Friday, September 20, 2013

Joe Girardi to the Cubs? Idiotic speculation or a real possibility?

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi's contract is up at the end of the season. You know what that means. It is time for renewed speculation that Girardi will "come home" to manage the Cubs.

Chicago Tribune columnist Phil Rogers is leading the media charge with his piece in today's paper.

Rogers and others have reported the Cubs are open to the possibility of replacing manager Dale Sveum, who frankly has had no chance to win the last two years with the crappy rosters he has been handed. But, perhaps Cubs brass is unhappy with Sveum because supposed core players Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Jeff Samardzija have all taken a step backward this season.

My opinion on Sveum? Take him or leave him. I don't think he's anything special as a field boss, but the truth is no manager ever born could have coaxed the Cubs teams of the last two years to anything close to a .500 record, let along playoff contention.

As for Girardi, I'd be stunned if the Yankees don't offer him another contract. Even though New York will likely not make the playoffs, Girardi has done an unbelievable job of keeping a mediocre roster in contention deep into September.

Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson have barely played this season. Alex Rodriguez, as usual, has created a circus around that team. C.C. Sabathia has had the worst season of his career. New York's pitching, statistically, is worse than both of the woeful Chicago baseball teams this year. Despite all that, Girardi is going to squeeze 85 to 87 wins out of a team that had to give way too many at-bats to guys like Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay and Eduardo Nunez. Girardi's a good manager. He's better than Sveum. There's no denying that.

But would he leave New York for Chicago? What would be his motivation to do that? His local roots, I suppose. He's from Peoria. He attended Northwestern, and he played seven of his 15 MLB seasons on the North Side. I can't imagine money would be a motivation. Whatever the Cubs can offer, the Yankees could surely match. I don't think the Cubs can offer Girardi a better on-field situation than what the Yankees have. New York contends every year. The Yankees will find a way next year, too, regardless of who the manager is. They'll open up their pocketbook this offseason and address their holes. They always do. The Cubs, in contrast, are at least another two years away.

Are the local ties enough to pry Girardi out of New York? I don't know, but that's really all the Cubs have to offer. And, if Girardi is sick of New York and ready for a change, he would have other options than Chicago. I hear Washington is looking for a manager, and the Nationals have a team that should be ready to win. Attractive jobs could come open in Texas and Anaheim, as well.

When it comes to the Cubs, it's always hard for me to tell whether some of the local reporting is legitimate news, or just cheerleading from the press box. When I read some of these articles, it almost strikes me as if the Cubs reporters are trying to woo Girardi to Chicago themselves. In the coming months, it will be interesting to see whether that story has legs, or if it's just another round of idiotic speculation at the end of another lost season on the North Side.


  1. Girardi might want out of New York because his leash will always be shorter there. He's not like Joe Torre with a handful of World Series victories. He's got one, and this will be his second time missing the playoffs.

    It might be expectations inside the Yankee organization are just lower now. Between George Steinbrenner kicking the bucket, and the team's focus on trying to drive payroll down far enough to avoid some luxury tax penalties, there might be the rational though over there that Girardi has actually done a really good job, and they should pay him whatever he wants.

    Still, outside of re-signing Robinson Cano, I don't know if the Yankees will be huge players in free agency unless they know Alex Rodriguez's situation, if they can use his salary toward something else, or at least skate out of it counting against the payroll tax.

    I don't know that I'd be bullish on Texas or Washington being better jobs than the Cubs job. Maybe for next year it is. Over a five-year contract I'm sure Girardi could command?

    Texas is an aging team that's already been in decline the last couple years.

    Washington might be rebounding from mediocre start and an awful July, and certainly has some more pieces to work with. The Nats also have to hope some stars that have had trouble staying healthy in the past (Stephen Strasburg, Jayson Werth) can stay healthy, fill holes at first base, catch and in the rotation, and hope nobody falls off.

    Anaheim has the combined problems of Texas (aging stars) and Washington (big holes), only with a much more bloated payroll.

    Which I guess is a long way of saying none of those other jobs looks so great that it would be ridiculous for Girardi to pick the Cubs over any of them if the money is close to equal.

    It does look like a long rebuilding for the Cubs. Especially with Rizzo and Castro playing so poorly.

  2. Honestly, I'm not sure the Cubs are going to be good at any point in the next five years, which I'm sure would sound like blasphemy to Bruce Levine, Phil Rogers and others. I keep hearing about how great Javier Baez and Albert Almora are gonna be, but who is going to pitch for that organization?

    Sveum was set up to fail. If the Cubs fire him, the next guy might be set up to fail as well, despite all the rosy rhetoric about the great farm system "Theo"has assembled. I assume the Cubs will start throwing some money around in free agency eventually. They better, if they want to fix that pitching staff, and it needs to be an investment better than Edwin Jackson.

  3. I think a bigger problem than pitching is the lack of a star-level hitter. Just like the White Sox, the Cubs have a problem with their position players where the best they've got at each position is a guy who's just OK. Or worse, they've got a guy who's played well in limited time, but you'd be nuts to think they can sustain it for another year, much less the rest of their careers.

    I mean, does anyone seriously think Nate Schierholtz, Luis Valbuena or Ryan Sweeney have established themselves as cornerstones of the next good Cubs team? Without freakishly good years from guys like that, the Cubs would have already blown past 100 losses by now.

    Rizzo and Castro struggling complicates things. Not only are they both young players you wouldn't want to give up on too soon, but now they've both got big contracts, making it imperative the Cubs are sure about what they have before seeking to flush those investments to pursue an upgrade.

    You really need that big bat or two if you're going to try to carry a couple struggling prospects, or an all-glove-no-hit guy like Darwin Barney.