Joe Girardi figures to be a candidate to replace Joe Maddon in the home dugout at Wrigley Field. Is he a fit as the next manager of the Chicago Cubs?
I still remember the day that St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile passed away. Chicago Cubs catcher Joe Girardi was called upon to make the announcement to the crowd awaiting the Cubs-Cardinals game that the contest would be postponed due to a tragedy.
Even before his playing days were over, Girardi proved himself to be a leader. Watching him as a player, I knew he would be a successful manager one day. Sure enough, he would become a World Series champion manager with the New York Yankees in 2009.
Girardi has not been in a dugout the past two years, as he left the Yankees after the 2017 season. Yet Girardi has the desire to manage again, and if he wants a job in 2020, he will get one somewhere.
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Naturally, long before the Cubs announced that Joe Maddon would not return next year, Girardi’s name came up as a potential replacement on the North Side of Chicago. The fact that he decided not to manage in 2019, even though he was at least a candidate for the Cincinnati Reds job, even led to speculation that Girardi was holding out for the Cubs job.
Looking around the internet, there are some strong opinions both for and against the Cubs hiring Girardi. If it’s experience the Cubs are seeking, there won’t be many candidates with more, as Girardi was with the Yankees for a decade, along with his one year as manager of the Florida Marlins.
Yet there’s a lot of concern about Girardi’s personality. He’s an old-school manager who has a reputation as being a bit authoritarian. Some believe that his style doesn’t fit with the Cubs’ newer analytics-based approach, while there’s also concern that Girardi won’t be able to “connect” with many of the young players on the roster.
Still, it’s hard to argue with his past success. Girardi won NL Manager of the Year in 2006 with the Marlins when he took a roster that easily looked like a 100-loss team and had them in contention for much of the season. Girardi also took some Yankees teams that didn’t look great on paper and kept them at least over .500 in every season. And after handling the pressure of managing in New York for a decade, Girardi should be able to handle the pressure of high expectations in Chicago.
In looking at all the potential candidates to replace Maddon, there are plenty of candidates out there who believe in analytics and who are younger with a supposed understanding of today’s player personalities.
The Cubs’ front office decision on whether to pursue Girardi will depend on how much of a culture change they want. Do they want a continuation of the more relaxed, modern atmosphere that Maddon created? Or do they want a real change in direction, as the team has been trending in the wrong direction for the past three seasons?
Either way, this is a huge decision. If they want the former, perhaps they’ll want to promote bench coach Mark Loretta or go after a more inexperienced guy like David Ross or Mark DeRosa. However, if the Cubs want real change in 2020, Joe Girardi is the guy. I have the feeling that Girardi would jump at the chance to manage the Cubs; hopefully, the Cubs will at least give him a fair look.