In all likelihood, the Chicago Cubs have concluded the interview stage of their managerial search. The search began on Friday last week when the team interviewed Philadelphia Phillies’ bench coach Pete Mackanin, and concluded yesterday when the team interview Cleveland Indians’ bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. Milwaukee Brewers’ hitting coach Dale Sveum, and Texas Rangers’ pitching Mike Maddux also had a sit down with the Cubs’ brass regarding the Cubs’ vacant managerial position.
Over the course of the next week, President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, General Manager Jed Hoyer, and Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod will compare notes and conduct follow-ups with the respective candidates. The idea is that the trio can come to an agreement on one candidate that stands out above the rest. Once that candidate is known, that is when Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts will be brought into the process to give the final approval.
It is possible that the Cubs could have their manager in place by Friday, though, some reports have suggested that the process could drag on past this week. In any event, here is a look at how the managerial race stacks up.
Despite being the first candidate to interview for the Cubs’ managerial position, it seems almost certain that Mackanin will not become the next manager of the Cubs. Mackanin is a baseball lifer, and has held many position throught his coaching career. Whether it was being a scout, a minor league manager, a bench coach, or interim manager; Mackanin has the experience that Epstein and company are seeking from the next manager of the Cubs. However, Mackanin is 60 years old. While that is not neccessarily old in the prospects of being a major league manager, it would seem that the Cubs’ front office is looking for a manager that can grow with the team and hold down the position for the long-term. Which would be why Mackanin will likely finish behind Maddux, Alomar Jr, and Sveum.
Milwaukee Brewers’ hitting coach Dale Sveum followed Mackanin in the interview process. Sveum, who is also a front-runner to be the next manager of the Boston Red Sox, is considered to be one of the top candidates for the Cubs’ position. Though, the current idea circulating among some reports, is that Sveum could in part be linked to the on-going compensation negotiations between the Cubs and Red Sox. The idea is that seeing that the Red Sox allowed Epstein to join the Cubs’ front office, Epstein in turn, may allow the Red Sox to have the first opportunity to hire Sveum.
Going into the week, Mike Maddux was viewed as the favorite and the chances of him becoming the Cubs’ manager seem greater now than ever. Maddux withdrew his came from consideration to be the next manager of the Red Sox, and remain interested in the Cubs’ position. General Manager Jed Hoyer has stated numerous times already this off-season that the goal is to improve the team’s pitching staff while putting the focus on pitching in general. One of the ways they can do that is by hiring Maddux, who is one of the game’s best pitching coaches, as their manager. In his comments, Hoyer seems to have an admiration for managers that were previously pitching coaches, and that would seem to bode well for Maddux’s chances of landing the position.
Sandy Alomar Jr was the last candidate to interview for the positon, and it would seem that the Chicago-resident has leapfrogged Sveum and Mackanin, and now may be right there with Maddux as the perceived front-runners for the positon. Alomar has long been considered a manager in waiting, and his clock could be accelarated if the Cubs feel he is the right fit for the position. The conclusion from Alomar’s interview is that top members of the Cubs’ front office came away impressed by current Cleveland Indians’ bench coach. Alomar has a high reputation around the league, and would command respect from any clubhouse that he is in charge of.
In the end, it is still my guess that Mike Maddux will be the next manager of the Cubs. Though, Alomar will definitely make the race interesting as the Cubs’ front office hopes to decide on manager within the next two weeks.