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The pros and cons for all 6 Cubs managerial candidates

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Now that we know the full field that Theo & Co. are considering, let’s look at their positives and negatives.

Or maybe the Cubs could manage this way! (Kidding. Mostly.)
Bettmann / Contributor

Monday, we learned that the Cubs were going to interview Astros bench coach Joe Espada and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler for the position to succeed Joe Maddon as Cubs manager. Espada, in fact, has already completed his interview:

As part of Monday’s article, I included this tweet:

And so, adding those two to the four previously interviewed — Joe Girardi, Mark Loretta, David Ross and Will Venable — that brings the complete field of candidates to six. Two other men — Sam Fuld and Carlos Beltran — reportedly turned down offers of an interview.

Let’s take a brief look at each of the six and the strengths and drawbacks they might bring to the job. After that, I’ll ask you to weigh in on two questions: First, who would you choose if you were doing the hiring? Second, who do you think the Cubs will actually hire for the position?

Joe Espada

PROS: Espada has been a highly-regarded bench coach for a winning organization and also has a scouting background, having done that for the Yankees where he was a special assistant to GM Brian Cashman. He’s a native of Puerto Rico and is bilingual, the only one of the candidates who’s of Latino origin.

CONS: He’s never managed in the major leagues and is unfamiliar with the Cubs and the media market in Chicago, although he and former Cubs coach Brandon Hyde worked together in the Marlins organization for several seasons. He does have managing experience in the minor leagues and in winter ball.

Joe Girardi

PROS: 11 years and nearly 1,000 wins as a big-league manager. He won the World Series in his third year as Yankees manager and is familiar with the Cubs and the Chicago media from growing up in Peoria, attending Northwestern, and playing seven years for the team including the Cubs’ N.L. East 1989 championship squad. He’s handled the New York media, so he should be able to handle the Chicago media.

CONS: It’s been suggested that Girardi was let go as Yankees manager due to an inability to relate to younger players. He’s been thought of as “old-school” in his managerial tendencies, something the Cubs front office has been trying to get away from. At 55, he is the oldest of the candidates.

Gabe Kapler

PROS: He rocketed up the managerial ladder, going from Director of Player Development with the Dodgers to a managerial slot in Philadelphia within three years. He’d also had a year managing in the minor leagues — for a Red Sox farm club while Theo Epstein was GM there — before leaving that and returning to play three more seasons, two of those for Joe Maddon in Tampa. He’s thought of as strongly in favor of use of analytics, as well as willing to consider unorthodox ways of managing. He also played for the Red Sox for three years while Theo was in charge there, including for the 2004 World Series champions.

CONS: Those unorthodox ways had him supposedly on the verge of being fired within his first few games managing the Phillies. At the very least, he had a player mutiny on his hands. Things got better, but Kapler’s Phillies faded down the stretch in each of his two years managing the team.

He’s also completely unfamiliar with the Cubs, the organization and the Chicago media.

There’s also this troubling story from Kapler’s time in the Dodgers front office.

Mark Loretta

PROS: Very familiar to Theo & Co. He played for the Red Sox under Theo in 2006, and worked as a special assistant in the Padres front office from 2010-18. During part of that time, current Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was GM in San Diego. Loretta attended Northwestern, so he’s somewhat familiar with Chicago beyond his one year as bench coach for the Cubs.

CONS: His year as Cubs bench coach is his only coaching experience and he’s never managed before. I can’t think of a single thing he did as bench coach except for being suspended for one game last month.

David Ross

PROS: He had a reputation as the guy who’d hold his teammates accountable during his two years as a Cubs player, including not being afraid to get in Anthony Rizzo’s face when he felt it necessary. As a Cubs World Series champion player, he is quite familiar with the ballclub, team culture and the local media. Hiring him would be popular with the fanbase. (NOTE: I’m absolutely not suggesting Theo should hire him for that reason, only that it would certainly be a result if he were hired.)

CONS: There have been suggestions that he’s “too close” to some Cubs players and might not be able to effectively lead them. He’s got no managerial or coaching experience at all.

Will Venable

PROS: He’s the youngest of this group (he’ll turn 37 later this month) and could perhaps relate better to modern players. A smart guy (Princeton graduate), he’s been a front-office assistant as well as a coach.

CONS: This quote (from before his interview) doesn’t sound like a guy who’s really excited about, or expects to get, the job:

“My interest is really in the organization in general,” said Venable, who expects to interview early next week. “I’m just trying to do what I can to be part of the solution that’s going to get this organization back on track.”

Given that the interviews — at least the first round, I suppose there could be a “second round” — are now complete, it’s entirely possible the Cubs could have a new manager on board before the World Series begins a week from today.

Poll

Who is your choice for Cubs manager?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Joe Espada
    (473 votes)
  • 24%
    Joe Girardi
    (356 votes)
  • 1%
    Gabe Kapler
    (23 votes)
  • 1%
    Mark Loretta
    (24 votes)
  • 33%
    David Ross
    (476 votes)
  • 3%
    Will Venable
    (45 votes)
  • 2%
    Someone else (leave in comments)
    (41 votes)
1438 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who do you think the Cubs will select as their new manager?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    Joe Espada
    (209 votes)
  • 12%
    Joe Girardi
    (122 votes)
  • 2%
    Gabe Kapler
    (26 votes)
  • 6%
    Mark Loretta
    (60 votes)
  • 52%
    David Ross
    (500 votes)
  • 1%
    Will Venable
    (11 votes)
  • 1%
    Someone else (leave in comments)
    (16 votes)
944 votes total Vote Now