafted, he threw only 24 innings. But could accelerate, since he is 21 right now.
  11. Arismendy Alcantara SS: Mid-2014. The Darwin Barney era has run its course. Alcantara is younger, cheaper, and has potentially more tools aside from his glove.
  12. CJ Edwards RHP: 2015.  His 2014 season at AA will decide how fast he comes. So far, the Garza centerpiece has not disappointed.
  13. Kyle Hendricks RHP: Mid-late 2014. 2013 Minor league pitcher of the year is not flashy or fastball gifted, just gets outs. That's always a plus. Strikeouts are nice; but outs are what we are hoping accrues in games.
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